The Laid Off Call

We both knew it could happen, but we hoped that it wouldn’t. 

We had talked about it and tried to imagine plans for different scenarios.

My husband had been placed on furlough already, people at his company were getting laid off every day. 

Then it happened, he got the call. 

I’ve been a stay at home mom for seven years, it’s a blessing and it’s wonderful, until your family’s whole livelihood is gone in one phone call.

His company reassured him that when things picked up again, he would be one of the first they would offer a job to. Even as they were saying it, my gut was telling me that if they have to go from placing everyone on furlough to laying them off, that rescue call would be a long way off.

Right now, we’re all full of uncertainty. No one really knows right now, do they? Can we “bounce back” in a few months? Or, will the damage from this pandemic leave scars for the rest of our life?

We have both lost jobs previously in our relationship, but we were in our early twenties and had some of that youthful invincibility. I remember thinking, “whatever––I can always live in my car if I have to!”

When you have a home, cars, two kids and some pets, it feels so much different. 

Even though I thought I would be ready for that call, when it happened I needed deep breaths so steady myself. It felt like a punch in the gut, like the floor beneath me had fallen away. 

I hadn’t even thought about insurance! His job had provided good insurance for us for so many years, I didn’t even know what it was like to shop the market. What if something came up suddenly? 

Then it really settles in that the bills will continue rolling in, but the paychecks have stopped. 

I asked myself to redefine essentials. I suppose I don’t need to drink Topo Chico everyday, how helpful are those expensive multivitamins?! Are the kids actually benefiting from trumpet classes? 

Like it or not, our lives were changed. Our security blanket was gone. Even in a best case scenario, life would be more difficult, we would be working hard and keeping to a strict budget while we start our way back up. 

I asked myself, do we tell the kids? How long until they notice things are different, how long until they no longer think that daddy being home is another fun part of this “extended spring break”?

I think I imagined before that if a steady job was going to disappear, you would see it coming. Like a train pulling into a station, it would take time for things to slowly fizzle out. It wasn’t like that. One moment we had an optimistic and promising trajectory for 2020. There were contracts, and jobs lined up as far as we could see. A week later we woke up in a world we could barely recognize anymore. 

For weeks already, my heart has been heavy knowing how much of the world is suffering through the anxiety and panic of the unknown, but now that fear is inside the walls of our own home, and it is impossible to shut it out. 

After that call. I felt like a true mom when playing through my head over and over was princess Anna’s voice saying “do the next best thing.”

The next best thing? 

We went for a run, to clear the collywobbles out of our heads and to take deep steadying breaths. 

We came home, and enjoyed the day with the kids. 

After bedtime we cracked open some wine, and made a new budget plus plans A, B, C, and D. (Plan D is “sell everything, buy a camper and travel the world!” Just because I feel like that should always be on everybody’s list.)

I made a gratitude list. I felt peace wash over me when I remembered how thankful I am that we are safe, we are healthy and capable of working, we have everything we need right now, and we have each other. The silver lining of this all is to enjoy more family time than we have had together in years. 

I can’t say exactly how yet, but we keep reassuring each other we will be okay. It’s an odd combination of horror and comfort to think that families all over the world are going through this at the same time as us. 

This won’t be fixed overnight. But we can continue to do the next best thing every day, and keep reminding each other that we will be okay until we truly are okay again.