A graphing calculator broke my heart today.

Or I should say the lack of a graphing calculator.

Things have been tight financially since I was laid off last summer from the only job I’ve had for nearly 20 years, and back to school shopping was a trip to Wal-Mart for school supplies and Good-will for clothes.

We were at a friend’s house, in the neighborhood I used to live in. She’s a beautiful person inside and out and going over to her house is so awesome. Delicious family dinners that I don’t have to cook, with placemats around a beautifully set table. Dad at home helping with the kids and dinner.

It’s beautifully simple and perfect and it stings.

It reminds me of the days I was making dinners for the kids in my own house in that exact same neighborhood, while they played tag in the yard. But I built my life on the quicksand of bad decisions and four years ago a tsunami came through and destroyed everything.

We caught up on life and I got to see her home improvement projects and everything was just so beautiful, rainbow colored glass in beautiful cabinetry, a fire pit in the backyard, just gorgeous. After dinner we sat outside and while making s’mores with her littles, my daughter told us that she got in trouble because she didn’t have a graphing calculator. It was a nearly $100 calculator that the school listed on the school supply list and she decided against getting one without telling me, because she didn’t want to waste my money on it. We live in a really affluent school district, I think the most affluent in the entire state, where every kid has the latest iphone and the parking lot is filled with cars that are much nicer than mine.  It was mortifying to hear that, and to hear it for the first time in front of a newish friend I didn’t know very well was even harder.

My 14 year old daughter is over protective and worried. I have not spoken to her directly about the low point I am at financially because I know she is an empath and will internalize it all and it will create more stress in her life. I have had to take away the data on her phone completely. No more unlimited data. I have had to be more conscious of wasting things, food, electricity, gas. She has seen me cutting everything to the bone out of necessity to make a way right now, and it has been incredibly draining. I thought I was doing well.

When she found out I got laid off, she was instantly worried. “How are we going to live?” She burst into tears. I said to her, “that is not anything for you to worry about. That is my job. We are going to have to cut back on some things, but it won’t be forever.”

I tried to use it as a teachable moment, I said, “that is why you don’t spend all the money you make, because some day, you might need it for an emergency.”

I am looking for a roommate to cut my biggest expense which is rent in this overpriced school district and consumes nearly 75% of my take home pay. She sees all these things and they are changing her.

Last night we drove home and I could see that something was wrong. She asked for a hug and so I gave her one and I said, “what’s wrong?” She tried to play it off, but I knew there was something and it surprised me when the tears came and she said, “Your friend’s life is so perfect. Her kids have life so easy and they don’t have any idea what it is like to struggle. It’s not fair.” And I said, “I know babe, but I’m working hard to change all that. Someday soon things will be better.” She said, “You’ve been saying that for the last four years.”

It’s true, I have. I am like a cornered animal right now, with my baby on my back. I want to protect her and give her all the things and experiences that all the kids in her school get, but I can’t. I feel like a failure. It is soul crushing to feel her pain, to see how little she believes in my words and ability to turn this all around. I don’t believe that this is it for me. I don’t believe that life is going to be like this forever and I hate that she might.

I didn’t sleep well. I tossed and turned over in my head the fact that my novel isn’t quite ready to send to an editor, it’s too rough. But that it is the only real way out for me right now. That I need to focus on that and to make my life around my writing as fast as I possibly can. I have been seriously writing since February and I need to start to see that payoff so I can create the life that I want, the life that I want to give her.

I want to restore her faith in me. That when I say I am going to make things better, that I can and that I will.

Time will tell if I have any success in this world. If I am able to tell a story that people want to read enough to exchange their money for it. Next year, I want to get the school supply list and not care what is on it, content in the knowledge that I can provide everything she needs.

I am filled with self doubt and this incredible amount of pressure and consciousness of time. That I only have 3.5 more years to fix this for her. I want to fix it for her so badly. I want to look in her eyes and see happiness and ease instead of anxiety and stress. She deserves that.

A graphing calculator broke my heart today.

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9 + 14 =

VELVET GUILD: A Serial Novel

I was as a single mom whose unemployment was running out fast. I was desperate for a way out

Velvet Guild is a serial novel broken into episodes. Each episode is approximately 12,000 words and can be read in an hour, like your favorite TV episode. It is sure to become your guilty pleasure.

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