Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to Lose a Job Day 1: Love Your Man, Secure Your Kids

Ya'll, I have had the worst sinus infection this week, and I'm more than tipped off my rocker, but I made a promise and I'm trying to keep it. Nope, that picture has nothing to do with anything...well, I do eventually talk about kids... so there. It works.

I know there are a lot of you out there that are getting concerned about the economy. Some of you think daily about the chance of you, or your spouse, losing a job and the what-ifs that come with that scenario, and some of you are right in the middle of it, like me.

I don't have expert advice, so you should find an expert for that, but I will try to run down some of the things we experienced and learned through our first job-loss, that were reaffirmed in our second. Sometimes things are less scary if you've heard someone else tell what they did through it. So if you find yourself where we are, you can at least know there's someone that's been there, and we're fine. And you'll be fine.

I want to say first, that both times we've been left jobless and incomeless have actually been incredible blessings. And I'm not just trying to sound spiritual here, or wax fake-optimism. If we ever started to believe we were in control of our lives, our money, our resources, then having them taken away is a glorious wake up call to smell the goodness of the One who gives and takes away. And a reality check to re-realize our worth is in HIM, not what we DO. It's actually a tremendous feeling of freedom to just have to throw your hands in the air and know you're surrendered to the Provider, in case we'd been losing touch with the reality of our daily need for Him. And you can read more waxing about that here.

I'm going to break these posts down day by day. Starting with the day you get the news. And I write from the perspective of a family with one income, and who deeply love the Lord. Many of you can relate to our dynamic, some can't, but maybe you'll find this interesting to read anyway.

Step One when you hear the news is simple: Do not be afraid. And don't freak out. You will be fine. Even if it's hard, and in ways it will be, you will be fine. You can lose savings, a home, and be fine. You will be OK.

My career is at home. I've been working hard at it for nearly six years. Jim's career is in engineering- basically, pick what I'm good at and then trek over to the polar opposite, and you have Jim's job. And we both really, really love our jobs. So Jim being without his is a very tough thing. He loves the highly technical, fast-paced responsibility of his work. And it's a big blow to all of the sudden have a job you thrive in taken away.

My point: It's hard for a man to lose his work. There is something to it that I think women can't completely understand. And your husband might not be able to beautifully articulate all this to you, or understand how he's feeling himself. He does not need to hear how upset I am over and over again. He doesn't need me to ask him 20 questions all basically boiling down to, "What are we going to do?!" He needs a strong, loving friend who's 100% beside him. Both days we got the ax were actually fantastic days of affirming our love and partnership to one another. We just jumped off that ledge together and knew a good amount of peace. If I had immediately jumped in with a series of nagging questions, or expressed disappointment in him as if he had control over losing his job, and gave a list of my top 100 worries... it would have really wounded our bond, I think.

Step 2: That first day, just love on each other, and keep the other words few. You can talk that all over tomorrow, after a good night's sleep levels your heads a bit.

And about your kids...

So, your husband gets home, perhaps early, perhaps your kids heard you talking to him on the phone about it, perhaps they're confused. One thing every Mama knows is, they probably already know something is wrong, even if you haven't told them. Kids know these things, intuitively. They read us with frightening clarity. They might not completely understand what's going on, but they know something's up. And our anxiety rubs off on them, almost instantly. You know what I mean.

Something we did both times that I think really sealed this deal for our kids was to be very upfront with them, from the beginning, about what was going on. Well, Hudson didn't care, but Grace, Patience and Lily are old enough to understand, and they needed and deserved a clear explanation- they're just as much affected by the change as Mom and Dad.

I think that it's best if you tell your kids first, before you call your best friend, or your families, tell your kids. If you don't, they're going to overhear you anyway, and might get worried- as we've seen how people react to hearing that news- usually they're really, really upset for you, like more upset than you are. Sit your family down together with both Mom and Dad and in whatever way is fitting for them, let them know what's happened, and that it will mean making a few changes to the way we do things, but it means good changes too- that Daddy will be home more and we'll get to do some really fun and special things together. Explain that Daddy's new job is to find a new job, so sometimes he'll be working hard at the computer (resumes etc) and when he is, we need to let him work hard. Most importantly, right away we spoke truth all together as a family about God's control and care for us, His love and that He never, ever leaves us. So we'll take this closed door as a gift, and pray for the next to open. And in the meantime, we'll just enjoy what He's got for us now, in this surprise vacation.

Kid's really, really love and need to be a central part of these seasons of life. They see God's hand at work in your family, and they won't have the chance to witness their parent's faith in action, or to see their own faith grow, if they are completely shielded from it. Our kids have loved to see prayer and faith in action in their own house- to see their prayers answered. Yours will too.

So Step 3: Just give your kids strong feet to stand on, and they'll be fine. And be careful what you say and in the attitude you reflect in the coming days and weeks around them- they do NOT need to know everything that's going on. You can decide what they hear and don't, but make sure you do keep some conversations just between you and your husband, so they don't get too much information.

Our kids have loved it when Daddy's lost his job. Just yesterday Grace told Jim, "Daddy, I really like it when you lose your job! It's really, really fun."

If you stay tight as a family, love on each other like crazy, hold close to Jesus, and don't give way to fear, your kids may mark the occaision as some of the best times they can remember. I know we all have. They may feel more loved, more secure, than ever.

I'll be back tomorrow with the practical side of things that you may want to do the next day- after that good night's sleep.


anne said...

Megan, I think your advice is quite sound. :) You may be no "expert" but you are a VERY wise woman and I respect your thoughts and your desire to bring glory to God.
LOVE you.

Anne Elizabeth said...

I just have quick second but wanted to say that I think this is GREAT advice!

Amy said...

Great advice!! I love #1--it is SOOO important not to 'overreact' when you may want to--like you said, he's having a hard enough time as it is, what good is you ranting and raving about something neither has control over.
Your children, and Jim, are very blessed to have you.
Thanks for sharing.

Jenn Boerger said...

Love you sharing your experience with all of us! Jake was the last one hired at his current job, and we think about this often, that he will probably be the first to be let go, and what will we do, etc? I'm sure it's difficult to share, but we can all really learn from you right now! Know we pray for you...

Lisa said...

how are you so smart for such a young lil' chick-a-dee?

Josh's company did some lay offs yesterday. it's scary times out there. glad that you are able to stay so grounded. your hubby and family are blessed by you!