Lately this weird juxtaposition has been bouncing around in my head. It’s our current financial situation.
Since James was born and I made the decision to stay home full-time with him, we’ve been a one-income family. Getting to be home with him all day and foster our bond, tend to his every need and see all his first-year “firsts” has been beyond amazing. It’s really a dream come true, and a huge privilege. But it’s also been a sacrifice, because living on one entry-level income is hard. It means we pay our bills – and that’s it. If we want to go out to eat, or buy a new pair of jeans, it has to come out of our grocery budget. That means we may eat rice and beans for dinner a couple times that month. That’s our reality right now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even though it can be challenging at times.
But it feels kind of strange for a couple reasons. One is that we have friends who are in the midst of building successful careers, and making good money, and getting to do really cool things. We just can’t do those things right now and it is very easy to feel like we’re missing out. Especially with all this cultural hype about “living it up” in your 20s. We often feel the pangs of living against our current culture.
The other thing is that Anthony and I both come from upper middle class families. Our families aren’t super wealthy but our parents easily have all their needs and most all their wants met also. And this bleeds into our lives. Our parents help us pay our cell phone bills, our car and home insurance, and we rent our house from my parents. We definitely PAY rent, but if my parents were renting our house to someone else, they could easily get another couple hundred dollars a month out of it.
So sometimes it feels like we are “allowed” to live this “sacrificial” life because our parents have done well. Like we’re living off their privilege. But somehow we still feel behind.
And I am so very aware, even while feeling bummed that we can’t always eat “organic” or go out when we want, that we have so much. We’re lucky to be a family with two parents, so that one can work and the other can choose to stay home. We’re lucky we aren’t paying off massive debt, like student loans. We are lucky to have a baby that is perfectly healthy. The list goes on and on.
I don’t know how to wrap this up in a nice bow and make sense of it. I guess we’re fortunate to be able to live according to our values, because not everyone can. We’ve very consciously said “no” to some things so we can say an emphatic “yes” to others. I am humbled that we have enough, however that’s come to be. And I guess I’m just thankful. I’m really, really thankful.