Mom came for a visit today! Yaaaay! We took a long walk, sat down for coffee and talked… A LOT.
Mom and dad started a dance school back in 1994. I’ve been a dancer since day 1, starting when I was only ten years old. Mom and dad worked together until 2010 when dad passed away. That’s when I left the big city and came back home to live with mom.
I started helping out at the dance school. At first I only taught dance class two nights a week, but then quickly moved up to five nights a week, then more. I also had a full-time job. I left for work at eight in the morning, got off work at five-thirty, and turned the music on at the dance hall at six. We’d finish at seven and I’d be home by seven-thirty – unless of course I was doing two groups that night. And if there was a dance contest or other event coming soon, I got even busier.
IT’S EASY TO WORK HARD WHEN YOU ARE SINGLE
Tight schedule, right?
But I didn’t mind. In fact, I welcomed the long hours.
I had no personal life. I wasn’t dating. I didn’t hang out with friends. I was still struggling to deal with my dad’s passing, and work was a welcome distraction. I didn’t want to come home where everything reminded me of the recent loss, and where I would often find my mom crying or upset. No thanks. I’d rather work.
Of course, sometimes I felt tired. Many times. But still I preferred to feel tired rather than depressed. I kept going and going, and going. This was also bringing money home – a considerable amount – which was another big reason to keep going. Mom and I both had debt, so whatever money we could bring in was really welcome. It was just me and mom now, and I knew that WE had to take care of us. I could no longer rely on dad to take care of mom, nor could I rely on them to take care of me.
BUT THEN YOU REALIZE YOU WANT A FAMILY
Three years later, in late 2012, I met my husband. We spent the whole of 2013 building our family: we figured out how to move in together, we went through me changing three jobs in two months, he helped me start a new dance group. Then we found out I was pregnant, we planned a wedding in two months, and did a big home improvement project since we had to be ready for the baby. (AND meanwhile we worked on getting our newlywed finances in order.)
Even though the reasons why I had worked so hard for the last three years were now gone (mom and I had paid off debt and finally learned to accept dad’s passing), it wasn’t easy to stop working. I had grown used to working hard and being constantly strapped for time. I was even enjoying it! People appreciated my work, I was making money, helping out mom… I felt… successful!
BUT then again I was single. I was 27 already and it didn’t seem like I would have a family anytime soon.
I know there are people who don’t mind staying single. I know people who get married but decide to never have kids. I also know that I was never one of those people. I did want to get married and I did want to have kids. And When’s the right time to have a baby? Financially speaking, it’s definitely not before you hit 30. Or 35. But then again, if you don’t start a family around 30, you might never do.
And now that we passed a lot of family milestones – living together, making a baby, getting married – do you think we can “settle down?” Enjoy each other? Finally take a break?
YOUR FAMILY NEEDS MONEY
When you are single, you have a choice – earn more or spend less. If you decide that earning more is too much work, you can always do the “spend less” part. You can eat cheap food, wear cheap clothes, turn the thermostat down several degrees, stop going out. You can do that to yourself, and you don’t have to explain yourself to anybody.
But when you have a family, each choice you make affects them, too. So it’s not cool to refuse to get a job just because YOU can live with little and eat noodles three times a day. (Is it cool to nag your husband if you think your husband’s spending too much money? Hmmm that’s a toughie.) You can no longer make decisions by yourself, because you are no longer by yourself. You don’t even belong to yourself anymore. You belong to your family.
And your family needs money. So what do you do when you want to spend time with your family instead of staying late at the office, but at the same time you know that your family can really use the extra cash?
YOU WANT TO BE WITH YOUR FAMILY, BUT YOUR FAMILY NEEDS MONEY
I used to work really hard when I was single and living with mom. It was okay. I didn’t have much to come home to, so I never felt like I was missing out on something while I was working.
But now that I’m married and we’re going to have a baby soon, working extra hours is not an easy choice. In fact, I’ve been agonizing over it for several months.
See, I had started teaching dance class again after I switched town to move in with my husband. The money wasn’t great, but I thought that was normal since I was starting from scratch. I was hoping things will pick up after a while. And they sort of did, but then I got pregnant and when I hit six months with my pregnancy, I told the dancers we would take a 6-month break. The plan was for me to start dancing again when the baby turns three months.
Now I’m having second thoughts.
Since my husband works in shifts, we have little time together – I work regular hours and he works on a different schedule. His night shift is terrible – he leaves two hours after I come home from work, and then I see him in the morning for about half an hour before I have to leave for work. I have the weekends off but his shifts often get into the weekend so we can’t really spend time together on weekends, either.
Which is why I had a really tough time teaching dance class last year. No, I didn’t mind the extra hours, or the extra stress, or the extra work. But I kept thinking: “Ugh, should I really be here? Shouldn’t I be home with my husband, making the most of the two hours we have before he leaves for work?” Then I would rush home as fast as I could and hurry up to take a shower so I could squeeze an extra ten minutes of “us” time. (See also: Love without money or money without love?)
And this year, we’re also going to have a baby! Everyone says that you love your kids more than anything – even more than your husband – and I already believe them. So, if it was tough for me to do dance class because I missed my husband, how would I feel missing him AND my little baby?
We don’t really need the extra cash from the dance lessons. We can get by on our paychecks. Some more money would be nice, but it’s not a matter of life and death. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be stupid to pass on a money-making opportunity that’s right under your nose and is practically risk-free?
And the biggest question for me is this: am I whining about more family time because this is what my family needs, or is it because this is what I need? My husband is a grown man and he can take care of himself. Also, so far it has always been me who complains about not enough “us” time. It seems like he can take less “us” time pretty well.
What about the baby? Well, the baby probably won’t notice whether mommy comes home at six or at seven-thirty. Even if she does, she won’t remember it when she’s older. And maybe it would be better for the little one that way. After all, loving your baby isn’t just about hugging and kissing and cuddling and playing with her. Loving your baby is about doing what’s best for HER, not for you.
Yes, mommy will be heart-broken over not seeing her little girl enough, but maybe mommy should just suck it up and do what’s best for her little baby long-term? I want her – and her siblings to come – to live in a HOUSE instead of an apartment. I want to see them off to good schools. I want them to have all the oportunities that mom and dad didn’t.
Ha. The way I’m talking about this is like I’ll be making millions with the dance lessons. Not so. Just a little extra cash, maybe 15-20% more to our combined family income. 15-20% more at the price of 4 hours a week.
Is it worth it?
Guess I have some more thinking to do.