What I've Learned During our Unemployment
1. There are lots of people unemployed or underemployed right now.
2. People don't shun you just because you are unemployed.
3. If you include your child(ren) in your conversations and concerns, they will help and support you better than you ever dreamed. They will go without, they will say comforting and encouraging things and they will not be angry--because they are included and feel good about contributing.
4. There are no government programs that will help you if you have any assets at all, other than your house. No free lunch, no health insurance for your child, nothing. You don't even get unemployment if you worked part-time or didn't contribute or were fired. (Fortunately, we had unemployment benefits!) There isn't any program that we as taxpayers contribute to that will help a family get back on their feet before they lose everything--there are only programs that help those who are destitute. I think it's too late by then. I think this is something I would like to write to my congress about.
5. The opposite of #4 is that family, friends and friends of friends are so willing to help, support, donate, and give. We have been so fortunate to be invited to meals, have our pictures taken, given books, hand-me-downs (Kath's favorite), gift cards for Christmas, received tickets for concerts, plays and events--it's overwhelming and I cry every time I think about it.
6. If you tell your kid's teacher about the change, they will help and support your child in a discrete, lovely way. Another thing that makes me cry. So wonderful.
7. People will pray--and the prayers work and are so comforting. This one is by no means in order of importance, either. People will pray for you who aren't even sure they believe in God. The gift of the human spirit that God has given us is the most wonderful gift ever. This one is my favorite.
8. It's ok to eat soup and grilled cheese two nights a week.
9. It's really hard to say "I can't afford this" the first time, but after that it becomes easier. And it's best--because you don't know how long you have to sustain this hardship. Shelter, food and clothing are the only concerns.
10. People will understand if you don't give them Christmas cards or gifts. It's really the feeling that I have--the obligation and the guilt, that is the issue. This is one that I think we struggle with all our lives.
11. There are lots and lots of free, wonderful events that you can participate in to get you out of the house. There are library events, school events, service events--all during the day or in the evening--to choose from.
12. Job hunting is a full-time job for the person who is looking. It was amazing to watch my husband network, go to support groups, meet new people, practice for interviews, apply for jobs, make calls...it goes on and on. We didn't get much time to be together because of the enormity of this task. But that's ok--I appreciate him for this.
13. I am a rock. While my husband was looking for jobs, being turned down, not called back, etc, it was my job to keep us socializing, happy and making nice meals. To turn his mind from being depressed, or to cheer him up. To engage our family in conversations that were fun--and to make the unemployment a challenge, rather than a hardship. I realize that I can do this and I am the center of my family. It feels good to be in this role.
14. In order to be a rock, I had to rely on my friends. I learned once again in my life how important my relationships are. They gave me encouragement, laughter, suggestions, and support. I learned to think back to when I started a friendship--how I would have never thought at the time how important it would be. I will not take these things for granted--the best things in life are my friendships.
15. I learned that I'm not the only one that is going through hardships. I learned that you can go through hardships at the same time as your friends and support each other. The world does not stop because you are experiencing something--life goes on, and it's important that you get on the train--and if one can't get on yet, keep your arm extended to help them when they're ready.
16. People love homemade cards. They really do enjoy the sentiment more than the maker.
17. Loved ones who have helped you along the way don't keep score. They are part of the universal effort to help one another and they know that they are an inspiration to the recipient to go and help another. These hearts are the most generous, contagious, wonderful, quiet, humble hearts and it is beautiful to be in this community.
18. A hug can be the best gift you've ever received.
19. Just because you have no money doesn't mean you have nothing to give.
20. It takes a lot of money to live--even if all you buy is health insurance, food, your mortgage, and toilet paper--an amazing amount of money--a ridiculous amount of money. I see that recovery from this is going to take a lot of time. I learned that it is amazing how people make a living, raise their children and send them to college. I learned that overall I'm thankful for my choices in the past and hope to improve some areas for the future.
Thank you friends and family. You are my lifeblood and I'm so grateful for you.