Category Archives: Depression

Here’s The Real Problem…

As I sit here at 4pm on post-Labor Day Tuesday trying  to get any work done while sitting in the office listening to my infant screaming down the hall while my 3 year old and grandpa are in the room next door loudly sounding out letters I feel defeated and then some. The house literally shakes with my son jumping up and down so even noise-cancelling headphones don’t block his enthusiasm for the alphabet song enough.

It’s clear I’m not good at the job I have, but it’s also clear that however not good I am at this job, I’m a thousand times more not good at it because I can’t think straight here. But can I think straight anywhere?

Am I just lazy? I don’t know. Something seems off with my mind. I can’t focus or do things consistently. Is it ADHD? Is it anxiety? Is it something else? I can’t calm my mind long enough to focus unless I have some big project due “tomorrow.”

The anxiety is at an all-time high. What was I thinking buying a house with a $7k a month mortgage? It seemed like a good idea at the time. Have grandpa live with us, I thought, and pay $2k so really we’re still spending about $3k on housing if you consider that we have $2k rent coming in and half of the mortgage goes to principal. It sounded good at the time.

Well, I hate living with grandpa. It could be a lot worse, and I’m so grateful/lucky/etc that grandpa watches my 3 year old all day while we work, but I can’t handle having him in my home always. Ok, so he goes to sleep at 4:30 each day. If I actually went to an office and came home at 6 it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I didn’t expect him to be so present on the weekends but I’m working to make the case that he stays in his apartment/room on the weekends so I can have a life with my family without my father in law. I haven’t successfully achieved that yet.

Meanwhile, grandpa is too present with my son. I want him to give my son some space but he’s constantly engaging with him. Even though I’ve asked him not to feed my son plain toast and instead to put something else on it like peanut butter he still is giving my son toast. My son is hard to feed so I understand but I feel like I’m failing my kids because they don’t have a qualified care person watching for them and I’m not doing enough to ensure they are being fed well or having time to explore on their own. I’m sure it’s not totally detrimental to his development (at least I’m buying whole wheat bread) but it’s still hard because as I sit trying to get my work done I feel like not only a failure of an employee but also a failure of a mother. And because I’m working from home I’m reminded of both every single second. I don’t get to be a mother – not the mother I want to be. I’m too busy trying to ensure I make enough to pay the mortgage for the next 29 years.

I don’t think I’d be happy if I stayed at home full time either. I don’t know what I want. But this is all not working and I feel like I’m going to explode. There’s no where to go for help either so I need to just accept it, hold my breath, and hope it all passes somehow. Like, hope 29 years passes and then I can be happy? That seems like a pretty shitty way to live life.

In the diagram of what’s “good” in one’s life, that circle one where you mark how solid your life is in different areas, from work to relationships to growth, I’m a about a 0 in all areas. Financially maybe a 1 or 2 of 5. The only really good thing in my life right now is my kids, as in, I love my kids, they’re great little crazy beings and it’s pretty dang cool that I made them and I love them so much I even want one more child. Because being a mom seems still like the right fit. Of all the titles I might call myself. However badly I feel I’m doing at it. I love being a mom.

But what else do I have? A marriage where my husband doesn’t even find me attractive anymore. A house that I can only afford if I manage to maintain employment in soul-sucking jobs for the remainder of my adult life? A body that feels like it’s falling apart, that I’m not spending enough/any time on nurturing outside of my semi-decent change in diet? A mind that is in pieces, that spends the day looking forward to 10pm when it can just turn off? Few friends and the friends I do have probably don’t like me very much for a variety of reasons. A bank account with some money in it but not enough to really have any sort of a stable life because living here is absolutely impossible? I mean, no wonder I’m a bit depressed, right?

I’d like to fix any of these areas but they all feel so overwhelming I don’t know where to start. It’s like — hey — maybe if I had a really solid marriage or if I had some great friendships or work was going well or I considered myself a good mom or I had religion (not that I want religion but still) or something — anything — in my life was going well I could point to that one thing and say ok, well, at least I have that thing going great. But what do I actually have? Is this the wrong question to be asking? Is the whole point of being an adult living for your kids, and no longer for yourself? I guess so?

I feel fucking lonely. And like there isn’t much to live for outside of being a mom, which is plenty enough, so I’m not going anywhere, but I’d like more than that. I’d like to feel passion for life again. It’s my own fault I’m stuck in this mess. Maybe if I just get the house in order and shut my mouth and wait for the good stuff to happen it will come. There’s too much that I’m buried under for anything good to happen. There’s only faking my way through and trying to survive another year until there are no more years left.

So I’m Having Another Baby in, Like, 6 to 9 Weeks.

Every once in a while I get a jolting alien kick from within, or a glance in the mirror at my humungous belly, that reminds me I’m quite pregnant at the moment. It’s easy to forget (well not that easy given how sore my butt is from the weight of carrying an adorable little parasite again.) In less than 10 weeks, my world is going to change. I’m going to have a baby, again. A baby! Only 2.5 years ago (not even) I had one of those. Now he’s curious, rambunctious, alphabet-addicted toddler who likes to draw on the walls when no one is looking.

How am I going to handle two of these? And why do I want another one? Haha.

I love being a mom. Truly. I didn’t know if I would. I know I’m not the perfect mom. But being a mom has changed me. Maybe I get sad a lot still, but when I see my son and his adorable little innocence and excitement around learning new things (“I wrote a W! Good job!” he exclaimed to himself the other day) how can I really be depressed? As long as my son (and future kid) have their health and safety, then I feel all the warmth in my heart to carry me through the dark times when my mind’s chemicals tell me I ought to exit stage left a bit early.

Nonetheless, I’m scared shitless of having another one. Every new baby is different. Last time I was a mess, with my long induction, son’s brief NICU stay, father dying a week after my son was born, inability to get my son to latch immediately and round-the-clock pumping, etc. And with all that, I actually got more sleep in that first two week period than I might get this time around. The NICU stay was terrifying, but it also meant that for the first 36 hours of my son’s life the nurses took care of him round the clock, and I got to dose off in the NICU chair as much as I needed. Then, when I went to my father’s funeral on the east coast a week later, for a few days I had a bed to myself and no baby crying (though I did pump on and off all night each day and managed to keep my supply up), and my husband had a series of wonderful friends and family come in to help him overnight so he could get some sleep too.

This time, we at least know what to expect (sort of ) but we’re on our own (sort of) and with another kid we have to keep alive. I know people do it (and do it with many more kids) but I’m still scared.

The worst of it is that because of COVID we’re in a bit of a pickle. My father-in-law will be living with us in his own space with his own entrance, but at 76 we cannot be near him for two weeks when coming home from the hospital as we’ll have to quarantine. My husband has told me that we can’t hire help either, because if we do that we’ll just have to continue to quarantine plus we’re risking more exposure to our newborn. So we’re on our own for two weeks for the. most part (it’s possible his father can occasionally watch our son from a distance in the backyard if we need a momentary break, but he can’t actually go near him.)

We’ll survive it, but it’s going to be really hard. And that’s IF everything goes well.

What if my new baby ends up in NICU again? For longer? What if something happens to me in delivery and I get stuck in the hospital and my family can’t visit? It’s quite scary right now. I knew going into this that COVID was not going away but this January and, knowing I’d be 37 when I deliver and wanting possibly a third kid, I made the choice to move forward to start trying to get pregnant anyway (it worked on the first try you guys… I did not expect that after basic fertility treatments for my first!) I thought maybe I’d be pregnant in a few months and I’d deliver in March, or April, or sometime in late spring/summer. I knew it was possible as with the beginning of the pandemic I began a daily walking route, started eating healthy, and dropped 8lbs in a month. My body was just ready, clearly. And on Mother’s Day I took at test and got my answer. Pregnant.

So here I am. Pregnant in a pandemic. Woohoo. Oh, I’m terrified. I’m also remodeling my bathroom. And going to showrooms during the weekdays wearing a mask and trying to social distance and hoping we don’t catch this thing. Cases are going up everywhere. My good friend who just had a baby got COVID a few weeks ago (in another state) and she ended up fine. I don’t know if I would. I’ve gained too much weight this pregnancy. I’m still about 25lbs down from my delivery weight from kid 1, but I wanted to gain max of 20lbs this time around and I’m double that now. I think it’s just a mix of my body craving carbs and the depression that kicks in around second trimester that makes me move towards a donut-only diet. Ok, I’m not that bad. But I have had a few too many donuts, despite telling myself that would not happen.

Anyway. Here’s to hoping that I–and no one in my family–will end up with COVID. That I’ll have a completely boring and uneventful labor, unlike last time, and have an opportunity to have my baby brought to me and put on my chest and left there to latch vs taken away in an instant because he’s not breathing. Here’s to hoping my mother, who lives in Florida, doesn’t catch a horrible case of COVID right when I’m due, as I seem to have this curse where family members die immediately after important events in my life (wedding — mom’s mother died three days later. Son’s birth — dad, a week later. Please, G_d, no death this time. Let’s make this one about life!)

Will I Ever Be Good at Anything

Rough day. Husband is (rightfully) mad at me because I took a work call in our bedroom which is also his office which is also where he is currently running a massive virtual conference and apparently my voice picked up on the recording so everyone could hear me. So he is pissed. I should have done my call from the kitchen but my son was screaming in the background and I hate taking video calls from the bathroom in case the virtual background fades out at any point. I should have asked my mother in law to watch my son today but I had a bunch of meetings that popped up in the morning and I didn’t want to drive my son the 30 minutes to her house. I thought I could handle it. I couldn’t.

The juxtaposition between he feeling of seeing my total annual income to date in my paycheck account to the feeling of utter worthlessness is jarring. This time of year is always hard for me. I don’t do well with the way the air smells. My sore lungs and sheer exhaustion. I’m trying to hold on at work to just not get fired before I go on maternity leave. I’m trying and failing to stop caring about my demotion, my billionth reality check of being not smart enough or personable enough to thrive in a professional environment. I’m trying to manage contractors for the new house and have no idea what I’m doing or if I’m making wise decisions. Every decision to me is like having a tooth pulled without Novocain. And I’m 30 weeks pregnant.

My apartment is a mess. I don’t want to live like this. I tell myself when we move to the new house I’ll somehow keep things organized. I will keep the kitchen floor free of crumbs. I’ll cook healthy food so my toddler doesn’t eat crap all day. I will simply and figure it all out.

Yea, right. I’m hopeless. I can’t hire help right now because of COVID risk. Even last time when I had a baby I hired 6 months of monthly home cleaning services. Husband won’t allow that now. It’s good I’ll save money but I don’t know how to keep things from falling apart. I’m falling apart.

I really wish I wasn’t such a train wreck of a human. I mean, for being such a train wreck I’ve at least managed to save a decent amount so my family is in an ok position. Not a perfect one. But I’ve fought for this financial security. I’ll keep fighting. I am just tired of messing up constantly. Of not fitting in. Of trying to fake it but clearly failing over and over and over and over again. It’s so tiring. At least earning money and increasing my net worth makes me feel like I add some value to the world. I have a reason for existing that is positive that negates some my destructive behavior. It doesn’t feel like much. But it’s something.

I like being a mom. I wish I was better at it. That I had more energy to play with my son. I worry about the moment he realizes what crying means and he notices how sad I am. I want to hide that from him, but it’s hard to hide how lost I am. I just have to hold on and hold it all in.

The only thing I can think is that my best path forward, which I’ve been trying to do, is to disappear as much as possible. It seems things go best when I try to function as a robot and not  as a person who is overly sensitive and incapable of existing in the world. It takes so much energy to do that, if I just minimize myself it works sometime. I make a routine that is very strict and follow it. Like now on Saturday mornings I tend to clean up my son’s room and the kitchen. I need more steps like that. At home and at work. If I can just give up on this idea that I can ever be happy or proud of my work and instead really switch my mindset to focus on being liked and getting things done and having no personality I can probably be in a much better place. This really is the ultimate solution. I waste so much time lost inside my fears and anxieties and it doesn’t seem to help at all. I need to let go of chasing anything and just let it happen while not letting things fall into chaos.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m really overwhelmed right now and it doesn’t help that I’m a horrible wife, mother, employee, everything. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Maybe I can change. I don’t know how to. I feel sorry for my husband. Sorry for my bosses who have to put up with me and eventually fire me. Anyone who expects anything out of me.

I’m tired. So fucking tired.

I am Unwell and I am Scared

I am going to be 37. I have an, on paper, great job where I’m earning a lot of money on my base plus bonus and stock. I just bought a house. And I’m a complete and utter disaster. I’m scared. I’m really fucking scared.

I’m scared because I’m not actually good at my job. Things were briefly going well, but again I’ve been reminded how not good at my job I am. I have improved, but not to the point where I actually have any idea what I’m doing or can be consistent in my work. I don’t think I’ll get fired before I have a kid unless I totally mess up–but I have 30 years of a giant mortgage weighing on me now. I have 1 and soon to be 2 kids. I am the breadwinner. I have to make this work.

My mother is spending down her assets too fast. She refuses to change her spending behavior. I am trying to help her. I don’t know if I’m helping. I found her a fee only CFP who is advising 60/40 split but even that won’t get her to hit her goals. Her “friend” is going hard at her saying she should get an annuity. She already has a sizable pension from my dad and a decent amount of social security. She needs to sell the family home–yesterday–and I can’t bring myself to push her to do that immediately. I was going to go back for a while this summer to help move things out, to say my goodbyes, but then COVID happened. — Even if I tell her she has to sell now, she won’t anyway. She wants to go back and spend too much time going through the hoarder house and moving things into a storage unit in a state she will probably never visit. I can’t emotionally handle advising on any of this. I just look at the analysis and see how she is going to run out of money if she lives as long as I hope she does. But she’s not exactly the healthiest person on earth. Should we be modeling to 85 instead of 100? Does she only have 20 years left, or less?

I can’t get fired from my job. I’m trying to catch up. Trying to dig myself out of the mess I’ve fallen into again. Too many people at work dislike me and throw me under the bus. It’s because I care too much, though. I’m not actually in it for myself or anything. I’m not chasing a promotion. I just want to do good work. And I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m at too high of a level to get any help. My boss liked me for a bit this year because I stopped asking for help and I pretended everything was ok. But then that all fell hard on my head like a pile of bricks. Why did I miss deadlines again? Oh, because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Still. Please don’t fire me. Please give me another chance. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make it work.

Some things are going well, but that’s all negated by everything that isn’t. This house purchase is exciting and feels good like I finally have made something meaningful of my life but it also feels like I just shackled myself and I’m not going to survive the next 30 years. I really don’t think I can do it. I am trying to take it one day at a time. Because maybe I can keep making enough income to pay a $5k or $7k mortgage. I have to. I don’t have a choice. I mean, I have some savings that I can use for a while if I can’t hold a job. But the longer I don’t hold a job, the harder it will be to get a job that pays enough to pay the mortgage. So I have to keep this job, and eventually get another job, and so on, until I’m 66, and have the mortgage paid off.

I don’t want to complain about any of this. Because I’m so fortunate to be where I am and to have this job and to have stock to sell off and I’ll probably be fine because somehow it all works out in the end. But I’ve also kept my living expenses so low and that’s granted me some breathing room even when things start looking really bad. Now I don’t have that breathing room. Not now, and not in the next 30 years. 30 years is a long time. I mean, I’m 36, so it’s not like, my whole life… but 30 years ago I was 6. So.

I wish I could talk to my husband about this stuff, but I can’t because he will just get frustrated with me and upset that I’m being so fickle again. It’s like with my job — things go well when I hide everything I’m scared of. When I try to hide the mess that I am and just pretend like everything is great. That’s how it works in my relationship as well. I mean, my husband can read my blog if he wanted to — but he doesn’t. Which is fine. I just need to write here because sometimes I need a  place to get things off my chest. My therapist doesn’t really help… I mean, she can help me figure out how to calm down in the moment. But that’s not going to help me get better at my job. Or be able to pay this mortgage for 30 years.

This is where I hit a wall over and over again. Why I end up so fucking depressed even if from the outside work I guess I “have it all” — a house, a husband, kids, a good job, etc. I mean, I made a plan and here I am hitting it. Second kid at 37. House. $X in my bank account before I buy a house. It’s like, it’s all going so great then why am I this sad and terrified? I try not to think about it. I’m not going to be happy but I try to just focus on the here and now and get through the day. Keep my job as long as possible. Keep pretending I got this.

But I don’t. I don’t got this at all.

The Job Downward Spiral: There’s a Physics to my Employment

Either I’ve done a better job overall this time around or things just move slower in public companies. I think it’s a mix of both. But now a year-and-a-half in and it’s clear I’m past the phase of newcomers victories and excitement and well into the phase of “I suck at this.”

I’ve been assigned a few larger projects to manage and after failing at one or two my boss was really hoping I could pull off the latest and greatest, but nope, I fell right on my face. Looking back I see a few areas where I could have improved, but overall I just feel lost. I don’t know how to help drive collaboration when I’m unsure what the expectations are. I did uncover these expectations along the way (and feel I could do a much better job managing a project like this next time) but the problem is I seem to keep missing the obvious and not getting what I’m supposed to be doing… which at my level, as my boss points out, is not acceptable. She used nicer words, but that’s what she meant.

The good(?) news is that I’ve been assigned a slew of projects that I HAVE been successful at. Unfortunately, these projects are one-off “do not make any sense on a future resume” type of projects. Maybe it’s time I stop caring so much about said future resume and just try to do what I do best–which is run with the punches and take on creative projects that no one else would have the foggiest how to manage versus trying to become a manager of cut-and-dry processes and failing time and again.

At 35, it’s no longer cute to fail or figure shit out. I should have it figured out by now and it’s clear I don’t. I’m scared because without resume-building projects I have no where to go after this. It’s hard to have that conversation with your boss because you aren’t supposed to be thinking about “after this.” And it’s less about moving up at this point and more about maintaining some semblance of a living wage once this job is no more. Maybe I’ll stay in this role until I retire with inflation-based raises, but that’s unlikely. I know my boss sees that I can do SOME things well (otherwise I’d be OUT already) but is that enough? I don’t want to be the easy to cut person in the organization and without adding clear value I’ll be cut sooner or later.

I just wish the last project didn’t end up the mess it was. I really don’t know how I could have done it all better. I still am not sure I could really do it better if I started over, which is the scary part. I don’t know how to get teams inspired to do great work, or to collaborate. Everyone seems to think I go off and come up with ideas on my own and decide everything without consulting others, but I keep asking everyone else what they want and I’m not getting any answers. I guess I’m not asking them in the right way. Or… they just hate me and don’t want to collaborate. I don’t know. My one co-lead on the project was super nice, but he also ended up driving things down a path that made it all more complicated and took away my control–which, funny enough, is what my boss wanted me to have… control to make the project great, but then also be collaborative and get everyone else’s input, but to lead. At the end of the day, I’m a shitty leader. But I’m not going to stay in a senior-level role without BEING a leader in my field. Independent contributor is not worth much and I’m way overpaid to be one right now. Good problem to have? I guess. It makes me feel like crap every day. I can’t even look my colleagues in the eye anymore.

I’ve set 7 time-based goals for myself to stay in the company and just try to survive. And by survive I mean do great work that keeps me employed, but also do not try to move up or gain resume-building experience… just do whatever my boss(es) want me to do and stop trying to do the things that would help me move up but do not come naturally to me. That’s 7 dates across 33 months that I need to survive and then, as long as there isn’t a major recession, I’ll have some sort of flexibility to figure out my next steps… I mean, not a ton of flexibility because if I have a mortgage and another kid, flexibility is out the window unless my husband is willing to move to a lower cost of living area and he isn’t.

It is just all so suffocating… I’m so fortunate for all I have and I know I’m in a much better spot than many others in this country, but I just can’t breathe. I don’t want to get caught in this self pity crap but I also don’t know how to be better. Once I start thinking this way it’s hard to focus and be productive. Every little thing I do I self doubt so much that I slow down my output and my output gets worse and worse until I inevitably get let go. Fired. Whatever. That’s what I do. It’s not funny. It’s not poetic. It’s just my life.

But with a toddler and wanting another child, it CAN’T be my life. I’m really fucking scared right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever see the day I have a. job where I’m not worried about getting fired. This is the best situation yet as the head of the department likes my work and has given me the opportunity to do projects seen by our senior leadership team, but that still doesn’t make me professionally immortal. And I know even if I can hold on for dear life these next 33 months, there’s still after that… if my resume has nothing on it other than weird projects that make no sense at another company, or would be comparable to what a much more junior person would do with a much lower salary, I don’t know what I’ll do —

I was talking to my husband and we agreed that our mortgage should be no more than $5000 with his father adding another $2000  in rent (basically $2500 for each of us per month plus $2000 for his father.) My husband really wants his mother to go in with us on the property but I’d prefer to buy separately and just have his father rent from us (his parents aren’t married, it’s complicated, but I am comfortable living with his dad if he is renting from us and it’s clean cut like that.) So we can put down $300k on a $1.5M property which is about $7k a month. That might be doable even if I lose my job, but it will be hard to maintain 30 years of a career that can support $2500 a month. And it’s going to be very hard if not impossible to find a place that costs $1.5M that has a good place for his father to live.

Ugh. When will my life not be a mess?

I do not want to lose my job.

I’m already feeling incredibly guilty for taking a small amount of additional time on disability for PPD, and am ashamed to face my colleagues when I return to work, especially knowing that I will be taking additional (legally-protected) leave in the next year to spend time with my kid. I hate, hate, have being THAT woman and would not blame my employer for figuring out the fastest way to show me the door.

I’m hoping that won’t happen. I don’t pray, but I’m praying that won’t happen. I just can see how they’re understanding how they can operate perfectly well without me, and they would rather replace me with someone else–or any mistake I make will be a quick reason to show me the door. I feel bad for becoming a mother and worse for not adjusting well to motherhood.

When I return to work, I really need to bring my A-game, from day one, through day a billion. I always try to do this, of course, but now I have to fight hard and strong to keep this job. I don’t deserve it, I am not good at it, and I have to try hard to do whatever it takes to be a good employee. I don’t know how to do this, because I’m socially awkward, unintelligent, and a complete fraud. But I’ll try. I’ll try and I’ll stop telling my husband I’m going to get fired because it makes him upset and he says I need to stop telling myself this because I self sabotage.

How can I keep this job? Like, really keep it. For at least three more years. Twelve more quarters. Thirty-six more months… 1095 more days…of amazing, irreplaceable-quality work.  Non stop. Full energy. Listening to my coworkers and doing whatever it takes to help them achieve their goals. Helping my boss who already looks great look even better. Being a team player. Never asking for anything other than the opportunity to do what’s right for the team and company. Maybe, maybe I can keep this job those 1095 days.

It’s a whole new ballgame now, being a mom. I’m terrified. I feel very alone in this journey and need to figure out how to just make it work, on my own. I wish I was smarter… higher IQ… or at least better at faking it. I’m so scared right now. It’s like I’m hanging onto a cliff with one hand with hurricane force winds swirling around me and gravity times a thousand puling me down. I’m holding on for dear life. I want to somehow minimize my interaction with others… I’ve been far to personally invested in my work projects. I get too emotional. I care too much. That’s the problem. I need to care less and do more.

There has to be a way.

Never Enough Money But Always Too Much of It

Meeting with CFPs feels very adult and yet very depressing at the same time. Too much shit has gone on in the last few months to handle, and on top of all that I’m turning 35 next month which seems like a substantial age which no longer has the veneer of youth on it at all. Thirty-five is, if you live to 70, middle age.

I’ve spent the last decade-and-a-half obsessing over money in somewhat nonproductive ways. Twice a month I’ve typed my networth calculations into my trusted google spreadsheet that goes back to my early 20s when I had about $20,000 or less to my name (that’s now over $600,000.) I know I spend too much on things I don’t need still, but spending is the only thing that makes me feel in any control in this crazy world. Of course that sense of control is not real and fleeting.

My question du jour is if I should pay a CFP $5000 a year or ~1% of my portfolio ($6k and growing) to help manage my family’s finances, or if I can (and should) do this on my own. I feel like even though I’m probably much more fiscally literate than most people my age, I’ve gotten to the point it’s time to bring in the experts. No more randomly buying Vanguard funds and individual stocks… I don’t even know if I’ve beat or lost to the S&P 500. And I don’t have life insurance. Or a will. Or an estate plan. Or an open dialogue with my husband about money.

The keeping our finances separate plan works well until it doesn’t. I realize that right now as the person who makes more money he’s allowing me without guilt to spend as I wish with the money I earn–but one day the tables may turn and I may choose to or no longer be able to work… what then? Perhaps I can save enough to “early retire” but in reality that doesn’t seem possible. I mean–maybe, if his family really contributes $1M to our joint housing in the near future–and we find a cost-effective duplex for something like $1.5M, and I pay the mortgage off as quickly as possible so our fixed expenses are very low… then, perhaps my expertise in my industry can garner me a few freelance contracts a year that will cover maintaining my lifestyle and also getting my car fixed every once in a while.

I just hate this suffocating feeling of locking myself into anything financially. I called a loan agent at a bank to learn more about mortgages and get a sense what we’d qualify for. He went through some basic questions and when he got to the part about debt he didn’t believe me that we have no debts. He asked me about 10 times… “you sure you don’t have any debts” and he was shocked. I told him there’s about $1000 on the credit cards and that gets paid off monthly. We drive used cars, paid in cash. Our credit scores are 755 and 800+. I guess we’ve had the privilege to avoid debt and beyond that neither of us believes in spending more than we have.

So why, after 35 years of that working, change that now?

I’m not so sure. In theory, owning property and not having to pay for a chunk of it (since his mother WANTS to gift us that money and she’ll be living there as well) is smart financially. Even with her $1M in cash we can’t get a place for all of us… we’ll need to spend $1.5M to $2M. And the $1.5M options will likely require either a lot of work, a huge commute, or both.

I go back and forth on what to do. My latest and greatest idea is to rent a house or townhouse with his father that’s much closer to my work. We pay $2400 a month for our one bedroom and his father pays $1800 for his tiny apartment, so together we’d have $4200 without changing what we’re paying to rent a house. There isn’t much you can get for $4200 that would work for us, but bump that up to $5000 a month and there are some reasonably nice houses near my office that we can rent. The price will go up annually, and we’ll lose our rent control, but realistically how long can we last in our one bedroom apartment with a child anyway? The plan was one year…  but I’m starting to think six months, max.

I don’t know. I want someone to come in and provide all the answers. My father seemed like the type of person who would do that in my life, but we never talked about money. He didn’t understand how I managed my money, or why I chose to rent a small apartment, or perhaps he didn’t care. All he cared about was me getting married and having children… and not needing him to fund my life, I guess. I’d like to ask him what to do still, but he’s gone, and I know I never could ask him about finances because he’d make some snide comment and make me uncomfortable–either saying I’m rich and expect me to pay for everything and judge my semi frugal lifestyle choices, or he’d be concerned about my finances and offer to provide support even though, as I now know, he didn’t have the resources to provide at all. But, I wish I had a father who I could talk to about money, especially since that’s what he did for a living. I thought about telling him what I had in the bank… I wanted, more than anything, for him to be proud of how well I’ve saved, how smart I was with my money… but he’d just think I was a failure for not being able to afford a home, or a failure for being able to afford a home and choosing not to.

It doesn’t matter now since he’s gone, dead to cardiac arrest and a host of suspicious medical decisions and actions and non-actions that will haunt me and fill me with guilt until the day I die. One day I need to write all that out, but it’s much too painful right now, and I’m spent. I’m petrified of this horrid negotiation with HR and my boss about my maternity leave that has gone on far too long, I’m reeling in PPD-tinged grief and a lifetime of depression raging through my veins and causing daily meltdowns, gasping for air and unable to find any in a fully-oxygenated room.

And I try to tell myself, hey, dad lived to 67, that’s really good–that so many people lose their lives much younger. That tsunamis and mass shootings and disease take so many far too soon. He lived his life and made many decisions that led to his passing, though it’s unclear if he could have lived longer if the doctors didn’t completely mess up and fail to communicate or provide him proper care.. but how can one cry over 67 when so many fail to make it that far?

Still… I cry. I mourn the loss of my father, as confused and complicated as our relationship was, and how sad I was for him as he lived his life with so much anxiety and feeling like he could never fully provide for a wife and family that overspent left and right. I keep thinking this is just a nightmare and I’ll wake up and he’ll still be there, and we’ll still be figuring out how to navigate the healthcare system and get him the care he needs all while he makes it through one delirious episode after the next, and we wonder how far gone is his, but surely he’s not all gone.

He is. And that’s life. I sit in my rocking chair and stare at the little person I’ve created now 8 weeks old and am in awe of how fast he’s grown. I know the coming years will storm by and I’ll be left on the other side of them, wrinkled and grey, still wondering what happened. I can’t believe how slow childhood goes and how fast adulthood shoots by. I’m fighting my mind that wants time to disappear so everything hurt less and my heart that wants everything to slow down even if it hurts more.

So here I am, on extended disability leave and counting the days until I have to go back to work… to a job I don’t feel confident in (though I actually like, mostly)… to one I must keep in order to provide for my family. I understand what my father must have felt like as the breadwinner although as a woman and one who has a husband who has a job I’m not in this all alone–but still alone in being capable of earning enough income to create the life I want for my family (although to be fair my husband’s future inheritance is maybe worth equal or more than what I’m capable of earning in my lifetime.) Still, that’s a long time off and today I’m looking at this life and wondering what it is I want, because it’s becoming more clear with the passing of my father, the birth of my child, and my own aging officially to my mid 30s. I know I want a sizable family–2 to 3 kids–and a home large enough to accommodate us all, and the funds to travel on occasion to trips to local camping grounds and distant adventures. And I want time–which seems to contradict all of that–time to see my family and not have the years pass by and before I know it I’ve afforded a decent house and a few vacations and other than that I’ve never seen my kids (that’s what life was like for my dad… maybe he liked it that way… but I don’t want a life like that.)

I’m continuously terrified of trying to make this work. I am a mom now and that’s really all that matters. Time will disappear if I let it, or if I don’t, but maybe I can grasp it tightly and try to slow it down a bit–cherish every day, every moment, every baby freakout and future temper tantrum and teenage meltdown… and the sweet moments as well. I’ll try to avoid this crippling anxiety… the spinning in circles about every what if even if one may eventually be the what if that pans out. And, I’ll see what I can do about making the money situation be ok… enough ok that it won’t be a disaster for my family if I lose my job or just can’t work due to my mental state. I’ve got a long way to go, but I think I at least know the road I ought to take.

 

Why I’m So Stressed Out About Maternity Leave

Three months ago, I met with the director of benefits at my company who, after congratulating me on my pregnancy (then just starting my second trimester), told me point blank that I was not eligible to take more than 6 weeks off immediately following the birth of my child (paid or unpaid.)

Due to the way the California policy works, I would be eligible to take 12 more weeks off (6 of them semi paid, 6 unpaid) once I hit my “year” mark at work, but given I’d only be at 9 months when I would give birth, I was basically SOL.

I did ask if I could use any vacation time to make the leave longer (since we have “unlimited vacation time”) and was told no. I asked if I could take an unpaid leave and was told that I would be let go if I did not return to work at the start of week 7. It basically seemed like I had no choice, so I just accepted it, three months into my new job, grateful to have any protection and moved on.

But now that baby is just around the corner and I’ve been talking to more moms, I’m terrified of going back to work at 7 weeks post birth. Like, I will be nursing every two hours through the night and I just don’t know how I will be able to do this. Even if I do make it to the office I’ll be a zombie and useless. I’ll certainly perform poorly leading to getting let go anyway. I mean, I’m not sure I’ll suddenly be on my A game again after 10 or 12 weeks post birth, but it sounds like at that point baby might be sleeping a little bit more through the night, and hopefully so will I.

So now I’ve contacted the head of HR and I am worried I’m just making things worse for myself right now. But I talked to my (newish) boss who basically told me she wants me to take all the time up front and I tried to explain to her I can’t. Maybe if she talks to HR I can, but really they’d have to work something out as it seems like I can’t do this on my own. I’m already so terrified about pissing my boss off–I am not the type of person bosses like to begin with, so I’m just really trying to keep my head down and get my work done… but now I feel like I’m just a walking target the next time they’re looking to downsize or just get rid of that one person who doesn’t fit on the team.

And it sucks because I don’t even want to take that much time off… I feel like I’m doing ok now… not great, but ok… ok enough to maybe every day not feel like I’m about to get fired. Except when I’m gone for 8 weeks or 10 weeks or more, well, then people will forget about all the effort I put in this year and I’ll be back to square one. And regardless of when I go back I’ll certainly be more exhausted even if I try not to be since I am baby’s food source.

There are days I think I should just quit but I know I can’t. There’s the salary plus the health insurance plus the fact that my stock is worth a substantial amount and I don’t see any of that until early next year. I’m fortunate to be in this situation but at the same time I’m crying every single day because I don’t know what to do — how hard to I push HR? I’m so new to this job. I don’t deserve any protection. I know that my skillset is somewhat unique and hard to hire for — so there’s a chance they wouldn’t find a replacement for me in the extra six weeks I’d take. There’s also a chance they would.

Part of me feels like I should just shut up, come back to work at 7 weeks postpartum and hold my breathe for the rest of the year until I vest my first chunk of stock and get some of my bonus (whatever they decide to give me) and then if I’m completely frazzled and ready to jump off a bridge I can consider leaving if necessary. I don’t WANT to leave but at that point I may need to. Or maybe I won’t. But at least then I’ll have made it through phase #1 and should be at about $650k networth. It would still be very upsetting to leave as I’d be throwing away my career at that point, along with substantial upside, but I’m scared and feel like I’m constantly on edge and really just not doing so well from a mental health perspective right now.

I wish my husband cared to make more money but he doesn’t. He provides in so many other ways and will be home to take care of the kid while I work, and for that I’m grateful. But the costs of living here are just really too high and he could be making more if he wanted to but he consults for one small business on a part-time basis and never really gets raises so every year his income is worth less and less. Now with baby the flexibility is worth a lot but it just feels like we could be in so much of a better place if he had any interest in financial stability for our family. I know that’s not his thing and I knew that from when I first started dating him, so I can’t put this on him at all. It would just make it easier if we both earned about the same, but we don’t. It would make it easier if I was better at my job or wasn’t having a baby, but all these things are not the case.

I feel really really really shitty about asking HR for more than the 6 weeks, and for every single conversation I have with my boss about my leave. I feel guilty for having a kid and I feel guilty for knowing I won’t be able to dedicate the time I want to raising it because I’ll be so paranoid that I will look bad at work that I’ll probably increase my time and output at work compensate. All the while I’ll likely be extremely exhausted. Maybe I’m thinking too much worse case scenario but how awake can one be waking up every  2 hours to nurse all night?

So many parts of me want to just quit but those parts want to quit because I hate the guilt and embarrassment of being a pregnant woman less than a year into a new job and dealing with crappy US maternity leave policies and also not wanting to seem like I’m entitled to anything just because I made the choice to be a mom. I guess if it gets to the point at 7 weeks where I just cannot return to work for my mental wellbeing, I don’t, and I deal with the financial consequences (which would be brutal to the tune of $100k-$150k+ in lost earnings, depending on when I return to the workforce.)

And I have no one to talk to about this which makes it even harder. I can’t talk to my boss–she wants me to take all the time up front and doesn’t care (nor should she) about the pay or no pay situation. I can’t talk to HR because their job is protecting the company. I can’t talk to my husband because he knows I lose my jobs often and just sees this at yet another one of those situations. I can’t talk to my family, they don’t understand. I can’t talk to my friends–my female friends who have kids have husbands who make $300k+ per year and either are stay at home moms or run part-time businesses. I can’t talk to my therapist about it because this isn’t a mental health issue this is a I need advice on how to handle maternity leave issue. So I just feel really alone right now and that’s what hurts the most and leads me to this very dark, hopeless place. I’m trying to be excited about having a baby but I’m just scared. I know I’m lucky to have even 6 weeks of covered leave at semi pay, but what happens on week 7?

 

 

Another Rough Week – Thinking About the Future

Day 9029230952 where I have at least one mental breakdown in a bathroom stall at work. One project I thought was nearly finished (and got approved by a very senior person) and then theohead of my department looked at it and requested a pretty significant change that requires a ton of extra work and budget and may not even be possible.

It didn’t help that I have been sick for the last few days and the head of my department keeps telling me to take care of myself and work from home, and then a few moments before a senior lead in HR, who apparently heard I was sick, told me I should go home — and, I didn’t want to say “but if I am working from home then I know I’ll have less of a case to make to take time off after I have a baby because our unlimited vacation policy is confusing and I just feel like I have to be at work and show my face in order to have any chance of ever seeing my kid once my leave is up” and I just, well, I was a mess today, breaking into sobs about once an hour, and trying to make it look like the red eyes were only due to my cold and nothing more. Continue reading Another Rough Week – Thinking About the Future

Who can afford to own a house?

I’ve committed to remaining in our $2500/month one bedroom apartment for as long as we can stand it with our soon-to-be child. I’ve even gotten to appreciate the forced closeness we’ll have living in a small space with kiddo, especially in the first year when it’s recommended baby sleeps in the same room with parents…

However, I’m very concerned about what happens “next.” Yes, we can leave this overpriced corner of the country and live somewhere that a much lower salary would enable home ownership. I don’t even care about “owning” so much as I care about being able to afford some sort of residence that feels less like an apartment and more like a home. A townhouse would be perfectly fine, especially if it has a little grassy area in the back, and a community park nearby… Continue reading Who can afford to own a house?