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Knowing My Own Limits

June 14, 2010

It’s official, we have too much going on. The weekends are wearing me out. We are lucky if we have one full day to spend together as a family of four with two functioning parents one day a month. Me working retail to “bring in a bit extra” is officially feeling like the straw that broke the camel’s back. One income isn’t covering what needs to go out the door, so while he job hunts for a new job, I’ve been working part-time, but the time away just doesn’t balance with the extra money. It’s not worth it.  We’ve made changes to save more and spend less.  Sure, there are little things that we could continue to do, and we are continuing to do them, but at this point it really is just a matter of needing more money coming in. And I find it really hard to feel like the time away from my family almost every Saturday and Sunday and an evening or two during the week, unless I specifically ask for the day off, is making all that much of a difference when I look at my meager paychecks.

The thing that both John and I understand entirely too deeply is our own limits. We push them and bend them and at the end of the day, we know where the to stop. We’re homebodies and we love quiet time. We need time together as a family that is just downtime to relax and enjoy each other. And we’re barely squeaking that in lately and when we do, it has to be planned around with the preface of, “Ok, Saturday morning we’re doing nothing but hanging out together and going for a walk with the kids and the yard work and the other things we’ve been waiting to do are going to have to wait a bit longer.” It’s wearing us down in a slow, melancholy way. We argue. We are angry. We take things out on one another for absolutely no reason other than needing to just get out tons of feeling and knowing that we never ever want our children to see it or feel the brunt of what is currently on our shoulders.

I can feel the stress and anxiety creeping into my bones. It’s always present on some level, but just seems to be increasing lately. I can feel it in the shortness of my temper and my breath. The increase in moments when I just have to stop and close my eyes for a minute. The moments when I call my husband in the middle of the day to just talk to him and feel the tears stinging my eyes the second I hear his voice. The increase in the number of days per week that I lay down and take a nap with my little ones in the afternoon.

I am not okay with functioning like this – this state of just stumbling from one day to the next with a thousand thoughts and stresses swirling through my mind constantly. Not being fully present for my children, then being annoyed when they’re extra persistent to get my attention. It’s unbelievably unfair to them and I don’t want to be this way for my family. Especially not because of something so mundane as money.

I know that the days that are our best days are the most ordinary days. Days filled with slow breakfast and coffee for mom. Playing outside in pj’s before we even get dressed. A walk to the park or playing for a while with friends. Good, long naps in the afternoon. Playing outside in the late afternoon. Dinners that have been thought about early in the day and not thrown together at the last minute out of stress. Time for book reading before bed that involves a whole stack of books and a lot of snuggling.

I know that the stresses aren’t going to go away, but choosing to take advantage of the time that we have and squeezing in beautiful, slow life moments rather than a whole bunch of “stuff” is where I need to focus my energy.

I called work today and asked to make myself unavailable on Sundays. I also looked at our calendar and took off two of the activities we were planning to do this week. Having one day a week set that we know that we all have together as a family will help. So will taking an extra day or two this week to just stay home and regroup after a long weekend and catch up on some reading and cleaning and laundry. Taking time together to remind ourselves that it will all be okay. The this is what matters most in life.

It’s so difficult for anyone to figure out a balance between work and personal life. Throwing anyone else, especially children and a spouse,  into the mix just adds exponential levels of complication.  I know it’s taboo to discuss it, but I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that I KNOW that there are many people out there feeling the same things that our family is feeling. Why does it make us all cringe to hear about others’ financial struggles? When one income isn’t enough, what do you do? Where do you draw the line between being willing to sacrifice and do without for the sake of what you feel is the right decision for you to function as a family and having that cause too much stress to make it worthwhile? How do you make the decisions that are right for your family? How do you decide where you draw the line at your own limits?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. ischwab permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:04 pm

    When one income isn’t enough, what do you do? Where do you draw the line between being willing to sacrifice and do without for the sake of what you feel is the right decision for you to function as a family and having that cause too much stress to make it worthwhile? How do you make the decisions that are right for your family? How do you decide where you draw the line at your own limits?

    For us the stress of me working is better than the stress of not having enough money. And I’m NOT saying that is the right option for you, but it took me a long time to accept that even though I don’t *love* working, it’s easier for me to work than it is for me to worry about paying the bills. I don’t know if it’s the best decision for everyone, but it is for us right now.
    It sounds like what you’re doing right now isn’t working and I fully support you taking at least one day a week to be a family, that is what is most important.

    • June 15, 2010 5:34 am

      This is just what I was talking about with someone at work last night – that figuring out what’s easier for you to deal with. Is it the stress of working? The stress of balancing work full time and home and knowing you don’t have the financial stress? Is it the part time work and accepting that you’ll have to accept less family time? Somthing else that’s a more worthy exchange if you have to accept that you WILL have to sacrifice in some aspect?

      I think a big part of it is me being a baby and not looking at the big picture of all of it, but some days it just weighs heavier than others.

  2. jenni permalink
    June 15, 2010 12:55 am

    I completely hear you. Thankfully I do have a job, but I am a single mom with a 16 month old. After work today I had to take my son to the doctor–ear infection. I went to fill the prescription and wasn’t told the credit card machine was out. I didn’t have any cash & left my checkbook at work. I had chased my son around the pharmacy for 20 minutes and couldn’t get his medicine. Frustrating and humiliating. The refrigerator is going out as I type, but I can only deal with so much at a time. I will have to deal with that in the morning. It is what it is. I hate to complain (although I know I am), but one person can only do so much and yes, ideally, I need a break. Realistically it isn’t going to happen. So, I continue to try to make the best of it all. I am thankful for the many ways we are blessed and I am always looking for the silver lining. It it always there. Sometimes you just have to look harder than at other times. Prayers are being sent your way.

    • June 15, 2010 8:07 am

      Agreed very much on the many blessing we have. And hearing about your day and stress level definitely gives me some much-needed perspective! I hope your refrigerator is ok:)

  3. June 15, 2010 10:13 am

    Hey Lillian~
    I am so proud of you for posting this. You’re right~so many won’t talk about ‘behind closed doors’ issues, but why the heck not? This is real life, and one way or another, let’s face it: we’re all struggling. And it’s not the 50’s.

    I think for starters, you’re right on track. For me, when something starts eating away at me, and then inevitably starts pecking away at my marriage and family life, all hell breaks loose. I STOP everything unnecessary, just like you’ve done. Clear the days~especially if it’s summer. Playdates are great, but the time I have with Theo and Sully, uninterupted, free of a schedule, is the best time of all.

    I’m also a firm believer in the power of positive thought. I start daily affirmations…we always have what we need…there is enough for all of us….all is well….
    I know it’s far out for some, but for me it’s just the right amount of hope and prayer sent out to the universe to keep helping take care of us. And somehow, it always works.

  4. seekingsibling permalink
    June 16, 2010 12:37 am

    I kind of dream of selling our house (which we can’t afford on one income, probably), driving our cars to death, selling all of our worldly possessions and living in a yurt or something in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think I’d ENJOY it, persay, but MAN there are days when it KILLS me to leave Owen at home. I feel like such a half-assed wife and Mom sometimes because I am just so tired. Thank God for summer. I’m trying to savor our summer together before it’s back to the craziness.

  5. June 18, 2010 12:16 pm

    I’ve been wanting to get back and comment on this post all week. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. Just when I think I’m doing well with the part time work and home balance, I drop a ball. I have no idea what we’re going to do once this 2nd babe arrives. I was considering staying at home and picking up a retail job but I fear losing all of our weekends. It’s really tough. I hope you all get it figured out and would love to hear an update about what you decide. Hearing how others are handling it helps put it into perspective. Good luck!

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