Oscillation

I know I’ve written before about the gratitude I feel about having a second child and how happy I am that our family can finally feel complete. But I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard sometimes to walk away from the idea of a third kid. I don’t know where it originally came from–I only have one living sibling so it’s not like I’m trying to recreate the kind of family I grew up in by having three kids. Maybe I’m trying to have the family my parents wanted but didn’t get. My mom wanted four kids and my dad wanted two so they settled on three. But then my sister died and my mother had three stillbirths so they stopped when my only living sister was born. Maybe I wanted three kids because they couldn’t have three themselves.

Three kids is not in the cards for us. And honestly, a lot of the time I’m totally okay with that. A lot of the time I actually think it’s what’s best for our family. We live in an expensive city. The only way we survive here financially is through the very generous help of family, family we can’t depend on forever. It would be selfish of us to ask them to help us with a third child and without their help, we absolutely couldn’t afford childcare for three children.

We can’t afford it, my husband doesn’t even want it, and our fertility issues make it all but impossible. Not having a third child isn’t even a choice for us. It isn’t meant to be. Our family is complete. And yet… it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to let go of that original dream. It’s hard not to wonder… what if?

I think it will be hard for me, when people I know start having third children. I almost asked my friends yesterday, the ones who have kids close in age to our own, if they were planning on having a third child (they have initiated the conversation in the past, which is the only reason I would ask now). I know they originally wanted four, but then decided that was too much and even said once that they might be done at two. I’m guessing they’ll have three. I’m guessing my cousin will have three. Probably quite a few of our friends will have three. It’s something I have to be ready for, people expanding their families while ours stays the same size. I will be very happy for them, but it will be hard not to consider our own family size and not think of my original dreams. Watching someone do what you can’t, but wanted to, do is difficult, even when you know in your mind that what they have isn’t what’s best for your family.

Our hearts are stubborn forces. I wish our minds held more sway over them. I wish all the rational thinking that helps me know it’s right for us to be a family of four could keep my heart convinced.

There are other feelings swirling around this issue too. One is the immense gratitude I feel that we even have two children. I really didn’t think we’d get to have a second child and then we did and he’s amazing and I am so thankful. There is also guilt, because I have TWO children and so many people want a second child, or any children at all, so who I am to want a third? And honestly, I know this isn’t a popular sentiment in this community but I truly believe that I SHOULD be grateful, JUST grateful for what I have when I know so many people who have less. I get that we all want what we want and we have our own dreams for our family and we can grieve those dreams. I get that, I do, but I also think it’s kind of selfish of me to wish I had more when so many people have less. This is just how I feel about myself, it’s a deeply personal expectation (as in, I don’t expect others to feel that way, nor do I think they should) and most of the time I live up to it, but sometimes I falter.

Like when Mi.Vida talks about scheduling his vasectomy (have I mentioned how much Mi.Vida DOESN’T want to have another kid?) and the finality of that action settles like cold stone in my stomach. I feel that tight weight when I get rid or something from Monito’s infancy, like the co-sleeper and bouncy chair I recently sold.

And then there are moments, like yesterday, when I pulled out the baby food ice trays and I thought, “When I stored these away I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to use them again. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m pureeing carrots for a second child.” In those moments I am flooded with this warmth of gratitude, I literally feel it wash through my body like a wave, emanating heat from deep within me. It’s an incredible feeling, one I can wrap myself in for week, and even months, at a time.

The feeling of wishing I could have a third child is murkier. It’s more distant, like a memory of something that happened in the distant past. It’s not usually a visceral reaction, like my gratitude, it’s more like that tingle you get in your jaws when you think of eating something sour. It’s intense for a short moment, but it fades quickly and then you barely even register that it’s there.

That is where my wanting a third child is now. Just a tingle in my jaw when I read a post, or see a family that might be announcing their third pregnancy. It’s a very dully ache that I can’t quite place and that disappears before my mind can linger on it.

I’m sure I’ll oscillate between these two feelings a lot in the coming years, as those we know build their families while we do not. I just hope that I swing to the side of gratitude and acceptance more than to the side of envy and wanting, because I do have so much and our family is so very lucky.

What is your experience with infertility and family size? How do you feel about it?

The Weight of It

Thank you all for your input. The unanimous opinion was to not spend the money, but instead pay off my debt and work on the yard when I can actually afford it. I suppose I knew that was the right decision, but it clearly wasn’t the one I wanted to make. Sometimes it feels like I’m never going to pay off that damned $7,000. It’s hard to put so much of my life on hold until it’s all paid off. When there is already so little in my life that feels like it’s just for me, it’s hard to sacrifice those few things I might enjoy. Sometimes I feel like I have absolutely nothing left to motivate me, nothing that I can call my own. I can’t buy clothes, I can’t buy books, I can’t go out with friends much (not that I have any friends asking me to go out), I can’t get my daughter birthday presents (I am SO THANKFUL that my parents are treating us to Disneyland, it’s as much a present for me as it is for my daughter), I can’t really do… anything fun or frivolous for another year… maybe two? It kind of sucks.

We bought our house at just the right time. It was a miracle, really, that we found it and that our offer was accepted and that our mortgage was approved and that we were able to actually buy a frigging house in the most competitive housing market in the country. We’ve been incredibly lucky with our tenants and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t actively stop and thank the powers that be for our house and the fact that we bought it when we did. The housing market here is CRAZY right now. Houses are going for 30% over asking and people are paying with cash. The tech boom has take the chronic housing shortage of SF and driven it to mythic proportions. People are spending well over a million dollars for 800 square feet in even the less desirable neighborhoods. It’s insane right now.

Rents aren’t much better. If we had stayed in our mold-infested shit hole of an apartment until Monito was born, and THEN tried to move, we’d surely be spending $3000 a month to rent 1000 square feet in an isolated, foggy neighborhood. Our mortgage isn’t that bad considering what people are paying in rents these days.

But all that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a BIG mortgage. And sometimes the weight of it feels burdensome. I don’t regret buying our house–I never have and I truly doubt I ever will–but it’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s something we treasure that we could one day up and lose.

The reality is, if we hadn’t bought our house, we wouldn’t have fallen $10,000 dollars into debt. Of course, we’d also be tearing our hair out trying to live with two kids in 800 sq ft of mold infested misery, circling the block five hundred times to find parking, hoarding quarters to wash cloth diapers in a shared laundry machine and sitting in unrelenting traffic every day on the way home from work. I absolutely believe our debt is worth not living where we used to live, but it’s hard sometimes.

It’s true that we don’t need much. Monito has plenty of clothes and toys from when Osita was small. Osita is well taken care of by her grandparents. But it’s hard not to be able to indulge in anything for either of them. This is my last baby and I haven’t gotten to buy him ONE cute outfit yet. He’ll be in 12-18 month clothing in a couple months and I’ll have missed out on buying him even one adorable baby outfit. My last baby’s infant hood will be over and I won’t have gotten to revel in the sweet smallness of it. It’s just hard to watch this time go by, knowing I’m missing my last chance to do some of these things. They aren’t the important things, I recognize that, but they are fun and I love them and I know I’ll look back on this time with lingering regret that we couldn’t afford to enjoy it in the way we wanted.

It all just feels so… restrictive. Between the calorie counting and financial tracking, there is barely any room to breath. Every choice is scrutinized. Every decision revisited and judged. There is no room for error or mistakes. I can never reward myself for a job well done with a treat, because I can’t afford the calories of a random ice cream or hot chocolate, or the money it would cost to get one. I guess in that way, it’s nice to be dealing with both at the same time, because everything I don’t eat saves me both money AND calories–killing two birds and all that–but it also means I REALLY can’t have that ice cream or that hot chocolate. Or anything else I might want, either.

{Right now I have a gnarly canker sore on the very tip of my tongue. If I just stopped messing with it, it would probably go away without me hardly noticing it, but instead I bite at it and poke at it and won’t leave it the fuck alone and it just hurts more and more as the day wears on. My financial issues are like this, if I just accept them, and stop brooding over them, they wouldn’t be a big deal, but instead I through myself monthly pity parties and get myself all down in the dumps about it. So dumb. I need to stop biting at this damn canker sore!}

It will get better. I know this. And ultimately, I want to live this way, not eating dumb crap for no reason, not having to dangle “treats” for myself for motivation. I should be able to make responsible choices just because they are the right choices to make. I shouldn’t need to reward myself. And I shouldn’t feel so deprived just because I can’t get or do what I want for a couple of years. Hopefully these restrictions will be temporary, but the lessons I’m learning from them will last a lifetime.

Do you ever feel restricted by a diet or budget? How do you deal with those feelings?

 

You Thoughts: On Living Life with Debt

Hello wise readers. I have a lot on my mind these days and sometimes, I just REALLY don’t know what to do. I can ask a few friends (and I do) but I always want more opinions. So I’ll be asking you all for your thoughts on some of this stuff because you all have experience, wisdom and perspective that I lack and I’d love to avoid mistakes by learning from all of you.

So here is my first question. It might seem supremely silly or stupid but I’ve been going back and forth on this for a little while and I really want to make a decision and just move on already.

First a little background.

So, as you all know, I’m paying off some credit card debt that we racked up during my maternity leave, when our insurance coverage through Mi.Vida’s work was stalled for several months. I was able to put the entirety of my tax return toward the debt, so now I have about $7000 left. It’s on a 0%APR-until-March-2015 card, so it’s not currently accruing interest. My hope is that I can get half paid off by the end of the year and the other half paid off when we get our next tax return in 2015. If that is the case, I’ll only be paying interest on it for a few months, while we wait for our tax return.

Of course things can happen and the resolution of our debt might not be so neat and tidy resolution. We just had to spend over $5000 on a plumbing problem in the tenant’s unit and we have a LOOOOONG list of projects we really should do on the house, so who knows where we’ll be in a year.

Anyway, that is where we stand debt wise. We’ve tightened our budget. We’re living within our means. We’re putting money toward our debt every month. We’re living frugally but not denying ourselves EVERYTHING. We still go to the movies every three or so months. We still treat ourselves to burritos once or twice a month. I’m taking our daughter to Disneyland for her birthday (though my parents are paying, as a present to both of us). My point is that, we’re giving ourselves a little leeway–we feel we can afford a little happiness here and there, despite not actually being able to afford it.

Having said that we are denying ourselves quite a bit. We are making sacrifices. Every time I make a purchase I consider the fact that any money I spend is money I can’t put toward our debt. I want to get rid of that balance on my credit card. I want us back in the black.

So here, almost 450 words later, is where I finally ask the question. I want to do some work on my yard this summer. I want to plant more miniature stone crop in the middle square of the yard (half of it died in the great clover take over of 2013, and the other half just hasn’t spread very quickly, but is still thriving) and I want to plant succulents on the left side (the blue star creeper was also choked out by clover–I think it got too much sun over there too). I think all in all it will cost about $500, maybe $600 at the most, but I can’t decide if I should do it. It certainly isn’t a necessity. I can keep what is still growing alive until next summer when hopefully we’ll have more money to plant these things. But if I plant them now, then the ground cover can spread all year and the yard could be done next summer, and we could actually be enjoying it when Monito is walking and I need a good place to hang out with the kids.

I REALLY want to have ground cover in the middle square, so there is actually a place for the kids to play (that isn’t concrete). And I really want something besides dead plants on the left side because, well, dead plants don’t look nice. They look dead, and they depress me. I worked SO HARD on my yard last summer, and I learned a lot about what I need to do to keep it healthy and happy this past year. I know this year I’ll be more successful combatting the problems that overwhelmed me last winter and led to the demise of certain sections of the year. Also, it’s supposed to rain a lot this coming winter, and after the crazy drought we are still suffering this year, it’d be great to watch nature do all the watering work, so that my garden can not just grown, but thrive.

So, do I spend the $500ish dollars on the backyard, even though that means I don’t get my debt paid off as quickly? Or do I not buy the plants and pay off the debt, waiting until we’re in the black to spend that kind of money? I know people will have different opinions on this, and that no one answer is necessarily the right one, I just want to know what you all think, so I can make the best decision.

Thanks in advance for your wise words.