At the end of this month, I will be joining the ranks of so many others who have been laid off during this challening economic period. The non-profit that has been my work-home for nearly four years has finally been forced to cut its direct services employees, at least until some new reliable funding source comes through. Three of us to get the layoff news are part-time workers, all mothers of children 3 and under. Another full-time employee who faced a position cut had fortunately already found summer employment and has been planning on moving on anyway.
The agency that I believe in will become a ghost of its former self, at least for the time being. We have pushed back against steady budget cuts for a long time now–merging with a larger non-profit agency, collaborating with the school district to expand the scope of our program audience, and slowly cutting back on all possible building expenses (collecting donations to pay off the remaining mortgage on our office space, opting to do office cleaning & trash removal ourselves, keeping our heat set low all winter, making do with limited program budgets by seeking out volunteers & free field trips & service projects for the kids we serve). In the end, there was just no avoiding the devastating slashes to our funding sources (state and federal grants), and my boss was left with no choice but to shrink the agency down to its basic administrative duties and deliver the bad news to the rest of us that our positions are no longer sustainable. Gray news on a gray, rainy morning.
I feel a strange mix of emotions–some sadness (for myself, my co-workers, the kids we serve), some anger (how can the elected officials in our state consider unemployment benefits a better use of tax-payer dollars than a fair wage for hard work?), gratitude (I have an impeccable debt-free education record & work experience that can translate into a number of fields), fear (omg what will come next? what about daycare costs? what about our mortgage?), and cautious enthusiasm (this could be just the opportunity & kick in the pants that I have needed to take the next professional steps toward teacher certification).
I have been reassured by the incredible number of similar stories I have followed on the blogosphere over the past few years–stories of people who have not only survived layoffs, but thrived because of them. New careers. New life goals. New meaning in life. New perspective on what is important.
Mike and I weathered a layoff early in our married life (his, shortly after our move to Maine), and it led to bigger and better things for us. We have chosen to face this challenge with that same expectation–this will lead to something better. With that attitude in mind, Mike picked up a celebratory ice cream cake & plenty of wine after I broke the news to him. I wished big and blew out a single candle while Natalie looked on, cheering, “Yay, layoff!” on command. We clinked our wine glasses with her sippy cup and toasted to all the promise that this new chapter holds for us.
It will be hard. But I have no doubt that it will be worth it.