I don't have a glamorous job. In fact, I have three (or four, depending on how you look at it) rather unglamorous jobs. Today, I was covered in snot, drool, tears, pee, applesauce, and Greek yogurt. The Greek yogurt was my own doing, but the rest was the result of caring for multiple children at the same time. Actually, the reason I spilled my own yogurt on myself was because a kid distracted me by whining obnoxiously, but I'll let that one go.
I haven't been able to buy a new pair of running shoes because I can't afford them. Now, I do plan on going to Walmart tomorrow and getting a very cheap pair to use until I CAN afford to go get fitted for a nice (AKA expensive) pair, but I'd really like to be able to afford something as simple as a pair of nice running shoes so I don't mess up my knees/hips/feet too much. Other times it would be nice to not have to worry about the tires on my car or the dwindling food supply in my fridge. It would be nice to not worry about the little what ifs that come from living from paycheck to paycheck on a very tight budget.
Sometimes people feel the need to have discussions with me regarding what I do for a living, because they can't figure out why in the world I keep working such random hours with germy, whiny kids for such little pay and NO benefits. Sometimes, I ask myself the same question. I come up with a few good answers that sound like excuses, and they might even be excuses. Like..."I don't have experience in any fields other than childcare," or "In this economy, I really should just be grateful that I have work," or "I'm just doing this until I become a wildly famous published author." There's another answer I have for the question, "Why in the world do I keep working such random hours with germy, whiny kids for such little pay and NO benefits?" The answer I have is kind of surprising.
It's because I love it.
I did get tears and snot and slobber on my shirt and in my hair today. It was because a kid I just so happen to LOVE was crying, so I picked him up and cuddled him while he snotted all over me. Did I appreciate the snot? Of course not, but it didn't matter that much to me because I got snotted when I was caring for a kid I love. I was so grateful for that opportunity.
Does it stink that I often struggle to have enough to get by? Yes. But let me tell you--when I walked into work this morning and had FIVE kids attack me in a wonderful group hug, that was worth more to me than any income.
This all isn't to say that I probably shouldn't aim higher in all areas of my life--including my career (for lack of a better term). I sometimes just don't know the difference between settling for something and being content with what I have. I do think that there are a lot of people out there who set their expectations far too high. For instance, I could care less about the American Dream. The car I have has some flaws, but it's a nicer car than I ever imagined myself having. Sometimes I feel guilty about having a car so nice--even if at the moment it needs some repair work that I can't afford. The apartment I live in is ancient. Most of the people that visit it call it "quaint," and it is quaint. But I have a roof over my head--a fan to keep me cool in the summer and an electric blanket to keep me warm in the winter. Eventually it would be nice to have a nice house of my own so I wouldn't have to keep paying rent, but I could live quite happily in something very small. In fact, the smaller the house, the less I'd have to keep clean. Retirement fund? What's that? I plan on working until I'm dead or just completely unable to work (either mentally or physically). Health insurance? That would be VERY nice--but unless I have some kind of freak accident or appendicitis or something, I'm doing quite well without it. Someday I'll get it. I think that someday will come in a few short years--after I get my student loans paid off. I'm okay with waiting for that.
Maybe it's because I haven't experienced a lot of the stuff that a lot of Americans think they need, but I really don't have that much of a problem with the life I have. Sometimes it would be nice to not have to worry about finances, but God has taught me so much about trust through those struggles. Sometimes it would be nice not to want to rip my hair out because kids are driving me crazy, but God has blessed me with these wonderful kids...and I love them so much, (even despite the snot)! I kinda sorta think I've gotten to the point that even if I do become a wildly famous published author, I still would like to work with kids in some capacity.
Eventually I might get sick of the rat race. Eventually I might get sick of being covered in kid goo. Right now, I just can't seem to justify complaining about it. When I consider that the VAST majority of the world's population lives on LESS THAN $2.00 PER DAY, it kind of makes me feel grateful for the amazing things I DO have instead of worrying or getting upset over the things I don't have. Maybe sometimes the difference between settling for something and being content with what you have is a matter of perspective.
And you know, my current financial state gives me some small motivation to keep working towards that goal of becoming a published author. I'm pretty sure I DO need to set my expectations higher with that.