For the last 4 years or so, I have technically been a squatter. This has been an incredible blessing. It's been so insanely wonderful that I have been able to be with my sons and raise them myself. To be a part of every first step and first word, to be with them day in and day out, getting to know all the little things that make them who they are since the moment they were born.
But it has also been shameful for me, and I'm just now realizing that.
When we first got married, before actually, the wasbund and I bought a house. It was a cute house in a terrible location, but we were carried away by the crazy market and the dream of having a home where we could start our family (well, I was anyways). So we bought when we shouldn't have and settled in.
I'd always known that I wanted to be a mother. Once, during my spell in the corporate world of the mobile phone industry I found myself trapped in the elevator with the VP of my company. Small talk ensued, and at one point he asked me what my 5 year plan looked like. I literally told him, 'well, I'm going to start having kids pretty soon and become a stay-at-home mom!' After a slightly awkward pause, he chuckled and said, 'it sounds like you know what you're about.'
I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I'd never been so thrilled and terrified and hopeful and nervous all at the same time. When I told him, the wasbund said, 'congratulations?' Literally with a question mark. Ouch.
And I quit when my son was born, because that's what we'd agreed would happen, and he said he was on it, and I wanted to believe it. And the economy tanked, and the remodel took too long, and he couldn't find a job, and we declared bankruptcy, and we lucked out and moved into a family member's rental property that was also upside down and in the midst of foreclosure proceedings. And they said it was fine, and that we should stay while we figured things out.
So we did. And I stayed with my baby and loved on him every day. And dealt with daily anxiety about how we were going to pay the bills. We sold all the extra stuff. I took short-term nannying positions. I asked my parents for money and then cleaned their house in order to feel like I was earning it. I told people that he was working on it, that he had a plan, just wait and see.
It felt worth it at the time, because that little boy was so big and important to me. But I was embarassed. And scared. And I knew I needed to go get a full-time job, but I just knew that if I did my dream of being a stay-at-home mom was over. I wasn't ready to abandon it. Or give up on him, and our marriage, both of which I was sure I'd be done with.
And there was so much shame about not being able to pay my own way. I had always been someone who took care of her shit. I worked from the time I was 10, babysitting, doing extra chores so I could go to camp, making pizzas, waiting tables to pay my way through college. Now here I was, an adult who had most recently been earning a great salary at a grown up job with benefits and paid time off, squatting in a foreclosed house with mold in the walls, wishing that something would change but not willing for it to be me.
I found out I was pregnant again right around the time the property was sold. This time when I told him he said something along the lines of, 'this is really bad timing.' And as I moved into my parents' house with my 3-year old and the new little life growing inside me I thought, 'maybe this will be the thing that motivates him to finally figure it out'. And he did, sort of.
Another rental property, in another foreclosure process. But we moved in just in time for my second son to be born. It was the perfect neighborhood, and we set up a beautiful home, and he cleverly set up the other side of the duplex as an Airbnb rental which made for some regular income for the first time in a long time. It felt hopeful and exciting!
But we were still squatting. And even though there was some room to breath financially, we still couldn't have paid rent if we had needed to. And there was still the threat of foreclosure and eviction looming at some undetermined future date. Not the hypothetical threat that any human has of potentially losing a home, but a real and known pending action that was definitely going to happen. Any day now. Aaaany day now.
Looking back, my AA training makes me search for my part. I should have gotten a job. I should have accepted that he was who he was and that this was not a person who shared my desire for security and predictability. But what else? Did I have unreasonable expectations? Was my fear unwarranted? And what happened to that girl who had managed to graduated college without any student loans? That girl who had always been able to barely make ends meet, even when she was spending her evenings making bad decisions while black-out drunk.
I'm not sure, but I'm going to find her, the scrappy-smart ass-kicking parts anyways. And we are going to figure this shit out. I'm going to remember how to make ALL the ends meet, by myself. I'm going to go back to relying on me to do the doing. I'm going to make hard decisions, and love my boys through more awful transitions, and spend more nights crying on the bathroom floor (at least it's heated). But I'm going to come out on the other end shining like a fucking unicorn!
I can't do it by myself yet, so I'm going to graciously accept the love as my people continue to carry me through for now. But once I'm out the other side, I'm going to do what I've been taught to do. I'm going to reach out my hand to the next woman who is heartbroken and scared for her babies and for her future which has suddenly taken a turn that she didn't see coming. And I'm going to love on her and her babies and help her remember that she was always a fucking bad ass, and that she was made to do this.
And that right there is how you start a Momune.