“Poor, but happy”

Since I have virtually no readership, this post is unlikely to draw the wrath of any Stay-at-home moms (SAHMs). However, if I actually had a platform, rotten tomatoes might be lobbed at my head. I have lots of friends and even some relatives who are SAHMs. My daughter used to spend 2 days per week with a wonderful SAHM who treated my Baby Girl as her own. Heck, I was raised by a very good SAHM. I have nothing against them. If truth be told, I am a little jealous. Not because it is an easy job–my 6 weeks of maternity leave demonstrated that quite well–but because it is a rewarding job. Motherhood can be very fulfilling. So, this isn’t a tirade against SAHMs. Nope, it’s a different tirade altogether. It’s about whiney/judge-y SAHMs.

I see Facebook posts all the time from SAHMs who say cliche things like “We are poor, but happy!” or “I don’t know how a mother can stand to work and be away from her children!” “Couldn’t imagine being anything but a stay-at-home mommy with my angels. So Blessed!!!” (Side Note: Such messages always say “mommy” not “mom.”) (another side note: Most of the ones I know are college educated SAHMs) So, after reading this “poor, but happy” and “blessed” posts, I am of course, annoyed. But, I have also noticed that these same “friends” or “friends of friends” are active posters. So, I usually just wait, because inevitably these sappy/judgmental/humble-brag posts are always followed with ones along these lines: griping and moaning about outgrowing their car, the tires of the minivan needing replaced, the water heater exploding, not having enough money to go on vacation, and on and on the list goes. I get it, s**t happens and we like to whine about it on Facebook. BUT, don’t say you are “poor, but happy” or make judgey statements about other moms who are not happy being poor or who choose to work because they probably would go insane if they were home all day every day with their “angels.”

Being a mom is tough. Being a SAHM is tough–little social life, tight income, difficulty having an identity apart from your children. It’s a sacrifice to choose to stay at home. However, some moms, choose to keep on with their careers. That choice is a complicated one too. As a working mom there are tough things–not enough time to enjoy your children, not being their for certain milestones, endless list of home chores combined with an endless list of work tasks, watching your child’s face light up as much or more when they see their babysitter than they do when they see you. I work because I enjoy it (most days) and because I do NOT like being poor. I would imagine if we could maintain our current lifestyle with me being a SAHM, I might make that choice. Maybe. It’s complicated.

All I am saying is, I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you whine about your husband working 60+ hours a week and never being home. I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you cannot afford to replace your 10 year old minivan. I am NOT going to feel sorry for you when you cannot afford to go a vacation and you make snarky comments on all of my vacation photos. Choosing to stay at home or have a career is a deeply personal choice. If you are poor, but happy. Good for you! You are a better, less materialistic person than me.

But, I’m not going to make donations to your new minivan fund.

Financial Update

When I started posting in August 2012, our debt was $31,787. In the intervening 18 months, we have worked really hard on these numbers. What we have accomplished was achieved mostly by sticking to a good budget. However, we also had a few helpful bumps with good tax returns and a work bonus.

Our numbers then:

Sallie Mae $17,822
Citibank SL $630
MOHELA $1,547
Great Lakes $2,334
Car Loan $9,452

Our numbers today:

Sallie Mae $7,455
Citibank SL $0
MOHELA $0
Great Lakes $1,440
Car Loan $0

We have paid off $22,892 in the past 18 months. That is not as good as some of you superstar debt repayers, but averaging payoffs of over $1,200 month is our version of buckling down. I’m so encouraged to read other’s stories of debt payoffs, I hope this encourages someone to keep plugging away.

I’m Baaaaccckkk!

I’ve not posted on this blog in over a year. I started with enthusiasm, but life got in the way. Work was overwhelming and motherhood was kicking my booty. However, I consistently read everyone’s blogs, despite not writing on mine. I’m getting the writing bug again and want to revive this site (not that it was ever truly alive in the first place.) :)

The blogs I enjoy the most are the ones where people just talk about their lives, families, money choices, money struggles, etc. It may be voyeuristic of me, but it’s the truth. So, that’s where I want to take this blog, make it personal-ish and tell you the mundane things of my life in hopes that it is interesting to you, like your lives are interesting to me.

Who I Wish I Were

Most days I wish to be a better version of myself than I am. This carries over into every aspect of my life. I wish I were a person who worked out as a habit. I’m not. I wish I were the “fun parent” in our house. I’m not. I wish I were an employee who was a model of productivity. I’m not. A few months ago was inspired to try to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done.” But, I found that I was entirely to busy to actually read the book. It is now sitting in my right-hand, top desk drawer, all bright, shiny, and new. I’d sell it on eBay, except that takes time.

When life gets busy and hectic, the thing that suffers most is my health and time with my husband and daughter. I really don’t think work is more important in theory, but in reality, I make it more important. I want to grow my practice and improve my skills, but I do not want to do it at the expense of my personal relationships. I got the news this week that the daughter of some of our friends was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition. She was born one week before Baby Girl and they now have gotten the news that she most likely will never make it to her teenage years.

Things like that put life into perspective. Work is important, but health and family are more important. I decided this week (Monday to be exact) that instead of wishing I were more fit and healthier, that I have to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Let’s face it, I ain’t get any younger. The best years of my metabolism are gone. I need to take care of my health and I have to be the one who does it. Also, I am the one who determines what my relationship with Baby Girl ultimately becomes. So, I have resolved to make sure that I have time to play with Baby Girl every evening.

Since Monday, I have eaten healthier, but I still have to find the time to squeeze in some exercise. Play time, that has happened. Baby girl and I giggled and tickled and read books last night. I can do this. I can take my life from wishes to reality. As I always say, even if you don’t win every battle, keep fighting the war!

Lottery Jackpot-Inspired Conversation

If you pay any attention to the news, you are aware that there was a HUGE Powerball Jackpot recently.  I play the lottery like 2-3 times a year.  If it goes over $400 Million, I buy a ticket.  I don’t really believe that I’ll win the lottery, but I’ll pay $2 for the chance to dream a little.

What fascinates me about the lottery is the conversations it brings up.  At work, there are inevitably conversations about what people would do if they won.  These conversations are mainly between lawyers who make a good, if not great, living.  On the Tuesday before the drawing, my boss dropped by my office for a little morning chit-chat like he often does.  He asked if I had purchased a ticket.  I responded that yeah, I had bought 1 play.  He started talking about what he would do if he won.

The details of his exact “plan” are not that terribly important, but several of the things he said fascinated me.  Everyone has different money-handling styles.  I mentioned that I would keep just a few million (haha!  I like saying “just a few million” as if it were a few hundred.  Pocket change.) and give the rest away.  He said, no, he would keep a lot and invest so his family could be wealthy for generations to come.  In fact, he said he would give his two sisters very little, if anything.  This is amazing to me.  I cannot fathom not sharing newfound wealth with my family and friends.  What fun would it be to be a millionaire if your friends and family were not?  It seems like the hard feelings that would create would never, ever be repaired.  Money is never worth a family relationship to me.  Ever.  I realize losing some friendships would be inevitable, but I would like to keep the old ones around if possible.  New friends when you have just become a gazillionaire seem like they might be a tad supericial.  :)

Second, my boss said he would most likely continue to work as a lawyer because it made him feel needed and like he was useful and giving back.  So much of his identity is wrapped up in what he does for a living that he could not imgaine a world where he was not a lawyer.  This stood out to me.  I am not that attached to my career identity.  Give me a few million and I am OUT.  Not even necessarily to somewhere exotic, but definitely living at a slower pace.  Also, I think there are much better ways to give back than by being a lawyer.  It made me wonder, is it a gender thing?  Do I feel like my highest calling now is to be a good parent is because I’m a woman?  Is it an ego thing to put so much of your self-worth into your career?  A need to have people feel like you are smarter and better at something than they are?  I don’t know.  Knowing what I know about lawyers and egos, I’m leaning towards the latter. :)

The last thing that stood out to me was, he said he would travel.  Would love to practice law, but have other people working for him so that he could travel to see the world.  I asked him why he didn’t travel now.  He has money, his kids are in their early teens and could easily stay with grandparents while he and his wife see the world.  He already has people working for him to handle things (hello?  That’s me.).  He just said he didn’t have the time or money.  That seemed ridiculous to me, but I let it go.  I have no idea what his personal finances are, but since we work cases together, I have a very good idea of what his annual income is.  It is MUCH bigger than mine.  However, I recall back to last spring when my husband and I went on our 2-week tour of Europe.  He was actually jealous.  So was his wife.  I do not understand this.  If you want to travel that bad, do it.  Don’t wait to win the lottery.  If you want to help people and give back.  Do it.

What a person would do if they won the lottery, to me, gives a reflection into a person’s inner thought life.  It shows what they dream about and how they handle their finances.  For me, I think I am a fairly generous person, but not to everyone.  I’m generous to a fault with those I know and love.  I would give my friends and family anything, even if it hurt me to do so.  However, I usually do not give those hobo guys on the exit ramps with sad signs anything.  If it did, it would probably be a buck or two, maybe food.

What about you?  Did you dream of hitting it big last week?  Did it reveal anything to you about your money-handling style?

Having a Baby Makes You Go Bald

In case you think I am talking about the metaphorical “pull your hair out” over kids, I am not.  I am talking about real, post-partum hair loss.  It’s kind of funny.  But mostly it’s not.

I’m Not Actually Going Bald…

But I am losing gobs and gobs of hair.  My luscious locks of pregnancy are long gone.  A mere 3 months ago, my hair was still so thick and shiny from all of the  residual pregnancy hormones.  When I got my hair cut about 2 months after giving birth, my stylist could not believe how much my hair had grown during pregnancy.  That all changed about a month later.  The loss started slowly.  Then all of a sudden, it seemed like a wookie had died in my shower every time I washed my hair.  My husband, who already thinks women have a mission to clog up the shower after every use, started complaining that his toes were collecting massive amounts of hair every time he walked into the bathroom where I fix my hair every morning. 

One afternoon last week, I pulled my hair into a ponytail to go running and was horrified to see that my left and right temples were thinning.  Like, obvious hair loss.  Henry confirmed that I did, indeed, have an almost bald patch, slightly bigger than a golf ball, at both temples.  He then proceeded to assure but then assured me he would love me even if I went bald.  “In fact,” he says, “there was an old guy when I was a teenager who always told me to marry a bald woman because she’s unlikely to cheat on you.” 

He thinks he’s so funny.

People tell me to look on the bright side–my hair should return to normal within 6-12 months after giving birth.  That’s a long, freakin’ time.  Here’s to hoping I’m not in a wig by then.

Bored House Husband

The title is a little tongue-in-cheek, because Henry actually has a full-time job. He is a nurse and works three 12-hour shifts per week.  On his two days off, he stays home with our infant daughter.  He is a very good father.  Very attentive and playful.  She lights up when he talks to her and she giggles when he plays with her.  I’m so thankful for how much he loves her and how he does not mind spending time with her.  Now the big “But.” 

What the Heck Does He Do All Day?

I know, I know, that is the phrase that stay-at-home moms everywhere despise. I, too, think that usually when someone says this to SAHMs, it is in a hateful, accusing way.  And, well, I guess I am sort of doing that too with this post. But seriously.  Our daugther is not even 5 months old.  She takes 2-3 naps a day.  I mean, she is asleep at least 3 of the 9 hours he is home with her, yet when I come home from a 9-hour day, the house is a wreck.  Like, not a dish has been put in the dishwasher, the dog is out of food, the floors need vacuuming, the bathroom looks like a teenage boy lives with us, the bed is unmade, and I could go on. 

I KNOW kids are busy.  I was home with Baby Girl for 6 weeks full-time and 2 weeks part-time after she was born.  I have been home sick with her 2 times.  Kids are freakin’ time-suckers.  However, I still got something done during the day every day that I was home with her.  It’s not like some SAHMs that have a baby and a couple of toddlers.  We have one kid.  She naps.  It takes like 15 minutes to load the dishwasher. It bugs the poop out of me that he can’t fold laundry while Baby Girl plays on her play mat, or in her bouncy seat, or swings, or jumps in her jumpy thing. I nagged him about it for the first few weeks, but it always just caused hurt feelings. He would apologize, then it would happen again.  It’s so not worth the mental energy.  So, now, I just grit my teeth, hide my feelings, and do what I can when I get home. 

Henry and I are so in-sync with so many things, but cleaning is not one of them. If I leave him a list, he tries harder, but I feel like I’m mothering him.  I want us to be partners, not me bossing him. I feel like our household has really have not gotten so far away from the 1950′s.  I work 45-50 hours per week and still come home and do laundry, cook, clean, pay all the bills, etc.  Henry works 36-42 hours per week, takes care of the yard work, cuts wood (in the winter only), and is a stay-at-home-dad 2 days per week. He feels like the load is evenly shared because most of the time, if I start a task, he will assist or at least offer to help.  However, for the most part,  I do all of the cooking, cleaning, and laundry.  These are every day tasks.  Yard work is like 2x per month.  Additionally, Baby Girl is pretty much my sole responsibility on the weekends while he hunts or fishes. (we watch football together, so I can’t say he is lazy and sits around watching football while I do housework.)

I’m making him sound like a jerk, and he really is not.  When I have addressed these things in the recent past, he always apologizes and says he will try harder.  When I come home from work, he gets in the kitchen with me and helps me cook, load the dishwasher, fold the laundry, etc.  It just seems he CANNOT do these tasks alone. So, I end up working from dawn until bed time.  I still don’t know what he does during the day. I can’t understand it, so I judge and rant. :)