Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Only Constant Is Change

Having children changes your life. Some of those changes you count on. For instance, you start sleeping in p.j.'s because you might have to get up in the night and darting naked from you bedroom to the bathroom just isn't appropriate anymore. You change your language because you want to teach your kids that they can learn to express themselves in better ways than with curse words. You know that your not going to be able to just throw on a coat to go somewhere. Going anywhere means everyone goes to the bathroom first, takes five minutes to bargain about what toys that can take, and then another five to put on shoes and coats. You know there will be homework and bathtimes and plenty of deep breaths before jumping into a fracas with parental intervention. Thats the obvious stuff.

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.


  1. Hey, bryan. Not really in the mood for writing.
    An idea that popped in my head, Have you ever thought of teaching, you do have the patience and parenthood in your soul.
    I know it´s a long shot but hell is an Idea. and what is this about another baby?

  2. Finding a job in the Bay area right now still kinda sucks. I've been looking for almost a year now. While there are more and more job postings every week, with so many people out of work, there is so much competition for every opening. It can get frustrating, but we're not necessarily looking for the same types of jobs. So, who knows? You might get lucky :)

    Have you thought about working for a non-profit organization? The pay might not be the greatest but it's something, and you would probably be doing something you could be proud of and the thought of going into work every morning might not make you want to die.

  3. Thats not a bad Idea Sameer. I'd have to look into what kinds of non-profits are in my area.

  4. Garden centres & nurseries are one sector of the UK economy that seem to be weathering the recession fairly well. A lot of people are growing their own fruit & veg because it's so much cheaper than buying stuff from the supermarket, so garden centres are getting more customers.

    If you're not doing it already, perhaps that's something you could do with Daniel & Selena?

  5. I don't have any actual suggestions, but maybe you could combine your love of writing/reviewing and reading books(maybe even mix in some Star Wars!)? I know that your are not a journalist, but you do come of as a pretty decent writer. Your post are almost always very well structured, and interesting to read. Maybe you could make some profit from this talent!?

    Or perhaps you have another talent?

    Internet- entrepreneurship is always an option these days: you could open a Depfox/equality merchandise-site, with t-shirts or coffee mugs?

    What I am saying is- Don't waste your potential on a 9 to 5;)

  6. Hey Brian, My name is Jay and I live in Davis, CA. I've been watching yours and Jays videos and been keeping up with your blogs for a couple weeks now. You two are beyond inspiring for me. There is no doubt in my mind that you guys will be able to get through this hard time with ease.

    In any case, I know that searching for a job and actually getting the a response from most places is as guaranteed as the lottery, but I think you got alot going for you bud. You already have an in in law-enforcement (maybe not as a guard or officer but there are alot of positions available) You've got an awesome personality and perfect smile that I'm sure any bar would hire you dead on, haha. Have you thought about what field you want to go into? Honestly, I say this with no obligation or sarcasm, but if you would like help finding a job email me, until then take care and good luck Brian. Keep the faith.

  7. Bryan,
    As you well know, life has many different curves. Just as you mentioned, when we get older some things are not as important as when we were younger. You two make a great couple. Look at were you have taken your lives. You have touched so many people (more than you'll probably ever know).
    We are a couple of 20yrs. We always wanted children but just never thought it possible. Then I stumbled across your YOUTUBE about your adoption process last Oct. Then with extensive research, tons of paper work and months and months of time..We are finishing up our adoption (thanks so much guys).
    We thought at our age 50yrs & 42yrs we would retire early (50yrs) and live a quiet life in a condo in Florida.
    As we have gotten older, what we find important is not the same as it was. Like when we go shopping ....its buying kids toys/clothes instead of $90 cologne. Priorities change just as friends and family. We surround ourselves with supporters and take each curve slowly. So instead of retiring at an early age we are now looking for a home that can more accomodate our family needs. Money does get tighter but we learn to live with what we have and KNOW we are so blessed to have ( just what we have ). Living with a one income we have found ( its what you get use too ).
    JUST KNOW THIS (without sounding to religious).....There is a bigger plan for us than we know....The path you are on is were you two are suppose to be. If you end up with another is meant to be. YOU will find some how it will work............
    again thank you both for all you do...
    Max & JR (from Missouri)

  8. Bryan-what you are doing now on the net is awesome. I am pretty dumb when it comes to advertising and websites but I know that when there is a site out there that gets a lot of hits, advertisers pay money to the site owner..right?
    Correct me if I am wrong?
    We need to talk to a "net specialist."
    This whole YouTube and blogspot thing makes money for the site..not you..right?
    SO!! Why not have your own site away from these groups. Trust me..we will follow you and more will too. There are so many gay people out there that feel comfort in your words and your will only grow stronger. You guys are so unique on the internet..I have never seen anything like it. (I think you know that as well as I)
    OK..just a thought....
    It is your parachute!! :)

  9. I worry about taking time out from work as well. At the moment Jake and I earn the same amount as each other and are both pretty high earners. Cutting our incomings in half is going to hurt. I have managed to rise quite high in the organisation that I work for and the thought of having to start from the bottom again after 5 or so years is daunting.

    Still not getting up and out at 5am everyday will be nice.

    I chuckled at he pajama thing. How conservative of you! My mum and dad were never shy about being naked in front of us. Still aren't which is even more shocking.

    Maybe things are different in the USA, what happens when you go to the swimming baths?

  10. Bryan

    Your story had tear in my eyes. I just want to say you did a great job on your blog. My heart goes out to you and your family!!!!

    your friend!!


  11. Internet entrepreneurship is certainly an avenue I would look in to. This would allow you to stay at home and still earn. Why should Youtube or blogspot be making money off of you two when you could do it yourselves?
    Both of you guys have such big hearts and a strong "moral compass" to do the right thing. What you two do and have done for your children is amazing and sets an awesome example for so many of us. Earning a pay check would allow you to further your journey and allow others to grow.

    I don't think exploitation would even fit into the equation. I'd be the first in line to purchase a "depfox" coffee mug or t-shirt!

    You guys have a big supportive base and have created the kind of support system you need which in turn, has helped others in their journeys.

    I guess what I'm trying to say, without sounding too ethereal, is you should accept the abundance and prosperity of the universe.

    Peace and Blessings to you and your family!

  12. Hey Bryan I'm glad your hand is healed now.

    I am getting stressed just reading the last entry! I am sort of in a similar position in that I don't have a real job right now but am working on starting a business. Except I'm younger and don't have a family to raise and pay for, so I can only imagine the stress that you are under!

    I strive to change all the time since it is part of life, and my natural instinct is to avoid it and do what is comfortable. It is not easy to change though, and right now I am under a lot of stress trying to learn how to start a business, when I have no previous experience in it. I do think once I learn it I will be fulfilled though. It is still definitely scary in the meantime. With the bad economy and my parents who are raising me and helping me pay just to live it is stressful. In this case you are the parent raising children. I hope whatever changes happen to you and your family continue to be positive and fulfilling.

    You do seem to have a good thing going with the depfox stuff and I could see you translating all your passions and hobbies into a business. What the model would look like and how you'd earn money I have no idea though. That would definitely be fulfilling. As an employee, it'd probably be less fulfilling unless you found a job that matches your personality, but it might be more stable and secure at least in the short term to help pay for bills. With the unpredictable economy and the mounting expenses of raising children along with inflation though, long-term having being an employee can be taxing.

  13. Do you guys have a financial planner? I looked up the average cost of raising children the other day. Maybe you might find it useful since you're a parent:

    Arizona State University (don't know year of study) says it costs about $160,140 to raise 1 child from birth to 18 for a middle class family

    That's $8,896.66 a year
    $741.38 a month
    $171.08 a week
    $24.44 a day
    Just over a dollar an hour says it'd cost $190,000 to raise a child to age 18:

    Childcare: $300/yr between birth and 11.
    Groceries: $1525/yr
    Clothing: $606/yr
    Gift giving: $303/yr
    Bigger home: $2900/yr
    Bigger car: $1250/between ages 5 and 18
    Education: $600/yr
    Recreation: $330/yr
    Additional insurance: $330/yr
    Health care: $300/yr
    Misc: $330/yr

    A government report released in 2009 says a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about $221,000 raising that child through age 17. The report by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion identified housing as the largest single expense, followed by food and child care/education costs. The $221,000 in expenses rises to about $292,000 when adjusted for inflation.”

    Another source says over the child's first 17 years, the cost is currently estimated to total between $139,000 and $279,000. However, with inflation included, the total is somewhere between $183,000 and $366,000.

    The current average cost of raising a child to age 17 is $200,000, excluding inflation, the cost breakdown is

    $16,222 a year
    $1,352 a month
    $318.46 a week
    $49.34 a day
    Just over $2 an hour.

  14. that last comment made my head hurt

  15. Thanks for all the support guys. I know this is a decision that I will have to face..but when its the right time, an opportunity will present itself.

    @goblin....I laughed at the thought of you being shocked while confronted by your streaking parents.

    @everyone Jay actually did broach the idea of doing tshirts and coffeemugs but I shot it down. I didn't like the idea of making a profit off my family and off a venture that was meant to help others. To make a profit would make it a business and suck everything good out of it. but, the debate is still open on that topic.

    As an aside the ads that you see on our pages actually do pay us. just not a great deal. Between this blog and our website and youtube page we get a check from adsense every couple of months for a little over a $100. Its not much but it helps. Its hard to find the balance between making your advertising palatable and an all our ad blitz...which I don't think anyone appreciates.

  16. Bryan, with your caregiving and technology skills I would think you be a good candidate for a hospital position, preferably a non-profit hospital. Administration positions are always open and a good way to work your way up and around the company til you find your niche. Good Luck, Best Wishes Always, HurricaneKyle2

  17. My mother is a total pervert.

    She sits on the toilet having a wee with the door open and tries to talk to me.

    My dad just walks around their house naked in the morning when he get out of bed.

    For two people in their 50s it is pretty grim :D

  18. @Goblin
    OMG my parents did that & still do...(KIWILAND here)
    lol & I like you were use to it growing up but now Im a bit mortified when I walk into the old homestead..

    I gave up work dec 2010 & this year have gone back to fulltime study so I can work with parents of teenagers... I think you would make a wonderful teacher I can see the kids would adore you and would want to learn from you just a thought or the other was helping kids ... how not sure as I dont know how your counseling works over in the US