The Homestretch (at Christmas Time)
My husband sent me the following message today and asked if I could post it on my blog. It was oddly coincidental considering the blog post I’d already written wasn’t much different. It’s the end of the year and it’s hard for many. Here is our perspective in two parts:
My husband’s post: “The Homestretch”
People say “You’re in the homestretch!” as if it is a time to rejoice, be filled with merriment, and watch the stress of life melt away magically. Well it doesn’t work that way. I’ve heard the stories of marathon runners that run 25.95 miles and then crash 400 yards from the finish line. I always wondered how you could get within sight of the finish line and not be able to find the strength to get there. I don’t have to wonder anymore. I get it. And it’s the worst feeling. What I failed to consider before was that maybe, just maybe, you run out of energy 800 yards from the finish. And we pick ourselves up, and use more than we have to give to keep moving…and that may not be enough. The lowest point is being so close, but knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you don’t have anything left to give. I can honestly say that I will never use the phrase “We are in the homestretch” as an indication that things are getting easier ever again. It will instead remind me that the hardest part is about to hit me head on. I can see the finish line right now…and there isn’t a damned thing I can do to get there. So buckle your belt a little tighter, take a deep breath, and prepare to face “The Homestretch”.
Thank you Nate for sending me your words ❤
Here is the post I’d originally written:
It’s Christmas and I want everyone to smile. Here’s why: a smile changes everything and it costs nothing.
It’s almost Christmas and there is no money in the bank. It is ten days from pay day and the credit cards are maxed out. We aren’t the only ones and we have great things happening that will erase this problem (well, a lot of it anyway) from our lives in the new year.
We aren’t the only ones and something usually comes along to tide us over. But we’re tired. It’s been a long road. A very long road and to see your bank account at zero so close to Christmas is a real morale problem. Some people would say we did this to ourselves and they might be right. Yes, we chose to go through the struggle of sending my husband back to school with two little ones at home. But to us, it didn’t feel like much of a choice. He was in an industry (news) that was changing by the second and we couldn’t see him having a job (or at least a stable job) much longer. If we’d waited to figure out the next step we might be in a much worse predicament. He’s almost done with school now and just started a real full-time job in his new career… we just have to make it to that first paycheck.
Of course I beat myself up for my own career choices. It is damn near impossible to figure out what to do with the way America has structured the job force for families. It doesn’t make sense. I worked hard for my masters degree only to be told in a bad economy my skills weren’t useful. Seriously? Yes, I found work and made due, but with kids at home it doesn’t make sense to work simply to pay for child care. So I made the decision a lot of other women feel forced to make–I stay home with the kids rather than sending all my money to a daycare facility.
I felt really bad about myself for a long time. I didn’t know what to do, I felt trapped between lives. So I started a business. It was hard work, but I felt useful. I was contributing to society while still staying flexible enough to be Super Mom. It is a journey that I won’t soon forget because it taught me things about myself I really needed to learn.
But kids get older and the husband got into the heart of his school work. I couldn’t balance it all–not by a long shot. So I got out of the small business world and started writing. I was always a writer. I wrote fiction growing up and into college before being swept away into academia. I wrote for years as an anthropologist. If I was home with the kids and I had stories in my head… why not write? It has been the best journey of my life as far as personal growth and experience go. I’ve met the most amazing people and found friends I have been searching for all my life. But at this point in my budding career, it barely buys the gas to put in my car.
But that is also changing quickly (and I hope my new career will continue to grow). Things are going to be good next year, there is no doubt about that. All this hard work, all the stressing over bills and money and jobs will finally ease up. But for the moment, it’s cold and it’s Christmas and the new year seems like a really long last mile to run.
There are a lot of people out there struggling this Christmas, many much worse off than we are, many without hope within reach. So this holiday season, please remember to smile. Please remember to be happy. Please remember that simple things like love and happiness can change everyone around you. Don’t be a Grinch and spread frustration and anger–there is enough of it in the world. A simple smile is what the world needs and it just may help someone get through a rough day.
Thank you guys for stopping by (especially if you made it to the end of this incredibly looooong post!) Nate and I both wish you all the very best this Christmas and hope you find wonderful gifts waiting for you in the new year! xoxo