If I post today, then it looks like I at least attempted during November, right? I had two friends returning to work today and leaving their precious 2-month old sweeties in the arms of another. Both were asking aloud on facebook how that was going to work. Boy, do I know that feeling. I sent up extra prayers for them. It's the hardest thing to do.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I spent months working on our budget, crunching the numbers sixteen different ways, hoping it would magically turn out that I could be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I had been keeping up with our budget, so I knew what we were spending in a given category. There was just no magic. We make fine livings in the teacher-pay-grade category (due to the tanking state economy, I still make the same amount as a teacher with far less experience than I have...yippeeee!). We are comfortable. But, there was just no way to come up with a spare $900-$1000 a month. That's what it would take to cover our bills and basics no matter what I cut out. We live in a VERY affordable 1200 square foot house. It's cheaper for our mortgage than most apartment rents. We drive a 10-year-old truck and a car that will paid off in the spring. We live south of Charlotte, so our gas, taxes and everything is cheaper for us than our northern neighbors. We have the free cell phones with no data plan. Most of the "toys" we have were given to us in random acts of graciousness--cameras, iPad, computer, etc. We do have cable and internet, but cutting that out would not only cut a SAHM off from the world, but would only add about $80/month to the household. Cutting professional clothing from the budget would be maybe an average of another $50-$100 month. MAYBE. I work in town, so my gas costs wouldn't really go down, as there are still errands to run. I might have more time to coupon, so possibly I could save $100/month on groceries and maybe $60/month on eating out. We don't have a home phone, take very few trips/vacations (that's what we already cut), and have been extremely blessed with TONS of second-hand stuff for Shepard.
Even if you add up the maybe-savings, at the most, you're looking at $350/month. There was nothing I could do to make up the other $650/month shortfall, aside from moving to an apartment so we don't have home upkeep expenses. But then, you have no equity, interest write-off, etc. We explored even that. Even taking childcare expense out of the equation, there was still not enough.
I can truly say I want for nothing. I can also truly say that it's sad when you have two people who have ZERO credit card debt and don't live extravagantly cannot afford to let one parent stay home.
I don't know how people do it.
But over the past year, I've learned a lot. I am not super-mom. I am just doing the best I can to juggle all of this. Most days, I feel like I'm not doing anything well. I'll never be organized enough, creative enough or anything enough...and that's ok. I let myself off the hook. Working makes me interesting, forces me to prioritize, and gives me a lunch break to run errands toddler-free. Did you know that you can buy groceries for the week, get the cold stuff put away, eat a sandwich and get back to work in less than an hour? Hmmm?
I do really well with deadlines and expectations. I'm not sure I'd be ME without a job or something to get my day going with a schedule. I thrive in the confines of external responsibility. I long for more time for my family, but God hasn't yet provided me with another alternative. HE (God) is my job. My employment is a way to provide for my family. Until we form a commune or one of us lands the CEO job somewhere, this is what we have. We're determined to make it work. God is helping us. God loves us, and certainly loves Shepard. I'm leaning on Him and counting on Him to work it all out.
If you have any leads on winning lotto numbers or posh part-time jobs, holla at me! :)