It takes a year
Six months ago turbulent financial markets gained national attention. From a journal entry I wrote last September…
“Every friend I have seen in town over the past days brings up the falling Dow and failing banks as a conversation topic. This was not supposed to happen. They are struck by how very smart Harvard MBAs constructed this mess and the government let it all occur. What can they trust? As I type, I wonder what the effects of this mass loss of faith in our government and the financial system will yield in the days and weeks ahead. What would this paragraph say six months from now?
Carrie explains, ‘I lived outside of San Francisco during the large earthquake of 1994. I remember friends struggling for months afterward since the ground had moved underneath their feet. Somehow it didn’t bother me since I believed it could and had prepared for an earthquake such as the one we experienced. But, now with the economy falling apart around us, I feel like the ground is unstable and I understand for the first time their panic.’
Fantasies of hording money between the mattresses filtered in as I drifted off to sleep last night. Before bed after the Dow lost nearly 1,000 points over two days, my husband Bruce sat on the couch, face lit by his black Mac Book and scanned online newspapers. He read off to me the Wall Street Journal headline ‘Worst Crisis Since ’30s, With No End Yet in Sight.’ A CPA and tax lawyer, his radar is tuned to the financial markets, and I rely on the blips and beeps that appear on his screen to send off my own alarms. Although a man of understatement most of the time, I could tell even he was concerned. While visualizing hording soup in my basement, I can hear my alarm system is screaming, ‘warning, warning…’”
Six months later, I still have periodic soup stocking fantasies depending on the week…and WSJ headlines. I wish I did not. I’d rather consistently possess optimism and poise with a dash of clarity, but that seems beyond my reach.
Six months has a special connotation for me as a mother. I usually got disheartened about a ½ a year into each child’s arrival. After our first son, I remember thinking, “I should have lost all this baby fat by now,” “We should be settled into this new family configuration,” and “Why is this still so ridiculously hard?” Six months is a long time to endure chaos and confusion; by then I have used up most of my just-muscle-it-through reserves.
To survive, my logic became if our culture’s standard mourning, or better said, “adjustment” period historically was a year, then shouldn’t I give myself the same? We knocked off an old life when each new baby arrived. The metaphoric gravestones could have read:
- Young Couple – RIP June 1989.
- Family of Three — B: June 1989, D: March, 1991.
- Moving from one-on-one play (two adults to two kids) to zone defense — June 1994 (I was raised in hockey country)
For my children – if any of you have read this far – what we got in exchange was worth more than any loss we experienced. There was never a need to wear black, although, I do like how I look in that color. Understand that by recognizing that we were in an adjustment period culturally prescribed as a year, I relaxed and let go the need to have it all together. As an older, wiser mother once told me, “You are not supposed to be graceful during this phase.”
Signs of six-month financial chaos exhaustion are appearing in my circles. It seems we are asking similar questions including, “Shouldn’t have this mess figured out by now?” and “Why is this still so ridiculously hard?” Yet, we could have a memorial service for a past leader in our community, Mr. Stable Banking Industry – From 1935 To 2008. As we adjust to our new family configuration without our dear “big brother,” I realize I need to allocate a full year. Someone wonderful may appear to fill our past protector’s position, but in the meantime, I’ve still got a six-month excuse to be less than graceful as we traverse this uncharted territory. Know that I accord you the same.