People in the news talk about unemployment numbers as though they were just numbers. They're not. They're people without jobs.
My husband works for an automotive supplier, and last week he came home every day talking about who was heading home for the last time.
I didn't let on, but I dreaded the conversation we would have every evening. Early in the week, he told me a few people were "let go" with a sense of half-relief. "They usually make all the cuts in one day," he said. But the next day there were more cuts and more and more. By the end of the week, we found ourselves talking about financial strategy.
It was and is nerve-wracking.
Today, the President came out and said that the economy may worsen before it gets better. That may be true, but I can feel my hair going grey and those pesky worry lines on my forehead getting deeper. When I opened this morning's news paper, I saw that John Deere announced they're cutting jobs in Iowa. Caterpillar is cutting jobs in Illinois. I won't even talk about Michigan. The evening news held announcements of job cuts at Home Depot, Nextel, Spring, Pfizer. Every state is being hit -- hard.
During the past year, we have trimmed our household budget down to bare bones, or so I thought before last week. Now, when I think about how we could survive job loss, if that were to happen, I know that we could have to cut much more. All over this country, men and women are having to make choices about whether to buy food or keep warm, whether to get a doctor's care or fix the car, whether to pay their house payment or their credit card bill. There is no doubt about it; we are in a rough place as a country.
The question is, what do we do about it?
During times like these, when I feel my sense of worry deepen, just about the only way I can find comfort is by reaching out. Last week, we went through all our clothing to donate warm snowsuits, jackets, sweaters, and boots to our local family clothing ministry. My boys are participating in a food drive through school to help keep our local food pantry stocked. We have set aside furniture to donate to the YWCA shelter for abused women. I know it's not much, but it is something.
When I think about how bad the economy is and how bad it may become, I think about how our grandparents' generation made it through the depression. I think about how my own parents made it through tough economic times, even with 6 children.
They made it through by counting on each other.
People make the difference in difficult times. Neighbors help to fix a car. Sisters help to share food or babysit. Friends offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Strangers donate food or clothing or transportation to the doctor.
And so I tell myself, no matter how worried I am about the future, I have a loving family. I have caring neighbors. I have friends at church and school. I have faith.
I take a deep breath and despite my worry I tell myself, We will be okay.
And then I look around to see who I can help. Please, I truly hope you do, too. In our lifetime, there has never been a more important time to pitch in.
Maybe if we all do, these troubled times might become a little bit easier.
- Midwest Mom