Recently, I have been seriously considering going back in to the workforce. I don’t simply say, “go back to work” because believe me, as a stay at home Mom, I already work 24-7. I just don’t receive a paycheck for it. I gave up a pretty healthy pay check in order to stay at home with the kids. I know it may sound selfish to focus on what I gave up but what a Mother and her children gain is talked about over and over again. What we lose isn’t because we feel guilty. So for this post, I have flipped guilt the middle finger.
I have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays. Thursdays are pay day. When the bills that absolutely have to be paid are paid, I stare at what’s left and get that “I fucking hate this” feeling in my stomach. I wonder on a daily basis where has my mind gone and what the hell did we do with that second income!!!!??? We get by and have what we need (most of time) but oh my God what a struggle financially it has been. I’ve always shopped sales, never been a total “brand name” kind of girl and my husband and I have always lived within our means but damn…this is tough.
I didn’t know it was even possible to feed a family of four with $60 for a week until now. My closest friends (and now all of you) know that if you drive by my house and the truck isn’t parked on the hill that is our driveway and instead on the flat spot further away from the house, that the gas light came on and we are simply out of cash but have to make it JUST ONE MORE DAY. My dogs had hot pockets mixed with cheerios for breakfast yesterday because we were out of dog food and it was a day shy of pay day. True story. I have more than once gone to the change jar to dig out lunch money for my daughter. Hand me downs have become a necessity. Left overs are something I plan for now. Ordering a pizza is a luxury and only happens maybe once every few months. I put another hole in my belt so I can keep my pants up because buying new ones that fit my now skinny ass (the ONE good thing about constantly chasing a rambunctious little boy) is not an option. The stairs and wood stove are barricaded with chairs and whatever else we can figure out to use because baby gates are just too damn expensive. After having your second child, and when you’re broke, you realize baby proofing is slightly over rated anyway. I turn lights and electronics off more often now not because I’m being environmentally conscious, but because all I see is dollar signs when they have been left on. I need alone time when I look at the weekly grocery flyers and cut my coupons because the running tab and meal planning that is gong on in my head at the same time is serious business.
When we crunched numbers to figure out if me staying home was even an option , we had no idea how every penny we would and would not have would count. We didn’t factor in new tires and other maintenance for the vehicles that you simply cannot ignore, doctor co-pays and medical bills, kids THAT NEVER STOP EATING, light bulbs that blow, birthday parties/gifts, surprise dental work, a dog that would almost die from a mysterious illness and the vet bills that came along with that, hair cuts, gas money ….the list goes on and on and on. You really cannot plan for what life costs and believe me, the saying “shit happens” has become a mantra in this household. My credit card has been used way more than I would like and I don’t mean for luxuries….I mean like when I’m at the grocery store checking out and realize my running tally on how much I was spending was off and I have spent more than I have. And while I’m on the subject of the grocery store (a.k.a. enemy number one), let me tell you how much (some) generic brands really suck and how I feel like such a douche bag when I have to say, “no we will buy this kind because it’s cheaper and it taste the same” to both my four year old and my husband when I know damn well REAL fruit loops kick “fruit rounds” ass!. I used to horde food and household items. If we were low on something, I bought more and probably two more if it was on sale. Now I squeeze the toothpaste tube against the sink counter until it is physically impossible for more to come out and add a little water to the hand soap to stretch it one or two more days. It’s comical the things I do to get my family through week to week. My husband and I have literally cracked up laughing (while drinking cheap wine) at how ghetto fabulous our life is now.
Having said all that…I will tell you that the stress and frustration that comes along with being broke all the time is no laughing matter. I fucking hate it. So much so that it is definitely worthy of dropping the f bomb. I can’t stand robbing Peter to pay Paul and quite frankly I’m sick of cooking every night. Here comes the selfish part but I won’t apologize for it. I hate that I can’t buy things that make my life easier or more convenient and comfortable anymore. I mean stupid things like Clorox wipes or going to the chiropractor. I hate that I carry around a purse that has visible tears all over it. It annoys me that I felt guilty for buying myself new underwear last week. Until then I seriously some how convinced myself that folding down my preggo granny panties and pre baby (I was almost 30lbs heavier) undies was “just fine”. I just want to go to dinner with friends and not regret it when the credit card bill comes in. I HATE THAT I BUY GENERIC CEREAL AND MAYONAISE!!! I miss K CUPS…who likes to brew a whole freakin’ pot when all I want is one damn cup of coffee. I’m pissed off that there is an unfinished project in EVERY room of my house. SCREW YOU twenty somethings on house hunters with your $450,000 budgets…WHY do I keep watching that damn show! I HATE that my husband works so hard and makes more money than he ever has but we are worse off financially than ever before. And even though I know he isn’t complaining, I hate that the only thing I can give him for his birthday is some homemade brownies. I miss getting pedicures. It annoys the shit out of me that I have all this time with my kids but no money to go anywhere or do anything. I miss having highlights in my hair. I can’t even afford the damn box kind WITH a coupon. I hate that I have to factor in whether or not I have gas money. I wish I could buy my daughter pretty things when we go to the store like I used to but I can’t now because that would mean I can’t buy something we need like milk or butter. SHIT I miss money. I was kind of spoiled I will admit it…but I could be. I worked hard to be. Now I work even harder and live pay check to pay check. And quite honestly, I kind of want all that back. Does that make me shallow. Maybe. But at least I’m honest.
Look, I do honestly enjoy going to the library or playground or playing in the backyard with my kids. And most days I could care less that I can pull my pants down without unbuttoning them. However, the constant stress of paying bills past the due date and having to put goals on hold like owning furniture that your not embarrassed to let your guests sit on or buying a house so your son and daughter don’t have to share a room really wears on you.
So I am back to my original thought … to go back to work or not?? Since having kids, I’ve been on both sides of the fence having worked and now not working but that somehow does not make this decision any easier. And there are definitely other factors that will play in to figuring this all out but I’ll save that for another post because really, money is a huge part of it. It’s easy to say “money is just money” …until you are seriously concerned the last sheet of toilet paper will get here before pay day.