Now that the DC judge has ruled against the federal employees’ unions lawsuits (see my previous post), hope of having this shutdown end anytime soon has faded for me. I really am concerned that this shutdown will last for a number of weeks. While I have the resources to ride out an extended furlough, I know many people don’t. But its not just about me. What does it say about the country that huge slices of work that the government does is being left undone. What does it say that over 400,000 people are working, often at hard, taxing jobs, with an unknown pay date?
I know that I’ve felt very discombobulated, without my normal routine and my normal tasks. I know that when I am able to return to work, there will be tons of emails and a lot of catch up to do. I know that I’m just a pawn in a larger political game and I feel powerless. Even calling my Representative and Senators is not really something that I feel gives me agency; for me, contacting them is like preaching to the choir. My Congressman and two Senators want the shutdown to end as much as anyone.
There was a period in the 1990s when I felt in limbo; when I was trying to get pregnant. It took nearly two years. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem that long, but at the time, it was v e r y d r a w n o u t. The big part was the uncertainty. Would I conceive this month? Next month? Next year? End up adopting? Resign myself to a childless life?
I had a lot of panic about that situation; I was in my late 30s and having a child was something I felt very passionate about. Towards the end of that period, though, I had an epiphany — this period was simply one act in my life; it would come to a close, something new would happen, and it was going to be all right. Shortly after that, I did end up conceiving and becoming a mother to a beautiful healthy child.
There are some lessons here, but I also recognize that the situation is very different. The commonality — feeling in limbo and having uncertainty. The differences — this isn’t about me, it’s about millions of people (if you add those living in households with the 800,000 affected Federal employees), plus all of the contractors and small businesses that are losing income, yes, it is millions). And its about the future of our national government, and thus, about our country. I don’t have the confidence this time that everything will be all right.