Friday, May 23, 2014

Perspective and Homesickness

After the wonderful weekend, we entered another tough week. Nothing like the previous ones, but certainly not fun. The culmination of it being Wednesday, when I was finally able to get Luna in to the vet for a limp she's had for nearly two weeks. We'd have taken her in sooner, but with the stomach bugs floating around, I'm sure the vet wouldn't have been thrilled to see us.

So, we had to wait it out. And it became more frequent Tuesday, when I was stuck at my own doctor's office for several hours doing a prenatal glucose test and again unable to take her in. Wednesday when we went in, I was expecting to hear she'd pulled a muscle or somehow fractured something though we haven't seen her injure herself. She never goes outside alone (we don't have a fence) and she hasn't taken a fall off the couch or bed while we've been home with her. Doesn't rule it out, but we didn't see it.

Within 2 minutes of touching her leg, the vet had me come over and place my finger where his was and feel a wiggly piece of something floating in her rear knee. Turns out, that wiggly piece of something is her knee cap which no longer stays in place on its own. They took x-rays to rule out any scar tissue, arthritis or anything else that may be wrong and it turns out she has a deformity of her leg bone which kept the groove that holds her knee cap in place from forming properly. Which means the knee doesn't sit in place properly and is left to pop out as it chooses. So, chances are excellent this has always been an issue for my extremely active and jumpy pup, but due to Jack Russell pain thresholds and stubbornness, she hasn't let on until now. And has only done so now because she can no longer get it to pop back in to place and stay there. She's clever and tough as nails, I'd have cried like I was dying the first time it popped out, not popped it back in lord knows how many times and kept jumping.

So, my poor 2 year old needs knee surgery to grind away the bone and deepen the groove. Our vet office doesn't perform this surgery, so our doctor is working to get us scheduled in to the hospital they refer to and gave me his best shot in the dark estimate for costs, but obviously can't quote accurately without talking to them first. He also prescribed no walks except to potty in the yard, no running and no jumping until they get us in for surgery. I may have to hog tie my poor pup to keep her still when the painkiller and anti-inflamtory she's on wears off:

And, as is always the case, this expense is dropping on us now that I don't have a job any more. Just like with Chico's giant vet bills last month and several other unforeseen expenses. Unfortunately for me, I've always made my own way financially and have always been driven to contribute to our expenses and savings. It's not that I give a rats ass about money or fine things, I just don't want to be a burden to someone else... even my husband. Even before I got pregnant, we'd talked about having a parent at home, something which is incredibly important to both of us. Given that, the fact that I've never been a career person and the fact that day care would suck up my entire paycheck, I decided that I'd leave work a little before baby was born to get things ready and get my own shit together before I took on the job of full time mom.

But the transition has been tough on me. I'm not even going to sugar coat this; I feel lazy, worthless and like a gigantic burden. This is only made worse when something like a surgery costing a couple thousand dollars drops on our laps. It has nothing to do with how Joe sees it, because he admonishes me for feeling this way - reassuring me that it's nice to have me home, not stressed about work and able to take care of myself in the last stretch of baby growing. And I believe him, but my own fucked up sense of self guilt and self worth gets in my way. And so yesterday, I spent a good deal of time crying and feeling like shit.

Until I got to thinking about where we used to be, back when we lived in New Jersey and realized what a sad sack I'm being. You see, if we hadn't taken a risk and made a drastic change when Joe's job moved here to South Carolina a little over 4 years ago we wouldn't be in the situation we're in right now. And I don't mean that in a bad way.

When his job left, we were living in a 500 foot apartment with rent that was $200 more than the mortgage on our 1700 foot house per month. We both were working full time just to scrape by. If we'd stayed there, he may have had to take a job that was closer to NY and make the horrific 2 hour congested commute each way every day in his Jeep. We'd see each other from 7:30pm - 11:30 pm each night, if he got home on time. And if one of us didn't end up with a 2nd job. Our relationship would have become somewhat passive and neither one of us would have time for fun or hobbies, we'd have been unhappy. But let's say we stuck it out, because that's what you do when you love someone. You take the shit with the good.

When his car broke down completely (the back axle was no longer attached when we determined it was dead), we'd have had to try to find another beater car because we couldn't have afforded a car payment. We would have limped my old vehicle with it's 10k worth of needed repairs along too. We wouldn't have been able to afford the safe and reliable car we now have. We wouldn't have been able to replace his broken Jeep with a scooter and a truck. We'd be bleeding out any extra money we managed to scrape together in to gas and car repairs. We'd probably have some towing bills from breaking down on the side of the road.

We'd still be in that shitty apartment with the police station near the foot of it that tripled in size due to all the crime that goes on in it.

We'd never have gotten Luna or any other dog, because pets weren't allowed. We had the cats because you can hide them and they're quiet. Luna would most likely have ended up in a shelter.

When Chico got sick last month, we couldn't have afforded the bill and we'd have made the difficult and painful decision to put him to sleep.

And there's no way in Hell I'd be pregnant. We'd probably never have had a baby, because stability was a tremendously important factor in that decision making process for us. Along with the kid having a bedroom. An expensive luxury where we lived.

Perspective. A huge shift in the way I felt.

People love to ask me if I'm homesick. Especially now that I'm pregnant. They also love to remind me that New Jersey is amazing, that there are so many things I love there, that it's better than where I am now - as if I've somehow forgotten all of that.

I haven't.

But honestly, I'm not homesick anymore. Not really. Because while New Jersey was and will always be my home state and I miss certain things, I'm not oblivious to how shitty our situation was there. I'm not blind to how fucking ridiculously expensive it is to live there. I'm no longer surprised by friends and family who are trapped in shit living situations, in shit houses, in shit jobs... because of how impossible it is to change up there any more. And these aren't people who live beyond their means, these are people in modest homes or apartments trying to eek out an existence on 70+ hour a week jobs and constantly feeling like they're beating their heads against a brick wall.

Almost everyone I know back home is miserable. They're depressed. They're unhappy. They feel trapped and stuck and like they're pissing their lives away on monotonous, unchangeable bullshit. And they can't get out; because as taxes keep soaring and the cost of living becomes even more insane their wages don't increase. And then they pick up second or third jobs and don't have time to even see the place they're pissing their money in to except to sleep.

So, no. I'm not homesick. Because that's not the same atmosphere I grew up in. The one I grew up in was filled with just as many hardworking people, just as many modest and sometimes a little beat to hell homes. But there were weekends on the beach. There were hikes in the mountains. There was time for laughter, relaxation, relationships. And those weren't luxuries just a few people could enjoy.

Don't get me wrong, I miss the kitsch. I miss the beach. I miss the unwavering Jersey Pride and fuck you attitudes. I miss longer Springs and Autumns. I miss being within an hour of the mountains, the coast, and the city. I miss not being asked why I don't sound like someone from that terrible "Jersey Shore" show (uhhh... because I'm from New Jersey, not New York). But I don't miss the life we'd most likely have lived had we stayed.

And I sure as hell wouldn't give up the one I have now.


  1. Poor Luna. I hope she gets her surgery soon and all goes well. Oh my I can relate to your feelings of guilt about not working. All my life I wanted to stay home being a homemaker and a mother, and for many years of my life I did, but I felt guilty (and 1st husband helped make me feel worse.) But then I'd go to work and realize I was doing everything I always did and also was working. How fair is that? While working I'd think "Wow, why didn't I just suck it up, and stay where I was and not play into the guilt? Anyway, I am home now and I am not feeling guilty. And I'm not going to. I do a lot of very worthwhile things here, including helping my husband with his business, and like your hubby, mine loves that I'm home and knows it makes me happy. Truthfully there are no decent jobs here anyway, and for the money I'd make I'd have to spend money to get there so what's the point? I'm just trying to be frugal and thrifty and in that way help the family finances. My advice is wait and see. Eventually you get used to your role and soon you won't give a shit about guilt. You'll also meet other stay at home moms and you won't feel so different. PS Since you had a choice (and I know not everyone has) I want to hank you for deciding to raise your child. I love seeing children being well taken care and allowed to be children. It gives me hope for future generations.

  2. Poor Puppy Luna! My son has two Shiba Inus (a Japanese dog about the size of a Jack Russel).The female that they adopted about a year ago has the same issue with both the knees on her hind legs. It just pains me to see her move! The vet told my son that this is a genetic problem in Shibas and many small breeds of dog. Unfortunately her condition is so bad that the vet couldn't guarantee that surgery would correct the problem. I told him to check with the local vet college - maybe they could do something for her. You might check and see if there is a vet college around you. Sometimes they will perform surgeries or provide other vet care at reduced rates.
    You shouldn't feel guilty! Staying home & taking care of the 'old homestead' - especially when the baby arrives - is just as important as having a job. Childcare is so terribly expenses any more. I don't see how any parent can afford to work! So rejoice in your domestic engineer status! :0)


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