WARNING: This will probably be a long, rambling post. I am mostly venting and trying to not be an ostrich any more!
Ok, I am going through something not-so-great right now and have debated back and forth with myself over whether to blog about it or not. Obviously since I'm typing this and you are now reading it, I've decided to go ahead and blog about it. I do not want to continue my ostrich pattern any longer and hopefully I will get some good advice on how to handle this sticky situation.
This story can be a little confusing and somewhat complicated so just bear with me...
Ok, as most of you know my JOB is babysitting children in my home. The money I make from doing this is in no way "extra" money for us. It is used as actual income and goes towards paying the mortgage and our monthly bills.... just like most anyone's paycheck does. It is money that we count on to make ends meet each and every month.
When this job started almost a year and a half ago... my "friend" & neighbor (Mary) approached me about babysitting her 3 kids. I had started working in November 2006 and it lasted only 6 months because I wasn't making enough money to justify the expenses that we incurred so that I could work, daycare, gas, clothes, lunches, etc. Plus, our youngest son Ryan was not handling daycare well at all - to put it mildly. So, she knew we were struggling financially.
It just so happened that Mary's mother (who happens to live across the street from me) had been babysitting her kids and had recently decided that she was not going to continue to babysit any longer. So, Mary came to me to see if I would be interested in babysitting her kids instead of me trying to find another job outside of my home. I had been praying for an answer to our financial problems, and this seemed to be it!! It seemed to be the perfect solution to both of our problems.
Mary's best friend, Michelle, also happened to need a babysitter for her little girl too. I also happen to know Michelle through Mary. So, Michelle approached me and asked if I would be interested in babysitting her daughter as well. Of course, I accepted the offer.
So, that's how it went for an entire year. It was very hectic and stressful ... but I did everything I was asked to do and then some. I kept the kids when I was sick, when my kids were sick, when the kids I babysat were sick, etc.
This year, right before school started, Mary's mother decided she wanted to babysit Mary's 3 kids again. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Mary's mom...but she isn't always dependable to say the least. There is SO much drama with her, it's unreal...but she has a good heart. Anyway.... when Eric (Mary's husband) found out that his mother-in-law wanted to keep the kids again, he was a bit uneasy about it. He was afraid that she would just decide one day out of the blue that she was done babysitting, or that some "health" issue would come up for either her or the grandpa and that on any given day she wouldn't be available for the day, several days or weeks to babysit. Which would mean that Mary & Eric would be stuck without childcare for their 3 kids, which would be a huge problem for anyone.
So, Eric, (who is a lawyer) came over one evening and asked me if I would be the grandma's backup if he committed to me that he would still pay me the same amount each weekly to keep me on "retainer" so to speak. He said that this arrangement would last through the end of the summer of 2009. I felt a little odd about taking money from my friends and not really doing anything... but he assured me that this is what they wanted to do and that it was a small price to pay for security and stability for childcare. So, I accepted their offer. This was right before school started this year.
And, just like Eric thought would happen, there have been several times since school started that the grandma couldn't keep the kids, so I was there to do it. No problem... I held up my end of the deal consistently. In fact, there have been times when their 3 kids just showed up at my front door in the morning without anyone letting me know in advance that I would need to keep them that day.
In the beginning of this arrangement, Mary or Eric would come over and give me a check on time. Lately though, I have had to walk over to their house and ASK for my paycheck. Doing that makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and I've told them that I hate ASKING for it. They have always told me not to feel like that, that they just get busy and forget.
As of Friday, they had not paid me for the past TWO weeks. Finally, I decided to walk over there yesterday and tell them that I need it. Our mortgage payment is due on Jan.1st. So, I get there and Mary is at work. No problem, I'll just talk to Eric. I ask for the check for the two weeks. He says that he doesn't have the checkbook that Mary has it with her at work. (I did eventually get paid for the previous two weeks today - Saturday.) I take a deep breath and ask if everything is ok, and ask if this arrangement is something they want to continue to do because I'm getting a strange feeling about things.
Eric then drops a bombshell.
See, Mary & Eric are planning to take their family to Disney World in February, which I already knew. He then tells me that the law firm he works for has always given their employees a BIG Christmas bonus each year. It turns out that a couple of weeks ago, Mary & Eric had to pay for their trip to get whatever price it was that they were quoted. Well, at that point, Eric had not yet received his bonus. So, he called his mom & stepdad and they agreed to CHARGE their trip to mom & stepdad's credit card. Yes, you heard me. They charged over $3000 to someone else's credit card without having the money to pay them back. Well, guess what happens next?!?! That's right.... turns out that Eric's firm had a change of heart this year and they are not given their employees a bonus at all.
Long story short, Mary & Eric have decided that one place they can cut their monthly expenses is to cut me off. The arrangement that THEY offered to me and that I counted on for income is over. They will use the money they used to pay me to pay his mother back. But wait, it gets even better.
Michelle is also losing her job due to the company that she works for centralizing their sales force to Oklahoma. Her last day of employment is Jan.23rd. Michelle is a single mom with no family in the immediate area. Claire (Michelle's daughter) goes to a private Kindergarten and one of my duties included taking her to and from school. When Michelle found out a few months ago that she was losing her job, she asked if once she finds another job would I please continue to be Claire's babysitter. Of course, I said I would. Problem is now I won't be able to do that since the amount Michelle pays me isn't enough to make ends meet for my family. So, that leaves Michelle up a creek for a babysitter as well. Mary & Eric have agreed to pay me through Jan.23rd.
With all that said...as Jan.23rd...I will no longer be babysitting kids. Unemployed. And, with the kind of "job" I had, I'm not even eligible for unemployment benefits until I can find a new job. This means that I MUST find a job (quickly!) and go back to work outside of the house which means that I may have to put Ryan in daycare and maybe Lane in a before & after school program at a daycare as well.
Needless to say, I am not happy at all. I feel like I was used, betrayed, lied to and taken advantage of. Mike often asks me why I don't have many "girlfriends" that I am really close to...this is a perfect example of why. My close inner circle consists of my sister, my mom, my daughter,my friend Dawn, and my friend Polly (who happens to be Mary's sister!) and that is just fine with me. For years, I considered Mary to be a really good friend of mine. Now, not so much. Lane and Mary's oldest son are best friends, I am close friends with Polly (Mary's sister!), our mothers are friends. Our families are very much intertwined. I am really hurt that they chose to do this.
All of this is happening so that Mary can take her family to Disney World. Eric told me that he asked Mary about cancelling the trip and getting a refund. She told him no that if they did they would lose a $500 deposit and she WANTS to go. Mary was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and I now realize that she wants what she wants when she wants it and will do whatever it takes to make it happen. In my book, this is not how you treat your friends.So, if anyone in the Baton Rouge/Gonzales/Prairieville area knows of any job openings... please let me know. I would greatly appreciate it.
I fully believe that God has a plan for ALL of us and while I may be surprised by this recent turn of events, He is not. I may not understand His plan, but I have faith in Him and in His plan for me and my family. I have faith that I will find another job and that my family will be ok. Please keep us in your prayers!!