If you've been reading blog posts here for the past couple of years, you probably know a little bit about our family situation. If not, here's the short version: my husband left his full-time job in 2013 to pursue a different career, with the intention of staying at home with our kids until he found a new position. At the same time, I went back to work full-time after my maternity leave was over, and thus became our family's main source of income. It was a fun role reversal and neither of us minded the switch, knowing that it would lead to better things in the long run.
Little did we know HOW long that run would be. Two-and-a-half years after he called it quits, my husband was still looking for a permanent job, although he eventually became self-employed as an occasional handyman.
We adjusted to life. I got to used to handing over the parenting reigns (although I'll admit, I did struggle with the lack of control!) My hubby took over childcare, getting the oldest off to school, lunches, doctor/dentist appointments, cooking dinners and so much more. And although we sometimes dreamed of a day when we'd have disposable cash, we were certainly getting by with what we had.
Then, three weeks ago, the phone rang. There was a job! The catch? It started the following week.
After lots of discussion and many phone calls, we managed to cobble together daycare (although don't ask me what's going to happen when school lets out in June!) One week into this new routine, and it's the day-to-day managing of LIFE that seems to be the biggest struggle.
I've reached out to friends who have given me so many great tips on managing the household - calendars, scheduling, lunch prep, meal prep etc. I know I'll eventually get the hang of it, although it will take some time and perhaps a few breakdowns along the way.
What seems harder to adjust to is the emotional side of this deal - the two of us spending five days a week away from home, away from the kids, and with barely thirty minutes of time together each night.
It's not that I dislike this new situation (yet); heck, I've barely had enough time to believe that it's actually happened! My husband and I have celebrated this new step in life, and I'm really excited for him. Two "steady" jobs means way more income, good benefits, and two pensions. We will have money to take nice vacations, and put our kids in all the classes/camps they want! Maybe we'll finally be able to afford a comfortable bed, and replace the windows that get covered in ice every winter...and oh my god, I can buy new CLOTHES!! When I start imagining the possibilities, I'll admit, they sound good.
But they sound good in a materialistic kind of way...in a way that satisfies a fleeting desire for money, status and pretty things. And I guess I'm not that kind of gal. I'm currently wearing shoes that are falling apart at the soles - not because we're THAT poor, but because I just don't give a crap about shoes. Most of the clothes I own are circa 1999. We already take nice vacations; they may not be at an exotic beach somewhere, or jetting off on a European cruise, but they're still special to our family. And the pension? Let's just hope I live long enough to use it!
A friend once joked that her well-paid job was what she called the "golden handcuffs." There's a lot to gain from those jobs, but the lack of freedom is scary.
I know we'll stumble along, get into a new routine, and probably enjoy ourselves in the process. My kids are excited for their Daddy, and they get to see parents who work hard and take pleasure in their careers.
But a niggling doubt remains - I do wonder how long I can do this without self destructing. How many lunches? How many drop-offs with screaming kids in the car? How many days looking at the sorry state of my bathrooms, floors, carpets and kitchen? How many Sundays spent "meal prepping" instead of being outside in the garden?
How many days before I start to search for the key to a shiny pair of golden handcuffs?