Many of you know... well, now all of you know... that I will not be returning to work after our baby is born. It has been my lifelong dream to stay at home with my babies like my mom did with me. Though I had times where I thought I wouldn't, thought I might not want to, or thought I just plain couldn't, I am thrilled that we were able to work this out. Steven had to get used to the idea, but is now really glad that we'll be able to provide a full time parent for our baby(ies).
But there are a lot of loose ends that come with giving up an income. If we had gotten married and I didn't have a job yet, this would all be much easier because we would be used to one income. But we've spent our dating and married years (4 total) with 2 incomes and the niceties that affords. And I'm not even talking about fancy things. Even with 2 incomes, we still earn pretty modestly, spend wisely, and budget. But if we wanted to splurge and go out to eat, or save up to buy the sectional we were dying for, it was always an option. If we wanted to save for a trip, or if we had an unexpected car repair, it was rarely an issue. We have discussed many times how there are a lot of things that just won't be an option after we give up my income. Steven's income will be just about enough to pay our day to day needs and bills. We have spent the last few years beefing up savings so we have that to help out, too. But obviously draining our savings is not ideal, especially if it isn't replenishing, so that's not a long term solution. We both know that I'll need to find some kind of supplemental income at some point for those non day to day things, like unexpected medical expenses, car repairs, etc. I'll probably look into watching someone's child in my home or doing tutoring- something that doesn't take away from the time I want to spend tending to our family and our home. We are working on a major mental shift as we realize that my paychecks are quite literally numbered. We are really distinguishing between the wants and needs, and learning that things we sometimes categorize as a need now are really a want. I think about challenges we'll face, like other people being possibly frustrated with us for turning down things that we know we can't or should not afford. Or having to have modest holidays as far as gifting goes (which, honestly, is kind of appealing to me). Or counting our pennies to make sure we can stretch to cover what we truly need.
It's going to be tough. I know it is and we don't sugar coat it when we talk about it. At some point, it will just be our new normal. We'll learn to get more creative, we'll figure out what we really have to do income wise, and it will be a great lesson in teamwork, humility, and minimalism. I don't expect it to be easy, but I thoroughly intend on it being worth it. I feel like the hardest part about it is that we live in a world so full of wants. As Steven and I talked about the other day, we both feel so, so satisfied in our life together. We love saving money, we actually have come to enjoy not having to have the next new thing, and it's become kind of fun to find deals! So when it's us in our little self imposed world (which is most of the time), these aspects are not really stressful. But when we surround ourselves with the greater world, we do find it creep in a little.
We live in a society where things are often placed above people, and it's hard to not have that influence you at least a bit. I may see a new purse a friend bought and think "I'm going to have to reuse my purses for a very long time!". Or Steven may see someone start collecting a new card game and just know that's not going to happen for him, which is a bummer. But we both know what we're doing this for and, for us, it is so important that we want and need to give up the pleasantries of life that the world tells us we are deprived without in order to make it a reality. We are bombarded with ads and commercials telling us what we need in order to be happy. But we've decided that, for our family, it is something else entirely that will make us happy. The trick is remembering that when we see the big world around us indulging in whims. Luckily, we've got some great family and friends who live at least similarly to us, and we know are supportive of our family and that is huge! I hope that any time I think about the things I want, I look around at my family and think about what we truly need...what they truly need.
For those of you who stopped working at some point in motherhood, or those of you who kept working and had to make the cost of daycare work by cutting other things, what tips or advice do you have? How do you, as Catholics are called to do, be in the world but not of it with such an influential consumerism society? If anyone wants to guest post on the topic, I'd love to host!