Three Years Later

I called it.

Happy April Fool’s Day, but this post is not a prank. Counting today, my 25th birthday is in 27 days. That surreal feeling has come back and it is stronger than ever.

Actually, I think about it a lot. How my mother was a parent at my age. My mom’s birthday is in July, so she would still be 24, but at the time, she had a nearly three-year-old child (me) and was about seven months pregnant. I cannot imagine. In that post, I said I couldn’t see where I’d be at 25. I wasn’t sure this blog would still be around. Well, at 25, I’ve finished school and am looking for a job in what I studied while dealing with retail for the time being. I also have student loans and credit card debt.

I don’t know if my mom had any debt, but I know her circumstances at the time weren’t much different than mine. I try to imagine having one child, but I can never figure it out. People say “you’ll figure it out”, but I genuinely can’t. I’m barely keeping myself above water. My retail job barely covers my monthly expenses. At best, I may have an extra $10 or $20 after I cover my bills from week to week, and that’s far from enough to care for a child. Heck, just if I were pregnant, I’d be in hot water. I have health insurance, but I’ve still had to pay out of pocket for some medical expenses. What about things like pre-natal vitamins and maternity clothes? And what if I couldn’t keep working while I was pregnant? I know many women work up until just days before they’re due (I had a manager who went on maternity leave and gave birth a week later!), but not everyone can do that. Pregnancy itself isn’t a cakewalk, but some are worse than others. And it’s not free to give birth! You get a bill for giving birth in a hospital, despite that’s the safest way (statistically speaking; there is sexism around childbirth).

If I’d be in deep mud before the child arrives, I’d metaphorically drown when the kid finally is here. Sure, I don’t have to spend $300 on baby clothes they’d quickly outgrow and constantly throw up on. But a crib? Diapers? Changing pad? Stroller? Bottles (don’t say breastfeed; the kid wouldn’t be in my care 24/7 because I’d have to work)? Bibs? Formula? Daycare? That alone would be nearly an extra $1,000 a month, and that’s cheap. That’s actually more than my monthly expenses. And these would be the expenses for a healthy baby!

But it crosses my mind a lot because of the way I’m currently struggling and knowing my mom did it over 20 years ago. A popular meme I’ve read is about how having your kids young means you’ll be free in your 40s and be able to do everything you missed out on when your kids were young. The problem is that assumes you’ll be well off by the time your kids are grown, and they’ll move out at 18 and not move back in. My mom’s financial situation is no better now than it was when I was an infant, and my sister and I aren’t well off either. It may be worth mentioning my grandparents also weren’t well off. I think this is what’s called generational poverty.

I know this surreal feeling will pass, but I’ll never not be astounded that people do this. For the record, I know how my mom did it. She had government assistance. And no, I don’t think that’s shameful. But to see in twenty years, her situation hasn’t changed – and to know it’s been this way for two generations, three if I count myself and my sister without kids – is depressing, to say the least. I hear “there’s never a good time” and “you’ll never be ready”. Maybe that’s true, but if I wanted kids, I sure wouldn’t willingly have them when I couldn’t pay rent if I needed to. Maybe there really never is a good time, but I’m sure it’s a bad time when daycare alone would take more than your entirely monthly income.

For the sake of my curiosity, and my absurd enjoyment of creating lists, I’m going to add up those expenses. Let’s say I get what I can what from the store I work at.

Crib? Cheapest they have is $200.

Baby outfits? Let’s go with a set of four. Those usually cost about $8.

Bottles? We have packs of three that are about $4.

Bibs? One set has four, I think, and that’s another $4.

Stroller? An umbrella one is $20, but those aren’t exactly sturdy and probably not good for a newborn child. The sturdy ones are $50 at cheapest.

Changing pad? I can’t remember how much in-store, but according to their website, their cheapest is $15.

That’s all the necessities I could get from my job. My job is near Wal-Mart, so I could get diapers and formula from there. Lowest is a pack of 20 diapers for $5, but on average, a newborn uses around 10 diapers a day, so that’d only last two days. So, that’s $20 for a week’s worth of diapers. Baby formula, for a box of one quart, is $7, and that would last only a day (a quick Google search tells me newborns drink 2 to 3 ounces per feeding every 2 to 3 hours; a quart is equal to 32 ounces). A week’s worth of that would be $49, and that’s for 7 individual boxes. A pack is more expensive!

So, let’s add all of that up.

$200 (crib)
$8 (set of baby outfits)
$4(x2) (pack of bottles and set of bibs)
$50 (stroller)
$15 (changing pad)

Minus 15% employee discount, and the total is $238.85 before taxes. Add in the diapers ($20) and formula ($49), and the total reaches $307.85 before taxes. So, at minimum, I’m spending $300.

“But you’ll only buy one crib, one stroller, one changing pad…”

Okay, but I’ll need more clothes when my baby gets bigger, and diapers and formula for a month still total $276 (again, before taxes). Also, I need to work, so again, daycare. Using a local one here I searched, that’s over $900 a month. Round up, and baby’s expenses are about $1,200 a month, on top of my own and not including new clothes for the baby. If my retail job barely covers my expenses, where am I getting an extra $1,200 a month? Once again, this is assuming the baby is healthy and born with zero health issues.

Exactly. I have no clue and I’m not curious enough to find out. The whole idea makes my head spin. And yes, I know there are people my age and younger who are supporting kids on minimum wage jobs. I have a supervisor who does it. Let me put it this way: just because it’s doable doesn’t mean I want to find out how. And just because one person can do it doesn’t mean someone else can. Assistance doesn’t cover absolutely everything.

I’m sure this surreal feeling will pop up every so often. Maybe near every birthday. I don’t know.

I wish those who are financially struggling, with kids and without, the very best. As for myself, right now, I only wish to find a better-paying job in my field.

Eve of New Year’s Eve

Counting today, there are two more days left of 2018. Truthfully, I am glad. I hated this year and I’ve been dying for it to be over since it started. Usually, there’s something that makes me not entirely regret a bad year, but 2018 is not in that category. I can call it the second worst year of my life (first worst was 2010).

In chronological order, and from bad to worse:

  • I lost my full-time position because I couldn’t keep up with the workload. Actually, I had to step down from it to avoid being fired for incompetence. If I’d know taking a promotion meant putting your employment on the line, I never would’ve asked for it.
  • I had to delay school by two months for the very stupid reason of my birthday falling after the deadline! Seriously, what pompous a**hole thought that was a good set-up? I would’ve been done with school by now, and wouldn’t have had to struggle with the hell of juggling holiday hours and school hours.
  • Falling out with my sister. We didn’t get along to begin with, but she tried to blackmail me and attempted to start a family feud via my boyfriend. I very nearly cut our relationship completely because he went behind my back to her, but he apologized and I did find out part of it was her taking advantage of his anxiety (which does notoriously make him do stupid things).
  • The Black Friday shooting I was part of. I didn’t have the heart to return to that job, and I still haven’t set foot in that mall. I’ve thought about it, but knowing that’s an annual event at that mall is too much for me to feel good about going back. And yes, I know a shooting can happen anywhere, but when it’s so commonplace that knowing it happens every year is supposed to be comforting instead of terrifying, that’s not my idea of a safe working environment. Or shopping one, for that matter. (Interestingly, I’ve been more easily startled by loud sounds since this incident, especially crowd noise)

Not a damn good thing came out of this year, and I’d gladly burn it to the ground if I could. I don’t have hopes for 2019, especially since it’s supposed to (key word) be the year I finish trade school and go into the field I studied. Note to self: avoid anything to do with networking at all costs. I’m almost expecting it to be worse than 2018, considering certain circumstances I don’t feel like getting into.

500% done with this year!

Who Comes First?

Something recently told to me: “Your spouse should always be your #1 priority, and you should be theirs.”

I really hope there’s context included in that because if not, I have a big problem.

First of all, if I find out my boyfriend is “ranking” who he loves more, the wedding is off. Yes, I know everyone has people they love more than others. That’s human nature. However, I didn’t agree to be his girlfriend to enter a love competition.

Yes, I love my boyfriend and I know he loves me. But his family was there first. His friends were there first. It’s one thing if we agreed to certain plans and he suddenly cancelled them, but if that’s not the case, I have zero problem if he wants to go hang out with his best friend/sister/niece/whoever else instead of me. And if this is one of those “that’ll change when you marry him” things, I think we need to push the wedding date further down a few years.

Even cancelling plans has exceptions. There was an occasion some time ago where we finally managed to make some (admittedly last-minute) plans to be together, only for him to have to cancel because his niece had to be picked up from school and no one else was available. He was actually more furious than I was about that (mostly because it was suddenly sprung on him, and he wasn’t even asked if he would be okay with that; he could’ve easily been stuck at work), but as much as I wanted to us to get together that day, I would’ve rammed my foot up his behind if he didn’t pick up his niece. I was bitter about it, I admit, but I was not about to let a child be endangered, and thankfully, neither was he. We did get together the following week without trouble, though that didn’t go as planned because of our own pettiness. Such is life.

All of the above said, we do have our own troubles with our families, which is why that quote desperately needs context to it. No one should always be someone’s top priority. Priorities must change periodically. Even without urgent matters like the situation with his niece, I certainly wouldn’t feel neglected because he wants to spend a night, or a week, with a relative or a friend. As long as he does nothing he shouldn’t – and yes, he knows what falls under that – I couldn’t care less. Heck, after the “honeymoon” phase wears off, I’ll probably appreciate having the house to myself for a while. Except for when I feel scared in the dark. Then, I’ll miss him.

Why Do You Go To School?

This was not a question someone asked me. However, I had to temporarily withdraw from school because my 24th birthday has not yet passed and I cannot return until May, after my birthday and when the program restarts. The reason for this is my father and I share the same household, so his tax information was needed and he refused to provide it. In fairness, that wasn’t a surprise nor is it something fair to fault him for. However, my mother mentioned he told her he doesn’t know why I’m going to school.

I wish I could say the truth.

There are the obvious reasons, like not wanting to be in retail for the rest of my life (especially with the nightmare I’m dealing with now), and my previous post shared very personal reasons. but there is one reason I didn’t say, mostly because I feel it’s a grim, perhaps even arrogant, reason.

I do not want to be like my family.

Allow me to say right now I am well aware school is no guarantee of anything. I also know there are several ways to succeed that do not require college, though none I’ve found myself to be adept at. Contrary to what some of my bosses think, I’m not an idiot. I am attending school with hopes, not expectations.

I’ve run this blog long enough for anyone who’s followed for a long time to know my family is not admirable. While I do love them, none of them have footsteps I want to follow in. My dad is one of those people. Life hasn’t been kind to some of my family members, but he’s not one of those people whose situation is due to unforeseen circumstances. He’s in the position he’s in because he wants to be. That position is living at home, being mostly financially supported by his father, while his bills are only those that are convenient to him. He is entirely capable of supporting himself fully, but he chooses not to. He also didn’t graduate high school, but he still turned out to be financially well-off, which I assume is part of why he believes my choice to attend school is a waste of time. Unfortunately, I had to add factory work to my list of things I am not suited for. A friend of mine who made more money than me at a factory told me he does not miss it after he moved to a different state to be with his girlfriend.

How my father chooses to live is not my business, but I personally can’t fathom choosing to be financially dependent. Before getting the pitchforks, note I am not talking about becoming financially dependent for feasible reasons. For example, couples where only one works while another looks after their home and kids, if they have the latter. I’m solely referring to choosing to rely on others’ financial support for no reason beyond you can.

I don’t want to become such a person. I ache for independence, and while I understand not everyone does, it’s my idea of a road block. I want to be capable of completely supporting myself. I want to have more options than taking something unpleasant (in my opinion) to survive. For almost two decades, I was vocal about how much I loathed school, yet I genuinely enjoyed attending this trade school. I hated needing to wake up early, but I looked forward to going. That’s how I want to feel about my job. I’m not suggesting my father hates his job, but he and much of my family have a personal opposition to jobs like retail, fast food, and even office work, so if he loses his job, his options are more limited than they naturally are. I am trying to open my options to find the door to a job that’s more than “tolerable” and “getting by”.

Yesterday, one of my co-workers generously took me home after we closed for the night because I couldn’t be picked up. While we were talking, I mentioned the situation with my school and how I was disappointed. Something she said struck me: “But it’s good you have dreams and you are not giving up.” While I never considered the career I’m aiming for a dream, her words hit me because my boyfriend referred to my goals with the same term: dream. Considering I’m trying again after a disaster with college right after high school, perhaps “dream” is an accurate word. Although, the real dream is a lucrative, enjoyable at-home career, whether through self-employment or a company.

So, let me answer this question. Why do I go to school?

  • I go to school because I want to have more options.
  • I go to school because I want to graduate college.
  • I go to school because I want to have a job I enjoy and lets me fully support myself.
  • I go to school because I hate the limited options I do have.
  • I go to school because I want to avoid the position much of my relatives are in (barring unforeseen circumstances; tragedy is no one’s fault).
  • I go to school because I don’t want to rely on my family forever.
  • I go to school because I want to prove my family wrong.
  • I go to school because I don’t want to give up.

That’s why I’m going to school.

I’ll Be Stronger

Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m lying next to my boyfriend while he sleeps. I requested two days off for our anniversary, but I was somehow lucky enough to receive four straight days off. It’s peaceful, and the only sound is the air conditioner he seemingly can’t sleep without. Fortunately, he also has blankets.

I keep thinking “I could get used to this”. I imagine times like these as a preview of what our life would be like if we lived together. Of course, I won’t overstay my welcome and I am leaving tomorrow evening. Four days off just isn’t a daily opportunity. I wanted to use it wisely, and he agreed.

However, while I’m quietly playing on my phone to let him nap, I keep thinking about how things could’ve been so different. I think about how I’m trying to pave a path for my life. I remember when I was so afraid of adulthood, yet it gets better with each passing year.

What if I listened to my family, the people who want nothing more than for me to be blindly compliant and stay locked in a gilded cage? What if I followed in my mother’s footsteps, and had a child at 21 or 22? What if I gave in to the worst years of my life and cut my life off before I reached 20?

The truth is it’s an alternate reality that terrifies me. I really don’t know why since it’s clearly not my reality, but it’s what I’d make a horror novel out of.

Writing posts like these makes me feel like a braggart, but since it’s only recently I’ve genuinely been happy with my life, I’d rather write my positive emotions than endlessly complain. My family set the bar low, and once I was out of the childhood safety of fantasy, I never believed I could do any better. Now, I know I can. It’s not going in a standard fashion. I’ve definitely made some mistakes and it will take a while for me to really get where I’m aiming. But I can do it, and I’m not going to be like my family.

I’m unsure if this is a way of saying I am better than them. I don’t believe I am better. I believe I can do better. Although, I do believe I’m better than a lifelong cheating, abusive when drunk, self-centered alcoholic, but I imagine most people would think they’re better than that.