It’s been a year and a half, roughly, since our situation changed. Many of the changes have turned out to be positive ones: I feel more mature, more competent, and much closer to my children than I did when we were rich. I feel much more deeply connected to my community than I ever did, and I marvel daily at the many ways we are being cared for by family, friends, and neighbors. As much as our lives have been turned upside-down, they have also in many ways been set right. We are part of the world in ways that we never were before, because we never had to be. We think carefully about how we use, spend, and share now, and this thinking has a value I often flailed at in our old life. I now feel capable of teaching my children how to care for others, how to appreciate the caring they receive. The more we are lifted up by others, the more we want to lift those we can.
At the same time, well, it just gets tiring. I haven’t been to a movie in months. Although I try to attend my minyan and Torah study weekly, I never have the chance to sit through the whole thing uninterrupted, even with the amazing, creative help I receive from friends. My observance of Shabbat is complicated at best. (That is a post in itself, one I shall dedicate myself to next, I think.) I work at a job I really dislike. I have to say no to the kids constantly — no squirt guns, no new sandals, no vacation, no outing to Coco Key, nothing store-bought that I can make myself, nothing fancy that we can find simpler for less money.
It’s stressful on my marriage as well. I sometimes have a hard time not feeling resentful that Bill gets to put on nice clothes every day and be around grown-ups, pursuing his passion for wristwatches. He gets to go to fancypants dinners where the desserts are semifreddo mousses and soufflés, not chocolate-chip cookies. My resentment grows when, as now, he is not making many sales. I feel guilty that I’m not as supportive as I could be. I want him to be able to do what he wants to do, and yet I also wish he would at least entertain the notion of cutting back to part-time in the jewelry business and take another part-time job that pays an actual, reliable salary. All those stories of women putting their husbands through medical school and making sacrifices for their men — I don’t know, maybe I’m just not that kind of woman. I like to think of myself as a supportive partner, but at times I feel frayed around the edges from all this self-sacrifice.
I know I’ll never be able to go back to before, back to afternoon movies and trips to New York and sushi lunches for no reason and ordering clothes from Garnet Hill, and I know that only a shallow person would value that over what we’ve built this last year and a half. But part of me still wants a nibble of that old way, just every now and then. It would be very helpful if my mind let go of the idea that this new place is only temporary.