Category Archives: Mental Illness

Career Revamp: How to Accept Lost Income and Savings?

I am trying to make it through my job, but at this point I’m acknowledging that my career is just not a fit. I’m very (incredibly) fortunate to be in a position where I’ve been paid a lot, which has allowed me to purchase a home and superfund my children’s college savings accounts. Compared to most of the world I’m in a really good place. It doesn’t feel that way, but I constantly I have to remind myself that I’m doing pretty great.

But it’s still hard to look at the future ahead of me and think about what to do next. I could pretty easily (with the right antidepressant anyway) stay in my current role and continue to earn $200k-$300k per year. If I knew 100% there was something else out there that would be a better fit I would be willing to give that up for lower compensation, but the reality is I don’t actually have any idea if another job would be any better. I could leave this role, take a position for $80k, have to dip into savings for years, and still be completely unhappy — maybe more so.

There are things about my career that aren’t a good fit for me. Some of these things are part of any job but maybe lesser so in another field. Having to influence people is really challenging for me. I am not a good communicator. I’m not great at being organized, but also I’m worse at it when I have a job that requires so much context switching and doesn’t have clear measures of success or completion. I worry that a job with clear measures of success and completion would bore me–when I’m bored I don’t do good work either.

I’m really seeking a career where I can be in “flow” more often than not. Maybe that’s unrealistic. I know I like working on projects where I’m collaborating with a team and building something and being part of that trajectory to create something from nothing and then get it out to the world. I think this is pretty consistent in the few moments in my career and life when I’ve felt in the right place. But this concept is not a career. This concept does not pay the mortgage.

I wish I could just figure out a way to do this job and not feel so horrible about it. But when it comes to creative work I find I’m either all in and doing really good work or I can’t engage at all. I can’t half engage. I can’t just get it done and not care and spend the rest of my day doing other things. It haunts me from the moment I wake up in the morning to the instant I fall asleep, and often even finds it way into my dreams and/or nightmares.

Really all I want is to feel good at something and like I’m actually contributing value. I don’t think I am now. Often I’m told that I must be or else I would’t be paid what I’m paid. Well, someone at the top believes in me despite my being a total mess, but not to the point where he cares to help my career make any sense. My job is to get random things done that are high-stress projects with no clear definition of success other than a bunch of people decide they are ok and then they are done.

The work I have is not impossible time-wise. It’s just impossible in the sense that I cannot do it. Or, I do manage to do it, at the last minute, after a whole lot of stress. Maybe that’s why I get paid so much. Because no one else really wants to do the jobs I do.

I’m just tired. Tired of not knowing what my career is. Tired of feeling like everything could fall out from under me at any moment. I realize I’ll never be perfect at my job, but I would love to have a real career where I start at a lower level and have regular promotions every few years because I’ve actually done a good job. Is it possible for me to do a consistently good job at anything? If I could do ANYTHING what would that be?

I think fundamentally I need to revisit if I’m really a creative person. I’m constantly pushed into creative type roles but I don’t think I’m creative at all. In fact, maybe I’m at the point in my life where I prefer to be quantitative in my work. Not that I know how to be, but maybe that’s an area to explore. I just can’t imagine myself in a job interview where I can hold my own where I’m asked questions about data. I process too slowly. No one would hire me.

And I like to do things my own way, which isn’t how the world works. People want you to know what you’re doing and follow the established path with minor deviations.

Part of me wants a job where I interact with people more. Again, going back to the drawing board — being some kind of counselor… or even a nutritionist? But then I realize that I’m just not mentally well enough to have a job that requires being stable enough to see clients regularly. So that crosses off a lot of jobs out there. I don’t know. Maybe my current job is the best job I’ll ever have. It pays well. It’s not that hard, it’s more like managing a puzzle that constantly has new pieces showing up and you just have to figure out how to put it all together well enough that people don’t realize you’re missing pieces and then you move on to the next puzzle. Nothing ever feels done or good. And that makes me feel sick.

I’m trying hard to start building a life outside of work. To at least focus on my health with exercise and eating well. If my entire career is going to go to shit then the least I can do is make sure I’m as healthy as I can be physically. I have to try to believe that there is an answer out there for me somewhere. I need to find it and I need to drive the change. I need to start believing in myself. I’m embarrassed of how I present myself to people. I’m going to be 40 soon. I need to get my shit together.  On so many levels. I should go to the psychiatrist and get meds and I will soon. I’m not sure how that really helps but maybe it does. I’m willing to try anything right now. To help me stop being this–whoever it is that I am. I need to grow up, grow a pair, and just get on with it. Life isn’t waiting for me and I’m too impatient to wait for it.

It Would Be Nice

The squirrels are the only creatures who seem to love the palm tree in my front yard, for my husband, myself, and my neighbors certainly don’t. To hire someone to clean the palm tree costs about $2000 and to remove it the same, so we’ve been pondering removing it for a good year but can’t make up our minds. There isn’t much mind being made up in this house about much of anything. It’s a problem. My only mind making happens in periods of mania where rash decisions are anything but wise and seem made without any manner of forecasting the future discomfort they will inflict. Thus, decisions either get made and regretted, or not made at all. I’m still unclear which is worse.

But the palm tree needs to go. I think.

There are so many weddings this year. Well, two. My cousin’s which is just a short flight away but an expense of perhaps $3000 after taking grandma to watch the kids and booking a hotel room that can fit all of us, which isn’t easy to find. Waiting to book the hotel room means prices go up which means I spend even more. Then there’s my sister’s wedding, which she is rushing to get done this year supposedly, though no date has been set yet. Her and her finance are off on a whirlwind adventure of seeking out wedding venues just like my husband and I did six years ago.

Six years ago was an entirely different time. Almost so ancient it merits its own series like Bridgerton although that isn’t actually based in any real time so this particular comparison doesn’t work and yet it feels like it does — because was that life six years ago any more real than the world created by Julia Quinn — because what was life actually six years ago? Was it real?

My father still alive, a bit of denial through the entire family about the situation at hand and falling for his lies about the fiscal health of his and my mother’s bank account. Six years ago before two children who are very much humans now. Six years ago before the worst manic period of my life where thank god I managed to only let words not actions inflict the innocent, even though I ruined a few of the things in life that were actually good because that’s what I do apparently — self sabotage so the things and friendships that actually are wonderful are poisoned by this mental health catastrophe that goes into hibernation in my brain and comes out every once in a blue moon and turns me into this over confident person I most certainly am not. So there’s that. And I live in fear of that person coming back though I tell myself I’m older now and wiser and I can control that part of me if she surfaces again and I’m too tired now anyway to have that kind of energy where even if I thought I might be charismatic I’d surely prefer to dream the reaction to that charisma over act upon it. It’s interesting, though, how certain I am that I’m bipolar and yet not being able to convince any practitioner of this because I’m too ashamed to explain exactly who I’ve become in the past or maybe I try but no one believes me when I seem like just a depressed person trying to exaggerate the past. Or maybe I don’t even believe it because I force myself to forget out of sheer embarrasment and regret that spins like a spiked pit in my stomach whenever I’m jolted back to a time when I wasn’t really me albeit I was still me, I wasn’t like, schizophrenic, I was just — some other me who was sad to the point of wanting to crater in but that isn’t even it. Just craving some kind of connection, I guess, in this delusion that maybe such connection might exist somewhere, but then in falling back to earth realizing no no no in fact there’s nothing to connect to and you are best lost on an island and not having this notion that someone will one day find you there and rescue you from yourself. Because that doesn’t actually happen. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is when you start getting confused about what’s real or what isn’t. When your mind plays tricks on itself. It’s scary and upsetting. So you want to keep yourself stable now. It’s all that matters.

Six years later, you have a house, you have two kids, you have managed to hold down a job for four years and see your bank account grow with stock that you don’t deserve but you got nonetheless. And you’re six years older which shows in the few strands of grays in your hair and the paleness of your skin and the aches in your joints which you realize are just beginning. You’ve experienced the beginning of a global pandemic, like everyone else, and the era of covid, which may not go away anytime soon. You have PTSD from it like everyone else, but perhaps it saved you, locking you in your house and not letting you escape into the world with your impractical imagination.

But it would be nice. To just find peace with it all. This world. It isn’t much longer that I have to experience it. Who knows how long. I’d think 40 years of health if I’m lucky. Half way there. If it was climbing up a mountain I’d feel good about making it to this point but it’s not, it’s life, and there is nothing else once you get to the top. And so here I am, living a depressed but more or so practical life, and trying to decide which kitchen table to buy because I ought to make decisions faster than once every two years, so maybe I can do other things in life, other than searching Wayfair and watching the sun hoping it will go down quickly so I can just go back to sleep.

Can’t Sleep When Things Are Going Well and Caving In

$2.5M. I guess that is our current net worth, give or take, if you don’t count taxes or fees on sale of our house. I usually do but tonight I felt like giving myself a little fiscal pep talk so I threw together another spreadsheet (when I should be sleeping) which has us over the $2.5M mark. Even though that’s not real because if we sold our home and sold all our stock holdings taxes would make that a lot less. 

Still, the fact that in some not completely bullshit calculation we are at $2.5M is a significant milestone.

My husband and I picked one of those impossible net worth numbers we have/had to hit in order to consider a third child. $2.5M! That’s not going to happen, right?

Well… depends who is counting. But tonight, I’m counting it.

I’m not going to have a baby tomorrow. But given the savings goals been hit for each child ($500k, $1M, and $2.5M… if baby 3 is a possibility we’re at least at goal.) So that’s nice. None of the money feels real. And I know because I’m still rather heavy in tech stocks I’m going to regret that and it will come crashing down. I’m probably 30% in higher-risk stuff but I’m bored and antsy and FOMOing my life away so here I am holding way too. much FAANG and laughing about it until I’m crying about it. Oh well. When the game is squarely rigged against us — go big or go home? Or, stop taking risks because I’m almost old now? Probably that.

Money is a funny thing. $2.5M is a lot of money. No argument there. Yet I’m perusing the tuition rates for these fancy private schools for gifted kids and my jaw is dropping to the floor smack bang and flipping right back up into a cartoon spiral in reading that school for one kid for ONE year costs $35k or even $50k+. I mean. I don’t care how gifted your kid is. If your kids is that gifted give your kid $35k and have them build a business. Or a spaceship. Or a TikTok empire. I mean, if you are making $1M a year consistently forever then maybe $35k is a drop in the bucket but my bucket, rich as it may be, is snapping its lid on any thought of sending my son(s) to any sort of fancy private school.

I do wonder with my son… I have no idea if he’s gifted or just advanced or even how being also autistic and behind in some areas will make him who he is over the long run. I’m worried for him. Mostly in what happens when he starts to realize he doesn’t fit into the world around him. Right now he doesn’t care. At all. But I think as he matures he’ll realize that he’s different. I certainly know that feeling. My husband blossomed as the alien he is with a small group of smart-as-fuck weirdo friends. Well, maybe blossomed is the wrong word… but he survived and seemed to have fun along the way. I didn’t fare quite as well in my childhood and especially adolescent and early adult years.

And I wonder how much of what we’re capable of is based on the environment we’re put in and what we’re told we’re capable of and how we’re treated when we fail. It’s fucking strange to me to think some kids are shipped off to “gifted” programs where they walk around thinking they’re better than everyone else just because they can recognize patterns and a holographic memory (not a thing I made it up but I’ve decided it’s a thing.) I had some equally fucked up concept of my own intellect as a child based on my father’s commentary of both my smarts and my failure to live up to potential because I was clearly lazy and not trying hard enough when no no no I just couldn’t think straight and the anxiety took over very young when from an early age I felt like I was a misfit and was sad about bothering everyone while also longing so desperately to fit in and connect… but who was there to connect with? It’s not exactly all that different now.

So my son is clearly different and I want to support him while also letting him figure things out on his own. I always thought I’d be the mom who cheers my son on when he takes risks and fails but already I feel like I’m failing him on the failure support despite trying. He is already so anxious, so aware, so thoughtful in a mind that doesn’t yet understand the world or what is really going on. But he’s starting to. And I can tell as the world starts to make sense it becomes more and more scary. After a solid block of sleeping alone in his room in his bed he has been venturing out to sleep in our bed. And it’s sweet to cuddle and all but I can tell that his mind is spinning and processing all of it.

I haven’t told him my father is dead and he doesn’t know what death is yet but he certainly understands that my dad is missing out there somewhere. I don’t know what he thinks of him in his head. I worry for when my husband and my living parent’s pass away. I didn’t have to deal with grandparent death as a child except my mom’s father died when I was 8 and I guess he was always old and distant and it didn’t phase me much though I was a little sad at the thought of not knowing him well. And my great grandmother who was so old in her wheelchair through my young years – I don’t remember her dying but I remember her at some point being gone…

But because we are older parents and the ages are getting further and further apart between birth and the next birth there’s more death early on and it’s just something that is but it’s so terrible to have to experience it and to have to experience it with young kids. How on earth will I ever explain to my son when his best friend, who happens to be 78, no longer will be available to play with him ever again? My husband will be distraught and likely forever disabled emotionally by the loss of either of his parents. There are plenty of books on the subject but that doesn’t make it any easier.

And then there’s my own mortality. How did I get here? Well, covid. And my fear of getting a booster shot after the first 2 Pfizer shots seriously messed me up. I don’t know what was worse — how bad the shots messed with my body or how little doctors believed me (or how the doctors who did believe me said there was nothing they could do!) You start wondering if you’re crazy and just stuck in a placebo effect anti-panacea. Maybe your eye didn’t go blind and come back with dark floaters. Maybe you didn’t have the most intense headache like a monster clenching on your scalp and squeezing you to a pulp then stabbing you with ice picks for weeks. Maybe your hear didn’t shake like a motor and turn on and off when you were lying still at night. Maybe you haven’t had a series of experiences where your left arm and lip goes numb and you feel as if you’re possibly dying or stroking out or something.

But then you know all of that is real and you’re terrified of getting a booster shot when your body seems to be finally almost back to normal. The floaters have almost faded. You can go outside in sunlight and not cry because of your vision.

At the same time you know if you don’t get a shot you very well might die. You’re not being a hypochondriac or overdramatic. It’s just fact. You’re overweight now and that’s super high risk plus your depression is also a risk factor and you’re the blood type that seems to get hid hardest and now you’re over six months out from your last shot. Covid is an assassin out there looking for you and you can run by you can’t hide. So. I should get the shot. But then…  I don’t know. Months of feeling horrible again. Will I recover faster this time, or slower? What if I lose my vision entirely? Unlikely, but after my experience I don’t know what to think is possible anymore. And I’m so not an anti-vaxxer. I got my flu shot and I get it every year. I’ve had every shot in the book. But this really took me out. I’m scared. Of getting the shot and not getting the shot.

Meanwhile… life is being life. There’s been sickness in my house recently, a whole lot of it, but not covid. While my 3 year old seems invincible and has never had a fever (he was coughing a bit this week) my almost 1 year old was taken out by a fever up to 103.7. Poor kiddo. He’s still getting better. Slowly. And I’m trying to do my job that I’m so behind on. I managed to fight a billion fires today (a number of my own ADHD making) and I think there’s a chance I’ve caught up if I really put my head down and push through the next 3 months with tight project management kung fu fighting pow pow pow exhibitions.

But then…

My house is a mess.

My 3 year old son who is reading and memorizing the periodic table and yelling bloody murder at me if I count out of order ever and grabbing his ears should any unpleasant sound roll in or by needs support and therapies and doctors appointments and playdates and experiences and for me to be there and I’m not, I’m not there enough because even when I’m not working I’m so fucking tired or I am working because I can’t focus during the day and well it’s 2:30 now and hey I’m awake writing writing all the thoughts in my head then maybe I can sleep I guess possibly I don’ know. I want to be there for him. I want to sign him up for a thing or two but everything is expensive and yea I “have the money” but do I? I don’t know. If only I could be one of those people who just knew I’d always have a job — outside of mass layoffs — who had skills that were just employable like being a programmer or something but no I’m not that my skillset is pretty much straight up bullshit and while it’s not my first rodeo I’m still being thrown into a pit of mud and spiked in front of a crowd feigning concern. So.

And my younger son. What a personality. What a personality who needs attention and care and love and support. He is so focused and driven and will NOT GIVE UP if he puts his mind to something. I admire that in him though it makes it hard to hide anything from him because he remembers where you put it and he keeps trying to get it. We’re going to be in big trouble when he learns how to climb… he’s already starting to figure it out. I can’t believe he’s already almost 18 months (well , in 7 months) which is the beginning of when covid started with my first son and when I had the time to retreat from the world and go for walks with him that were first him sleeping while I pushed and later on more social walks for us as he counted all the numbers on the houses and shouted out letters as we walked by at 2.5.

Life goes really fucking fast. I mean they tell you it does. But you don’t know what that means until you’re in the thick of it. Here I am. Wading in quicksand and staring dewy-eyed at the sun, blinking to bat off the razor-blades of time.

And my mother needs to sell her house, hoarder house, but that’s another story. Or is it. Well it’s all my story. But who cares. I went out there and tried to help and apparently made more of a mess so she can’t handle it and she’s spending a fortune getting it cleaned up even though I got rid of so much she’s probably still saving money in the end. I can’t believe my mother is 68. Even though we have a bit of a jagged relationship I still don’t know how I can be in this world without her. Many of my friends wonder why I still talk to her. But I see her somewhat as my child as well. Not that I’m the best mother to her either. Mother to my mother. But I love her like a child, not like a mother, if that makes any sense. And if/when she dies it will likely feel like losing a child, and I’m worried about that pain, I’m worried I can’t handle more loss despite knowing loss is a gift of life because it means I’ve managed to keep on living. I’m scared of it all. I wish I could go back to the days when I knew nothing about the inevitable. I look at my sons and envy them and pity them. They can’t be kept in the dark forever. Especially with how fucked up the world is. Speaking of dark, things can get dark even faster. So much horrible things out there. I want to hide them from all of it. But they also need to know. I feel guilty for having kids sometimes. Even though grateful. Like what did I bring these innocent creatures into? Maybe they can do great things but — that’s if they survive it all. And then they still die in the end so that makes me feel pretty sick to be honest. Even if in the best case I’ll be long gone when that happens and they’ll have lived long lives and maybe had children of their own I still feel nauseous thinking about it. So I ought to stop because going down that rabbit hole is never a pretty one.

Anyway. It’s 2:39 and I need to sleep. I was probably going to write more things like about my new virtual therapist who is 83 who told me he can tell I’m highly intelligent and that I ought to be a professor and a columnist he named some columnist I reminded him of and I was supposed to know the reference but I didn’t because I don’t know much of anything but I’ll take the compliment with me to my grave or at least my mattress for now.

So Long 37.

37. You’ve been… a year. Saying goodbye to 37 seems like closing the doors on an era. An era of grasping on to the last remnants of my fleeting youth that in actuality was gone long ago. I don’t know what it is about “38” because it’s still squarely in one’s 30s, but it feels so close to 40 it might as well be. And my husband is turning 40 early next year, so I feel whoever gets there first ages both partners in a marriage to the next official decade of life.

The last few years of my 30s may or may not include one more child, but I’m really torn on that for so many reasons. More on that in a bit. It likely will include changing jobs, because this one is getting worse and worse by the day and the compensation next year no longer makes it worth while to stay. I just feel like no matter what I do I am not capable of doing a good job in this role. I’m not sure where I am capable of doing a good job but it’s certainly not here. I’m not getting fired so I’m clearly not doing the worst job possible. I try my best and it seems that my work ethic and positive attitude keeps me gainfully employed. But I’m fucking tired. Tired of the craziness that is my job where I can’t focus on any projects because I’m constantly thrown new things that take a lot of time and won’t actually help the business improve but are just pet projects from leadership. Did I mention I’m tired? Like, emotionally, mentally, physically drained.

And it’s not just because I have an almost-one-year-old and a 3 year old going on 13.

… So. I was gung ho about the 3rd kid thing with wanting a girl and then lately I’m just feeling like maybe that’s asking for things to go really bad. What if I die in childbirth? What if IVF gives me cancer? What if I have a girl and she hates me from the moment she slips out of my womb?

Possible.

But also, logistically, I’m not sure I can handle 3 kids. Now that my youngest is becoming a little human with his own needs and my oldest is his own growing mind person monster I want time to spend with both of them, together, and alone, as well as time to spend alone and alone and alone with my husband and so far I haven’t been good at any of these variables. I’m not thriving at work. I’m not thriving at home. I’m not thriving at anything. Except maybe gaining weight from binging on carbs to fill this pit of fear and confusion I feel at any given time.

Well at least I’m not fucking manic at the moment. So there’s that.

I sink deep into the sheets of the bed below me and wonder all sorts of things and don’t know the answer to any of them. I worry about my son who can’t handle noise and puts his hands over his ears when anything hums or buzzes and I wonder will he outgrow that or if not how does he handle living in a world that is made for people who are able to tune it all out? I worry about my younger child who is growing up with less attention than my first, who is being shoved by my 3 year old at times, and all the conflicting parenting advice on how to handle sibling conflict (while also being committed to ensuring he doesn’t get seriously hurt.)

I don’t know anymore. I feel old and like I’ve managed to do a lot in my life leading up to 38 and yet not enough at all. Like at 38 one should be VP or at least have some serious skills they are confident about and able to go into a job interview and be like “I’m the shit and if you don’t want to hire me I don’t care.” But what would I even say in a job interview? I babble. What do I know? I know how to serve the needs of sociopathic executives who are convinced they have the most brilliant ideas. I feel like this is not a worthwhile skill and even if it is, it’s not one I particularly want to be known for. I can’t. Do. This. For. Much. Longer.

I did one project the head of my department liked but he asked for some changes then the head of my team gave me feedback and I made changes and she really liked what I had written (even though I knew it wasn’t actually good so no hard feelings there) and then the head of the department was like WTF is this and clearly was not happy with the changes and so now I’m scrambling to put something together they both like at the last minute when I’m supposed to be on vacation. Luckily this vacation = sitting at my mom’s house and trying to pack up my childhood home so I have some flexibility but still — I really needed the mental break. My plan was to take 2 weeks off but I thought if I got 1 then that would be something. But here I am still working and I don’t know when it will stop. I’ll get Thurs and Friday off because everyone does but then I’m back.

Hey, at least when I’m back it’s December. I’m 38, ok, that sucks, but better than not making it to 38, and it’s also the final countdown to my final vest and final significant employe stock purchase plan purchase and bonus and 401k match and then I can leave whenever I have the energy to do so and find something better. It’s all finally here. It’s not a life-changing amount but it’s the end of what I committed in my brain to stay for and here I am and there… I have 117 days until I really have no significant reason to stay. They will go by fairly quickly I think. I have a lot to do. Even if I fail at the things I’m doing I don’t think anyone will realize it until well into those 117 days as long as I’m trying. Which I will be. I never stop trying. Trying isn’t exactly getting me anywhere though.

Curious what my performance review will say. In past years I wrote these long self reviews trying to highlight everything half decent I did over the year. This year I just threw together a few bullets. I have a different boss this year so maybe he won’t notice but I realize what I write doesn’t actually matter and I don’t deserve a great review. I’m either a 3/5 because I’m good enough to keep but not good enough to try to keep, or a 2/5 because I pissed a few people off over the year by missing deadlines or not communicating well or both (been there, done that, don’t think I did it this year but who knows.) I’m pretty sure a 4/5 is impossible for my role and abilities and a 1/5 I’d be fired already and a 5/5 isn’t real so… yea… I’ll be surprised if I don’t get the 3/5 but maybe I sucked more than I know over the year and I’ll hear all about it in January when reviews come out. I got a pretty sizable bonus when I got a 2/5 last year somehow so I’m thinking I’ll probably get a bonus again this year… and then… I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I wish my husband would be the type of guy who said “wow you’re clearly miserable and I want to do something that will make you happy — do you want to take some time off work? Maybe we should consider moving out of a HCOL area for a while and see how that goes so you don’t have to work so much? Or maybe we stay here but I apply to jobs that pay enough where you can work part time?”

He’d never say any of that. And I don’t know how I would react if he did. But wouldn’t it be lovely to have a husband who would be willing to put himself out there, do something that makes him a bit uncomfortable, to try to help his wife out a bit? Am I asking for too much? I mean, yea, I know who I married. And I don’t expect him to be CEO or anything but there are a few reasonable options at this point that would allow me to be maybe slightly less miserable and I don’t think he’d be willing to entertain any of them. So it’s up to me as always. I think a new job could help, but I don’t know how I can be successful in any job since I’m not actually good at anything. I just want to sleep and exercise and try to eat healthy and take some time to recover from the last four years of being beaten down so much (not to mention having two babies.)

Anyway, I guess this is what it’s like to be almost 38. And then to be 38 en route to 39 and then 40. And maybe one more baby. Or maybe no more babies. And hopefully enough money to pay the mortgage and the bills. At least. And watching my investments crash and being sad about how as a normal human the only way to get ahead and beat inflation is to invest yet that’s so risky even though it’s supposedly not that risky as long as you’re diversified and don’t need the money for years but who knows what the future holds so yea it’s all a gamble and it feels pretty shitty to have to gamble what you’ve earned in order to have a shot at a half decent future.

And that’s for someone who is privileged enough to even have that option… I’m aware so few are.

So here I am. Well. Hello 38. Nice to meet you, I guess.

Two Roads To Nowhere and Everywhere: Stay at Home Mom vs Working Mom

I’m sure people reading my blog think I’m crazy with now over $2M in net worth not feeling comfortable leaving work for a while… a few months… a year or two… to spend with my young children. Maybe I am crazy. I’ll tell you what I feel. I feel no different than I did five years ago when my net worth was $500k or 10 years ago when it was $150k.

I am struggling with the concept of time and the time of time. 10 years passes in a blink and yet was it all that fast? I don’t know. 10 years ago with $150k net worth I was just starting my first job in this series of jobs after another series of jobs. I was making $100k. At the time that was such a huge salary I thought I would never earn more. Who would pay me more than $100k for anything?

10 years ago I was 27 going on 28. Approaching my 30s. A far different mindset than approaching one’s 40s. Pre children. Pre marriage. Living with roommates and dating my now husband and struggling with enough depression and self-hatred to push myself to keep going to prove that I could survive. Don’t believe me? It’s all here in this blog. All the years that have sprinted by. The failures. The successes. Three firings later. Day after day of waking up feeling not good enough. Not knowing what I’m doing. Trying to make it work. Trying to fit in. Having good moments. And many bad ones. Ten years later.

What will my life be 10 years from now? I’ll be 47 going on 48. What then? Will this decade feel over in a blink as well? How can I slow it down and make sure it lasts as long as possible – savor every second of it? I don’t know if one can at this age. Time just speeds up. And so there’s time and there’s money. It’s the race of both. You can spend less money. You can’t actually stop time. But to afford to leave the workforce you need a lot of money– and even then the system is rigged against you. That money in the stock market. Sure it will likely keep going up over time. That’s what they tell you. It has in the past. But the past is no indication of what will happen in the future. Though the only way to actually afford the future is to take what you’ve earned and bet on something that likely will go up but really who knows.

I’m too heavy in equities. Too heavy in individual stocks, although mostly in index funds. If the whole market crashes, how much does it matter? Does this mystical, mythical $2M disappear overnight? It doesn’t feel real if it’s not spent and if it’s spent then it isn’t real anymore at all. So it sits there, notated in an overly complex google spreadsheet that I look at each morning to see what it all looks like on that day. I open my computer and start trying to do work for my job that is fulfilling only in when I can help other people do their jobs that I’m uncertain if they find fulfilling or just acceptable in order to earn their own mystical, mythical money. I don’t know. I sit in meetings with senior executives who go off on some rant about something that at best doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the betterment of the world and at worst are stained with sociopathy and that sly smile in passive aggressive attack that only someone with way more money in the bank can slide across their face so damn effortlessly. Everyone is trying to prove to everyone else that they are needed for those ahead of them to win and so even with the best of intentions it becomes this sick game that I’m not cut out to play.

10 years. My father was still alive. Still diagnosed with cancer. Still dying. But alive. Still yelling at my mother. An artist of arrogance. We were all so much younger then. I try to tell myself. 10 years is a long time. 10 years from now my oldest will be 13. Thirteen. My youngest, either 11 or 9 depending if I have another. I’ll hopefully be alive, but 10 years is also a long time for one’s body to attack itself, for health to slowly… or rapidly fail. For my husband to be here or to be ill or not here at all. For my mother to make it to 78 or pass away in her 70s, at an age that no longer inspires those who hear of passing to gasp noting “she was so young” in their condolences. It seems at 70 or maybe 75 it becomes acceptable to die. In ones 80s no one would feel pity over an early death. And 90 is when one feels pity that the person is still living. How fast the years go. Especially if you don’t make the greatest effort to slow them down.

And how can you slow them down? How can I? Well, I feel like there is a choice here. A fork in the road. Like in Squid Game — everyone chooses to play, even after they see what is at stake. Here I am and I see ahead of me 10 years of my children aging from babies to teens and I wonder how much of those 10 years is worth trading for days of panic attacks and feeling horrible at my job and to tired to be much of a mother.

Quit now and move somewhere affordable seems both like an impossible movie plot and an actual life story that could be mine. If only I wanted it enough. And then my husband agreed to it as well. Which would be quite difficult, but if I really knew in my heart it was the right decision — I don’t know — maybe I could convince him we need to leave this place. In a year sell our house. Get away from the rat race. The rat jungle. The rat infestation and bro culture and imposter syndrome and open office spaces and egos and people do don’t have time to connect or build community or they want you to pay a lot to buy in to a community you’ll never be a part of anyway.

If I quit here and stayed here I’d surely eat into my savings quickly. I’d want to do things during the day and going for walks to local parks would get boring after a while, wouldn’t it? There is much to sign up for if you’re a stay at home mom but then you need the money to fund it. Writing is free, at least. But what about my kid’s activities? How do I make sure I have enough to support their lives? I feel that I owe them the upper middle class life I was raised into. I didn’t know how to provide that but somehow through luck and determination here I am. Upper middle class. I guess. It doesn’t feel it. Not like my parent’s generation. One working parent and a nice house with decently nice everything. I’m certainly well off now in most of the world. I certainly don’t feel it.

But I do feel I owe my kids a life at least as good as the one I had growing up. My sister, who makes $14 an hour, refuses to have children because she says she can’t afford them. Yet many people have kids with low incomes — it’s just we were raised into a certain style of childhood and life and we feel our kids deserve at least that. I don’t want my kids to be spoiled. I don’t think I was either. Not horribly so. A little. But not enough to sit on my ass and do nothing. My sister has an incredible work ethic but no belief in herself or her ability to do better. I have random spurts of energy and a character flaw that is my need above all else to prove that I can survive and fit in and thrive in a world that may not be worth surviving.

What if — one year from now — I’m sitting somewhere, some nondescript down maybe — watching waves of a lake-ocean-river-sea crash to shore. Maybe it’s thundering. Or drizzling. Or pouring.  And I’m soaked and running in puddles with my children who are still children. And they don’t remember mom everyday at her laptop working or avoiding working and looking at social media only to be working later when she shouldn’t be because she can’t focus or get anything done. They wouldn’t remember the mess of a house or limited meals but instead clean floors and nutritious fresh food. We’d go on playdates and maybe get to know some people. Really get to know them as friends and build a community, though that’s wishful thinking as being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t suddenly turn me into Miss Popular. But still. What kind of life would that be? One where I am watching my account balances shrink each month instead of grow. I’d be terrified.

That fear is what drives me. But I don’t want to get to 2031 and look back on the last 10 years and say I traded moments for money. I let myself fall into the trap of worrying every single fucking day and waking up each morning feeling sick to my stomach because I know I’ll never do a consistently good enough job at work. Because I’m always on the verge of losing my job and having to admit failure yet again. To pick myself up again. And spend months trying to prove myself. A few victories here and there but nothing enough to stick. And so on. 10 years of that. I don’t know if I can take 10 more years of that.

See, 10 years ago seems like a long time ago. But 4 years ago seems like practically no time at all. Sure, in that time I’ve had two kids and both have grown quite a bit, but that time is all a blur and it doesn’t feel like 4 years it feels like 3 months. Though there is so much of it that I don’t remember. That skips time. And I’m afraid the next 10 years will be that but even faster. So I desperately want to slow the time down. To be present with my family. To take time to be a mom, not a mom who is thinking about the 10 meetings she has the next week while assisting her sons onto an amusement park ride.

I should be grateful that I have the money I do have. It does provide some options. It’s enough to tease me with those options but not enough for the options to be all that real. It’s enough, earned fast enough, to throw in my face that if I leave the workforce I’m not only going to be digging into my savings, but I’m also giving up the opportunity to really get to a place of financial independence for a lifestyle I want to have for my family. Why not a few more months? A few more years? Why not just keep holding my breath until my bank account ticks up to the next hundred thousand? I’m thinking $2.5M before leaving this job, but why not stick around until $3? Why not find another job to take me to $4 or $5M? $5M is the ultimate goal, $200k a year of income from the growth. Maybe then. Maybe then I’ll feel like I can slow down. But when will then be? Will my mind be complete mush by then? It’s hard to say. I just know I’m tired. I’m so tired. I’m tired mentally and physically and I need to sleep. So I’ll sleep now and wonder more about how people make decisions and how I can make decisions and if I’m even allowed to since now I’m a mom and a breadwinner and a home owner and I don’t get to just pick up and change things if they get too hard. This is real adulting. And it better be because I’m fucking old now.

Finding Balance in an Off-Kilter World

Sell the house. Pack everything up. Take the $500k of home equity after realtor fees, consisting of $325k downpayment and $175k in gains, give or take, and move to most anywhere else in the country where one can buy a nice house for $500k or a few hundred k over that, get a part-time or otherwise flexible remote job w/ a tech company in my field, make less money but ultimately still refrain form dipping much into our $1.25M in taxable stocks and $750k in retirement savings. Spend a lot of time with family. Have a big private backyard with grass that is green because it actually rains. Maybe make some new friends. Spend the next 20 years of my life taking it easy, slow aging to 57. Not doing anything revolutionary at work, but it’s not like I’m revolutionizing anything now in my current field.

If I stay I can probably save a bit more. Maybe a lot more. But does that really matter?

It’s all a dream though because my husband will never leave. Despite refusing to earn more he won’t budge. Well, he’s offered moving to Seattle but $500k won’t get you much there either and I’ll fall into depression with the frequent grey skies. It’s a no-go for me.

But I definitely feel like I’m ready for a change. The things that matter to me today are different than they were years ago.

I still want another kid. That kid will likely require IVF. In my mind I’m committed to the Bay Area through that experience. I’ve written a bit about this before, but timeline wise… I start IVF when I’m 39. Hopefully get pregnant before I’m 40. Have the kid at 40. Hopefully have good maternity leave in whatever job I take next. And strong stock that gains (well, nice to have.) We stay in this home for at least 3 more years. Maybe it keeps going up in value. Maybe it comes down in value. It seems like Bay Area housing just goes up and up but it also still seems impossible for this place to be worth much more without work on it. I’m hesitant to put work into the house as I’d rather just leave. I hate having people work on the house when we live here. And each relatively minor project thus far has been a PITA.

I don’t know where we’d go. I don’t think my husband will leave. He won’t even move to Sacramento where we could spend less on housing because it’s too hot there. I have a very limited, very expensive radius where he would be open to moving. So I’m trapped.

I recently watched the series MAID on Netflix. It shared the story of a young single mom with nothing who was emotionally abused by her partner and who tried to start a life of her own but, without the help of others, couldn’t make it work with government support alone which had too much red tape. Anyway, it got me thinking a bit about abuse. Not that I’m being abused by my husband (or that I am any more than I emotionally abuse him) but it’s interesting to think of such dynamics in relationships…

I grew up in a domestic abuse situation. My father emotionally and physically abused my mother. He didn’t drink (thank god) but he constantly yelled and told my mother horrible things and gaslit her. I have a lot of trauma from this and so it’s hard for me to communicate properly in a relationship or be in a healthy relationship. Odds were for me to end up in an abusive relationship and I’m proud to report I’m not in one. Or am I?

Well. If I am I’m abusive too. My abuse is in deciding one thing then changing my mind. Because I feel incapable of making decisions and am used to having decisions made for me. I’ve told my husband that his father can live with us until his mother buys a house (which is dependent on her mother dying as she will then have no where to live as she lives in her house), and that he can work his part-time freelance job and stay home with the kids and I’ll keep working. Since I manage the household finances I know I need to provide for my family and make things work. The setup isn’t bad financially right now. His father pays $2k a month, which brings our $7k a month mortgage down to $5k. I figure that half of that is going to principal so in some sense we’re paying the same for the house as we were for a one bedroom rental. Maybe my math is off but it’s close. The real money suck is the cost of ownership and the lost gains on the downpayment that sat for a while, but that’s long gone. The house happened to appreciate a lot this year so maybe we’re close to break even.

My husband is pretty simple. He’s happy here. I mean he doesn’t love the area we moved to but he doesn’t hate it and he acknowledges with our financial situation we can’t afford to live in the are we both would prefer to live (never mind if he got a full time job we could.) He has a lot of anxiety (can’t say more or less than mine but different) and seems incapable of holding down a full time job. And we both agree that it’s better for him to be home with the kids vs send them to daycare.

I complain a lot. About stupid things. About not-so-stupid things. I look at our bank statements and think wow — I can’t say I deserve the $ I have now but our lives could be so much… better. I shouldn’t have to feel trapped in a job with leaders who are sociopathic and bosses who tell me I have a horrible personality for leadership. Perhaps I do but that’s besides the point. I’m tired. Exhausted. I’m trying my darnedest to just push through because the more I complain the less chance my husband will agree to the third kid. Which I know sounds manipulative on my end too. He wants to have a kid of the opposite sex as the two we have now, so he is agreeing to the plan for a third kid but I can tell he’s not sold.  That said he wasn’t sold on the second kid and he loves the kid more than anything. I think the one thing we’re really good at is being parents and loving our kids. I’m scared of a third but at this point my life is my kid’s life anyway what’s one more?

Where the abusive behavior comes in is in his inability to accept that I’m allowed to change my mind. Maybe I’m not. Maybe because I do it all the time about important things and drive him crazy I am at fault here. But some things you don’t know until you know. I thought I’d be fine working and seeing my kids only a few hours a day. I didn’t understand how tired I’d be. I didn’t realize how four years later I’d still feel the same way about my career and see it as a dead end of stress and exhaustion. I don’t know if it’s wrong to think that in a marriage one’s partner should care about them and they’re well being and lean into what would make them happy and/or helping them find it. I’m not the best at that either. But I bought this house because it (sort of ) worked for his father to live with us (and gave up the master bedroom suite for this to work) and I ordered him a fancy treadmill because he wanted to be able to work out at home since he can no longer go to the high school track at 2am now that we’ve moved away from the safer area (even though I always though that was a bad idea!)

It’s interesting too because I’m watching now my friends going through what is a variety of situations with their lives. Those who are still with their partners from their 20s and early 30s seem less than happy. Those who have started over seem to have shifted what they wanted in a partner and are happy now albeit also in interesting setups that are maybe not the best long term.

One friend, still married, has a hard-working husband who is never home. He owns his own business. She shares that he’s never around to spend time with the kids outside of holidays and other major events. She got her nice house and attractive husband but I think she’s quite lonely. She also doesn’t think he runs his business well to make the most income but last I’ve heard he doesn’t want her meddling in his professional life. She works in a low-paid job so is stuck. She seems happy with her kids and friends but I’m not sure life is what she wanted.

Another friend got married quickly to a man who didn’t seem like a fit in order to start her family. She had big dreams of becoming a SAHM and having a husband who earned enough for a nice house and to support her family. Well her husband was depressed for a number of reasons. She put up with him not asking for raises or seeking to get ahead for her family. But then she found out he was cheating on her. And he left her for the other woman. She actually met up with the husband of the other woman and fell in love with him and a short time later they got married and had another child! Now they live in a large house with five children and are trying for one more. Luckily the guy made good money so he could afford it even with the crazy alimony he pays to his ex wife. She was able to quit her low-paid job and become a full-time stay at home mom. She seems exhausted but also it’s the life she wants.

And yet another friend who ended up a single mom due to her boyfriend being batshit has been struggling to get by despite having a reasonably well-paid career. Lately her hours were cut and she didn’t know what to do. But a boyfriend from the past reappeared. He seems to be wealthy — owns his own business and maybe has millions of dollars. He’s throwing money at her to help her pay her bills. She feels bad about taking it but also needs the support to afford her mortgage and daycare. She seems to really like the guy, despite that he has an aversion to telling her that he loves her. She thinks they might get married and have more kids. I haven’t met the guy but she’s known him for years and I think in some way having an old bf come back into your life can be a good thing because you’re not blinded by the novelty of a relationship but really valuing the good parts of the relationship. So she seems like she might be on her way to a happy, stable life.

And another friend still with her (first) husband tells me that her husband says mean things to her and while she earns more he doesn’t do anything to help around the house. She’s at her wits end though they’re still together so maybe she’ll put up with it.

I mean, relationships are complicated. And being a woman is a strange thing in modern society. It’s still acceptable to quit your job and become a SAHM and have a husband who earns enough to pay for the entire family (though not always possible.) And it seems in most cases where I see friends being happy it’s this setup. Even my Bay Area friends have this setup. Some were the wife quit others were wife works a passion project but it definitely isn’t about earning income (and some years actually looses money.) I’m sure every couple has their ups and downs but this seems to work.

So I try to put myself in the mindset that I play that traditionally male role in the household. And if I do I really can’t complain about anything. My job is to pay for my family. Men usually don’t talk about how much they hate their jobs with their wives. They just deal with it or get another job. They don’t talk about moving because they try to make their wives happy. They feel like this is their responsibility. Maybe they like being in this role and having that responsibility. Maybe I like it a bit as well. It makes me feel like I have some value in this world.

I guess I still feel like I’m in a mildly abusive relationship. But maybe every relationship is mildly abusive. Because there’s a tension that comes from being stuck with someone who doesn’t share everything you want in life, feeling like you have to make them happy but also try to find your own happiness when the world tells you as a parent (esp as a mom) your happiness comes second or third. And maybe you don’t know what makes you happy anymore. Because before the world was your oyster. You had hopes and dreams. Everything was set up for you to be something and do something big. And now it’s clear that’s not what life is about. The time for when you could be something or do something is behind you, statistically speaking. So your life now is just about trying to stay healthy for as long as possible and teaching your children how to be good people and how to go after their hopes and dreams before it’s too late for them too.

If I had a clear picture of what I wanted that would help as well. It sure sounds like moving to a lower cost of living area would help the stress levels but a huge part of me doesn’t want to give up the opportunity that exists here. I don’t even know what kind of opportunity there is since I don’t want to pursue work at a startup or being VP even if recruiters are reaching out to me to interview for these roles. I would NEVER see my kids. I don’t want a job that requires a lot of (or any) travel. I’m torn between staying in my current role where I am miserable precisely because there is no opportunity for growth (or to earn more) and not wanting to grow and seeing other roles at the same level of work paid even lower without moving up. What makes me sad is the feeling of being trapped. I’m not actually trapped. But I can’t rationally change anything because things aren’t that bad right now. Even earning $250k next year after my stock drops off is pretty darn good. If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would jump at a job making $250k I would, of course say yes!

I don’t really want to be a SAHM mom either. It’s Sunday morning and I’m hiding from my kids (who are with my husband and now with my FIL) writing a long blog post. I took them out all day yesterday for a hike and lunch and drive and I’m super exhausted now. I couldn’t do that every day of my life. Working is a lot easier!

But what I’d like is for my husband to not make me feel bad about the fact that all these things are grey. For him to support me in that I agreed to his father living with us before I experienced him being here. Before I experienced our bed in our family room with no privacy for a year. Before I found out that it wouldn’t work like it did when his father came over on the weekdays to help out but instead his father would come out of his in-law every morning even on the weekends when I just wanted to have my family in the house. How this lack of boundaries makes me incredibly anxious and how it is important to me that my husband watches the kids on Sunday mornings while I have some alone time in the office. That we need to treat our areas of the house as separate units. That even if he comes out for a short while it makes me feel uncomfortable in my own space. That I would never just go into his in law without knocking or assume that I can do that. I failed to understand how the boundaries would be set. And it all went to hell last year anyway when I had a newborn and I was grateful for the help. But now, I just want a bit more privacy. I want to be able to walk around my house in a robe and feel ok about it.

This all impacts my marriage a lot. I feel like my husband doesn’t actually care about me. He would likely say the same in reverse. So that’s not good. I am trying to get my things in the house cleaned because that’s a huge issue and I know I need to keep my stuff organized (with my ADHD it can get quite bad.) And it seems like he’s unwilling to care about me in the least until I can do that. I accept that as it has been an ongoing issue. Never mind that my income makes it possible for us to live here at all. Or that I’m still breastfeeding our youngest child and can’t be on my own for more than three hours at a time. But I agree my mess needs to be cleaned up. So I’ll do that. But I don’t get the sense that he’ll change at all for me. He doesn’t care to. Because he’s convinced he is always in the right. Maybe he is. He always makes me think because I came from such a messed up family that I don’t know how things should be. I question myself whether I do. And sometimes when I complain too much and it has been a particularly rough night he flips out and while he’d never harm me he starts hitting himself in the head and shaking in frustration and it’s really scary. I realize that I am harming him and I need to stop. I need to stop complaining. I need to stop telling him one thing and changing my mind.

Mostly he’s a mellow, calm guy. But when he’s tired and frustrated he can crack. It scares me. It has happened a few times. Once over a stupid thing where he was putting together a kitchen set for my son and put the wrong screws in and I asked him to fix it and he freaked out. I don’t remember what the last fight was about. I think because I ask him to do things and then he doesn’t do them well and then I make comments about that and he gets really mad. And always if I chew with my mouth slightly open he treats me like I’m a 2 year old. Should I chew with my mouth open? No. It’s a bad habit and it’s disgusting and I shouldn’t do it. But the way he treats me really upsets me. I mostly try to not eat around him. He just gives me this look and puts his fingers to his mouth and it makes me feel like I’m shoved into the ground, like I’m a little girl being scolded. You know, little me earning $250k+ a year and supporting the family. Being treated like shit because sometimes I chew and make noises with my mouth. Is that acceptable?  I don’t know. I guess I make him feel bad about a lot of things too. How does a relationship survive this kind of constant subtle cruelty to each other? Is any of it justified? If I make an effort to change, will he? He doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior. I think that’s the difference. I’m aware that I need to change. He’d doesn’t think he needs to at all.

I am just frustrated I can’t delegate things. Like getting the refrigerator ice machine fixed with the home warranty that was running out. Well the ice machine was fixed but the water has a leak coming out of it when you use it and I makes a mess on the floor. I want him to be able to think that he should check that the whole thing works properly when the guy is here so that way it can actually be fixed since we paid $75 for the warranty to send the repairman out and now we don’t have a warranty anymore. I want him to be able to think in a more detailed way but he doesn’t know how to do this. So I know I should just not delegate these tasks. Or I should stop caring about the flood of water on my kitchen floor every time I get water from the fridge.

When he gets into these moods they last a minute or so and it’s terrifying. I realize that he is not well mentally and he could seriously harm himself because of my nagging. So I shut up. And shut down. I know nagging is not the way to get what I want anyway. I can’t change him. And he can’t change me even though I’m trying to be better at being a housemate. I don’t know. I just feel sad and tired. And like no amount of money can fix me or my life.

When is There Time for Enjoying Life?

Another Saturday. Another October. Another fall. Wasn’t it just two years ago when I was going absolutely batshit in the middle of an undiagnosed mania, which was enjoyable only during a week in London when I wandered around and manically documented fall leaves against cobblestone on Insta? And mostly un-enjoyable when I was thrust into this alter-ego self who isn’t particularly acceptable by any standards of normal socialization. And now, back into fall, two years later, a world later, a pandemic still pandemic-ing later, an infant to toddler to pre-k’er and a new baby who is about to be a toddler later, $1.5M in net worth later, a house purchase and a health scare and a clean MRI later, here I am,  new place, same place, trying to be grateful for everything because I know nothing lasts forever, and failing miserably at embracing gratitude over guilt and grievances. So, same old, or same new.

Fall is a monster of melancholy. Autumn air exhausts exhaustion. I could easily lie in my bed for the following months and not notice how long I’ve been in hibernation despite how mild west coast’s seasonal changes are.

The truth is I’m incredibly overwhelmed, behind, and unable to figure out how to get any of my Iife in order. Having ADHD with a heaping of perfectionism makes it extra hard. My house is chaos. I’m trying, despite not sleeping much last night, to muster up the energy to clean it. Organize it. Ok, so it won’t be a home as in a home that I want to live in, without a private bedroom and instead a living situation I should have never agreed to but let my frugal house-hacking hat take charge in a decision I can’t go back on. It’s not the worst case. It’s a house. We own it. I don’t like being a home owner. I knew I’d be bad at it given I wasn’t the best at maintaining a one bedroom apartment. But there’s still something good about owning. Not financially good. It just feels like a real accomplishment. I haven’t had any accomplishments. None that felt worthy of being called an accomplishment, anyway. I guess graduating college is an accomplishment. Getting a job is an accomplishment. But they never really felt like much of anything to be proud of. Everything was barely completed. A failure in the making. Maybe home ownership is too. But I feel really good about buying a home for my kid’s to live in. I don’t think it makes any sense but it feels good to own a house. I know plenty of parents don’t own and it’s fine to raise kids in apartments but for me that would be rough to accept. I blame growing up with a mother who frequently mentioned the kids in “the apartments” as being poor and thus bad somehow. Not that I believe that now. But still part of me felt like buying a house made it ok for me to have kids. Saving enough to afford them, whatever that means.

But now I have a house. And savings. Nonetheless, I feel incredibly behind. And every moment I feel like I might be getting ahead life plays a joke on me. Like just now. I put my wash up and was just admiring how nice my laundry room floor looks like without the huge pile of clothes on it. And then a big “bang” shakes the ground and my eyes question what they just saw as a giant container of Woolite my husband placed on top of the washer apparently leapt to its death, with the lid flailing off of it and spilling soap all over the remaining pile of clothes and the chord to the Swiffer. Nothing unmanageable as one thing, but life feels like a big pile up of a cluster where you take 2 steps ahead and 3 steps back.

I wanted to be a full time mom on the weekends, with the in-laws NOT taking care of my children, and yet here I am again, 11am, in-laws watching the kids as I attempt to clean up. I’m always cleaning up but never getting anything clean. I also am so tired. I stayed up late catching up on work because the only time I can focus on work is when my son is asleep on me from 9-1am. Which is when I should also be sleeping. I’m still far behind on work. Luckily my actual work requires about 20 hours a week to manage at this point, it’s just the issue of finding uninterrupted time.  I’d give anything for 6 hours straight with no distractions. But that’s impossible since I either have to feed my son or pump. And yes, I can stop breastfeeding at any time but I’m not willing to sacrifice that for work. There are some things I won’t sacrifice and that’s one of them.

(loud thud on cue. Another bottle leaps from the top of my washing machine. This one seems to at least have its cover on tight and no spillage is observed.)

I keep thinking if only I can just get my life together. Just get my house in order. Get caught up at work. Make lists of everything I have to do. Go through the list. At some point. At some point I’ll be able to breathe this breath of fresh air and spend time with my kids in a way that feels relaxing. I will be able to make the case that my in-laws (especially my FIL who lives with us) should stay in his apartment/room on the weekends so I can be a g-d darn mom. That doesn’t mean spending every second with my kids, they should have some boring down time too. I had plenty of that as a kid. I really don’t like that grandpa is with my son from 9-4:30 straight every day.. I’m glad my son started preschool but that’s only 2.5 hours 2 days a week. And I feel like a failure not being a mom right now. Yes I’m writing this blog post. As a break from cleaning. And now a break from cleaning up the spill of soap on the laundry room floor. Before I need to feed my baby around noon, probably, then breastfeed at 1 and put him down for his nap (he’ll only sleep on me or dad and dad is working today so that means I’m stuck in bed from 1-3 or grandma takes him and he doesn’t sleep.)

There is this overwhelming feeling/acceptance at this point that I’ll never actually be able to live the life I want so why the fuck try anymore. That is what led to this idea to quit work in August. I know I’d be ok for a few months without an income but I’m really scared I won’t be able to find something else or if I do that the job will require even more work and less time with my kids. For all the things I don’t like about my current job it really is super flexible while I can work from home (not sure when I have to go back but eventually) and I shouldn’t given this up, even if my income goes down year after year because I’ve been demoted without a pay decrease but I won’t actually get any stock refreshes so there is no way my income will keep up unless I go to a new company. I don’t have the energy to go to a new company. I can barely keep my eyes open.

I wonder if there’s a way to get my life anywhere near where I want it to be. I ponder hiring a cleaning service for the house, then find out cleaning services will cost $350 to come for a one time cleaning and $200+ a month and it seems like I should just learn how to clean my home.

(Another bottle flails off the top of the washer with a loud clunk. Not joking.)

I just want a kitchen table. A non plastic-folding kitchen table. A bedroom with a door. Grout in the kitchen that isn’t brown when it’s supposed to be beige. A refrigerator that holds more food. Sheets that aren’t navy with an olive green comforter my husband bought years ago for camping. A backyard that doesn’t have an accidental tree growing against the wall of my home and breaking the foundation. And trees that aren’t in various stages of dying that need to get looked at for another few thousand dollars.

It’s funny because the more money I have the more I get anxious about it. In investments it doesn’t feel real. But I just know that I need it there as a safety net. I mean, if I were to have $10M I could never work again because it’s impossible for me to spend more than $400k per year if I knew that was something I’d have forever. Not that I need $10M before FIRE, but just saying where I’m at now is not FIRE for me.

A friend I met on a social site for moms in the technology world told me she got hired at a company and will be making 500k a year, and her husband is promoted to a job making 400k a year. They will be making 900k+ a year for the rest of their careers and probably much more as they continue to get promoted. How do I compete with that? I don’t have to compete with THAT but that’s what people are earning here in the Bay Area. Or one-worker families with engineers making like $600k or more. In my current company had I not fucked up I could have been on the high-earner trajectory. I even magically experienced it for a few years (I’ll be making about $600k this year with my stock earnings.) But that’s not forever. That’s not even next year. So just quitting doesn’t seem to be the right answer either. Do I try to convince a FAANG to hire me (they won’t) or do I go back to school or do I give up and convince my husband to move to anywhere else we can buy a house and not have a mortgage so high and where I can actually be awake to see my children on occasion. I don’t know.

I feel really sad is all I know. I should keep cleaning and I probably will. I need to get that soap off the floor. My husband is busy with a project he took on to earn $5k extra a year. That’s good for him. I always complain that he doesn’t take on any extra clients so I should be incredibly supportive. But then I wonder in the extra $5k worth it… $2.5k after tax. For all the work he puts into this project. Especially three days when he needs to be available full time and works into the night. I don’t know. Money is so weird. I know we have more than most people in the country but I’m in this weird bubble of Silicon Valley where money doesn’t make sense.

And I’m just. So. Tired.

 

From Now Till 40: Closing This Chapter of My Life and How

I haven’t written much about how much I want a third child or how in my heart I long for a baby girl more than anything in the world. I’m so grateful to have my two healthy and beautiful boys, and I know they can grow up to be girls as well, and a person born a girl can become a boy — but I still have this desire to have a girl that I can’t shake. I can’t shake it and I’m willing to use interventions to try to make it happen in the last years I might be fertile.

I’ve accepted it’s unlikely to work. That I’ll probably waste $50,000 on stabbing myself with various medications to make myself ovulate and then fertilize eggs that don’t make it to hatching, or those that do don’t actually stick and get me pregnant. It would be far easier to try again naturally at 38, when my second child is 18 months, as maybe I’ll get pregnant again without needing intervention and not have to wait so long (to do IVF I need to stop breastfeeding and I try to go 2 years before weaning.) My husband may also have some medical issues that may cause us to need IVF anyway this time around.

Girl or boy, there’s a place in my family for one more. I feel it in my bones. When I was younger, I always wanted three and couldn’t imagine myself a mother of any. Now that I’m a mom I want a relatively big family. Three seems like an acceptable amount of big. I know it will be hard — it’s already hard. I know it will be financially challenging. I know there are a thousand reasons not to try for a third kid. And yet, here I am, practically obsessed with the idea of it. Because life is short and I’m going to be 40 soon (!!!!!) and it’s (soon to be) now or never.

So I’ve made a calendar I hope to stick to. Who knows if I will. My second child somehow decided to stick to my calendar for him, so why not continue the streak of good luck? Baby one took a while and some medical intervention, but then this kid stuck on one of two tries within two days. Maybe I’m more fertile now than I was before. I’m trying to accept that I may be “done.” I’m terrified of being pregnant again. I’m equally terrified of what IVF drugs will do to my body given I’m so hyper sensitive to everything. What they’ll do to my already unstable mental health. Yea, it’s probably a  bad idea. But I’m full of bad ideas that turn out ok in the end. Usually. And when I get my mind stuck on something it’s hard to change it.

It seems to really make sense to leave this job in April. At that point my 12 month income will be about $275k, so if I can find a job that earns that much with a higher base I think I need to take it. I’m giving myself until Feb 2023 to find the right job. At that point my 12 month income will be $258k buy by Jul 2023 it drops to $238k. And all of these numbers are assuming full bonus payout which is unlikely. So April – Feb feels like appropriate timing.

I want to start IVF in or around June 2023. I would like to be pregnant (if I’m going to be pregnant) by Aug 2023 or as early as June 2023. This means I need to start new job 4 months before that. But I also want a job that pays for IVF if possible which means I need to start the new job ideally 3 months before starting IVF, which also aligns with the Feb 2023 “last call” timeline. I think giving myself April – February  to find a new job is a pretty good and realistic plan.

During this time I also need to loose 40lbs and hit $2.5M in net worth, which is the minimum net worth I committed to my husband so we can have a third child. Markets may crash but as of today we are at $2.2M and on track to clear $2.35M by April 2022. I was hoping we would be at $3M before IVF but I think we are close enough at this point. If I do have another kid I feel good about being able to afford them even if I go through a few bad years career wise.

Right now I’m trying to focus on getting the most (resume juice) out of my current job. I’ve got a lot of plans and am focused on having some solid quantifiable results from the projects I’m working on. I’m curious what my performance review and pay bump will look like this year. Part of me wants them to realize how valuable I am to the company and throw money at me but they won’t. I have no path to that. I’ll be lucky if I get a 3/5 and a COL raise. I accept nothing I do will be good enough. I accept the have staked the cards against me and want to nudge me out the door. I guess I’m ok with that as long as I can land somewhere better. That won’t be easy. I may be able to get a job at a small startup but if I want to go big company it will take a lot of work and luck.

I can’t believe it is almost Oct. I’m now really in my 6 month countdown to breaking free of the golden handcuffs. It seems achievable. My next job will be 38-41 or so, and I want it to see me through my third (and likely last) child, as well as get us over $3.5M by 41. Then my kids will be 7(!), 4 and 1. Maybe then I’ll do consulting and focus on some more freedom in my 40s. This next job really needs to count. I’m scared shitless but also ready to build the life I want, not the life that I’m handed.

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.

The Path to Not Feeling Like a Mess is Not Necessarily a Lower-Earning Job

If I could be handed a job that makes $100k less than my current role where I knew I would be mentally well in the position, I would take in a heartbeat. But the reality is that no matter the pay of the job I struggle. In fact, roles that tend to pay more where I can focus more on strategy and less on execution are ones that I tend to feel overall better in (though I still have work on interpersonal skills and comms to get to a point where I can be successful in these roles.) And the reality is I can’t just get a job that pays less — those jobs are hyper competitive as well and will likely go to someone from a top school with less experience.

Early this morning I ran the numbers again regarding my potential earnings and when I can / should leave my current job. This as the head of my department sent out a shoutout to everyone who worked on a project that I oversaw as part of the pool of work that I theoretically own and while everyone including my boss (who hasn’t touched the project) was given a shout out, guess who was left off?

I’m just tired of having a job that doesn’t make sense. I want to have real ownership over something so it’s clear what success is. The only success metrics that exist for my role right now is if everyone else likes me or not. Apparently no one else likes me. Which I’d like to fix. But I would like some other metrics to be included in whether or not I deserve a “below expectations” or “meeting expectations” on my performance review.

What I do know is that I failed to come in to the org when I had the chance to build a scalable function properly. But I also was given a role that was multiple roles with no clear job description. I can’t believe that was FOUR YEARS AGO but somehow it looks like I’m making it to my final vest date. Even getting to the end of this month is a huge win as I get the third of four ESPP periods bought and the second to last RSU vest. There was a long time when getting through this September was my victory. The next final big income moments are icing on the cake — December for RSU, Feb for bonus (if I get a bonus), and March for final big ESPP and a much smaller RSU vest. December is maybe not “icing” as it’s an extra $139k (pre tax) give or take… which is more than my husband makes in a year… but after this month is over I’m looking at ~$300k income for 12 months that drops significantly the following year, which means finding a role that pays $250k more consistently might be an ok move. Or I interview for a long time and really wait until I find the right thing, but if the right thing happens to pop up sooner than expected I can leave and feel good about it.

For me what’s important is feeling like I’m appreciated. I know if one is appreciated financially then who cares about the rest. But to me appreciation means being given opportunities that make sense on a resume with clear ROI and objectives. Being trusted with the things that matter. Of course my projects are high visibility in many cases, but they aren’t seen as core to the business success. And I’m also being pushed further and further into a project management role where my creative and strategic insights aren’t needed anymore. And trust me, I’m the last person who should be project managing anything as a full time job.

I really can’t figure out if I should leave or stay. Staying means feeling like shit all the time because there is no room to grow and I’m in a role that is ill defined. Leaving means starting over and needing the energy to show extremely well for at least 6 months while still not getting enough sleep as a relatively new mom. I also struggle with wanting a job that’s remote for the flexibility (which has been wonderful) and knowing that I really am feeling disconnected from my peers and the inspiration that helps me do my best work by never seeing them in person. Not that most jobs are back in person yet anyway but I go back and forth between looking for a job that is always going to be remote vs one that when covid ends will be back in the office a few days a week.

And I really don’t even see how I can get another job so there’s that issue too. Who really wants to hire me anyway?