“You’re so lucky!” Really? Is it luck, or is perseverance coupled with hard work, and a lot of planning?
I’m going to rewind the clock to address this statement when I was a working mom. “You’re so lucky you have a job that pays so well.” Absolutely, I was so lucky I did have that job. But let me tell you what went into finding that job. Four years of college, paid by myself and my parents. Four years I worked very hard. Every summer I worked my tail off to make money so that I could limit the amount of student loans I would need to take out. Because I was required to study abroad, that meant I needed to find the funds for this. Again, working, and student loans. I also managed to lock down a great internship right before the Great Recession. I was hoping that would turn into a job offer, but given the economy, barely anyone that summer got a job offer to return after graduation.
After I graduated, I went back to working retail, I hate working retail. And from there I got a job at a public relations firm, as an operations clerk. Putting away mail, emptying dishwashers, and things I never saw myself doing after holding that degree. But hey, I come from a blue-collar family, and my parents always have taught me that no one is EVER above a job. So I worked my tail off there too, for a year cleaning up after grown adults. I began to resent the position, and new public relations wasn’t my cup of tea for a social invert, like myself. I decided to go back to school while I was looking for a new position and working. I always knew I wanted to get my MBA, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. In the middle of our new and busy life, we saved and saved for our first down payment on our house. We purchased our first home at 23 and 24. It was an incredible feeling. We paid off our car early. And we began to chip away at student loans.
And finally, applying elsewhere worked. I landed back at the company I had interned for right before my senior year. Hallelujah! I almost doubled my salary, so to say this was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders was an understatement! This job was working in industrial engineering. Finally, I had found others like me. Detail oriented, analytical, and very practical. While pregnant I was constantly harassed about the way I looked. I woke up between the hours of 2AM-4AM to get to work. Yes, you heard me, while most of my friends were still closing down bars, I was getting up for work. I climbed inside huge airplanes at 9 months pregnant. I stood for hours on a freezing cement floor to watch men and women perform their jobs. So much so that I went into preterm labor twice with each kiddo. But, after bed rest got me to 36.5 weeks, I always made the decision to go back to work. Why? Because I would rather use my maternity leave to be with each new baby. And it meant I was making money to pay off more debt, or save for emergencies.
After returning to work with K, and finding out we were pregnant shortly after he was three months, we realized really quickly our home wasn’t the best option for a growing family. We had worked really hard on saving money, even with adding the cost of child care to our plate of bills. We had to wait 8 months before we could even purchase a home, due to the tax benefit we had received from purchasing our first home. So we focused on what would give us the best return on our home. Minimal updates and painting to make the house look a bit more modern.
Four months later we found the house we wanted to call home, and waited for it to be built. Six months later we sold our home, put an extended closing on it, and never looked back. We were 26 and 27 at the time. I was on bed rest with G, and life was insane. We saved every penny we could. When given the opportunity we worked overtime and sometimes my husband took on side jobs to make extra money was well.
And then, I quit my job six months later. And our family was forced to live on a different, much tighter budget. And that’s okay too. We make it work. And now I hear things like “not everyone gets to stay home, you’re so lucky!” Absolutely, but let me tell you, little luck went into the decision. We saved the money we had made from the profit of the sale of our first home. We cut down on expenses like our cable, eating out, et cetera. We have gone on two vacations since 2010. We paid for cash for both of those vacations. Every tax return is used to save money or pay for something we have planned out well in advance. I cut everyone’s hair, other than my own to save that money. I can’t remember the last time we went to a coffee stand. I don’t get my nails done, ever. I think I have had 2 pedicures since my kids were born. Not to say it was a regular thing before, but I definitely would have been more open to the idea. I shop for sale items. I don’t buy something at full price. New cars? Nope, not the responsible thing to do right now. Vacation, not happening, because it’s not within our budget right now. We plan camping trips instead. We eat in 95% of our meals. G gets almost all of K’s hand me downs. I cloth diapered to help save money. What I am saying is we make a lot of sacrifices and plan ahead to make this “want” a reality. If we wouldn’t have planned, it would never have been a reality.
I know that some people, no matter how hard they work, and how many hours they work this could and will never be a reality. Or maybe on the flip side it’s just not financially doable for both parents to work, because daycare costs more than one person will make. What I am saying is, I always try and applaud people’s efforts more than their output. I don’t know how this will be received, just remember every one is doing the best with what they have, and don’t minimize their effort.