Warning: this could end up being quite the rant. In fact, that’s pretty much guaranteed. I’m frustrated and annoyed and feeling sorry for myself. In times like this, I want to write. Getting it all out is not only cathartic, but also serves a very important purpose: a reminder to all Little Pickle’s Mom readers that life isn’t always glossy photos and fun family days out.
I’ve not written very much on here about deciding to be a Stay at Home Mom. In all honesty, it was a decision made fairly hastily. A decision made by instinct rather than through careful financial planning. An idealistic decision. A kind of assumption that we’d figure it out as we went along… and we have been, I suppose. But obviously, with the loss of a whole salary income comes sacrifices. And whilst on the whole, I don’t regret being at home, there are times when not having the financial freedom to do sometimes even the simplest of things feels like failure.
Day to day – we’re fine. We have enough to cover our normal bills, to eat well and afford a few little treats here and there (an occasional chippy tea, a rare restaurant meal or a family day out). The problems start when something unexpected happens: a bill that’s higher than usual or an unexpected expense. Now, one additional cost is fine – we can just cut out those little treats without too much fuss, but as we all know, it’s never usually just ‘one’ thing is it? These things always come in quick succession. This last fortnight alone we’ve had an unexpectedly high water bill (an unbelievable added cost of £120), car repairs totaling over £200 and a tricky hog roast situation for LPD which resulted in some loss of earnings. And then… of course, the car fails on us again. And now, after all these additional costs which have wiped us out, there’s just nothing left to buy the new battery it desperately needs.
This all results in me having to abandon plans I had today to meet my friends for lunch at our old University campus. The car isn’t reliable enough to risk being stranded thirty miles away from home. And even if it was, can I justify the expense of the petrol and a lunch out? Probably not. And that’s so incredibly frustrating.
What starts as disappointment in having to message my apologies soon spirals into a mess of conflicting emotions which has me going around in circles. It brings into question whether our (or should I say, my) priorities should be different? It makes me wonder if I’ve gone wrong somewhere? Do people think we’re idiots? Are my friends fed up with me being a let down? Do they wish I’d just get a job and start being financially responsible? For how long can I rely on the kindness of others to help us out? Would I make the same decisions if I could go back in time? What happened to all that ‘potential’ I was so often told I had at school? I’m pretty sure this isn’t what my teachers had in mind for me… Does LPD resent working so hard with precious little to show for it?
But, I’m brought back into the present by Pickle. All snuggly in his sleepsuit, with a face smeared in jam and arms sticky up to his elbows. He giggles at me and throws his arms out for a hug, squealing with a giddy excitement that is brought on by god only knows what. And I’m reminded that he doesn’t care. He doesn’t need a car. He doesn’t want fancy toys. He has no idea what money is. He thought going on the bus at the weekend was the best adventure ever because he got to look out a massive window, watch the world whizz by and ding the stop bell. He was so happy and comfortable on the back of my bike yesterday that he nodded off for a snooze. He doesn’t want my money. He wants my attention. He wants my time. And for as long as I can, I want to be here to give it to him.
It’d be very easy for me to feel sorry for myself today. But what good does that do? I’m going to dust myself off, clean us both up and head out for some fun outside. I may not have money to spare, but I’m going to spend my time instead. And I’m going to spend it with my little boy, who values it above all other things. And you know what? That makes me feel like the richest person alive. Just.
You see, I knew writing this would be cathartic.