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I’ve mentioned before that our financial situation often leaves me feeling isolated. I miss living in a world where my mind didn’t automatically attach price tags to everything I wanted to do. Hang out with a friend? That usually involves lunch, or coffee at least. I can’t go shopping, and window shopping holds little appeal when everything reminds you that you have no money. Also, anywhere I go involves the car, which means gas. When the money in your account is getting lower, and you have no idea when more money might be coming in, you think a lot about everywhere you have to drive. It costs anything from $60 to $70 to fill up, and I get less than 300 miles per tank. Again, when you don’t know where money is coming from, you worry about every trip.

I miss worry-free days… I miss a lot of things. I miss being excited when the phone rings, because it might be a call from someone you’d actually like to speak to. I miss not having anxiety over every purchase I make. I didn’t buy paper towels last week because I couldn’t wrap my brain around how expensive they were. (We use cloth napkins, and reuseable towels for nearly everything. There are some situations, though, that simply beg for paper towels.) I miss selfish things, like pedicures and regular haircuts. I miss basic necessities, too, like going to the dentist. I don’t think I have anything huge wrong, but I’d like to know for sure.

I miss feeling normal, or as normal as I ever felt. I hate feeling like the family everyone worries about, the family that can’t fix things. I listen to other people talk about their vacations, or the last movie they took their kid to, and I feel bitter. Other people take Braeden to the movies, or my in-laws occasionally treat all of us. Several people have commented that Avery seems like a little gymnast already. I’ve noticed. She’s compact and very muscular for a toddler. She’s very strong and flexible as well. I would like to enroll her in classes, but can’t. My in-laws gave us a month-long pass to a kid’s gym. I haven’t used it, in part because I am afraid she will fall in love with it, and then what? We don’t have $100 a month to spend on things like that.

I’ve been sad today. I have good days and bad, and this was not a good one. I felt overly emotional and just lost all day long. Isolated. I feel like I’m stranded on an island, some days, except that in certain respects an island would be easier. There would be no phones there, and nothing to buy.

I want to give my kids a normal life, where they can count on things like going to the same school and going to the movies as a family. I know there are worse things… there can always be worse things. We could be hungry, or one of us could be sick. I try hard to be grateful for the things I do have. They’re important, and experiencing gratitude is important as well. It’s just that things have been so hard for so long that some days I run out of steam. On those days, I am focused on what’s missing, rather than my gifts. This has been one of those days.

So, for my own mental health, a list:

1. We are all healthy.
2. My husband loves me, no matter what.
3. I have two amazing children.
4. We have family members who will never let us fall all the way down.
5. We are not hungry.
6. I am not alone, even when I feel that way.
7. We have not lost the house yet.

Seven things, all of them priceless. It should be enough. Today, it wasn’t. Tonight, it can be, if I let it.