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Tuesday
Nov282017

My husband lost his job and it has been amazing!

I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that some things just happen, and then other things can happen as a result. Often those "things" are bad, and the "other things" that follow are good, and while I don't believe the good things are the reason for the bad thing, I can look back and see that one probably wouldn't have happened without the other.

When I returned from a weeklong cruise vacation with my sisters in late October, I learned that while I was gone, Mike had lost his job. My knee jerk reaction was "Oh shit," but very quickly I thought "It sucks now but this is opening the door for something else." I thought maybe a better job for him, but it turned out to be something completely different.

It's a bit of a long story, but the outcome is that we pulled Drum out of daycare and he will be staying home with Mike during the day; Mike will be working a part-time job in the evenings and on weekends; I will remain in my current job; and through a twist of random luck, we discovered a preschool that was momentarily offering a deep discount and staring December 11, Mo will be enrolled there. (Bonus that it's at a school that we'd love to send her for elementary school, and the preschool enrollment guarantees her a spot in Kindergarten!)

So basically we're going from two full-time jobs, full-time daycare, and almost full-time preschool to one full-time job, one part-time job, no daycare, and (severely discounted!) preschool. It's a BIG change, and a bit of a risk because my income is meager, but so far I'm loving it.

Here's the thing. I know being a stay-at-home parent is no piece of cake. There's no way, had the tables been turned, that I would have decided to stay home with Drum. It's not my cup of tea, and it's difficult in a way I'm not interested in. BUT! With one parent at home during the day, the dynamic of our lives has changed dramatically.

I had no idea how hard I was working to hold the pieces of my life together until I didn't have to anymore. Basically since having Drum, we've been maxed out. We just didn't have the capacity (financially, emotionally, etc.) to do all the things that were demanded of us. We were dragging ourselves and the kids out of bed every morning, rushing everyone around to get out of the house on time to make it to our jobs, working all day every day during the week, coming home and trying to squeeze a number of things into our evenings - dinner, errands, housekeeping, quality time with the kids, quality time with each other, tying up a million loose ends, and maybe a moment or two to breath - all before falling into bed and doing it again the next day. Weekends were a whirlwind of trying to accomplish the hundreds of things we didn't get to during the week, while also maybe fitting in a moment of fun as a family.

Despite all of our hard work and exhaustion, we had no extra money. Not one single dollar was left over after bills were paid, groceries were purchased, and vehicles were fueled. We do not live an extravagent life - both or our cars are older and have been paid off for years, our mortgage is less than rent on many one-bedroom apartments in the area, our technology is minimal and old, our biggest extravagence is the one-device Netflix subscription for $7.99 a month. We had reduced expenses as much as possible, worked our asses off, and still barely made ends meet because, to be frank, we both chose careers where we are underpaid for our skills and talents. And we had very little help. Our families, while usually there for us in a pinch, are busy with their own lives. We don't have a network of friends or neighbors to call on. And despite always thinking "Someday I want to make enough money to pay someone to clean my house!" we don't have a cleaning service or a lawn service or a meal service or a grocery deliver service or any kind of paid assistance with the daily grind like many of our peers do.

And while I could go on and on about pay inequity (I work in the non-profit sector and get paid far less than people with the same education and skills who doing essentially the same job in the corporate world), what really made things so difficult was not the money but that everything was so hard and we were so maxed out, and yet we had so little to show for it. Looking back, I realized I was in survival mode. I was just trying to survive each day. I didn't think too far into the future because the thought of holding it together for more than one day at a time was overwhelming. I swear I aged more in the last two years than I did for the 15 years prior.

And I know, wah wah, #firstworldproblems. When I compare my life to so many otthers, I know my problems are not big problems. But my point is that it was hard for us, and then things changed, and now I don't feel like I'm drowning in my own life anymore.

Because! Even though Mike has Drum with him during the day, it's not the same as working a job all day. He has to take Drum with him to run errands, he has plan around Drum's nap, and he has to entertain a 2 year old while he gets stuff done around the house. But it's now an option to get shit done during the week, an option we haven't had in years. Aaaallll those things that we could never get done Monday through Friday, that we were cramming into the weekends or never accomplishing at all, he now has the option to do during the week. This weekend we jotted down a list of things that needed to get done this week:

  • Return the tables and chairs we borrowed (from three different people all over town) for Thanksgiving
  • Return the library books
  • Drop donations at Goodwill
  • Buy the few remaining Christmas gifts on our list
  • Call Mo's old preschool
  • Call Mo's new preschool
  • Go through the kids' winter gear and determine what we need
  • Go to Once Upon a Child to buy new (used) winter gear
  • Deposit Drum's birthday cash in his college fund

That doesn't even include cleaning, yardwork, and other things that have to happen on a regular basis. Without exaggeration, that list would have taken us weeks if not months to accomplish. We made the list on Sunday, today is Tuesday and he's gotten most of it done (he's not a very good retail shopper so he's struggling with those tasks!).

With so many things off my plate and off my mind, I've been less stressed at work and at home. I can focus on my job without a thousand personal tasks taking up mental space. I can focus on time with my family without also trying to multi-task my overwhelming to do list. That's not to say I don't still have a lot to do - there are some things I just do better! - but I can physically feel the relief of so much stress leaving my body since we made this transition.

My only small feeling of doubt about the whole thing is that we completely pulled Drum from daycare. I think daycare is really good for kids, and ever since we moved him to a new facility this summer, I especially thought it was good for Drum and his development. He will love his time home with his dad, but I do wonder if we're doing him a disservice by taking him out of that environment completely. 

Our plan is to live this scenario until Mo starts Kindergarten in the fall and then reassess. We may choose to keep going for another year or two, but when Drum is 3 or 4 I think we'll want to get him in preschool and then we'll have to completely rethink our situation. But who knows what our lives will be like then. I never could have predicted we'd be in the situation we are right now! 

Mike didn't lose his job for a reason, but that unfortunate event sure did open the door for some really cool changes.

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Reader Comments (1)

Glad to hear it's all worked out!

November 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNanette

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