Thursday, February 23, 2012

An uncouth post about money

I thought these decisions had been made. I am a working mom. I have found balance by working only 30 hrs a week. I have some schedule flexibility to take care of my daughter when she's ill or watch her kick a soccer ball. All in all, things are pretty good. I get to use my brain again. I get to have an identity separate from my husband and my children. But I still get to be there.

But now, 1.5 months into a new job, it's all in question again.  I did that pesky math that I mentioned in my last post, and realized that by me continuing to work, if everything else stays unchanged, I will be $7,000 in the hole once we add baby #2 to the mix.  This is primarily for two reasons.  1) My husband makes a lot more than I do, so my salary essentially gets taxed at his rate, which means that my take home pay is quite a bit lower than it otherwise would be, and 2) Daycare costs in this city are astronomical.  I did this math before I started back to work, after I found out I was pregnant, but didn't properly account for the tax portion.

My daughter is currently in a daycare center, and it's actually on the lower end of cost as far as centers go, but still quite a lot compared to other geographical locations.  We could move her to an in home day care, but I've never found one I feel comfortable with, and I've always been more comfortable with the idea of a center.  Maybe this is based on my personal inadequacies.  Because when I watch a young child all day, I sometimes get cranky and impatient.  When there are other people (i.e. dear husband) I can step away for a moment if I need to collect myself.  In home daycare providers don't have that option.  So while they may be wonderful, doesn't everyone have their moments?  I have a hard time getting comfortable with an environment that doesn't have any backup for the providers, and for which there is essentially no oversight.  I know there are wonderful places out there, I'm certainly not accusing anyone, that's just how I feel.

After pondering the possibility of returning home full time, I find myself not fond of the idea.  For a whole lot of reasons.  If I could leave temporarily, for a couple years, and know I could return to the work force, I'd probably do it, even though it's isolating and sometimes mind-numbing.  But what if I can't find a job I like?  Or that works for us?  This 30 hours a week gig is perfect, I'm skeptical I'd find another such opportunity doing something I like.  There just aren't a whole lot of Geochemists in the world, sadly.  And not an overwhelming need for more.

Let me bore you with a little more math.  The $7,000 figure is probably a bit lower, because that doesn't account for retirement benefits (which would bring the number closer to  $4500) and other benefits, most of which we don't need because we get them through DH's employer.  But it also doesn't account for things like parking fees, or the costs of keeping a child home (including more outings).  These numbers add some fuzz to the $7,000 number, but it's a rough estimate.

So now I need to come up with a solution.  Something I can sleep with at night, because paying $7,000 a year for the right to go to work doesn't sit easy with me.  I have to ask, if you feel comfortable talking about it, what would be your breaking point?  At what point would you throw in the towel and say "Enough!  I'm staying home!"  Do you worry about losing skills and not being employable?  Do you worry about not being financially independent and relying on your spouse?  That last question is poignant for me.  As a child of divorce, I remember a few lessons about keeping financial independence that stuck with me.  (I appreciate those lessons, Mom).  I don't currently worry about this, but it happens to a lot of unsuspecting women, and I want to have the option for self-reliance.  But how do you balance that with the realities of having small children that need you around?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Glamorous Life

I say that in gest, but I've certainly been getting dressed up a lot lately.  My only remotely comfortable heels are red, so I've been rocking the black dress/red shoes look.  The above pic is at 16 1/2 weeks.  I must say, this time around the weeks have just been flying by.  I've been busy enough to be distracted.  But I think, more than that, I feel more comfortable with my existing knowledge and am not obsessively reading and learning about pregnancy and childbirth.  I'm just living my normal life, and the weeks slip by.

Last  night we went to a Gala.  This word always makes me pause, because there are two correct pronunciations to choose from, as well as the incorrect pronunciation I have to stop myself from using.  So we went to a Gay-la last night, for the fire department.  This one seemed to be a bigger deal than the others we've been to lately, simply because Senator Klobuchar and Governor Dayton, as well as our mayor, Chris Coleman, all decided to show up.  I'm not sure what about this event was so significant to them, but it was a little weird to see them all in one place.  Not that you all care about my political thoughts, but I was incredibly unimpressed by the Governor.  I guess this is just personal distaste, as he didn't "do" anything bad, but he was such a politician and seemed to lack depth (in full disclosure, I didn't vote for him, though I do generally agree with his politics).  The senator, too, was obviously in campaign mode.  Both of them talked more about themselves than about the benefit they were at or why the firefighters should be honored.  It was all about them.  The mayor, though, struck the right tone.  Said the right things.  Maybe because he actually feels invested in the fire department?  It was weird to be at a function where everyone was honoring St. Paul fire fighters, but no one actually lives in the city.  I don't think I met anyone else who actually lives in St. Paul, most of them live in the suburbs or further.  I felt gratitude to them, and I'm certain it's different if you don't live here.  Knowing that these are the guys that will show up on your doorstep if you call 9-1-1 can't help but make you feel a little more indebted.

Last night, while sitting at dinner, I felt my first "interrupting" kicks.  In general I feel what can only be described as "rustling"; like something is happening, but it's indistinct.  Last week while lying in bed I felt actual movement, but nothing distinct since then.  Then, while talking at dinner, I felt three distinct taps in my abdomen.  Maybe baby will be political?

At some point I owe you all a work post.  Having started a new job and changing our entire routine, it seems worth mentioning, doesn't it?  In truth, it's been a bit boring.  I like my coworkers, and I feel that in time it will get better, but right now I'm just writing a report.  All day, every day, and there's not a lot to say about that.  I think once I get involved in more projects, I will come to like it better.  I think, too, I just continue to question my decision.  I find myself wishing I could spend more time with MJ, and missing her.  But I remind myself that before, I found myself not enjoying my time with her, and being short with her.  Now when I'm with her, I'm happy to see her and she gets patient-me.  If I'm not capable of being patient and loving all day as a stay-at-home-mom, maybe this is the better option? 

I also get a bit frustrated that such a large chunk of my day just goes to getting MJ to daycare and home from daycare; it's an incredible time sink.  It feels better now that I'm not playing solo parent (DH had a rough work stretch) but the math is still frustrating.  The other frustrating math came while doing our taxes.  I fear, if I really sat down to calculate it, that I'm paying to work.  Nothing saps your motivation to go to work quite like realizing the salary portion doesn't even matter.  And with kiddo #2?  It will become even more disturbing.  In some sense I'm lucky to have that as an issue, but there are times when not having a choice is nice, because it doesn't make you question your decision.  It simply is what it is.  I know this falls under the category of "wish I had your problems", but it still weighs on me.  I feel like so many women I know claim that, if they could afford to, they would stay home in a heartbeat.  I often wonder if that's really true.  If they were truly faced with that decision, what would they choose? 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

15 1/2 weeks

It's pretty dark, so tough to see the actual bump.  But it's there.  It was hard to find a dress in my closet that actually fit me, after some combinations so atrocious that DH tried to snap a photo of the trainwreck.

Due Date: 1 August.
Weight Gain:  8 lbs.  Ugh.  I won't rant this weeks, see my earlier posts if you're interested.

Symptoms:  None really.  Other than being big.  The other night, while lying in bed, I'm certain I felt movement.  Hasn't happened again since, though.

Sleep:   If I don't drink boatloads of water, I get headaches.  I've always been headache prone, but it's pretty extreme now.  So much so that I end up drinking about two pint glasses of water over night, meaning I have to pee.  So sleep would be fine if I wasn't getting up to pee five times a night.
I am loving:  How good I feel.  I'm trying to motivate to get things done in the house while I feel good and the weather's still cold, so that once nice weather hits I can play outside with Madeline.  But I find myself instead either doing daily chores or playing with MJ.  I don't get the bigger things accomplished.  Now that DH has come off a 2 weeks stretch of crazy work, maybe I'll get more done now.  Here's hoping.
I miss:  Nothing really.  I feel great.  This is the first time I can say that I'm enjoying being pregnant.

I'm spazzing about: This is getting boring if I say nothing again... so I'll say food.  I've been cooking a lot, which I enjoy, but it has been sucking up a lot of my time.  I think this might be the week of easy meals, just to give myself a break.

Milestones/Progress:  A navel orange in my navel.

My firstborn:  Continues to be amazing to me.  Today we took her to watch a basketball game at a restaurant with some other fans.  She stayed contented for at least an hour, coloring and talking to people.  Tickling a baby.  Just generally being a great kid.  A year ago, my crazy hyper child would never have been able to dream of such a thing.  When she goes to bed now, I see her on the monitor "reading" for about 40 minutes before she actually falls asleep.  She is becoming engrossed in books and drawing and "writing".  I realize it will be years before she learns to read, but her fascination with it and her desire to learn have mellowed her a bit.  I find myself frequently proud of her now, when she shares with other kids or gives them kisses and hugs.  Don't get me wrong, she still has plenty of toddler moments, but the little person she's becoming is beautiful.  I wasn't confident of her ability to be kind or calm a year ago, and now I feel I'm seeing the beginnings of these things, and it gives me immense hope.  This is the perfect time to be adding a sibling, let's just hope that's still true 5.5 months from now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

14 Weeks

Due Date: 1 August.

Weight Gain:  7 pounds.  My modest, normal weight gain seems to be going out the window.  I am exactly on the same trajectory as with MJ, maybe my body just likes to pack on the pregnancy pounds. 
Symptoms:  Some crazy headaches this week, though I think that may be due to some virus that MJ brought home from daycare.  

Diet/Cravings/Aversions:   Nothing.  Lots of water.  I guess I wasn't loving the odd meat parts in my Bun Mi this afternoon, though I don't necessarily think that can be blamed on a pregnancy version.

I am loving:  Feeling so good!  I am full swing into the second trimester feelings of normalcy.  I'm not huge yet.  I'm no longer sick.  And best of all, my back doesn't hurt this pregnancy!  I'm able to work out and am feeling great, probably even stronger than before I got pregnant.

Also, heard the heartbeat this week at my midwife appointment.  While in general I'm convinced these appointments are a waste of time, it was nice to hear.  Little bugger seems to be doing well.

I am looking forward to:  Getting the baby room all cleared out.  I have boxes of papers from my PhD program and simply can't decide what to do with them, so I stare at them and make no progress.  I Need to dispose of them or file them away, and I think it will be immensely satisfying when I do.

Milestones/Progress: Lemon.

Movement:  Still undecided...

It's a...: baby!

Exercise:  The weather here has been lovely (by Minnesota standards), so in addition to a few runs on the treadmill I also got to run outside.  I'm even getting a little bit faster (which isn't really saying a lot).

My firstborn: I have decided this is my favorite age so far, almost 2 1/2.   She is fun, generally well behaved, learning so much every day.  She's just a joyous ball of energy, and I finally feel like I have some handle on the day to day goings on.  The balance between how stressed out she makes me and how much fun I have with her has always been pretty close, but now the stress level is much reduced while the fun level has sky rocketed.  It's a wonderful imbalance to have.