It is late. I have raked over the financial situation. Having not won the powerball, it’s time to get serious. When you make the decision to close your private practice, and drastically minimize healthcare insurance billing, it appears that money does not flow magically into your bank account. It cannot, therefore, pay your student loans.
This is the most interesting time. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to proclaim it: I am happier than I’ve ever been, yet making less money than ever before. Well, I am making more than when I worked at Albertson’s in high school. So there’s that.
Fortunately, my son only likes to eat spoonfuls of sugar, and my daughter hates the entire realm of sauces. My husband is extremely frugal, and I am riddled with guilt, certain my decision to decrease stress and be more available to my children is a crime against Sheryl Sandberg and the precursor to all financial ruin. So, like any good martyr, I am up late, filling out a Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness application.
Did you know our generous government forgives the remaining balance of student loans after 10 years of public service, i.e. working for a non-profit? But you have to pay on the loans the whole 10 years. So, what this really means is that I will have paid off almost all of my balance during those 10 years. My country ’tis of thee…
At first, I thought: What a horrible idea – go work at a non-profit, make scarce wages, feed your children black beans and rice, and then, after 10 years, Blammo! I’ll be able to buy that kayak I’ve been wanting! (Incidentally, these things will help you be a proper non-profit worker, as you’ll be explaining, for 10 years, how your children should be grateful for the beans and rice and that they don’t have to eat bugs, etc.)
But then I realized the equivalent of a whole lot of interest is what I’d be kissing goodbye after 10 years. The looming questions: who knows how long this program will last, who will try to kill or otherwise maim it, and how many permutations of crazy will it go through (and me with it, once I turn in the forms)? It’s kind of like playing the lottery in a way, but I’ll have to wait 10 years to know the answer.
So here I sit, way too late at night, thinking again about how the diligent work of caring for others holds little glory. How the dangling of mediocre benefits doesn’t make it worth it. How the pay doesn’t attract enough of us to make a dent in the work. I’ll fill out these forms, not because my ten years of service will be only worth the interest the government might forgive, but because – wouldn’t that be nice?
In the end, I’ll keep doing this work anyway. Despite the adversity inherent, it makes me smile (most days). When I look around the community, I am inspired – not by the people who fight to the top, to ride the wave and bravely chase the sparkle alone, but by the many joining in the collective push, each with a bit of sparkle reserved in his or her pocket. It is those who are a little shaken, but who keep showing up with humility, confidence, and diligence. Those are my people. Now, a martyr must sleep.