Word is more or less out.
More, because every time I turn on the news, I see other families who are struggling to make ends meet. The News. Every time.
Less, because in our personal lives, we feel like we are weekly having to humiliate ourselves. There are two responses to another person's hard times... sensitivity and dignity or the other one.
Sensitivity and dignity... "I know things have been tight. I was cleaning house and found some things. I would like to give you for the kids. You know, spinbrushes, shower gels...stocking stuffers. It wouldn't be from me, it could be from Santa or you guys or whatever you want to do. I just wanted to offer. We are in a position to help this year, and I know that one of these days you will be able to help someone else. Maybe us."
I got that all out of order, but there it is.
The other one... Wednesday before Thanksgiving: "I heard you might need the money and I prefer to hire middle schoolers because they aren't usually able to make more money elsewhere and they are more trainable and I would like to have your girls clean for me this afternoon for four hours. I have people coming in."
(I told her we had a choir performance that day and were partly concerned about our own holiday celebration. She was miffed. And, no, my girls aren't middle schoolers.)
Saturday: She:"Wonder if the girls are busy today."
Me: I am taking M. to get her glasses and then we have a play performance in the afternoon.
She: I only need them for four hours.
Me: I am right now looking for Bro's Rx and we are going to head out. I don't know how long it will take.
She: So the girls are just going along for the ride.
Me: No. Bro needs glasses and M needs glasses and ...[Further details on our whole day and all the reasons why I am doing it this way.]
She: Well, you don't need to tell me all that. I need someone to clean before company comes and then I will need someone again before the holiday. I am prepared to pay $5/hour. If they aren't available today, we can do it tomorrow afternoon or Tuesday afternoon. I will need them for four hours and I will see if my husband can come pick them up.
Me: I will have to check and see what all else we have coming up.
(This is not all of it, but in all this, I mentioned that the girls were 14.)
Voice Mail 10 minutes later: You mentioned that the girls were older. I am prepared to pay $7/hour. Which is more than I pay J and E, who normally do it for me (she has never said whether this rate is each or for the set). And my husband can pick them up.
To be honest, I think one of my girls would make her re-think her position on hiring young people of a certain age. She didn't ask. I could clean the devil out of her house, but she didn't ask me. She never asked anything. She assumed.
While I was writing I remembered I had screened her Sunday afternoon...grabbed that voice mail... "I feel like I owe you an apology and I would like to make it." I know, now I know I have to return her call.
Today is filled. I am providing a ride for the daughter of some friends who called and asked me to get her to campus and back because they are having a scheduling thing. She has a final today and neither mom nor dad nor older sister are able to swing this. They asked. It isn't particularly convenient, but we are friends and they have a need. I agreed without hesitation. There is no money involved.
Carrie sent me a tiara this week. I need encouragement. She can feel it. I am extremely blessed. It raised my head. It went straight to my heart.
So, money is tight. That is not all we are or all we have. I am so glad I have friends who remind me that I am a friend and worth more than the difference between our bank balances.