Tag Archives: stay at home parents

New Beginnings

Two years ago the bottom fell out of my little corner of the world. I was a stay-at-home mom with two little girls and life was moving along pretty sweetly, until the day my husband came home with the news that he, too, had fallen victim to the economic fallout that was sweeping through the country. Unemployed. It was devastating news. How we would live? Where would we live? How the hell would we feed the kids?!? These are the terrifying thoughts that flooded my waking moments.

We immediately went into hyper-economy mode (use what you have, fix what is broken, make do without it). I was used to being thrifty since, as we all know, one-income families these days are rarely rolling in the dough- but by being conscious of purchases and starting hobbies like gardening and baking, I had been able to do the stay-at-home thing for a number of years without it being too painful financially. That was just a practice round. That first night, we spent hours going over our expenses and deciding where to cut. and cut. and cut. It’s incredible to realize just how much you spend without any thought at all..goodbye to my weekly Starbucks coffee treats while out for groceries, new dvd’s and books for the kids a few times a month, meals out, supplies for hobbies- it adds up quickly. Then there’s the big stuff- utility bills, remodeling plans, vacation funds…

For the first week, I couldn’t even look at the kids without breaking down into tears wondering how we would get through this…

That was 2 years, and a lot of lessons, ago. Turns out, you can survive this. Sometimes, bad news is just the beginning. Sometimes what follows turns out better than you could imagine. I went back to work after landing what often seems like a dream job. My husband took the time and went back to school to get a degree for a new field of work (tough to do when you’re not a kid anymore), and as he finished up school he started a new job in a field he feels he is truly meant to work in. In the meantime, he had the opportunity to do what dads don’t often get to- spend 2 years raising a toddler, bonding in special ways that he missed out on with our first child. I think it’s made him a better parent (although he was pretty great at it to begin with).

Most important of all, we learned what we really NEED. We spent time with family and friends, really enjoying their company in place of Saturday trips to the city to shop and eat. We enjoyed the “stuff” that we already have (“oh wow, i forgot we even had this” was often heard around the house- proof that we live in a consumer culture..buy buy buy…and then toss it aside). Kids want new books and dvd’s? Say hello to the library. They love it. (And i love that it’s FREE.) That first spring, one of my first reactions was to plant a much bigger garden (instinctual hunter-gatherer mode). Seeds are cheap. Dirt and water are free. Seemed logical. When it was time to harvest it, I learned about preservation and canned for the 1st time (just like my grandparents always had), and enjoyed the deep feeling of satisfaction (and relief) at the jars and jars of food lining the cupboards. “Huh, must be something to this after all….” For vacation- we took the kids camping and to stay at a working farm, and loved watching them enjoy nature and “simple” things (although i still say there is nothing simple at all about farming or nature..but that’s for another post). Our new parenting motto became “spend time, not money.”

I doubt I will ever “look back fondly” upon this period of our lives- it was stressful and scary and not very much fun- but I can say that I will grow to appreciate the lessons we took from it and hopefully can even work to focus a little harder on teaching these same lessons to the girls…maybe to help them weather the storms that may come in their futures… who knows. Sometimes, life deals you a bad hand. What you do with that is really up to you- wallow in it, or make something good out of it.

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