Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trying to find a better way.

The father of my child sent me the most perfect article ever the other day about how much people spend on raising their children to 18: Despite my insistence that this has to be possible because somehow people do this who are less smart and talented than me (of course, many who are smarter and better than me too)... it just is so daunting at times. I'm glad that James' father is paying for daycare. That's a huge burden off me, but it's not enough. There are diapers and clothes, and all kinds of other things to buy, there's laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, breastfeeding, there are all kinds of things that I do for my child and time spent, that don't have a price-tag on them.

My current job is a good one for a single girl. It's secure, stable, has good benefits, and I've been there long enough that I get longevity pay. But, it's not nearly enough to support myself and a child. Adding James to my insurance policy subtracted over $300/month from my paycheck. I was barely breaking even before having him while paying $550/month in rent with all bills paid as a roommate in a house. Right now, we're in an efficiency and I'm paying the rent on it, but not all the bills, and the rent goes up by $200/month in November, so I'll have to find a new place. A new place means deposits. I also eventually need to get James his own room. That would mean at least a one bedroom place versus an efficiency. I think about all of this financial burden, and I start shaking. I don't even own a TV anymore, my toaster oven got broken during the moving (about 4 times in the last year), and my computer is a franken-machine with its cooling fan on the outside. I have about a year left of payments on my car before that's all wrapped up. My credit cards will take a bit longer since I'm just paying the minimums right now, but I've got them both at really low interest rates. I've got student loans, consolidated, and at a really low rate. I've done about all the trimming I can do in those arenas. I'm going to see if there's a way to trim my cellphone plan. I've also been considering finding a new home for my two much beloved cats. I just don't know where else I can save money. Really, the only way to do better here is to make more money somehow.

I tried to pick up a second job, but I'm not doing well with it. My time and attention have gotten hijacked.

I've been looking for other opportunities within the University, but there's not a whole lot right now that pays better that I feel confident about going after. I've been racking my brain, trying to think about what I'd be good at and what I want to invest in (other than James). For a while, a few years ago, I thought maybe being a teacher would do it for me, so I did an online "get your certificate" bootcamp sort of thing, took the tests, aced the shit out of the tests (I am a good test taker), and got a conditional teaching certificate. If I'd gotten a teaching job and survived it for a year, I would've been a fully accredited teacher. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong certification: middle school, and basically got laughed out of the job fairs I attended. "You haven't been around this age of kids since you were in junior high? You haven't been in a classroom as a teacher ever? HA HA HAHA... oh um, I'm sorry, I don't mean to discourage you... Follow your... ah ha heh hum, follow your dreams and all, right?" followed by more snickering and looks of disbelief. Anyway, that sort of reaction, in company with the nightmares I started having about being in front of a room of 30 evil pranksters (which was fueled by stories from some of my brilliant friends who used to be holy terrors) and I decided that that probably wasn't the best career move for me right then. I think that maybe if I re-certified, but for the little kids (EC-4), instead of the middle school age range, I'd probably do alot better with it. It'd be nice having summers off to be with James. Teachers don't get paid all that much more than I am getting now and their jobs are alot harder too, but those weeks off really help even it up. I could get a part-time second job during the summers maybe, or I could keep James home from daycare and save some money that way.

Other ideas I've had are: write some children's books and find someone to illustrate them. It can't be that hard to get things published. I've seen some pretty lame kid's books since I've been looking at things for James. I don't think I'd be the next Dr. Seuss or anything, but I can rock a rhyme, I love to write, and I'm pretty sure I can come up with likable characters and a formula that would sell. I just need time to devote to it. I need time to actually think an idea through.

Two days ago, James and I almost got killed by some douche in a little red pickup truck that decided to abruptly make a right turn from the lefthand lane and cut us off. I had to slam on my brakes, the ABS came on, and we narrowly missed him as I honked wildly and screamed. The guy didn't even look. I didn't have time to think about it really or tell anyone about it. James and I made it home, and I put him to bed. Then I had a brief conversation with the guy I've been dating (since the father of my child told me he hated me shortly after I gave birth to our son) and he reiterated that he's most likely going away permanently in the near future, but that he really likes me and James alot, and I lost it. The accident I avoided was forgotten in the wake of the impending shit storm in my future and my doubts about my abilities to provide for my child or maintain an adult relationship. I left the room and called my mother. She tries to be encouraging, but after telling me I should look into welfare (which is one of the worst things I can think of doing) and telling me that it can't be that hard to raise a child alone because she did it [even though she didn't work and her husband was in the Navy and definitely coming home, and definitely loved her], her main solution to most of my problems is to offer to take James... and that would be worse than slowly starving myself to death I think.

I've also thought about going back to school. I'm smart enough to do pretty much anything I want, it's more a matter of time, finances, and commitment. Being able to afford to take care of James and myself while I'm in school would be a major difficulty. I'm already running myself ragged with just a job and a baby. Adding school into the mix might make my head explode. However, I've got two different ideas on what to do if I were to go back. One idea is nursing. There's a program I heard about where you can get certified as an RN in a year if you already have a Bachelor's degree and you meet the prereq's (of which there are about 30 hours, so that would take me a little while). ( ) I don't want to deal with people dying, but I think I could do preventative maintenance or women's health sorts of things without too much problem. It would take me about a year to do the prereq's if I took 3 classes per semester for three semesters, then a year of full-time intense school to get my RN certification, then I'd work for 2 years and end up with a Master's of Science in Nursing. If I were careful with my money, I might be able to pay for school while I was working. I also think I could probably get some grants or scholarships as a single mother.

The other idea for going back to school would be law school. I've heard that probate law, things like wills and estate settling and whatnot, will be big in the future. So, if I got into it now, it'd probably be a good time. That would (optimistically) take me about a year to get in somewhere and then about three years of school and extensive loans most likely.

Basically, to be honest at this point, going back to school is a pipe-dream. It'll take too long to see results and I need something faster to keep James and I off the streets. When he's a little older, like when he's in elementary school, so we're not paying for daycare, school will be easier for me to get into/ afford.

My parents have again offered to let me move home. If the relationship is over with the guy (who, at the beginning of everything I thought could be The Guy, because he was such a superhero... I even told people he inspired me... and I've never really said that about ANYONE), since the father of my child "hates" me, and acts nonchalant/ unconcerned when I tell him about my dire financial straits and that James and I might need to move away... and up until very recently has been referring to the times when he sees James as "babysitting", rather than "time I get to spend with my child" or anything even remotely positive-sounding... since I won't be able to afford even the amount of rent I've been paying and keep food on the table or gas in the car, or creditors off my back for long... maybe it would be the best thing.

Somehow people do this. Somehow they do this single mother thing. I don't know how. Honestly, I have no idea. This is probably the lowest I've been in my life. I want my son to have the best. The best father, the best supplemental father (s), the best family, the best things, the best mother, the best life, and right now I'm FAILing in all those regards. For him, I smile and I laugh, and I talk to him and tickle him, and keep him fed and in clean clothes and diapers, soothed, and supplied with toys, even when he throws them on the floor twenty times and I have to wash them. For James, I make myself keep going. I read to him. I sing to him. I fly him through the air and rock him and bounce him and put him to bed. I take naps with him when I can. For James, I'm doing whatever he needs.

I wanted to come back to Austin because it was "my home"... because I love the music, the culture, the food, the people, the potential... but I can't DO any of that stuff now. I can't go to shows. I can't go out to eat. I can't afford a babysitter. My child's father for the most part treats dealing with me and his son like a chore unless someone else is watching... and I can't blame him. He didn't want this. He didn't want us. You can't make someone into something they aren't. You can't make someone feel something they don't. I can't keep the superhero guy around because he's got other fires to put out and I won't stop someone from pursuing something they believe will finally make them happy. I wanted to help him. Hell, I wanted to go with him. But when you love someone or something, you've got to let it go sometimes. Love means that you want what's best for the object of your love. It means that you want them to be happy. I wanted my child, the father of my child, and the guy I was with to all be happy, and I had two of the three done, but that left the guy I was with... and ME out... there just isn't enough of me to go around.

The instant-family isn't for everyone. Especially with ex-girlfriends, ex-friends, and the estranged father in the picture because things aren't settled about his role with his son yet. There's just too much talking about things, time being spent thinking about things, crying, fighting with other people, fighting for your relationship, trying to stay afloat, and whatnot. It's just too much. Even married couples have a horrible time right at first with a newborn and they start off fully committed and usually without any other adults causing trouble except by being overly "helpful" or instructive or intrusive.

I think I need to let go. Definitely of the idea of having a partner, I mean, honestly, right now, what do I have to offer? A lot of hard work and long hours, a brilliant, beautiful, happy baby, with lots of diapers to be changed, drool to be wiped, laundry to do, bottles to be washed, he hasn't even started teething yet, and a stressed out mother who really needs to sleep more, but can't because there's too much to do even to stay up with a normal mom level and not even a super-mom level. Maybe I need to let go of the idea of Austin for a while, too. I'd have more help with my parents in the picture. I might even start getting better sleep and stop crying so much.

I don't know what's best for right now. I've been looking for answers, but there just really aren't any but time. I know that things will eventually get better as I come up with better solutions, more efficient ways of doing things, and hopefully some way to make more money, but right now, things just seem really dark to me.


  1. I wish I could help you more. I will say that you are NOT failing as a mother to James. All of those things you listed - that's all your son needs right now. Of course you're going to worry about every little thing that's to come, but right now he wants *you*. You're giving him you. It's perfect.

  2. I think mainly I just need to know that it will get better, that this is survivable, and that James won't be effected poorly by my actions. Thank you, Dana.