It all started with a bad economy. And a new baby. And the first fall I didn’t work. And finally getting around to creating a new budget in November and finding a number in red at the bottom of the spreadsheet.
My part-time, 6-hour-a-week teaching position was cut at the Catholic school where I had worked for 5 years. It really wasn’t a bad deal, because I got to skip the discernment process of “do I continue working after the birth of baby number two, due in June?” The answer, unequivocally, was no. You wouldn’t think cutting 6 hours of worktime from a budget would make a big difference in the bottom line, but it did for us.
It was shocking. It was depressing. It was scary.
I had a lot of stress about not having enough money to live our already (incredibly) frugal life. I couldn’t figure out what we could possibly cut. There were times that I found myself breathing too fast thinking about it. There were times that I found myself forgetting to breathe, then realizing I was worried about money without even thinking about it! It wasn’t a very happy few weeks. I was determined to find a way to bring in some income.
- I sent out letters to schools with my tutoring business cards. Even one student a week would have brought the bottom line back into focus…in the color black, thank you very much.
- I considered doing in-home childcare – but for whom? And could I do it was a 5-month-old baby myself?
- I poked around online to see what I might need to do to be a freelance writer.
- I started brainstorming book ideas again.
I’ve always wanted to write Kitchen Stewardship and had been writing it in my head for a few years, but I never thought it would come to reality. A few people recommended I begin with a blog to form a readership base, so I started by checking out what other blogs were out there. I found some moms much like me, doing their best to feed their families well and be godly women.
I also started a proposal to a publishing company which asked that I compare my book idea with other similar books. That meant I had to find books on some of my topics. I discovered some interesting sounding texts that tackled nutrition and saving the earth, and I had already read some good ones on time management and financial support. Nobody tackled everything at once with a godly perspective like I wanted to, so I was excited that perhaps my book idea was unique and highly motivated to get started writing.
Then I started researching topics in the nutrition and environmental issues. That’s when the insanity began. Every time I turned a page, I found a new health hazard I didn’t know about, a new reason all the changes I had already made to improve our family’s nutrition weren’t good enough. Honestly, everywhere I looked I began to see evil.
I found myself standing in front of the milk at Meijer, frozen with fear. I didn’t know what to buy! It wasn’t that the milk wasn’t on sale, either. It was on sale – that’s why I was standing there, of course. The problem was that the organic milk had been heated too much (and was way too expensive), the skim milk had oxidized cholesterol in it and the whole milk was still missing most of its enzymes and a whole bunch of vitamins, because those cows certainly weren’t eating grass. It was all homogenized, which could negatively impact my husband’s cholesterol. I honestly didn’t know what to do.
I ended up taking home a gallon of ½% and a gallon of whole milk, store brand, $2.50 apiece. It was like buying illegal drugs for all the dread I felt bringing them home. I probably have a calcium deficiency because now that I have milk in the house, I’m not sure if I should drink a glass with dinner or not.
I look at my microwave and wonder what it’s doing to our family and our food. I make a call on the cell phone and imagine rays of death going into my infant’s brain through her thin skull. I try making nutritious meals following my new information, and my husband is less than pleased (and sometimes I am too) with the result.
If it’s not fun at all to eat, maybe I’m working too hard. If I’m worrying so much about cancer and dying, am I going to have a heart attack from stress??? At the same time that I’m trying to figure out how to earn extra money and be super-tight with our budget, I’m wanting to buy organic cotton PJs, a new mattress that won’t offgas in the night, and all sorts of specialty foods because the standard supermarket fare is going to kill me. What’s a gal to do?
Thanks for reading the “tip of the iceberg”. Join me next week for another installment of my journey, which my mother says will be an interesting and necessary first chapter in the book someday…
Catch up on the other installments of “My Story”: