Day 27 – The Perks and the Panic of Unemployment

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Wednesday – September 24, 2014

I am officially the regular pickup parent at school. Cami’s teachers know to look for me, we have conversations that continue from one day to the next, and they feel free to give me pertinent information. I remember when I would go pick up the kids once in a while and Cami’s teachers would reintroduce themselves every time. I like being more in touch with things, but it also represents a loss of… status? No, that’s not right. Something though. I lost something to gain something there.

* * *

Our friends Pete and Lisa, who live in Europe, came over to hang out for pretty much the whole day. They brought pizza, then later when we were done with that they bought bags and bags of candy. We all blew our diets to smithereens as we played games and laughed and talked. In the middle of the freakin’ day. I felt like I was getting away with something. I know I took a vacation already this year, and yet I didn’t have to ask for time off to do any of it.

There are perks, is all I’m saying. There are perks.

Cami
Cami

Cami was particularly insistent on her share of candy, even going so far as to say “candy.” I’ve mentioned that Cami is a our middle daughter with special needs, but I don’t know that I’ve ever explained what those needs are. The sad truth is we’ve got no idea what is up with Cami–she does not have a diagnosis. She’s smaller than other kids her age, less coordinated. She doesn’t process information the same way we do and it’s hard to gauge how much she understands because her vocabulary is only in the double digits. Whatever it is that delays her development so very much, it impacts her speech in a big way. Once in a while–once in a great while–she’ll come out with new words out of the blue. Today, it was “candy.”

A couple months ago, when we still had jobs and went on that vacation and could do things like spend money freely (we were so young! so innocent!), we were with family in Oregon when Cami all of the sudden decided she could say “Daddy.” She said it over and over again, particularly when I entered the room. This wasn’t a case of interpreting a sound to make it mean what we wanted–she was really saying my name (well, title).

How do I even explain what that did to me? I have been waiting nine years for Cami to call me “Daddy,” but I’ve never even heard anything close to it coming out of her mouth. Cami is always excited when she sees me, but there was something about her actually saying my name that put a big ol’ rock in my throat. I could not be more connected with Cami, and yet, instantly, we were more connected. She was my little girl and I was her Daddy for what felt like the very first time.

There are two sad codas to this story:

1. She has yet to say it again since we’ve come back from Oregon. (This is Cami’s way–she’ll do a thing and then either never do it again or wait several years before making it a regular part of her behavior.)

2. She has still never said “Mommy.” To be fair, she seems completely unable to make the “m” sound. I think Erin will honestly break down in tears if it ever happens.

* * *

Had a good time this evening drawing for my online comic, The SuperFogeys, after everyone went to bed. I don’t do a whole lot of drawing these days because I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to, but every once in a while, for a change in pace, it hits the spot. This was one of those times.

One of my favorite SuperFogeys strips.
One of my favorite SuperFogeys strips.

Unfortunately, right in the middle of this late night drawing session, I was hit with a wave of panic. Ever since losing my job I’ve been getting these now and again. There’s no real rhyme or reason to when they happen–they just happen. When the wave hits, I feel lost and abandoned and, worst of all, like I’m just not doing enough and am somehow responsible for the current state of my life. Like I’ve broken faith with my family and could have done something that could have avoided all this.

I don’t honestly believe that (the circumstances of my job loss had nothing to do with my performance on the job), but it’s hard sometimes to not play the blame game a little. I look around, I try to find someone to blame, and I land right on me.

I’ve called moments like these George Bailey Moments, and that’s still accurate. I’m getting better at shaking it off though. I’m able to rationalize my way through it as an unproductive line of thought, a lie the weaker part of myself is all too willing to tell.

That part of myself? That guy that brings me down? He’s a tool.