Last night I shared a Facebook Post highlighting the struggles of working parents. Because I love to write, and you all bless me daily by reading the things I write, I wanted to expand on that.
I grew up in a household where my dad was the primary breadwinner and my mother raised the children. While my dad owned some business or another throughout our lives — my mom would help at his stores, but her primary responsibility was to take care of me and my two sisters. My dad’s mother, my Nini, also lived with us on and off for most of my early childhood, which made juggling kids and work easier.
On the good years, I would classify our economic status growing up as lower-middle-class — but on the bad years, or on average — we were considered poor. While there are a multitude of reasons I could attribute that to, I think it is fair to say that much of that is due to the fact that we grew up in a single-income household. With three children, all roughly 2 years apart in age, it wasn’t possible for my mother to work a 9-5 — plus for so many in her generation — being a housewife was what was expected of her. Our family got by — but barely.
Fast-forward to now, when I am the adult raising a family. While that in itself still blows my mind — it is just a drastically different time compared to when my parents were the adults of the home. Now, it would be impossible to thrive on a single income — we barely got by 30 years ago, today we would fall into a cycle of poverty that we would never be able to escape. Rounding up and being VERY conservative — if I were to guess that Nick made $50,000 a year and that was supposed to serve as our source of income for a family of 5, right off the bat we would be looking at $8,400 for health insurance for our family through the county. Then for our home — that is another $18,000 a year if you consider a $1,500 mortgage — which really you can’t even get anymore with the current market when buying or renting. So in health insurance and a roof over our heads — we have already spent HALF of our income for the year. Two expenses — HALF of the income. Factoring in two vehicles (admittedly are current vehicles are more expensive and new so if we were on a single income we clearly would be driving different vehicles) but looking at the average car payments that is about $19,000 a year. So now we are looking at three expenses that cost $45,400 a year. So we are left with about $5,000 for EVERY OTHER EXPENSE — food, cable, phones, electricity — it is impossible. Even if we were to only have one vehicle or drive less expensive vehicles — cutting that in half would still only leave about $12,000 for the year — or around $1,000 a month for all other bills. That is insane — and virtually impossible.
So I work. Obviously, I work a lot — I technically have three full-time jobs. Since I work — we have to pay for childcare for two kids — so off the top, just so I am able to work, we have to pay about $15,000 a year. Let that sink in — so I am able to work 9-5, it cost me $15,000 a year, so I have to find a job that pays at least minimum wage just to be able to pay for the daycare that keeps my kids so I can work. Then when they get to school — they are there 7:45 to 2:45 — and I am expected to get them to and from school — while also somehow working and 8-5. Then throw in the doctor’s appointments which have to happen during my workday, because they aren’t open any other time, kids practices or activities that are essentially required at this point in society — while also doing their homework, dinner, bath, and in bed by 8 p.m. so they get the amount of sleep their doctor recommended when I missed work to take them in for their required check-up. The other day I got stuck at work — so Nick had to grab the kids before daycare closed at 5:30 — because somehow I am supposed to work until 5:00 and then race to the kid’s school before they close or else it cost me a dollar per minute. I wasn’t going to make it by the time they closed and Nick had to grab them — well apparently that upset some people. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?
Somehow I am supposed to ensure their childhoods are magical while also keeping the house clean, cooking dinner ( I will tell you right now I do not clean or cook because — well it’s just not going to happen in my house.)
I am fortunate to have employers who put family first most of the time — so I have more flexibility than most parents. But here I am wondering how I am going to work on Monday, make Turner’s data day at school, which is in a different county in the middle of the morning, get the kids to their activities and birthday parties this weekend and next — schedule an ACL surgery I desperately need — get the dog to the groomer and vet — do all my jobs — and still have fun and flirty convos with my husband so our marriage doesn’t crumble under the weight of it all.
I am annoyed at myself for writing all of this because it sounds so whiney — and this isn’t unique to me — this is being a parent in 2022 — this is being an adult in 2022. It is devastatingly hard. All I want to do is make enough money to provide for my family and raise good humans that make our world better. These problems and restrictions and constraints are not feasible or sustainable and we need to change the societal exceptions we place on parents. I desperately miss the 4 day school week we had for a short time during the pandemic — because that forced 4 day work weeks — which helped balance everything else and gave an extra day to spend with our families.
Also, keep in mind that everyone is doing the best they can. Sure it’s not always perfect, actually, it will never be perfect — but whatever they are doing today — is the best they can do for one reason or another so give them grace, kindness, and tell them they are awesome.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk and the ramblings of my brain.