It's that time again.
If you saw us out and about, you would think we are the ideal family. We look good. I am driving around in a gold Lexus, I have two glittering rings on my left hand, the children are well-dressed, and I am frequently glancing at my iPhone.
Because to you, we look good.
But it's that time again. You don't know that my Lexus has over 175,000 miles, a check engine light that has been on for months, and the front passenger tire is a full-sized spare. You don't know that the reason I have two rings on my left hand is because one belonged to my husband, who shot himself four years ago. You don't know that my two children are well-dressed because the Goodwill in the upper class part of town has the best clothing. You don't know that I'm checking my phone to see if the eBay and Craigslist posts are getting any response, because we need money to make the gas light go away.
Because we look good.
Unemployment made me an instant economics expert. I can do fast estimations and calculations of the costs of goods sold against income projections. I know that my car gets 19.7 miles to the gallon, and when the light comes on, I have approximately 39.4 miles left to drive. I know that gas is $3.39 per gallon in town, but I can spend $1.31 worth of gas (0.4 gallons) to drive the extra 8 miles to the nearest truck stop to save $0.10 per gallon. It's not much of a savings, but I can also buy groceries there, so it saves me an extra trip, too.
We look good. We aren't concerned about keeping up the appearance, really. My kids don't know we are struggling because they don't know any differently, being only 4- and 5-years-old. They are still young enough to think PB&J with mac 'n cheese is a very cool dinner. They love working in the garden and the fresh vegetables, as well as cutting out coupons. They can't wait to get new books from the library for us to read, because they don't really care that we had to sell the television.
Unemployment has taught us all about economics and the value of family; what is important and what we really didn't need anyway. About surviving with grace and gratitude.
We look good, because we are good.