In trying to sum up the past week the only word that I can really think of is AAUUGGGHHHHH!!! Yep, that looks and sounds about right. With the exception of a couple of high points, last week and this past weekend reached a high watermark of suckiness but I'm hoping that perhaps the worst of it is behind and we can now move on towards getting things done without feeling like I'm developing the world's biggest ulcer.
To try to sum things up as succinctly as possible (not an easy task for me on my best day being that I tend to be rather, er, wordy) - during the past week I have been dealing with some stress at work which came in the form of a couple of really, really busy days as well as a colossal feeling of being let-down by someone who shall remain nameless. This blog isn't for bitching about work so I'm not going to go into detail but the stress from that certainly added to the stress from other arenas.
For those of you who are friends on Facebook, you've probably got a pretty good inkling of what's been going on in those other arenas and know that the major source of my stress has been centered around college financing for Amanda. As I am the world's worst money manager and totally inept when it comes to finances, I am not able to do anything for her in regards to the Parent PLUS loans that are out there or am I even able to co-sign for her on a commercial student loan; some of that is my fault and some of it stems back to my divorce but let's just suffice it to say that my credit looks like a very fine and holey piece of Swiss cheese. Eventually my credit will clear up but for now, I can't do anything for Amanda in that arena.
As such, Amanda's brother was going to co-sign for her loan as he feels that she has the talent to make a living as an artist and he didn't want to see her lose her place at Montserrat or her scholarship. Unfortunately, he was turned down as a co-signer as he had a delinquency that he didn't know about so that option went out the window and things were looking quite bleak as there were no other co-signers to be found. Needless to say, there were an awful lot of tears flowing this past weekend as Amanda saw her dream of going to art college turning to dust and I was feeling like a major failure as a parent as I should have been able to do something about this if I had just had the good sense to plan better for the future of my children. Guilt, recrimination, woulda-shoulda-couldas ... it wasn't a fun time by anybody's standards I suspect.
Sunday night while I was tossing and turning with all of this running through my brain, the thought occurred to me that I have a 401K through work that - though it doesn't have much in it because of the recent hits by the national economy - might hold enough to get Amanda through the first year of college if I was able to access it. It was a glimmer of hope at least and when I went to work yesterday, I contacted our Human Resources Director to see if there was a way I could use the money. As it turns out, I am able to access the money through a hardship withdrawal that allows me to "pay tuition for the next twelve months of post secondary education". Ah-ha! There's a glimmer of light at the end of the college financing tunnel!
While I was at work talking to HR about what I was going to need to secure the hardship withdrawal, Amanda was at home getting a letter from Montserrat with the information for her residency and the names of her roommates - roommates that she was thinking she was never going to get to meet as from her end, things were still looking pretty bleak. When I called to tell her that I was going to be able to withdraw the money to pay for her first year, she was both happy and concerned as she wanted to make sure that was something I really wanted to do - after all, the money in my 401K is supposed to be for my eventual retirement and it's taken me seven years to accumulate the not-substantial amount that's there so any withdrawal is a big withdrawal.
Well, the way I look at it is that the money is there, it's available to be used, and who knows if/when I am ever going to reach retirement anyway. I would rather use the money now to help my daughter on her way to achieve her dreams then leave it in an account that's going to be buffeted by the ups and downs of the economy. I'm not going to be able to retire until I reach the full Social Security age of 72 anyway so that gives me another twenty years of contributions to build the account back up. Besides, when Amanda is a famous artist she can support me in my old age! And there's also the added bonus of knowing that there is at least one year of student loans she's not going to have to pay back. Granted, we are going to have to figure out how she'll pay for the next years after this one but I'm hoping that the time between now and then will give us some more workable options. There are three more bridges ahead of us but for now I am just going to worry about getting across the first bridge and setting Amanda off on her freshman year of college.
Now as if all of that wasn't enough, in the midst of all the stress from work and college financing I received a phone call on Saturday morning from Jamie that threw yet another log on the fire - her father has told her that she needs to move out and she wants to come back to Connecticut to live with me. This is one of those double-edged swords as I think that moving back to Connecticut will probably be a very good thing for her but by the same token, until Amanda goes to college there a) isn't much room and b) the girls still don't get along all that great. Of course, having been sent back to Connecticut by her father years ago herself, Amanda is at least a little sympathetic to Jamie's situation and hopefully that might ease some of the tension between the two.
The reason that Jamie is being told to move out is because she doesn't tell her father or stepmother the truth a lot of the time and this makes her no longer welcome in their home. Whereas I can certainly understand not wanting to be lied to, I'm not so sure that gives a parent a right to send a child packing - especially a child who is still only 16 even if she has her high school diploma. I had noticed when I was with her in Florida that Jamie embellished on things sometimes or minimized them but this is something that she has always done ever since she was a little girl; I don't think she does it on purpose and I'd be willing to bet that a psychiatrist may very well say that it's directly connected to her ADD.
I've been researching the difference between compulsive liars and pathological liars as I've got to think there's something in Jamie's makeup that causes her to lie easier than to tell the truth - especially when confronted with an unpleasant situation. She's not a bad kid at all - she has some personality disorders that need to be addressed and just throwing medication at her isn't the way to do it. And throwing her out of the house isn't the way to do it either.
I need to speak to my ex and get things figured out for Jamie to come up here and live with me and once she does, I'm going to see about getting her into some sort of regular counseling so that her problems can be addressed properly. Jamie has told me that she wants to get a job and she'd be willing to do just about anything while she continues to study for her ASVAB to try to get into the Air Force. I don't believe she's lying to me about that and even though jobs are still very hard to find around here, perhaps there will be an opening at the local Stop & Shop or McDonald's where she can pull in at least a few hours. Once she gets up here we'll figure something out and I'll do my best to get her on a path she wants to be on also. It's probably not going to be easy and I suspect we're going to hit some roadblocks along the way but Jamie deserves just as much of a chance at a good life as Amanda does and as her mother, I owe her that.
So anyway ... that's been my week and I hope it explains what's been going on that has put me in such a funk lately. I'm hoping that now that a couple things have been resolved that I'll be able to get back to some form of normalcy soon and that I'll also be able to get around to visit everyone else's blogs and see how your lives are going. Talk about feeling out of the loop!
Oh, and so much for succinct, eh??