Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rainbows, puppies and unicorns that poop glitter

I actually hadn't planned on blogging about this for months and months, if ever, but Rich sort of let the cat out of the bag on his blog and it's probably easier to explain the situation rather than reword blog posts like I've been doing.

A few weeks ago (the beginning of my fourth week of 80% time, to be exact), Rich lost his job. It was a bitter pill to swallow and left us both a bit shell-shocked. It happened before lunch so Rich met me and we walked over to the North End for pizza. This was Monday of that week of crazy warm weather and I had not seen the forecast so I was wearing my winter Michelin Man jacket. I ended up carrying my jacket but I was so distracted with thoughts and conversation that I didn't realize how warm it really was until later. (75 degrees in March!)

We've had so many ups and downs over these past six years. There is so much beyond our control in life and some of it just isn't worth the fight. I told Rich to look at this as an opportunity to enjoy some time off from the stress of working. To enjoy some time with the girls.

I currently do not plan to return to work full time unless my employer requires me to do so, which could happen. We can survive on my 80% pay (less $450 a month for health and dental insurance) but we may not be able to save anything. And we'll need to adjust some of our spending. We do have some savings although this isn't exactly what I had planned to use those savings for. We've weathered a lot worse and just as before, all will be fine. We'll find a way to make it work.

As parents, we walk a fine line between providing financially for our children and sustaining a career. Quite honestly, we are sometimes forced to make decisions that absolutely suck. Sometimes we give up careers in order to have that decent work/life balance. Sometimes we accept and work at jobs we don't really like. Life is a lot different when you have little ones.

Understandably, the girls were a bit confused with the sudden new schedule. Grammy now only watches them on days when Rich has class or if there are appointments. Parking at the train station costs $4 a day so in order to save a few bucks (and because on some days, we just don't have an extra car) someone drops me off and picks me up.

So not to sound like a bratty know-it-all but to the readers and commenters who want to know why I work, here's something to think about. The state of Massachusetts is an employee at will state, which means that on any given day, you could find yourself standing on the sidewalk holding a ratty cardboard box of personal items and a phone number for the unemployment office. (And if you think you've been wrongfully terminated, good luck fighting it.)

Then there's the cobra payment for health and dental insurance. Anyone want to guess how much that sucker will cost you per month for a family? If you guessed $1,500, you are correct.

One night during that first week, Rich was telling me about some adventure he and the girls had had that day. I remarked that he was a good dad and he said something like, "Well, at least I have that." You know what? That is more important than anything. At the end of your life, what would you rather be remembered as?

I know my answer.

16 comments:

Siné said...

It sounds like you guys are making the best of a tough situation. Consequently, your girls will probably look back on this as a wonderful time because they get to spend so much time with their Dad.

Tracey's Life said...

Sarah, I can so understand. I lost my job after 23 years of working for the same company almost three years ago. I received a substantial severance and unemployment, but the kids and I have learned the difference between a need and a want. It's not so terrible. I wish Rich all the best of luck in finding a new position soon. It sounds like you guys have it all under control.

Hugs

Stacey said...

I understand completely! But like the others have said, the girls will be so happy to have their daddy around, even if just for a little while! And you on your day off of course! And now maybe your husbands classes will be able to go faster. I decided to be a stay at home mom after I had Avery a year ago and we have decided to stay on Cobra until it is up this December. Although it is expensive, its still a great program that they offer, for sometime at least. Good luck with everything! YOu'll make it through with flying colors!!

Suzanne said...

I recently stumbled upon your blog (through one of those internet black holes!) and ended up reading a bunch of your archives. What a beautiful family! I was laid off from my job in October. It's a strange sensation and causes one to question their "plan". I've been lucky enough to turn it into an opportunity (with support from family & friends) and will be starting law school in the fall. Personally, it came at a great time to sort through things and help my family with various projects. You guys seem to have a great handle on every curve ball you've been pitched and I'm sure you'll handle this next step with grace and confidence. And it may just turn out to be a great "window" after a shut door.

Elizabeth said...

I'm an very sorry to hear about Rich losing his job. I will keep Rich and your family in my thoughts and hope that a much better job comes for him. From reading your blog, you are a strong family and will make it through this.

Michelle said...

Oh Sarah, I am so sorry to hear that Rich lost his job. I've been there, several times. I can say this though. Every time I have been laid off, it sucked. They say you should plan to be out one month for every year of professional experience you have. However, as much as it sucked, I always ended up in a much better place with a better salary than the job that I came from. Every.Single.Time. It was always a blessing in disguise... it just took a few months to see it.

Lisa L said...

Wow, what a sucky thing to go through. It's a relief that you have your job and Rich can focus on his school work.

Cindy said...

Sarah, you are looking at this in the totally right way. Rich being out of work will give him special time with the girls. He will find another job, you will be able to financially make it through (God bless health insurance through work) and you will be all right. You will make the necessary adjustments. And I whole heartedly agree that the MOST important thing at the end of the day is your family, the love, the relationships, the connection. It isn't "at least I have that", it's "I am lucky I have that".

Wendy said...

Sorry to hear about the letting go, but Rich IS a great dad (and I'm sure he was a great employee as well). You guys will get through <3
PA is also an "at will" employment state where you can be fired with no cause. It's scary- my father was let go from his job after 33 years of employment.

KimB said...

Some "bad" things are not always bad.

I'm working and my accountant husband is a stay at home dad (we have 3 kids). I just spoke to him and he is on a nature walk with our youngest child's class. Our youngest (turning 5 on April 8) doesn't go to school full days until September 2013. So SAHD it is. And we've just sucked it up. We have a lot less money (no vacations or eating out, no savings but meeting our financial obligations) but the kids are only young once. Enjoy them.

Rich (and my husband) will work again but now is the time to spend some good (and cheap, LOL) quality
time with the kids.

JEN said...

This economy! Sometimes good comes out of bad. Thinking of you!

Stacey L. said...

It may not sound true right now, but in the big picture when the girls look back at their childhood they won't remember that daddy didn't work, they will remember that he played with them and read to them and was there for them!

I've been reading your blog for a while and lurking and just wanted to say I really enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

I hope they gave a good severance package. I had no idea Massachusetts was like that. That's just insane!!
-Alana

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Gosh, what a shock. You're right - you will all be more than fine and he'll be able to spend some great quality time with the girls.

I'm from SA so don't know much about the employment practises in the USA. Here the law slants in favour of the employee so you have to have lots of consultations and and and ... and then a retrenchment will happen, always with some package (usually a week's pay for every year of service). And proper fireable offences where you have to leave immediately are only for causes like fraud, theft, etc.

THought you might be interested in how it works on the other side of the world.

Karen said...

I just wanted to say, my prayers are with you.

desarli said...

Hang in there Sarah and Rich. When I was laid off almost three years ago I thought it was the end of the world. Little did I know it was the beginning of a fantastic world being home with the kids. I wouldn't trade it for anything and am so grateful that I am able to be home with them still. They grow up so fast. Thinking of you...