Our life was probably like that of many other families. It was comfortable. It was routine. My husband worked at a university in the city and I was a children’s librarian closer to home. Our kids were in soccer and dancing. They did Girl Scouts and swimming lessons. I was on the PTO at one school, and the PTA at the other. We were always busy and relied on the help of my parents enough that it often made me feel guilty.
When my husband was offered a position at a university in another state, more than 1,200 miles from home, we decided to take the risk, leaving everything we knew, for a chance at a better life.
Here’s the thing- life in the tri-state area is hard. We all commute. Our mortgages are high, and our living expenses are often higher. Our family is lucky enough to live in a town with a great school district so we don’t have private school tuition costs, but my career, as well as my husband’s, required advanced degrees which added to our financial burden. We had enough, but never much extra.
We dreamed of a new life where things like vacations wouldn’t require waiting for the tax return and picking up extra shifts whenever I could. We looked forward to being home before seven or eight or even ten o’clock to have dinner with our kids and ride bikes before the sun set. I desperately didn’t want to leave my friends and a job that I loved, but it all seemed worth it for the amazing career opportunity for my husband and a chance to have the life we had always dreamed of.
And then the pandemic started.
My job was secure, though I was working from home, and my husband finished out his last weeks at one job and transitioned into the new one, all from the comfort of our home office. I took on the majority of the virtual education for our kids, and we took turns using the office for Zoom call after Zoom call.
We counted our lucky stars over and over again that I hadn’t been furloughed and he had secured his new job before the crisis began.
We listed our house. We even got an offer.
And then it all crumbled. My husband’s position had been eliminated. We weren’t moving, he wouldn’t be advancing in his profession and we were now one of the millions of families that would have to turn to unemployment. We took our house off the market, and hunkered down.
I know that we are by far not the only family dealing with a story like this, but the fact that so many others are facing the same thing doesn’t make this feel any better. It makes it feel worse. We spend so much time aligning our plans, taking steps towards our futures and preparing ourselves for what lies ahead that it is shocking to see that the rug can so quickly be pulled out from under you, upending everything you have worked for.
I don’t know what we will do next. I still have my job, and he is looking for work. The kids are happy they won’t have to leave their friends, but they are currently missing them terribly since they are stuck at home with me as their teacher.
The future is unclear and I don’t know what path, if any we should take, but I have to have faith that something will happen. That we will get through this. That the country, and the world, will get through this, and one day we will come home from work, have dinner with our kids, and take a bike ride before the sun sets.