the right wrong

It’s a mistake to think things can’t get worse because they always can.

The day can be normal, and with a quick, routine glance at the computer, life changes.

I had gotten a brief email earlier stating the minimum:  He had been laid off.  Unexpectedly.

Yes, the company was having some financial troubles, but who wasn’t?

Yes, we were expecting there to be layoffs, but not BOTH salesmen–certainly not someone who went from sweeping the floors in the shop to being the go-to guy for inside sales.

We were in shock.

My mind was reeling with questions and worst case scenarios as I drove home in the autumn sunshine.  The day seemed so happy and light, but I was slowly sinking into my catastrophic thinking.

The next day he was supposed to collect his stuff.

And then apply for unemployment.

Unemployment.

The word felt like sour rusty metal in our mouths.

It was for the rest of the country.  Not us.

Family business meant security.

If anyone was going to lose her job, it was me.  Our district had been making cuts left and right, and I had already held one of those pink slips.

Pink paper is heavier than other colors, and the weight of that slip nearly broke him.

My husband is strong.

I watched him hold himself upright with dry eyes at his dad’s funeral just days after having abdominal surgery.

He had held the pieces of me after I broke from two miscarriages.

In that moment, my steadfast partner lost his sparkle.  He was starting to fade.

From that exact moment that he had to look at me, and not just type out the situation to me, he began to lose something.

I suddenly stepped into a role that was unfamiliar to me.

We will be ok, I heard myself saying.

Even though on the inside I had completely lost my shit.

Even though there was a buzzing behind my eyes of worry and anxiety.

Everything will be fine, babe.  Really.

Sometimes you just say things and hope they are true.

For seventeen months we were blinded by budgets and money scrapping and never saying no to extra opportunities.

And the whole time Eddie was given the gift of a stay at home parent.

He was given his daddy.

It’s a mistake to think that everything is wrong.

Because sometimes the most important things are very, very right.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I am knocked over by the sheer beauty of what you’ve written here and all of the emotions behind it.

  2. Great post. I love the relationship you have with your husband.

    I have to remind myself every day that this time at home with the girl is a gift. I’ll work again [stupid economy notwithstanding] but she’ll be here in our house for such a short time.

  3. Geez. Like I haven’t cried enough lately? This was gorgeous, friend. Everything about it. Just gorgeous.

  4. This totally struck a nerve with me because my RemembRED post, that I’m posting tomorrow is extremely similar. I mean really, REALLY similar. It’s hard to find the good in a situation like this…I know first hand. You did it beautifully. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I had a knot in my stomach reading this; the writing is so raw. This part really caught me: “Sometimes you just say things and hope they are true.”

    We had a slightly similar situation; Ryan was laid off right before we had Abbey. He was able to make a career change that he had been contemplating, and he was home with us for a month, which was a gift. (He was home for about three days with Dylan with his new job.)

    I am so happy things are working out for your family.

  6. I gave myself the pink slip. Hard to do when your life is your work, but giving your child the gift of a mommy or daddy at home is priceless. Thank you for the sheer transparency in your writing.

  7. Oh, this is beautiful. Just beautiful. What a great partnership you and your husband have. Being a stay at home parent is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but also one of the most important.

  8. This is beautiful, Katie. One of your best pieces. I love how you switched roles – outwardly, anyway – when Cort needed you most. And Eddie is VERY lucky to have that time with his father.

    David got laid off right before Sawyer was born, but he knew it was coming (his company got bought) and already had something else lined up. But it was the beginning of him working from home, and he has had the chance to see our kids do things he never would if he were gone 10 hours a day.

    It truly is a gift.

  9. beautifully done and great perspective

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been out of work since the end of January. I can completely relate to his angst. It’s hard not contributing like you’re accustomed. A good partner, and a lot of patience, is so important. Glad he got to spend time with your little guy. He’ll cherish it forever.

  11. 17 months. Wow. I’m glad you got through it. Eddie was havin’ him a good time!

  12. Beautiful. Loved every word.

  13. Katie, I love coming over here because I honestly don’t know what I’ll get. I know I’ll like it, but never know what it will be. This was beautiful, and I’m so proud that someone your age (I’m old, so bear with me here) can have such insight and compassion. I have been unemployed for 18 months and it has been such an emotional roller
    coaster. I’ve lost a lot in the way of financial security, but have been forced to reinvent myself and my life, and it has been eye-opening. My priorities and the way I look at life and others has changed. Thanks for sharing this post. It just reinforced some things for me and I feel stronger.

  14. Getting laid off is a terrible thing to go through but sometimes it really can be a blessing in disguise. I hope your boys enjoyed their time together.

  15. I love how you stepped into the role of the “piece” keeper while you let Cort have his down time so to speak. To see how you are each the half to one whole is so wonderful and often times so rare these days!

    And it is a wonderful thing to have a stay at home parent, Eddie is so very lucky!

  16. This was great. As men it is very hard to feel like you can’t provide for your family in the manner you want to. It is disheartening. You did a very nice job of illustrating that and then taking us to Cort caring for your son. That is very cool.

    I wish that I could have done with my kids.

  17. We have tasted the sour rust of Unemployment, scrapping by. Me, not my husband–he’s he sole proprietor, though. Layoffs aren’t possible, but lack of work for the company sure is.

    But I got the gift of eight months home with my son.

    And the job I have now? I’d trade it for the Commonwealth’s checks in a heartbeat, budgets and fear included.

    Except when you quit? They don’t help you out…

    This was a perfect example for the prompt. So perfect, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it for myself. Like everyone, I’m touched by the strength of the bond between you and Cort, and how you manage to show it to us without whacking us over the head with it.

    Good stuff.

  18. I’ve said it in my head before, and I’ll say it out loud here: You and Cort and the heart and soul of your writing. I love your love story.

  19. Oh, so beautiful! There is a silver lining to everything, isn’t there?

    I really loved your line about pink being the heaviest of colors. You are such a gifted writer, Katie!

  20. Wow, this a beautiful post! Unemployment is really tough on everyone, but especially families with little kids.

  21. I love this because of its lovely simplicity and because I know there are so, so many others who this has happened to who can benefit from your story. The kids don’t know the job is gone, the just relish in how they now have a parent by their side more often.

  22. We’re collecting the unemployment now – as my husband is a statistic. A foreign company bought his US company and WHAM – job gone. We’ll survive, even if we have to live in a shack. We will. Because we’re together.

  23. Truly a blessing. I always love the way you tell a story.

  24. This is so beautiful Katie. It truly is a blessing to have a supportive relationship. And what a HUGE gift to your son to have a stay at home parent for a while. I’m sure it was terribly difficult but there’s joy in finding the good out of the bad.

  25. What an amazing post. My grandma always used to say “everything happens for a reason. You may not know the reason now, but eventually you’ll look back, and you’ll figure it out.” She said this to me countless times growing up (and as a young adult) whenever I poured my heart out to her about a situation that seemed insurmountable. And I can think of two situations in my life that seemed particularly dire at the time (once involving a terrible job situation, the other involving the possible dissolution of my marriage), and both times, her words rang true. I am now at a job that I LOVE — and one that I wouldn’t have given a second glance if not for being in a terrible situation at the job that I thought was perfect for me. And, my marriage is stronger than I ever could have hoped for and we have R — neither of which would have happened without a terrible, but soul-searching-filled, six month separation.

    Sorry for the rambling, but your beautiful and eloquent words (as always) immediately brought thoughts of my grandmother to mind, and the blessings in disguise in my life. I’m so glad that you were able to recognize your blessing in disguise.

  26. I was tearing up reading this at my desk. Thinking that you had all the right words, all the fear, anxiety, uncertainess that we have all felt lately. Plus you fighting for him, giving Cort the support he needed even when your heart wasn’t there. That is marriage. That is love and to be able to look back, see that road behind you and know where it has taken you.
    WOW, this was just beautiful.

  27. Beautiful Katie!
    Despite the circumstances, how wonderful for Eddie and Cort to have those 17 months together of bonding and building that relationship that will last a lifetime!

  28. This post really is a sign of the times, isn’t it? So many people are having to deal with the fear unemployment and it can really be jarring. It’s a hard reality to face. This was so well written.

  29. How amazing that your husband got to be a stay at home dad!

    I wrote my post about being laid off as a teacher… plus my husband has been laid off a couple of times, so we can definitely relate to this!

  30. Breathtakingly beautiful…wow – just wow!!

  31. I was so moved. Just beautifully written. Such strength. You and your hubby are awesome.

  32. Katie…beautiful post…when we were going through this (hubby got laid off twice while I was a SAHM) I couldn’t bring myself to write about it without sounding angry or resentful…you did it perfectly – it couldn’t have been easy

  33. I really felt your struggle to be strong. We fall into our roles (strong one, emotional one, etc.) and it is so disconcerting to have to trade places. Really beautiful post that showed how life is what you make of it.

  34. I can completely relate to this. My husband was laid off a few years back and I had to be the strong one. Our roles reversed. He was also the strong supportive one and at that time it was my turn.

    This was so perfectly written. Very well done!!

  35. Love this! Your writing jumps off the screen at me and leaves me wanting more. This piece made me question how I would react in a situation like this. I haven’t let myself really think about it before.

    “Pink paper is heavier than other colors, and the weight of that slip nearly broke him.”

    Amazing! I can see it, feel it, fear it!

    Keep it coming!

  36. Love the ‘sour rusty metal’, I’ve tasted that disappointment too.

  37. What an amazing outlook on life you have and yes, what a time in your son’s life that he will always remember being with Dad. Big hugs to you and your family.

  38. Like I always end up remembering, time and again: It all happens for a reason.

    I love the way you presented this – especially the line about pink paper being heavier. So, so true.

  39. This is a beautiful post. You really do have to look at the silver lining of it all sometimes. This economy, especially in Michigan is so scary. I’d be lying to say that it hasn’t caused us many sleepless nights. It’s great you both have a good partnership – it’s so important in tough times.

  40. I love the good you found in the bad, Kate. Love it.

    And isn’t it great that in your marriage, you are the comforter and support when he needs it and he does the same for you when you need it? That’s how Dan and I work. When I freak, he stays calm, and when he’s about to lose it, I’m all level-headed.

    And isn’t it even better when you say “this will be okay” and it is?

    ::sigh::

  41. Absolutely beautiful.