So. I'm obviously stressed. This is the post where I tell you just what I intend to do about it.
Cuz, see, there's a benefit to being the type of people who are always planning for the future.
We're always planning for the future.
Let me explain.
Like most Moms, after Nicholas was born in 2004 I didn't want to go back to work. But as I mentioned yesterday, at the time Hubs had gone back to school and had taken a job that paid far less than he had been making so that he could do so. I was (and continue to be) the main bread-winner in our household. (Every time Hubs gets a boost in pay I seem to shout, "OH YEAH?!?! TAKE THAT!" and trump him.)
At the time, we just weren't in a place where we could financially afford for me to do so.
Let me be clear - I give mad props, yo, to Moms that make it work, whatever the cost - financial or otherwise - to be at home with their kids. While my brain knows that kids will grow up and function just fine if they attend day care and have two parents who work full time, my heart and my gut and that little part at the back of my brain that just won't leave me alone feel otherwise.
I want to be at home with my kids.
I remember crying my eyes out a few days before having to return to work. There was this teeny little person who relied on me for everything that was just starting to develop the buds of a personality. He was no longer a newborn that got up every two hours to eat...he was becoming more fun...I could see the light at the end of the sleep-deprived tunnel...and like hell did I want to miss any of the GOOD stuff. (Cuz up until three or four months old newborns pretty much suck. God makes 'em cute for good reason.)
I called my HR department and asked as to whether maternity leave had to be repaid if I didn't come back. (It doesn't - its a benefit you earn through your months/years of employment beforehand.) I hadn't researched day care AT ALL. Hubby had started looking for a job that would allow him to work nights, but as of the day I made that phone call I had no plan what-so-ever to return to work.
I'm sad that I lost the strength of that conviction.
Hubby did get that second-shift job, and we were lucky to find a friend of a good friend who watched children out of her home. The fact that she cared for 'Baby Nicholas' just a few hours every afternoon helped somewhat, but I still cried when I came to pick him up one afternoon to be told, "HE CUT HIS FIRST TOOTH!!!"
Straight to the heart on that one. Ow.
Somewhere in there, Hubby and I had a heart-to-heart. We both wanted me to be able to stay home and were working toward making that a reality. Once he was done with school and had a better paying job it just might work.
"Maybe after the next baby," he said.
Welcome Will, February 2007. Three months later I went back to work.
I didn't cry that spring, heading back to the office. I still believed in my gut that it was just a matter of time until I could leave the 9-5 altogether. That we were being rational about all of this - that we didn't want our kids to grow up poor like we did - and so we must 'keep on keepin' on'.
I'm more than a little sad that I didn't cry about going back to work the second time.
But throughout all of these years, working our tails off, going to school, literally switching shifts with our children (and hardly seeing each other), we were also paying down our mortgage - we happened to be smart enough to refi to a 15-year fixed back in 2003. We're some of the very few that actually LIKE to get statements from our credit union, because we can SEE the balance we owe on our home going down.
We also made other decisions about lifestyle. Neither Hubs nor I own a flashy car. We both drive used Chevy Blazers. We don't have a monthly payment for either.
We don't carry a balance on our credit cards.
We don't have new furniture or electronics, or $100/month cell phone bills.
We don't buy $4 coffees or $12 take-out lunches or take big fancy vacations.*
We could, but we don't.
I'm not saying that having any of these things is bad, I'm just saying that these are some of the choices we've made because we've taken our goal very seriously.
When we move this fall, we will move into a much larger home and the mortgage payment we make will be nearly identical to the one we make now.**
We originally intended to set aside a big chunk of money from the sale of our existing house to buy new furniture (because let's face it, there will be a lot of EMPTY SPACE in that house, wherever it is) but with things the way they are now we probably won't.
And then? Once we get settled?
I will wave buh-bye to the old day job.
And I won't look back.
Let the count-down clock start....NOW.
*OK, I break the unwritten "coffee rule" some days. But I really love plain old joe with flavored creamer and bring it to work from home nearly every day.
**Granted, we'll be starting the mortgage clock over again and paying over 30 years, but I'm cool with that.