Family and work life
But then I got laid off. That was 2009. I didn't really get along with the department chair and didn't have tenure, so I was just not renewed. Also, I was teaching mostly bilingual classes at the time and our Hispanic population dropped as the economy went south, so there was no need for 2 bilingual math and science teachers. And since I was the newest one, you know Ė last hired, first fired.
So that sent me into a deep depression. I got unemployment for the entire 99 weeks I was eligible. When it ran out, the depression got worse and I just shut down. The good thing that came from the layoff was that it was around the time my brother and sister decided to start reproducing. I was available to help watch/raise their kids. My brotherís kid especiallyÖ
My brotherís wife (referred to as my SIL (sister-in-law) from now on) is mildly disabled. She had some sort of sporting injury in college and it never really did get better. She has had shoulder surgery about 4 times now and it gets better for a time and then it gets much worse. So in 2009 sheís had 3 of these surgeries and is pregnant with their first baby. Baby comes, she canít lift him or anything. Auntie to the rescue! So me, my mom, and her mom take turns being live-in nannies for them. One week at a time, we would take turns living with them. If I had been working full time, I couldn't have helped them at all, so my layoff was quite convenient. Also, my brother paid me, so I was happy about that. Heís a dentist so he can afford it.
So then she has surgery #4 about 6 months after the baby was born. Now we have to take care of the baby and my SIL. So I decide to not even look for another teaching job and just keep helping my brother and SIL. Oh, and did I mention that in between my brotherís sonís birth and my SILís surgery, my sister had a son!? So, I did one week at my brotherís, one week at my sisterís and one week at home. My partner did NOT like that at all, but what are you going to do? The babies needed me!
So, babies grew up, but now my sisterís son has been diagnosed with Autism. Pretty bad. Heís three and doesn't really talk. He can say bye and mama. Go find a three year old and youíll understand how behind he is if he can only say two words. So he has to go to some sort of therapy every day, some days twice a day. OT, PT, speech, play, behavioral, ABA; you name it, heís got it. I spend a lot of time at my sisterís currently; helping her with her son and her two other kids, both girls. So at the present day she has two girls, 5 and 4, and her 3 year old Autistic son. And a helpless hubby, so really 4 kids. Not even kidding. He is really having a hard time dealing with the diagnosis, so heís kind of in a shell these days. Not much use to my sister. But my mom and I help as much as we can. My mom and sis live in adjoining towns, but I live out of state. So I stay over 2 nights a week to help shuttle the kids around to therapy and preschool and whatever, like cleaning and takeing the kids out just to give my sister a break.
And did I mention that my SIL is due in late May with baby #2 for my brother!? So it will be back to nannying for them again soon. However, my partner and I moved just down the street from my brother last year, so I wonít have to ďliveĒ there like last time. I can come home at night, I think! My SIL is debating another surgery (#5) because she is still in a lot of pain. And of course, being pregnant, she canít take anything for it, not even the wine that seemed to work so well for her.
So I will continue to be busy. I donít make anywhere near as much money as I used to, but I feel useful. Just recently I started to do private tutoring and in-home care for kids with Autism. My sisterís son has really been an inspiration to me. I donít know if Iíll go back to school to become an expert on it officially, but I do read as much as possible on the issue and follow his therapies very closely. I have become an expert unofficially and will continue to work on that as long as he needs me to.
So thatís all well and good. If you had seen my family life about 10 years ago, you wouldn't have believed that any of the previous would have been possible. My parents had a habit of disowning me. First for dating a black guy, then for dropping out of dental school, then for coming out as a lesbian. Itís been a roller coaster to say the least.