The Depth of this Sadness.

In all of the time and places of the world to live I’m certainly fortunate. I’m not a woman living in Afghanistan where my rights are suddenly taken away. I have freedom. I am grateful and guilty and all the things that come about living life as a modern white American woman.

Yet even with all of that good fortune, I’m still struggling. Life is passing by and I can’t keep up with it. I have two beautiful children. A house with a ridiculous mortgage. A husband who is, well, a great father and on occasion he laughs at my jokes. I have a job that pays well, even when my stock finishes vesting, I’m still likely to make at least $200k (*with bonus), which is a lot of money, even in a high cost of living area, as with my husband’s salary that gets us to $300k, which is very livable. About $12.5k a month after tax. Or $5.5k after mortgage. We won’t be living a luxury lifestyle on that but we’ll live just fine. If I keep this job. If I make $200k.

I’m tired. I feel disconnected from everything. My family is gathering on the east coast this weekend for a cousin’s wedding shower. I’m missing the wedding in two months as well. In life before kids and life before covid I would have been on a plane to anywhere to get me there somehow. I would never miss a family event like that. But times have changed. And I feel trapped. Like many other people. Yes we went on a road trip a few weeks ago and it seems we managed to not get covid so that was amazing (we went to Disneyland for a day!) But, I don’t know, this life doesn’t feel like my life anymore. And that’s ok, I guess, it’s my children’s life, which is acceptable, if I could give my children the life I want to give them, and the energy I want to give them, but I have no energy, I’m falling apart.

I dream of selling this house and moving to somewhere we can buy a house for $300k. I could pick up some remote consulting work and pay for healthcare and let my savings grow in investments over the years. I don’t know if I’d really be happy in that situation either…

I want to feel like I’m contributing to the world. Building something. Being useful. But I also don’t want to be so focused on my job that I’m not there for my family. And now because I don’t particularly care for my job I am ok trying to detach from it. But what if I loved my job? What if I wanted to give it all my energy? I have a hard time turning off. Being present. Existing in the now.

I remember my father working so hard his whole life. Was he happy? I don’t know. I can’t imagine so with how fat he was. But maybe he liked work, sometimes. He would fly to other business locations and pitch plans and I didn’t see him all that often during the week. My few memories of spending time with him are:

  • the time he tried to read me the first chapter of the first book of the Hardy Boys series, which wasn’t interesting to me at all besides my ADHD brain had no ability to focus on someone else reading me a story so he gave up
  • Playing War and Rummy with him, mostly War, when we did spend time together that was something we could do, when I was young
  • Building an erector set helicopter. I remember it hurt my fingers to build. It was cool when it was all hooked up and the propeller spun around
  • Occasional family picnics and family events. He’d talk to his family. Sometimes when I was very young he would be more active.
  • Long drives to holiday dinners. His fights with my mom in the front seat. Listening to his classical or 1950s music.
  • Him getting extremely angry at me when I couldn’t focus on math homework and understand the problems or what he taught me or remember any of it.
  • Him ripping his belt off and beating me because he’d come home and my mother would complain about how I didn’t pick up my room so then he would at some point call me into his bedroom and tell me to bend over the bed and he would hit me hard and I’d cry and refuse to apologize and then I’d go to my room and cry all night telling myself how horrible I am and how I don’t deserve to live and such.
  • He liked to grill, so sometimes he would do that, if family came over.

I don’t want to be my father. I’m clearly not my father. But who am I? I don’t know. I feel very much alone. More than ever. I don’t know what to do. My house is a disaster. I need to clean it. It always feels like 2 steps forward 3 steps behind. If only, if only, if only I could clean things up and get it all to a place where I can spend the little energy I have playing with my kids. But I want a new job. I want to leave this one. To what? I don’t know. What can I do? Even when I have energy I last 3-6 months and then fall apart. Now? I don’t know.

I want another child. Ok, ok, so after all that information it sounds like a horrible idea. But I’m trying to hold it together so my husband will let us try for another kid. He knows I don’t like my job and how depressed I am and he’s depressed too. I mean, he hasn’t changed jobs in over a decade and he still makes the same income with slight raises for his one freelance gig that he works part time. I wish he would see how miserable I am and at least work towards maybe earning a little more money so I could take a step back for a bit. I understand now why some women becomes stay at home mothers. I don’t know if I’d like that either. I like earning my own money. But I also… I feel like I’m saving for a time that is now and it’s too late and I just want the time right now.

I look up classes for my kids to do with them and most of the classes available for their age are during the week in the middle of the day when I have work. I signed up for a playgroup for my youngest son at 9:30 on Monday mornings because fuck it I’m working remote and I get my shit done and I’m just going to go. I need some social interaction with people outside my family. Not that I’ll make friends or anything but who knows. And my older son starts preschool next month and my husband is supposedly going to get involved with that since it’s a parent participation program and I don’t have any time to participate. Will see how that goes.

I know women who stay home often are sad about what their husbands expect from them as they’re expected to keep the house clean and take care of the kids and make amazing dinners and still be great in the bedroom and all but you know it’s even harder to be a breadwinning woman who doesn’t have a “wife” like that… it’s hard to be all these things and none of them all at the same time.

 

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11 thoughts on “The Depth of this Sadness.”

  1. Sorry to hear about the sadness. Hope you get out of it.

    If your husband suddenly made $500,000+ a year, do you think it would make you happy so as to relieve your pressure?

    We’re considering a 3rd child too. But it’s a tough choice given our age and how much work is involved.

    With all that you’ve said, what are the reasons why you think having a 3rd would make you happier? As someone on the fence, hearing more perspectives helps.

    Sam
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Preparing For A 50-Year Retirement With Vanguard’s New Return Assumptions

    1. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      If my husband suddenly was making $500k a year would it fix everything? No. But it would definitely change things. I feel like I’ve saved enough where I’ve earned the right to go back to school for something I’m passionate about. I would invest time in a tutor to help me learn math so I could get a good GRE score. I might apply to an MBA program or a masters in HCI/UX or even start my own company (if I really felt he could maintain making 500k a year.) Knowing that I’ve already saved what I’ve saved, and knowing that he could bring in enough income to pay for our lifestyles and continue saving, it would definitely change things.

      I would still pressure myself to earn income, but given my FI goal is $5M and I’m getting close to having $2.5M that I’ve earned and saved personally, I’d be ok taking a step back and letting him step up to contribute the rest.

      Regarding the third kid, I’m sure it’s a horrible idea, yet I want to do it anyway. To me life is about family. I mean, I have $1.6M+ in investments, plus $300k in 529, plus another $300k in home equity cash should we sell the house tomorrow, maybe more. Worst case we could sell the house and move to LCOL and be fine with 3 kids and basically retired (and consult remote making some money to cover extras.) Honestly right now I almost want that life. It’s not happening because my husband doesn’t want to move — and we just bought this house. But knowing that we could do that makes me feel ok having the 3rd kid. Do you know how many people how there have 3+ kids who are still in debt? Not saying they shouldn’t have kids, but just that it’s kind of silly for me to not want another kid just because I “only” have $2.1M saved. You know?

      At the end of the day what makes me happy is seeing my kids play with each other, and that feeling of being a parent, and being there for my kids. It’s certainly not easy, but how much harder can one more be (as long as they come out healthy and all, which is a crap shoot of course.) I’ll be 39 when I start trying and will likely do IVF for a number of reasons — and I feel like if it’s meant to be it will work and if not I’m ok with 2.

      I come from a larger family of cousins (but smaller immediate family) and I want to have a larger family as I age as well. I hope my kids still like me then. Also no guarantees. But I’m trying to be a good mom. 🙂

  2. HECC, I’m really worried about you. I know you have considered your husband your best friend. If he was a true friend to you, he would listen when you tell him that you’re exhausted and need his help, whether that help involves income or household work. Why is it exclusively your job to clean the house anyway, when you’re working and he’s the stay-at-home parent? I really hope you’ll prioritize your health for now by telling him what you need and what you are going through. Even Internet strangers are listening and caring about you, so your husband should be listening and caring about you too.

    1. It’s not exclusively my job to clean the house. He does most of the cleaning. I am just ADHD and messy so I leave things places and I need to clean up my own stuff. I also find the house gets dirty and he doesn’t pay attention to that so if I want it to be clean then I need to clean it. But he does the dishes and the kid’s laundry. He also works part time and at the moment we’re both working from home. I need to step up and clean more.

  3. Sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time. It is a difficult time, I read somewhere that parents of young children are very unhappy. You’re not getting sleep, you have no time to yourself, you’re feeling pulled everywhere, you’re feeling mom guilt when you’re at work you’re feeling employee guilt when you’re not working.

    I have a 4 and 2 year old and sometimes I feel trapped too. On days when I am wiping spaghetti or whatever on the floor for the 4th time I think- ok I am done!

    Then other days I think about having a 3rd too, but it would be too much and I also had a health scare which would probably come back if I were expecting again.

    1. Thank you for sharing that. It makes me feel better about feeling so frustrated in the normal day to day, even while being grateful of my wider life circumstances.

    2. I know they say that people with young kids are the least happy. I get it. Even the great moments are lost in the exhaustion and worries of the day. Especially in this covid times. It’s really really hard. But also so wonderful. I think forward to the future and try to keep my head in the game. I also don’t think a third kid will make me any more miserable, but he/she/they will bring even more joy into my world in the years ahead.

  4. I can’t imagine what it feels like to feel trapped. To know that you’re objectively going somewhere with the increase in net worth but at the same time, being stuck in the exact same place because the only thing that’s different are digits in your back account.

    One day, maybe the payoff will be worth it. Who knows? But we’re all rooting for you to succeed, whichever choice you decide on.
    David @ Filled With Money recently posted..Fired From Internship? Here’s What You Should Do

    1. Thanks David. I know my life is really amazingly good, all things considered (or even not all things.) So I should just suck it up. And yet, here I am. Feeling stuck and like there is no where to go. I appreciate your comment and for all my readers over the years who are rooting for me. It means a lot. 🙂

  5. Wow, I can relate to a lot of this. I am in a situation where I see a lot of parallels. In my case, I started making a lot of money about 4 years ago (currently over 300K annually, but at least 250K) and though I really don’t like the work anymore (used to really love it), it’s so hard to leave. I’m trying to find something else but I also just don’t want any job. I’ve started some business/investing but it doesn’t replace my job income or even cover 100% of our expenses. We actually lowered our living expenses in 2020 by moving to a smaller home that we want to renovate, now our mortgage/housing cost is just 14% of our monthly income, and yet I still don’t feel financially secure. I’m currently expecting my second child and that was a big deal, so I don’t think either of us has a 3rd in us, although my kid says we should have one more after this. Ha! But there is no time and energy in me most days and I see so clearly that time is the greatest luxury. I can understand not wanting to be your father and wanting to give your kids better and sometimes feeling like you’re failing. I don’t want to be my parents but they were quite different. They weren’t financially successful and were very emotionally immature. I’m very grateful that I’ve grown from those beginnings but still I feel like, what am I doing? What’s the point? Why have this nice house and live in this nice town if I am working all the damn time? I need social time, down time, kid time, me time, love time. I believe it will be figured out for you (and me!), it’s a journey though.

    1. Right? Honestly I think there are a lot of people feeling this way right now. I run an early retirement community on another website and posted a link to another community filled with very successful working moms and the amount of interest I got in terms of requests to the early retirement community from these super smart successful working moms was pretty amazing. We’re all burnt out. We all dream of running away and starting a coffee shop on the coast or something. It definitely feels like “what is the point” at some point. I’m grateful right now I get to WFH. But I still have no energy. It’s not even that my work is particularly stressful right now. I just am incredibly disconnected. The days just float by and blur one to the next. It doesn’t help that my husband is antisocial and depressed too. I try to be supportive of him but it makes me feel even more isolated and it sucks. I think oh man maybe I should have married an extrovert. But nah that would have killed me.

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