Sunday, March 6, 2016

not sure if this is normal, or if I'm a total asshole. (probably both.)

Apparently, March 6 is turning into my annual Financial Freak-Out Day. It was exactly a year ago today that I posted about how tough it was to stay on top of our bills as a young family. Then, this morning, I spiraled again and had a total meltdown about...um, okay, everything.

It started when I randomly read about a local preschool that a few of my friends' kids will be attending. I really fell in love with their photos, their curriculum, and their philosophy...not to mention their flexible scheduling options and extended hours. Even though I knew it was stupid to torture myself, I decided to check out their tuition costs.

And here's the thing. Their tuition? Is not exorbitant. It's actually pretty reasonable. But it's still completely out of our range right now. 

Because of me. Because I quit my job to be home with Rowan.

Look, I don't harbor a lot of mom guilt. In fact, I feel really good about my relationship with Rowan and my current parenting strategies and abilities (subject to change at any given developmental leap, of course). My confidence and satisfaction come from a combination of having a lot of experience with kids her age, having a relatively "easy" and rewarding child, and being a good temperamental fit with Rowan. Also, I'm not splitting myself (heart, brain, soul, energy) between a demanding job and home anymore, which was sending me over the edge. I don't for a second feel guilty about being a stay-at-home mom in terms of the example I'm setting for Rowan. I love showing her that if your dream is to be home with your babies, then that can come true - and that it's a worthy dream. Overall, she's fed, she's warm, she's loved, she's challenged, she's supported. If we as a little family fell, our bigger family would find a way to pick us up. They already do, in countless tangible and intangible ways. The big issues? Covered.

My guilt is all heaped into the "opportunities" column, which places this entire post squarely in the category of first-world privileged bitch problems

I feel guilty that I can't send her to this preschool or that preschool. I feel guilty that she can't continue with her gymnastics classes. I feel guilty that she's never traveled. I know, I know, she won't even remember trips taken at this age, but I still want her to experience it all - the airplane, ocean, the sand, the change in routine, the new sights and sounds and smells. I feel guilty that we haven't started a college fund for her. I feel guilty that we can't keep up the tradition of new "Obee dresses," which is seriously the most ridiculous thing, because I could get her a two-dollar dress from a thrift store and call it an "Obee dress" (meaning a dress from my mom, who loved to buy adorable clothes for Rowan) and she'd never know the difference...but that stupid Hanna Andersson cart is sitting there in my row of browser tabs, and I'm angry that I can't continue my mom's tradition in the same way. 

Also, I feel guilty for feeling guilty about any of this stuff. I hear myself. I do. I hear how this comes across as whiny and spoiled. These "missed opportunities" that I feel guilty about are so...nothing, in the grand scheme of things. There's someone out there reading this and thinking, "At least you don't..." or "At least you have..." But I'd be lying if I said our financial instability doesn't bother me, lying if I claimed to be skilled at rising above and focusing on gratitude. Sometimes I can! Most of the time, in fact. But god, not today. 

Maybe it's because the guilt is coupled with fear. How am I supposed to fix this problem? Why do I sometimes feel like we're on the road to stability, while other days, I reminisce about having disposable income and start to panic about what I've done to my family? Did I really make the right choice by leaving my job? What do the next two years look like, or the next five or ten or twenty? Aren't I supposed to have this money crap under control, the way we did before we had kids?

I don't know. I keep writing and re-writing this whole post, because I feel like a massive tool for complaining about we don't get to go on vacation, wah wah, especially when the obvious solution is for me to just get a job. Of course, it's not quite as simple as just starting a job, and moreover, I'm working on that piece. But it's slow-going, and I feel totally unmoored as I put together pieces of a new puzzle. In the end? I'm scared that I've messed everything up, and I'm unsure about how to fix it, and I'm super overwhelmed by it all today.

AKA, time for Easter candy. And some twirling with these two, the ones I love.


  1. Two things:
    1) �� Obee dresses ��
    2) I always think that she looks so much like you, but this picture makes me think that perhaps J.J. actually just replicated his DNA without the Y.

    1. I mean, that is his face, with braids and a barrette.

  2. I don't think there will ever be a time where Rowan says I wish we could have spent less time together so that you could afford to send me to Preschool X instead of Preschool Y. You are doing a great job! She will get to go on vacation and she does do cool things. Cut my friend, Cathy, a little slack please. :)

    1. Thanks, Liz. :) I seriously hadn't thought it about it quite like that - from Rowan's perspective in the future, looking back at the choices we made. My mom was always really good at reminding me that our family rarely went on vacation (I remember two "big" vacations my entire childhood), and that she & my dad made a lot of sacrifices that we didn't notice as kids. Hopefully Rowan won't notice, either. :)



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