the twixtmas of our uncertainty
and a silver lining special offer
A few months ago I became sole parent to two young boys. Not long after that, their father vanished over night.
Since then, my sons and I have received almost no information. We don’t know what condition he’s in, where he is or how long he will remain there. At first when the boys’ asked me ‘When will Daddy come back/get better/call us?’ I’d say, ‘Soon.’
Now I tell them the truth: I don’t know.
I don’t know anything anymore.
There are people who have answers to these questions, but they have decided it is in their own best interest to keep me and my children in the dark. Not only are we meant to unquestioningly accept this prolonged state of uncertainty, we’re not meant to talk about it — literally at all. I will undoubtedly be harshly judged for writing this post despite the fact it contains no information, apart from the fact that I don’t have any.
When I’ve pushed back, raised questions, pestered for answers, I’ve been told, in so many words, to sit down and shut up. Over and over again people have said to me, “Your job is to look after the boys.” As if being a good mum precludes asking basic practical questions. The message seems to be, when life gives you lemons, the only proper response is to bake a lemon drizzle cake, then embark on some educational crafting.
My husband has continued to receive his full salary, I do know that. But for reasons that remain mysterious, since his vanishing, almost none it has made its way to us — his family. I have no idea why this is or what to do about it.
I do know that we are rapidly running out of funds. Our expenses have burgeoned — we’ve had to move house three times in as many months, cancel trips, put work projects on hold, set aside the book I am working on, all of this at great expense. On top of this I am now carrying both a rental flat and a mortgage on a single income that accounts for a fraction of our household total. I budget carefully as a freelancer, but I have run through most of the savings meant to last us through most of next year.
Very soon, my sons and I will go over the cliff’s edge and find ourselves in total financial free fall. I have no idea what will happen then. Because of our household income I don’t qualify for benefits. I can’t sell the car or the house (despite having paid for half of both) because neither one is in my name.
For a while I toyed with the idea of getting a job as a waitress. I always liked waitressing, it’s good fun, great exercise, then I remembered I can’t afford the childcare. I’ve resisted taking loans from friends and family because I hate being debt and am loathe to add to my anxiety in a situation in which I already feel beholden. I suppose we could just default on everything and go to the local food bank. It’s a plan of sorts.
(Nurses and teachers go to food banks in this country. There’s no shame in it. I keep reminding myself of that.)
The one silver lining in all this is that I do have a small but hugely important income drawn from paid subscriptions to this newsletter. So to those of you who’ve signed up, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am profoundly grateful for your support. Your generosity has not only made my work possible, at this point it is quite literally the only thing putting food on our table.
I started Juvenescence last spring as a side project. From the beginning I’ve had a ball, but I never imagined it as a full or even part-time job. Since then, for a whole bunch of unexpected reasons it’s morphed into something bigger and more exciting. Concurrently, I’m working on a new novel and a couple of other long form journalism projects, but long form equals long time, and along the way you — my paid subscribers — have been tiding me and my family over, making my work possible and building an extraordinary community in the process.
So thank you. And here’s to a brighter and more certain 2023.
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Prioritize! Don't pay the mortgage on a house you do not have title to. Your husband's family will pay it to protect the asset. Move back into the family home if you can...the children have rights to it. Is this lack of funding being done to 'punish' you for your actions? Yikes! The next volume of your memoir is going to have some scathing commentary to make on this time period! :)
My advice would be to go to a family lawyer (ask friends for a referral) and ask them to work pro bono until this is sorted out. There should be a a way to garnish his wages, and get into his bank account. In the meantime, document all your expenses and try to keep track of your lost income, etc. could you give up the flat and move back into the house while he’s not there to save some $