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Had a lovely 10 days with my Mom during her visit here. While it’s always interesting to squeeze another person into our small home, it’s worth it in this case. I want the kids to be able to have as much time with her as possible. We unfortunately can’t afford to fly to Chicago, so her visits here are as good as it gets. Avery is changing so fast these days. Mom commented that her speech had improved/increased just in the time she was out here. She’s gone from occasionally stringing two words together to creating four-word sentences in the blink of an eye. It’s astonishing, really. I can hardly keep up. She had a doctor’s appointment the day after her birthday. The nurse asked if she was speaking seven to 20 words yet. My Mom said, “Per minute?” I said it was probably closer to 150, but in retrospect that’s probably a conservative estimate. She comes up with words I didn’t know she knew on practically an hourly basis. Of course, none of this was in evidence at the doctor’s. I predicted that ahead of time, and I was right. He couldn’t get her to speak a single word. Oh, well. Avery does what she wants, when she wants. It’s her nature. She’s smart but rather obstinate (no clue where she gets that from). Seriously, when I wasn’t much older than she was, I loved to put my precociousness on display for my parents’ friends. I’m not sure what’s holding her back. All in good time, I’m sure.

So, the Toad show is over and my home is back to its original four inhabitants (five, counting the cat). Now we come back to dealing with the real issues, such as trying to start cleaning up the financial wreckage that hangs over us. I don’t know where to begin, and it’s terrifying. Chris has been working at the contract job for five or six weeks now, and it’s going well. It’s been amazing to have income, and to have a bit of the constant pressure we’re under alleviated, at least for awhile. But there’s the not-small matter of the mortgage. We need to try to negotiate with the mortgage company. The trouble is, it’s hard to negotiate when you aren’t coming from a position of strength. Yes, Chris is working, but it’s a contract job; it could end at any moment. That said, California is an “at-will” state, so the truth is that any job, even a “permanent” position, can end without warning. Regardless, we would like to do whatever we can to clean up our mess. Will it be enough? I don’t know. If we were paying the mortgage things would instantly be very, very tight. Tighter than tight. We’d basically be praying for overtime. It’s a tough situation. I keep thinking I need to get the a/c fixed in the car before the mortgage situation gets resolved, assuming it can be. If we were paying our mortgage we’d have zero left over for repairs. The igniter in our oven died the other day, too. That needs fixing as well. It’s a long list.

Our goal was never to walk away from our home. I know several people who have done exactly that in recent years, and while I don’t pass judgment, it isn’t our plan. Our plan – always – is to do anything and everything we can to save it. We like it here, and we’re quite attached. I doubt very much that a better circumstance would await us elsewhere. I want to fix things here. But it’s complicated, dizzyingly so. It makes me literally dizzy and sick to my stomach whenever I think about it. Also, I’ve developed an eye twitch. Awesome. It’s not enough that I feel crazy, now I can look crazy as well. I’ve been living with financial stress for so long now it’s almost a struggle to remember what it was like to have more than enough. We were those people once, before kids. Before I had pregnancy complications that caused me to give up my job sooner than anticipated, and before I decided to stay home with Braeden. Going from two incomes to one was rough, and when Chris unexpectedly lost his job, things became that much harder.

It’s been a rocky road for a very long time now. While a Powerball win would be ideal, I would happily settle for enough. I want enough income to meet our obligations without strain. I want to not have to choose which bills to pay. I want to be able to buy milk and diapers and not find myself standing in Target wondering if we really need paper towels, or whatever. I would love to be able to fly home at least every couple of years so that my sister and her family were actual rather than theoretical parts of my children’s lives. My sister has never met my daughter, and I haven’t seen my niece or nephew in several years. It sucks. It more than sucks. It’s agonizing. This is what it’s all about, the anguish that lack of money can create. We aren’t starving, but we’re lacking, and it isn’t just about “stuff.” It’s about people, and connections. It’s the hardest part of all of this.

My desire to keep my home isn’t about the 1,100 square foot building with peeling paint and knob and tube wiring. It’s about giving my kids a sense of belonging, a place that’s theirs, somewhere they can always come back to. I moved five times in the first 18 years of my life, or six if you count going away to college. My father remained in my childhood home after my parents divorced. While the memories it housed weren’t always happy ones, I still counted it as a place I’d thought I could always come back to… until it was sold and razed to create what I am assured are viciously ugly townhomes. I’ll take that on faith; I’m never going back. This isn’t about blame, though. Everyone does the best they can, what they feel they need to do at the time. I know my Mom did her best, and I imagine my father did the best he could with that he had. That said, I feel rootless, sometimes. Like there’s no place I belong. A lot of that is my own issue, and not truly based on a lack of physical place to return to. I understand that. Still, it goes a long way toward explaining my attachment to my home, and why I want so desperately to provide this sense of place, of belonging, for my own children.

So… back to reality. It’s harsh. There’s a lot unknown, and I feel out of control too much of the time. Making the steps toward restitution and (ideally) repair is apt to be a difficult process. I don’t even know if it’s plausible, or if this is just me clinging to my own pipe dream. Time will reveal all. It always does. Sorry for the tone of all of this. I’ve been avoiding this topic for awhile, since writing about it is part of facing it, and facing it is hard. Nearly unbearable.

Um… so, to end on a brighter note:  the three-day-weekend was lovely, Avery’s birthday party was really nice, and Braeden’s off to a good start at school. There’s a lot of good out there, and here in my world, too. Sometimes I just have to dump the bad as well. I hope everyone has a great week.