Once upon a time, when Tim and I had 5 kids to support, we both worked multiple jobs. Tim's second job was that he taught machining to adults at the local vocational school. Mine was that I cleaned people's houses. One of the houses that I cleaned belonged to a woman who explained to me that she was independently wealthy due to a relative's will. I believe that she thought that I was envious. I wasn't though. There was a couple things that I noticed. While they had everything that money could buy, four wheelers, TVs, every piece of hunting equipment known to mankind, the two boys fought constantly. Even though they were teenagers, like the bulk of my own herd, they would fight, it would escalate to a physical brawl, and then one or the other would burst into tears and run bawling to his mama. The other thing I noticed is that mama was pretty out of it.
Mama was a doper.
You put up with a lot when you need the money. I listened to these boys boss me around like I was their slave. They did not clean their own rooms. I did it for them. Sometimes while they were sprawled on their beds, complaining and telling me what to do. It was tough to take. I would have said something, but I needed the money. The conclusion that I reached was that my own herd meant more to me than straightening out these two,
so I bit my tongue and got that nice paycheck.
The job ended when the parents' marriage began to fail. The druggie wanted me on her side. In good conscience, I could not be. She was a liar, and she was out of it, and she was an ugly, ugly woman at heart. It wasn't long before my unwillingness to 'pick her side' made her mad enough to fire me. It was devastating because I needed the job. It was also devastating because she lied about me at the church. And since she was a big contributor to the collection, the majority of the people sided with her. I left that church. There was really no other choice.
Since those days, strange and wonderful things have happened in my life. After years of struggling, I have a good job with people that I love and respect. I don't have to work two jobs any more, but I do. I write a humor column for the local paper. I've got good friends who love me at the church that I go to. I'm happy. Cara is the only child at home. The rest of the herd are grown, taking care of themselves. We are landlords. I have a good marriage. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming this full and rich life.
I've seen this other family from time to time. Both boys have been in prison. They are out now. They both work for their father. They still bicker like small children. The saddest thing is the mother. I saw her, bloated from drugs. She was well dressed, but unkempt and living in her own little world. Of course, the church we had both attended figured her out. She did visitation of the sick. It was her ministry. Unfortunately, she was stealing their narcotics while she minstered to them. Knowing what I knew, it was still shocking to read the charges in the local paper. And still, when I saw her, she gave me the same bitter look of condescension that she did all those years ago.
The thing is, I did not envy her then.
I sure as hell do not envy her now.