Monday, August 04, 2008

Eating Crow - Yum!

[Bloggy Book Club will appear tomorrow...or maybe the day after that...I'm just not in the mood]

One of those days, folks....I don't even want to talk about it. But whoever stole my pleasant eldest daughter 2 years ago on her 13th birthday? I'd like her back now, please. The look of bored alienation that seems to be permanently affixed to her face is getting to be more than I can take.

Due to our realization that our budget for the year has been blown to heck (a root canal and dental crown, 2 pairs of eyeglasses, bad driving, more bad driving, and community college tuition will do that to you)(not to mention a wife who refuses to camp), Larry and I are trying to reassess our already rather frugal spending habits. This exercise in belt-tightening is not recommended for weak marriages. Divorces are expensive, too, you know.

Truth to tell, I don't know how willing I am to cut back. It has already been documented in these pages(?) that we are cheap with our kids (those nice camps the teens attended this summer? they paid for those themselves) and cheap with ourselves. At this point I'd rather just get a part-time job and the heck with it. Yeah, I could make our own soap and never, ever buy my kids so much as a single french fry; but I'm just not willing to go there anymore. This is hard for me to admit, as I have spent much of the last 17 years priding myself on being willing to make the economic sacrifices necessary to be a SAHM in this day and age.

And now? I just don't care anymore. What is it about if you live long enough, everything you are so sure about sort of falls to the wayside? I hate that. I mean, at one time I knew all about how to raise kids in a kind, loving manner - no harsh words or punishments needed here! But when this misguided approach to parenting produced a 6 and a 4 year-old who were spoiled brats, we had to throw the soft-sell discipline out the window.

Then
I knew all about how to discipline my kids so they wouldn't become self-centered, alienated teens. Heh-heh. Yeah, Anna gave me my comeuppance on that one. And now, now, I'm going to give up my cherished SAHM status for economic reasons? This threatens to deal the death blow to my already shattered ego.

I mean, I don't mind being taken down a peg or two; but lately, I feel as if I am lying in a heap on the floor.

I told you - it's been one of those days...

[And please, for the love of God, do not besiege me with comments saying, essentially, what's wrong with being a working mother? There's nothing wrong with it. It's just that when one's identified oneself as something for almost 2 decades, it is hard to readjust. It's me, not you. So put down those hatchets, will ya?]



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51 comments:

  1. No platitudes. Just my head nodding up and down in agreement. Especially the part about 15-year-old girls.

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  2. I don't have any economic advice to offer, other than to say that I was in the same mental boat about a week ago. Suffice it to say, I truly believe that in your situation, a solution WILL present itself. Repeat after me: This Too Shall Pass.

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  3. Oh, I'm sorry. I always keep the possibility of waitressing again in the back of my mind. What else could I do to make the most amount of money in the least amount of flexible hours? (I don't know why I went to college, honestly.) Luckily there's no shortage of restaurants in a college town. However, I wouldn't be happy about it either. After all day working here, I wouldn't want to go work someplace else, too.

    I hope something palatable presents itself. Good luck.

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  4. I'm in the same boat. Financial strain is awful on a marriage! My daughter will be turning 13 in a month and I'm fearing for my life. Hopefully mine will be the one exception to truculent teenagerhood. (I wish!)

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  5. It makes perfect sense to me that we should adjust our priorities as the needs of our family (and each of its members - including you) change. I don't think you're "being taken down a peg or two", you're just evolving.

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  6. SIGH. Don't be hasty. I still desperately miss my SAHM status.

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  7. Really? Maybe I should consider making my own soap, then...

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  8. Ooo dear. No hatchets from this direction. I've seen it from both sides [full time working outside and now inside]

    But back to the matter at hand - cut backs versus sanity, well that's the way I see it anyways.
    Cheers

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  9. No hatchets, just hugs. Sorry. I hear ya, loud and clear!

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  10. jodi-mother of sixAugust 04, 2008

    Hang in there; wait a week or two. Your perspective will change, mellow, something will happen...just wait it out. SAHM moms are just too important for a hasty decision!!

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  11. Choosing whatever brings you the most peace and sanity seems perfectly reasonable. I hope whatever you decide, it works out for you.

    I used to do industrial temp work, and one of the saddest things to see were hard-working co-workers who could not improve their lives financially because they were so afraid of change. One woman in particular chose lower paying jobs rather than the unfamiliar setting of retraining, even when it was offered. Don't feel defeated. Being willing to step out of your familiar identity to benefit your family isn't failure; it's growth.

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  12. Being frugal takes so much time and energy that there are many days I simply say, NOT TODAY. Then we all pay for it the rest of the month. I am thinking of a part time job soon, but my kids are in school. My youngest is only in 3 hours of K, though, so not too many jobs let you work from 8 to 10 M-F. Guess I will have to keep working hard at being frugal. I just get tired of it. It makes me crabby.

    Guess I am trying to say you are not alone.

    KEEP BELIEVING

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  13. The Lord called me into official ministry three years ago. That was super hard for me - I still have a hard time admitting I'm a working mom (and ALWAYS qualify it with "part-time" and "home when the kids are") - and sent me into a time of real identity crisis. Sounds like that's sort of where you are too - having held onto prides from various "so sure abouts" and then finding that you've changed. Where do you go from there?? It's hard ~ I can't tell you differently. People can't tell you who you are. Only God can do that.

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  14. The only one of my five girls who wasn't an utter pill at 15 was LittleBit; this is because she was the only one who dared to attempt the Terrible Twos. And we nipped that in the bud pretty quickly. [I wonder if that is why, after we separated households in June, she went out and got her tongue pierced?]

    I have every confidence that you will figure out what choice is best for you and your family at this stage of the game. And to heck with what anybody outside said family thinks!

    I loved my years as a SAHM. And once I was divorced, any guilt or angst for working outside the home, flew right out the window. [I had all sorts of guilt, angst, and resentment when I had to work because their father was unemployed or underemployed.]

    But that was *my* life and *my* choice. Your mileage may vary.

    Hugs from TX.

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  15. You won't get an earbashing from me either. Being a SAHM is a very important part of who I am too.

    My husband often says "When all the kids are at school, you can go back to work."

    And I say "So what do you think I have been doing for the past 13 years? Having a holiday?"

    I hope you can sort out the financial side of things so you don't have to work.

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  16. I've worked 5-10 hours a week for 18 years and still considered myself a SAHM. Go for it!

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  17. It's August. It is so hard not to be depressed during this month. Mainly because of the opressive heat.
    You couldn't be picking a worse time to be
    re-entering the workforce. Unless you would be in the healthcare industry.
    Who would homeschool the kiddoes if you are working? So many questions. I hope for your family's sake and yours you don't have to get an outside job. ((HUGS))

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  18. I am right there rowing that boat. We are trying to decide if we keep the kids overseas and away from the extended family, or move home. Moving home means back to work for me full time! UGHH, I just don't know where to row~!

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  19. It's hard to readjust. Just like if you were already working and moving from one job to another, you're now considering a total change of career. These things take time to work through and time to come to terms with. Don't settle for the first thing that comes your way, but for the best thing for you and your family. Best of luck with it, and hugs.

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  20. Our budget is in a shambles this year too. A long budget meeting really helped sort things out and made us realize we're not as lost as we thought. Sometimes I'm desperate to earn some cash, and I fantasize about an early a.m. shift at the Starbucks around the corner. I'd be home by 10 to homeschool the kids!

    Good luck! You sound as depressed as I'm feeling these days.

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  21. Here's an idea: send the entire family camping. You stay home and assemble all these posts into a tidy manuscript and send them off to a publisher. SAHM author...it has a nice ring.

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  22. be gentle on yourself! it costs almost $100 to fill up my mini-van...$milk is 3-5 a gallon. Everything is more expensive now than it was even a year ago. The economic crunch is hitting everyone....some of us easier than others....
    i hope you find a way to have a nice vacation- i also refuse to camp. : )
    Staycations are the newest way to "take a break' w/o going anywhere. as for the teenage daughter thing..mine came back shortly after her 18th birthday...but recently she has gone back to the dark side.
    Diane

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  23. I have no advice to offer you. Just sending hugs and good thoughts and prayers...lots of prayers!

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  24. It's such a difficult choice. We would love for my wife to be able to give up work, but unfortunatly we just can't afford it.

    Hope you are able to make a decision that works for you.

    The Broken man

    http://theblogofabrokenman.blogspot.com/

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  25. Is it something in the air? It's been one of those days around here, too. I cried real tears yesterday, wondering what it is I must be doing wrong with my six year old because for the love of PETE! Having the teacher tell me that my child is in need of a listening makeover makes me feel like somehow I have failed at my SAHM job. Ugh!

    Finances are awful, awful things that make us change decisions on things we never thought we would, just to put food on the table. I get it. I hate it. No daggers from this corner. When Chickie Girl goes to school, I'm supposed to get back to teaching. Maybe I should solve my first issue and just teach my own kids.

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  26. Two thoughts, neither of them intended to make you feel guilty:

    1. Try not to base any major life decisions like this on a teenager's attitude. For one, when they hate you the most is usually when they need you the most. And also being, even partially, the cause of a change to a parent's lifestyle is a pretty big burden to bear for a kid.

    (I'm not really feeling from your posts that you're doing that...but it might come off that way to a teenager.)

    2. Evaluate your "infrastructure", for lack of a better word, before you decide whether working outside the home will help your finances. If you're already paying for the infrastructure then you might as well profit from it. In my case, though, I would have to buy and maintain another car and pay for some childcare. With the price of cars, insurance, gas, etc...I would be working only to support my transportation unless I found an EXTREMELY lucrative part-time job. Since I haven't got the youth and firmness for turning tricks or the connections for dealing drugs... well :)

    I get heartily sick of being frugal, too. We put time and money into a garden that's producing nothing this year. Right now I'm fighting discontentment because I want to buy yarn to make an afghan and all the prices have gone up to where I simply can't afford it until something loosens up somewhere. But, for our family, it is still better to have me at home to do what I can...if nothing else, I serve the function of providing some sort of emotional stability.

    Sorry to ramble, hope something here helps in some small way..

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  27. I agree with Emily that it's something in the air. Hard times. It's hard to decide sometimes whether it's economically smarter to "make your own soap" or to use that time getting paid to do something. But I totally agree with Bia up there - send the family away camping and have your own staycation at home, writing your bloggy book or giving yourself homemade spa treatments.

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  28. Camping's not so bad...but the thought of facing the working world is enough to reduce me to tears. I've always thought it might be nice to work a little when the kids are all in school, but I'm intimidated by it. I'm a bit out of practice, you know? I know you've mentioned some freelance writing or something you've done in the past- can you pursue that more actively? My neighbor quit teaching to do real estate so she would have more flexible hours for her kiddoes and she loves it. Even with the current market trend. I don't know what the answer is but good luck- and I don't think you need to worry about anyone judging your decision. At least, not here.

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  29. Hey Girl--being willing to readjust and reassess--in my book, it's called wisdom.

    And so, Wise One, blessings on the decisions you reach for you and yours--

    Blessings!

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  30. Aside from the teenager, this sounds just like a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago. I spend so much time looking for extra cash in our budget, I feel like a financial analyst. After my dh had a crown implanted, there's just nothing left to spare. I don't begrudge his dental health, but dang, it's expensive. That's why we're only going camping this year.

    I'm tired of questioning every. single. purchase we make. And I, haven't had any new shoes or clothes for more than a year and half. That sucks.

    It will cost me more to get a part time job than it costs me to stay home, so that's where I'll stay for now. I love being a SAHM, but I know that sometime in the future, I'll be back in the workforce.

    So I feel your pain and will get no judgement from me.

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  31. Holy crap, girl, I am with you! I am ready to get a job just to send my almost 13 yr old son to military school...arg! The brain damage is rampant at my house.

    Keep your chin up and when you can rub a couple o' pennies together ship out a book will ya! :D

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  32. Time does has a way of demolishing our most cherished ideals doesn't it? You could always put ads on your blog and make a fortune that way...:-)

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  33. I'm a working mum - and believe, me it sucks. If you can find any way of staying home do it. Tell you what - can't Larry just... work harder?

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  34. I hear you. I just lost of self-employed status due to financial restraints. That was hard. really hard. I cried.

    And trying to cut back an already tight budget? Nearly impossible. I wish I could cut back my mortgage, my electric bill, the fact that we need to eat... life just costs a lot of money.

    Hang in there, and may you end up exactly where you're supposed to be!

    ~Luke

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  35. On the radio this morning they were talking about trying to figure out how to make their own coffee instead of spending money at Starbucks. It was astonishing to listen to, and I thought of you.

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  36. I don't know what's worse--the lack of decent pay or the feeling of utter failure I experience as a SAHM.

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  37. You may discover that you love having an outside job. I picked up some extra hours at my super PT job with misgivings last December, when my mom offered to watch my kids for me. To my surprise, I love it. Love it. LOVE IT. And look forward to going to work each week, because I love it that much. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

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  38. One word for you -- tutoring. There are plenty of kids whose parents can't tell them a thing, and are willing to pay someone else to teach them subordinate clauses.

    You'd make a great tutor, and maybe the parents would even bring the little darlings to you, so you won't have to drive.

    You can tell a middleschooler with an attitude, but you can't tell them much... ;)

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  39. Lots and lots and lots of hugs, suburbancorrespondent....I wish I had helpful advice, but you're one of my biggest teachers, just from reading your blog.

    Prayers and more hugs.

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  40. Can't offer much help, as i'm a student (although i support myself) and childless, but i just wanted to say that I was a complete nightmare at 15, but i'm 21 now, in college and hoping to train to become a teacher. I know it might be really easy for other people to say, and you might be sick of hearing it, but it will pass. The only other thing i can suggest, is is there an adult outside of the family that would be willing to take anna for coffee every fortnight or so? I had that with a family friend and it really helped to have someone to freak out at who would actually make sensible suggestions, rather than just do what my friends did and agree that all adults were evil/unfair/the devil. Katie

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  41. You know I almost blogged about this yesterday --my first day working full time. As we are sending our 18 year old daughter off to out of state college, a promise we made last spring when my husband had a much better paying job, I have returned to work and have cried (to myself) every night. I know just how you feel. I really liked what I do, and most of my tears were for my youngest (9) who will have a completely different mommie than my oldest (OK so I was sleep deprived and nursing babies through most of her childhood). I have decided to suck it up and give it the "old college try" -- no pun intended! Keep on truckin' -- no tears today :)

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  42. No comment, just hugs. Oh, and if you figure out the teenager then PLEASE let me know, I got one on the way...

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  43. I went back to work to help pay the bills. I kept my job because it keeps me sane (ish) I stayed home with the kids for almost 16 years. At least at work, it is clean, usually quiet and they pay me to talk on the phone to grown ups!

    I work 4 10 hour days-every weekend 8 am to 6:30 pm both days and 2 week days. I only pay a sitter 2 days a week. Now that my oldest is a Senior and only has 2 courses each semester, she will be watching her monster siblings once she gets home from school at noon so I can go to work.

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  44. Speaking as the mom of a SAHD household: If you can squeeze out the $$ for major dental work, you can find it for a brief, inexpensive get away. It sounds like you could write it off as a mental health expense. ;) I'm not sure how much you've tried to sock away for college expenses but my experience has been 1) you can never save enough and 2) there are some great scholarships and grants available that your students may not qualify for if you save 'too much'.

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  45. PS I have any easy recipe for liquid laundry soap if you decide you want to make soap.

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  46. we had evil daughter and good daughter. evil daughter was the twin who hovered above the house waiting to be summoned by good daughter. evil daughter could stay hours, days and g*d forbid even weeks.

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  47. 1. I have same said daughter in my house.
    2. Was a stay at home mom who did home day care,until the youngest was in kindergarten and now work in a school.
    3. I feel your pain!
    BTW I have the same deal with my hubby. There would be a custody battle..You take them! No you take them. Easier to just stay married.

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  48. No hatchet wacking from me. I so feel your pain and am on the verge of finding a job myself. Huge families are just plain old expensive. Hugs from Me and a vicarious shoulder to cry on is waiting right here.

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  49. I have a very serious suggestion to make about working. Look through your writing here and see if there are things you can rework into pieces to sell to magazines, papers and such. It's a long process to make money as a freelance writer, but you are more than capable of doing it. If you're really brave you could even take some of your "best of" bits and make a book proposal to shop around. Again, it is a long process, but even if you do get a part time job, it would probably be worth doing for the long term.

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  50. Good luck with that decision! Though I miss my kids at work (I work 3 6-hour days right now) I sort of like my job. It gives us money for nice holidays & fun stuff and yet I develop myself & my career.

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