Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Only Constant Is Change
before kids, our lives looked a little different from what they do today. Jay of course still worked long hours. I worked a 40 hour week selling plants and landscaping materials at a local home improvement chain. Our schedules rarely meshed and it seemed that one of us was always walking out the door. Two of us working meant two paychecks and while we always had bills, we never felt that we had gotten in over our heads. Payday for me meant it was o.k. to take a trip to the bookstore where I would usually walk out with a book and two or more C.D.'s to feed my fetish for comfort driven lifestyle. I really am a hobbit at heart, my favorite things are my friends and family, good food, good music, all flavored with some star wars fun. I never liked my job because I never felt like what I did mattered or had meaning...and it always kept me from time at home with Jay. After work meant microwaving dinner then playing online video games till one in the morning. Jay and I got to spend our mornings together until it was time for one of us to run off to work and the few days we had off together, we spent working on our home. That was my life from my mid twenties to early thirties....make whatever judgements you will. They were times of little responsibility beyond work but they also helped Jay and me become established as a couple. We spent alot of this time working out how we worked together.
When we decided to adopt kids we had long conversations about how this would impact our lives. One of the outcomes of those conversations was the decision that I would be a stay at home parent. This was decided because Jay made more money than I. One 16 hour shift for him equalled a weeks worth of work for me. This factor is another reason why I have not returned to work already. Being out of the job market for more than five years means that I will have to start all over again at the bottom of the pay scale and the retail horticultural field isn't exactly a "growing industry" (har har) in this economy. I find myself on the same playing field now as freshly graduated high school students. Theres an unexpected change for you.
After we had Daniel and Selena placed with us, the way we lived our lives shifted completely. Along came all the changes we expected along with a few that we didn't. Our lives today don't resemble the people we were then by any degree.
Starting the day means hitting the ground running to get everyone showered, fed, dressed and off to school. Making lunches, writing blogs, cleaning something somewhere along the way, doing mountains of laundry, ferrying kids to and from school, snacktime, argument mediation, teacher conferences, homework, baths, bedtime,....whew!....the day for any stay at home parent is always as full as it can be in the workplace and it often takes both of us to make everything happen that needs to. The difference from my old job is now I get payed in my five year old Daughters artwork and my sons hugs after I have been grilled about what I am going to cook for dinner right after I have cleaned up lunch.
Going down to one income stream was a decision that we made early on because we wanted our kids to bond with us when they came to live with us....not a daycare worker. They had been passed around enough, it was time for them to have someone permanent in their lives that they could count on to be their everyday.
As time has gone on the decision for one of us to stay at home has been great for our family, while it hasn't been so great for out financial outlook. Jays work in the Sherrifs Dept. is feeling the pinch of the economy as well. Overtime hours are limited, holidays that used to offer holiday pay no longer do, and little perks like free lunches are just gone. We have leaned very heavily on our credit cards for daily needs.
Now....I believe that GOD always takes care of you...even when times get rough...and sometimes they have been. Jay has done an awesome job of making it work, although I can see the care lines on his face from the effort. Every day I wish I had something more that I could give to help ease the burden he has had of being the soul breadwinner. We now consider everything we buy because it all counts now.
All this has come home to roost for me because I am approaching my deadline. We agreed that when Selena turned five and started kindergarten, that I would go back to work. Well...she turned five last January and kindergarten will begin in August. The time fast approaches. This leaves me looking into the future and wondering what changes the next few years will bring. Where am I going to fit into a workplace that doesn't value my experience and skillset? And if I go a different direction entirely and begin my own business or go for some other form of job training, what will be the cost to my family and my husband who works so hard to keep us afloat?
I used to believe that work was meant to be as emotionally fulfilling as the time you spent outside of it. That there would be a job that I would love to do so much that I wouldn't ever resent it. I think I found that in being Selena's and Daniels dad and in being the one to keep the homefires burning. I have been a stay at home parent now for four years, without that I don't think I know who I am. Any job I get, will not be to find myself. It will be to lift the burden off my husbands shoulders and ease the cares in his eyes. To make it so that he never has to look at our credit card statements with dread again.
The future is always uncertain....
Yesterday we had a conversation with one of Jays relatives who is in a bit of trouble. As a result, there is a chance that we may be caring for a 8 month old little girl for a period of a few months. We will find ourselves with a baby again. Hows that for a game changer? That situation is still uncertain as it depends on the leal system which is rarely quick to move. I will post more as I know more concrete details.
As for our online efforts, they will remain unchanged. I enjoy writing this blog and will continue to do so no matter what.
As with most things in life, I know there is a great deal that is beyond my control. The kids are only going to get bigger, their needs will change as will how I meet those needs. I don't have any regrets for being a stay at home dad. I truly want to remain one. But not at the expense of my family. they only thing I can know for sure is that I face the future with uncertainty.