My husband is a financial planner. Yes: since October, his profession has been no fun. Lately, his days are full of stress and uncertainty. Yucky market numbers. Ups and downs. Worried clients. Feeling helpless.
In fact, the very morning our son was born, the Dow hit record lows. As he held our sweet little guy in his arms, he felt the cell phone ringing in his pocket. As I sat in the bed, still drowsy from my epidural, I’ll never forget the torn look on his face. “I’ve got to go make some calls to clients.”
Did I mention he works from home?
His daily interruptions from one co-worker include lots of “Daddy, look at this!” and “Daddy, where are my princesses?” and the quiet tiptoe into Daddy’s office when he’s on the phone to get one more (okay, just one more) piece of legal-sized paper for multi-color crayon scribbling. Even on his most stressful days, this tiny three year-old colors his days beautiful.
These days, I can’t help but remember the economic downturn of 2002. In a post-911 world, and in Houston, in a post-Enron world, our economy was hit hard. I obsessed about reading the news every chance I could, as if the journalists could foretell our uncertain future. I’ll never forget how he crash of Enron sent destructive ripples through the city – through every industry. Employed at a marketing communications firm, I (somehow) survived two rounds of layoffs. It was a frightening, emotional and stressful period, with days full of twice the workload and newly-absent beloved co-workers, sent to find employment elsewhere. I grew up during this time - and I learned the value of gratitude – and making the most of what we’re given.
These days, I’m doing good if I sit down to read the headlines at some point during the day…or the week! My freelance workload has been fairly slow, which has been a blessing, since I’m still adjusting to life with two children. But when I’m not writing for clients, I’ll admit that some days my brain goes to mush, and I make little effort to read CNN’s headlines. (So, I will try to catch the day’s political recap with Rachel Maddow or John Stewart for some good laughs.)
With a passionate, energetic three year-old girl and a nursing 5 month-old boy, my agendas are different these days, and a successful day has nothing to do with clients, and everything to do with a small girl whose soft hands reach for mine in the parking lot of a busy grocery store. And a tiny boy who lights up when he sees me with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a good day if there’s little fever, lots of arts and crafts projects mixed in with some Barney and Word World – and of course, some treats. Oh – and 2-3 good naps for little guy!)
With all of the hectic, stressful headlines indicating an uncertain future, it’s quite easy to get sucked into the downtrodden-ness of it all. The good side of it is – and I don’t mean to sound cliché – but times like these really remind me how little we really need to be happy…yet how much we already have.
The life our family lives inside our walls may be filled with some sleep-deprived nights and nonstop, messy days, but this life is simply beautiful - even when paper, glue, play-doh and beads keep me from seeing the floor.