Tag Archives: career

What’s Next? 12 Month Count Down

The good news — if you can count this as good news — the weeks are flying. While I’m still struggling with coming back from maternity leave to the first year of no raise at all (I didn’t expect a performance-based raise, but it seemed the company gives out COL raises typically so I was still a bit surprised to get nothing.) While yes this is a year that many companies didn’t give any raises, my company performed strongly last year and I assume (though don’t know for sure) that others got bumps in pay. I was placed in a different role so maybe they feel I’m overcompensated for my new position. In any case, it’s clear the writing is on the wall. Maybe they’re willing to keep me as long as I do my work at my current pay rate, but I do know they throw money (at least in stock) at people they want to keep. And I’m not one of them.

And that’s fine. I don’t want a reason to stay. So maybe they are doing me a favor by giving me more reason to leave. I don’t have to run out the door right now. Even though the value of my stock is down a bit, it’s still worth sticking it out at least until the beginning of 2022. Part of me wants to stick around in 2022 long enough to max my after-tax account and get my match, which means I’d have to stay enough months to put $34.5k into an after-tax Roth. Theoretically, with bonus, I could do that in about 6 months. My thought is I don’t put anything into a 401k as I would more likely have access to a 401k than a after tax/Roth at a new job, plus any match at my new future job will be on 401k contributions in the future. And if shit hits the fan next year and I do not get a new job then my taxes will be lower anyway. So I stay until I get 34.5k into my account, which is about 6 months with bonus and my contributions. That means I stay until June, but I could also consider bumping up my contributions after March if I’m sure I’m leaving in June because there’s no point in putting funds into an ESPP if I’m leaving before the next purchase date.

That seems like a long way away. I really am focused now on getting to Oct 1, then April 1, then I’ll see what happens. With the stock market flatlining, I know I keep buying stock on sale but it’s still feels like I’ll never hit my goals. But at least the weeks keep happening.

And I’m really grateful for being able to work from home right now. If I was working in an office I’d be rushing to get out the door at the moment, or already on the road sitting in traffic. Instead, I’m enjoying the last few minutes before work hours with my 4 month old breastfeeding and blogging. I do miss the office a little bit (I never thought I’d say it) as living in a house with two young kids, my father-in-law and my husband I don’t really get any “me” time outside of going to sit in the parking lot of coffee shops occasionally… and then rushing back to feed my baby. With my first son by this time I was back at work and pumping. I could pump at home but I also love the bonding experience of feeding my baby all the time and it’s not really that hard when I’m home all the time (though sometimes he cries through a meeting if he’s hungry and I can’t stop to feed him, but usually I can book meetings around his feeding times.) Pumping at work wasn’t really that great outside of being able to hide in the mom’s room and make it my own occasional secret office for a year. There were times when I was engorged in meetings running over and that was no fun. I love that I’m not engorged at all these days. I make just the right amount for my son who is growing perfectly. And right now it looks like the earliest I’d have to go back to the office is in the fall, but hopefully not until 2022. I don’t know what will happen now that the CDC is saying people who are vaccinated can be inside with others without a mask. It feels like the end of this pandemic is near — which is a good thing, of course, but it does mean at some point they will want us back in the office. I just hope it’s not that soon and I can start looking for a new job at a company that is more flexible or at least closer to my new home.

What is rough right now is trying to figure out what’s next. Can I get a job doing what I do now (or did before I was moved out of the role?) Probably. It probably won’t pay as well, as I was recruited by the head of my department this time and I while I don’t think I’m overcompensated, I do think that most companies under compensate this specific type of role. So I can get paid less to do the same role, or I can try to change positions, back into more of a leadership role, and maybe make the same, but probably have to manage people and such, which I don’t really want to do right now.

I COULD stay in my current company and just accept that I will be losing compensation each year without stock refreshes and raises. The biggest issue with that is I don’t trust I’ll get my bonus each year. This past year was the first year I didn’t get my full bonus. I still made over $200k with the bonus I received, but had I not gotten it at all my compensation (without stock) would not be enough to cover my bills. I think I need to find a job with a higher base even if that means giving up on some of the variable compensation. Though I’m not sure that’s really possible. Next year, IF I get my full bonus my current role is worth $280k. That includes full bonus, stock, 401k match, ESPP discount. That’s a great income! Without bonus, I’m at around $250k for the year. It will still be hard to find another job that gets me to $250k without bonus. But most of that compensation is front weighted in the year. By April 1 I will have 144k of that income. Plus ESPP growth, which I’m not including, which will be another $15k-$20k probably. So if I hit April 1, I’ll already have made $160k or so for the year. The only reason to stay until June is to max out my after tax 401k.

The following year, my total compensation goes down quite a bit if I stay at this job. I’m looking at $220k total comp with bonus, about $190k without bonus. And it goes down even further the following year. It just doesn’t make sense to stay. And my bosses know that. They know how to play the game. If they wanted to keep me long term, they would be giving me stock refreshes and such. So it’s just a question of when I should leave, not if.

My goal is to do all of my work to the best of my ability this year so I leave with great references and maybe people can forget how I struggled a bit in the previous role. That’s not to say my current position is easy… it’s one fire drill after another. But that’s not just me. There is just a certain adrenaline-driven management style that is not for everyone. Some of the respected members of the department will be leaving in the coming months, by choice, and not all have announced yet so I wonder if there are others I don’t know about yet. It makes me feel a bit more sane to see the respected folks heading out, knowing that they also cannot function in this environment, even though they probably have raises and stock thrown at them. If they can walk from their platinum handcuffs, I can surely walk from my golden ones.

But… I really don’t know what’s next. I read job postings daily and I haven’t seen any that jump out as the perfect fit. I don’t have the energy at the moment to start a new job. I’m hoping when my baby is a year-and-a-half I will feel more myself again. I do know that 18 months after my first son I actually felt healthy… and got pregnant. But there were a few months in there when my brain was functioning properly.

I still want a third child (because I’m insane) and that still means that I want to start trying when my son is 2. I’ll be 39 and will likely do IVF. I can’t believe I’ll be 39 (and then 40.) What happened to my life? I’m plenty adult now, but I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and I don’t feel like an adult. I don’t even have a real kitchen table yet.

I’m hoping my next job can be one of two things — one where I can run the show and hire great people and lead strategy, or one where I can focus on one particular thing and do it really well. I’m leaning towards the second option as I’d like to go somewhere that respects my skills and also invests in helping me grow, vs walking into another mess. Though at this point in my career I wonder if any company is not a mess.

I’ve said my current job is my “$2.5M” job… I want to have $2.5M in net worth before leaving this company. It’s still possible by June next year, depending on how the stock market performs. I think it’s worth holding out until at least April 1, or July 1, or $2.5M, or something close to that. It’s hard to focus on doing the best I can in this role and also really investing in figuring out what’s next. I still feel so unemployable. I do get recruiters reaching out but then it’s clear I’m not a fit for the roles. I don’t have the management experience required, usually. But I haven’t done any outbound applying in forever. So maybe I’d get a few hits. Who knows. I feel like “applying season” is just around the corner. But I also feel like it’s such a long time to survive in my current role, and I just need to focus on that.

And I need to be a good mom to my kids… I’m trying to find 1×1 time with my toddler (daily walks to the park, some activity on Saturday morning, another activity on Sunday afternoon) while being around as much as possible to feed my baby. The house is a mess. Some of that is my fault but my husband isn’t on top of cleaning up either. If I really wanted a clean house I would have to lead that, and I suck at cleaning, and I’m tired and it just piles up so quickly. I can’t imagine how I’d be having to go into an office right now. So I need to constantly remind myself how lucky I am. To be able to afford the house (even though it is costing me $86.5k a year for the next 29.5 years, or 66k a year if you don’t count principle since I keep that.) If we didn’t live in a HCOL area it would probably be better but we’re not moving for many reasons so I have to make this work. And I need to find a job where I can stay, hopefully, for the next 4 years, make enough to pay my mortgage, and have maternity leave for my third kid that is long enough where even if I work in an office I can stay home with my baby until they’re 5 or 6 months, ideally.

I know it will all happen… somehow. Maybe not the third baby part. But life. It just happens. It keeps happening.

I Need a Career Change.

There are a handful of things I like about my career:

  1. It pays well.
  2. It pays well.
  3. It pays well.
  4. Oh, and sometimes I get to learn new things and talk to people who are interesting who are not in my field.

I really need a career change. I have no idea if other careers would be better, but I’m done with his soul sucking, mind numbing, logic-lacking field. I am overwhelmingly sad about failing to have any sort of direction in my life, ever. What if? What if? What if?

The question now is — is is too late? People say it’s never too late. Well, surely it isn’t, if money isn’t any issue. And if you have the type of brain that absorbs information vs gets distracted every second. Like mine.

I’m trying to learn math now. It’s very hard for me. I’m taking the classes on Brilliant.org. I don’t know where it will lead me, but it seems any job where logic is respected requires advanced math knowledge. I don’t see getting a formal education in anything making sense. That requires references. Hah. Asking people to recommend me. No. Not going to happen. But I have a dream to take the GRE and get a perfect score in math. I just want to be good at math. I don’t know if I can be. I find it fascinating. Compound interest is sexy, you know? So. Maybe there’s something to that. Or not.

I have no patience. So I’m not a good employee. I’m a visionary sort of, but a lazy one. Maybe I could figure out math which would lead to something else analytics related. If my mind could calm down for one damn second long enough to grasp concepts and build on them (ok that would take longer than one damn second but you know.)

SHUT UP BRAIN.

I am tired. I am really depressed. I’m over everything. I don’t want to go back to work. I dread it. I am excited to hold my breath and try to earn the remainder of my stock. But I need a plan. A direction. Something. I like to solve problems. That I know. Am I good at solving problems? Well, no. But I enjoy it when I do. So. Now what?

Scared and Stuck.

I’m not in a particularly good life situation right now.  My job isn’t safe at all. I’m basically starting over and any wrong move will have we walked out the virtual door. They know I’m overpaid in my new role–which means they have even less reason to keep me. Or to ever increase my pay again. Only to possibly decrease it. Or leave it flat and let inflation do the dirty work.

Even if I manage to stay –do good enough work I’m a solid 3 out of 5 year after year–is my life just this? Because the longer I stay the longer I lose relevance in the job market. My role, in any other company, would both require more technical skills and pay about half of my base salary. I can’t actually survive on that. Nor do I have the right profile to land a job that pays the same or more.

I’m not being overly dramatic. This is the truth. And why I wake up every morning dreading my life. Wondering what is the point? Why am I such a failure? And, more importantly, how the fuck do I provide for my family?

Here’s where we are net worth wise as of April 1:

Cash $80,633
Taxable $829,501
Pre Tax $456,057
Post Tax (Roth) $238,265
529 Fund (2-3 kids) $232,879
Home Equity $207,288
TOTAL $2,044,623

Lost a bit with market dropping. Still, with $2M net worth I thought I’d feel better about life. I don’t. I feel like I’m suffocating. Will we starve? No. At least not for a while. But it can get ugly fast.

I want to make sure we can afford the next 5 years. Maybe after 5 years my job situation will make sense. And pay better. Right now I have 5 years to figure out.

We obviously could save less and spend a bit less, but if we can keep to this plan for next 5 years we’ll be ok.

Income Tax (40%) Expenses Saving Remaining
2021 $313,350 -$125,340 -$126,000 -$25,000 $62,010
2022 $273,000 -$109,200 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$4,200
2023 $276,090 -$110,436 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$2,346
2024 $279,273 -$111,709 -$168,000 -$57,500 -$436
2025 $282,551 -$113,020 -$168,000 -$57,500 $1,531

The above assumes the following:

  • Our total tax rate on taxable income is 40%
  • I earn a minimum of $170,000 a year for the next 5 years
  • My husband earns a minimum of $100k plus 3% raises for next 5 years
  • We both max out retirement accounts every year as pre-tax money (to keep our tax rate down)

We won’t be saving nearly as much as we have been — but at least we can get through the year without dipping into savings too much (and probably not at all if we’re careful — the remainder this year can cover any overage in next few years.

BUT that’s assuming also that…

  1. can get a job that pays $170k for next 5 years (especially if I lose this one)
  2. that my husband keeps his job and can get a 3% raise each year

Maybe I can find another job that pays $170k but there’s no guarantee. Especially not if I want to start over in a new career. Or try to find something a bit more junior that gives me time to figure out what I’m good at and move up in a normal sort of way.

It would be helpful if my husband could earn $150k and then I would earn $150k and we’d be ok — or at least in a much better situation. However that isn’t going to happen. So I just need to figure this out.

Yet again it feels remarkably hopeless.

2021. How Can I Make This Year Good?

Two weeks. Two weeks until I go back to work from my maternity leave. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Sure, I had a baby and he has DOUBLED in size since he flew out of me all of 3 minutes and 3 pushes, but what else happened? Wasn’t I going to unpack all of the stuff from when we moved into this new house at the end of last year? Finish my wedding album I’ve been postponing due to PTSD from my wedding day? Make a portfolio? Learn a lot of things to change careers? Spend quality time with my kids?

At least for the time being I can work from home. It sounds like companies overall are leaning towards having employees come back to the office sooner than later now that people can get vaccines. I actually started my vaccine regiment last week (legally) due to a health condition (ok I gain too much in pregnancy and haven’t lost enough yet) and I have my second vaccine date scheduled in two weeks. My arm is busted and I’m concerned it won’t get better again but I think that’s probably due to poor administration of the vaccine than the vaccine itself. Anyway. I’ll be vaccinated so if my work says everyone vaccinated needs to go back I’ll need to go back. Fuck. Suddenly moving an hour-and-a-half from the office, permanently, doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

Although. The whole moving an hour-and-a-half from the office WAS a good idea because it means I won’t stay in this job that makes me miserable even if I don’t get fired. I’m still wallowing in self pity as my work-friend-who-told-me-he-was-quitting-a-few-zillion-times-prior-to-getting-my-job seems to be thriving. I know he’s not the malicious type and he managed to win the position by being, you know, reliable and strategic and stuff, so I can’t be mad at him. But it still hurts. And the worst of all of it is how I wrote a note to my former boss who is now my boss’s boss about how I fail all the time at everything etc etc when I was manic and cried a lot in front of her and, well, that was nail in my coffin that’s been long built waiting for me to be buried six feet under.

I’m TRYING to focus on being positive in this grande return to the office. I know it’s not a forever return, just a return until I get my stock and can move on to whatever is next. And I want to do a good job. It’s 12 months. That’s forever but also not a lot of time at all. If I break it down into 4 quarters, I just have to figure out what I need to do in each quarter to add value and not make anyone’s life harder than it is. That means 1. getting all my shit done on time and 2. keeping my mouth shut. No great ideas. No creativity. No wanting to improve things from the way they are. None of that. If I have any chance of surviving the next 12 months, it’s being forgotten as much as possible and being reliable/dependable when people do notice me. That’s it. I’m not chasing a promotion. There will never be a promotion. I’m at a dead end and the walls are closing in. So what? That’s ok. I can play the game as long as the game is still allowing me to play.

Job postings continue to depress me. I’m trying not to worry about that too much, but odds are I’m going to have to take a step back no matter what next is, even in the same field. That’s ok, though. I just have to get lucky to get into a company that wants to help employees move up over time. One with bosses who mentor their employees. Maybe I can find a better fit. I don’t know. I’ll certainly try. In 12 months. Or less. I made this this long, what’s another 12 months really? The longer I can work remote in those 12 months the better. Head down. Get work done. Hide. Hope they forget me. But not enough to get rid of me. Please. I hope. I hope I don’t come back form maternity leave and immediately get fired. For those projects I didn’t finish. But I went out earlier than I planned due to health reasons.  I’m hoping that won’t be enough to kick me out. Not yet anyway. Maybe I’ll have 3-6 months to prove myself. And I can hang on. I can do my work. Whatever is thrown at me. I won’t be a rockstar. I’ll be the opposite of that. Hiding in plain sight.

I’m feeling lukewarm about my prospects of survival this year. I’m trying to accept if I don’t make it then it’s not the end of the world. It will be very sad to miss out on the remaining stock. That’s about $683,000 in 12 months. Even on the high end at another job the most I’ll see is about $250k-$350k for 12 months. And likely it will be less than that. I make it to June, and I’m looking at $585k lost in 12 months. By Jan that slides down to $285k for 12 months and by April “just” $250k. This year is worth it. Next year starts opening up the possibility of finding a job that puts me in the running to make a similar amount, or at least find a public company with stock that’s growing so my income goes up again vs goes down.

I am NOT looking forward to my belated performance review that will be all sorts of icky. I know I got a chunk of my bonus so hoping that means I’m not getting fired immediately. It’s the first year I didn’t get all of my bonus so that’s not a good sign, but I still go most of it. Would be kind of strange to give me most of my bonus then fire me — but stranger things have happened, right?

The funny thing is I’m kind of looking forward to going back to work. I feel incredibly unproductive right now. I need some sort of structure to my days. I just wish it didn’t take up my ENTIRE day. If I can find a job that offers flexible schedules, that would be ideal. Until then, I’m gonna hold my breath and push through the rest of this year. Even nine months before I’m ousted would be a huge victory. I have to do this. I hope I can.

The Least Qualified Candidate of All

You want to know why the thought of downing one too many pills crosses my mind every time I read job postings? They are just another jarring reminder that I have absolutely no employable skills and I’m pretty much fucked at this point. It feels incredibly lonely to be in this, well, alone. My husband doesn’t seem to get it— he knows I lose my job over and over again but he also sees me somehow pick up with another role and better pay somewhere else. But it won’t happen this time. No, this time I am actually screwed.

If I knew how to gain relevant experience I would leap at the opportunity but I have no idea how to learn things that would actually get me a job. You want to know where I fail?

1. Great communication skills – nah, I suck at communication—both spoken and written. Next.

2. Ability to influence others and work well with many different types of people. No. Everyone pretty much hates me or thinks I’m a joke.

3. Management experience. Being real here — I am overwhelmed managing people because hello – I can’t even manage myself.

4. Data skills – ok so I could learn some data skills, but which ones? And I can’t actually apply them at my job since no one seems to care about my work’s ROI so how do I have an actual story to tell on KPIs and all that?

I just feel so defeated. People think I’m exaggerating but it is that bad. My new role makes no sense. Any other role like this one at another company would require technical skills and pay a lot less. But I can’t get hired in my old role because I was never qualified for it in the first place. I’ve never been qualified for any of the jobs I’ve had since I graduated from college 15 years ago. I don’t know anything useful. I make it all up. I guess sometimes making it up works but not over time and certainly not at companies that have their shit together.

I look at my kids and feel like a complete and utter failure. How can I sustain this? I am crying all the time because I’m scared. Not yet that we will lose the house — I have savings to cover that for a while. But I may lose the tiny bit of sanity that I have left.

I just want to be good at my job. Is that so much to ask? But If my job involves interacting with other humans it doesn’t seem to go all that well.

There are roles out there I think I would enjoy — but I messed up by not being an engineering major 20 years ago, and by not paying attention in math class in second grade. Maybe it’s possible to change careers, but it absolutely feels too late for most of my dreams.

The career I’m interested in that may be possible has starting salaries of about 85k if my lucky. Here that isn’t much. Maybe it would be a path to liking my job eventually? It’s hard to give up on jobs that pay $200k-$300k for one that pays $85k or less but — I need a change. I need a path where maybe in a few years I can feel halfway decent. I need a job where I can work and be promoted, not demoted. But can we make it work on less salary? And even then I’ll be compared to other who are far more talented than I am. Younger and more talented. Who would hire me anyway? The job postings say “clearly nobody.”

So what do I do? Yes I ride this job out a while longer. I go back and save as much as possible. I set aside a large emergency fund. Then what? I want to provide for my family. I also want to sell this $7k a month house and move to the middle of nowhere—but my husband won’t have that conversation until I’ve exhausted all options and likely have ended up in a mental hospital. If he could earn more it would help but then he wouldn’t be able to watch the kids and he would be stressed which would make it all harder too. In many ways I like being the breadwinner and having a husband who can watch the kids and go on vacation whenever makes sense (not that we ever do.) I know I can’t have it all and i do want to work I just want to feel like I’m suited for my career and I’m not constantly falling on my face — but also that I can save for retirement and my kid’s futures with my income. So where does that leave me? Do I just keep pretending… 2 years here, 3 years there… until my working life is over? How long can I really do this for? One more year. If that.

How to Make it All Work…

Stuck. Glued to 37 and a half years ago when it was ok that I didn’t know anything as that was a given. But now? What worth do I have? Oh, somehow I’ve tricked many into thinking I have value to add. Until they figure out I don’t. Then. I’m out. Out onto the street. Well, it’s not that bad. Out onto unemployment. Unsure what’s next. Trying to convince myself I’m worth hiring so I can convince someone else of the very same thing. And repeat.

I really don’t know what I’m good at. Going back to work in a month now from maternity leave I’m just incredibly beaten down. I’m walking back into a toxic situation 75% or so of my own making. I don’t think there is any actual recovery at this point. Only trying to just get work done and make it to my next performance review. I’ll try hard to do a good job but that never really works anyway. I’m just not good at this whatever this is. I don’t know how other people do it. Maybe some of them have degrees in their respective fields but even then so much is learned on the job. They figure it out. Why can’t I?

I’ve accepted this field is not the right field for me. At all. But still, it is quite lucrative. It has been. I get recruiter calls for similar roles. It wouldn’t be easy to get hired elsewhere, but someone will take a look at my work history and think I’m a good hire. And I’ll try my best as I always do. Until I’m tired and burnt out. Which happens too soon. Beating myself down. Then they’ll notice. And then they’ll realize that I wasn’t that shining star of a hire they thought I was. And repeat. Rinse and fucking repeat.

I can’t take it anymore. I’m depressed. Why can’t I just have a job that feels more natural? Where I feel like I know what I’m doing. Sure, every job has struggles. But where do I really fit?

My concern, suspicion, fear, is that I don’t fit anywhere. Change my career, ok, maybe I should, but where can I go? I have ideas. A few. Starting over. Ok. Would anyone hire me? And then what?

How do I pay the mortgage?

How do I do a good job?

Do I end up back in the same spot, in another career?

What if I’m still miserable and I took a giant pay cut and am back here with less in my bank account?

I’m scared going back. I guess I ought to not be as the worst that happens is I get fired and I know that drill. I go somewhere and cry ,y brains out for a day then pull myself together. But I didn’t have 2 kids and a mortgage then. Or then. Or any of the times it has happened. What now?

Is it better to quit while I’m ahead? While I’m still employed? Can I make it until the end of this year with my new role and fractured ego and then figure out what”s next?

If all I want is a job I’m good at where my boss is pleased with my work then does it matter how much I make? Maybe I need to make a lot less. Like a lot lot less. But the mortgage,

When To Move On From This Job — If By Choice, It’s a Numbers Game

Due to stock vesting, the income for this job goes from high to something I could replace fairly easily within a year. I am still unclear if I received a reduction in pay this year (or any sort of cost of living raise) as such changes were supposed to take effect this pay period and I didn’t see a change in my base pay. Since I’m on maternity leave, it’s possible the change doesn’t go into effect until after I return either way (no one has told me if there will be any changes to my pay yet, so it would be strange for them to change it either way without notifying me — however, last year even when I was placed on a PIP I got a small cost of living raise — so not even getting that is pretty telling… I need to start packing my bags.)

While I’m tempted to pack my bags today and never look back (I’ve had a few recruiter calls that are promising, but I’ve opted to not take them any further.) I’m either going to stay in my field and be really strategic and picky in my job search OR I’m going to change careers (same industry, different department.) The career change, based on some preliminary research, will be a major income cut, no matter how you slice it. I’m torn on this because on one hand, my heart is in that field and I think I might actually be excited to go to work when I wake up in the morning.) But this field — it sounds like — will pay entry-level around 70k-125k. While 70k is a non starter, if I could make 125k… I don’t know… it might be worth it for a year or two as I build up my experience in the field. The bigger issue is the ceiling of income in that field seems lower than where I am now. But I’m not exactly thriving where I am now. So there’s the value of perhaps being in a job where I’m not worried about getting fired all the time (and then getting fired all the time.) Trade offs.

In order to determine when I should leave my current job (and for how much $ I should consider leaving for if I’m staying in my current field) I’ve calculated my estimated income for the next 12 month period at 5 different times throughout the year.  This showcases both how ridiculously strong my earning power is at the moment and how quickly it goes down to still-good but “recoupable” l levels if I were to move to a new company. The challenge are retaining employment through the high income earning periods and then find a job to replace it that provides high income earning potential (a new sizable stock grant) or make the leap to the new field and take the massive paycut and trust it will work out (if anyone will even hire me for that field… I’m starting an online certificate program in it and will see how that goes.)

Income potential 12 month period starting following dates:

At current stock value:

  • April 1: $702k
  • July 1: $599k
  • Oct 1: $425k
  • Jan 1: $299k
  • April 1: $251k

At optimistic (highest analyst estimate) stock value:

  • April 1: $937k
  • July 1: $759k
  • Oct 1: $511k
  • Jan 1: $345k
  • April 1: $287k

At pessimistic (lowest analyst estimate) stock value:

  • April 1: $428k
  • July 1: $411k
  • Oct 1: $325k
  • Jan 1: $246k
  • April 1: $208k

The above tells me I would be a fool to leave prior to Jan 1 in all but the absolute worst company performance scenarios (and even then it’s unlikely I’ll replace my potential 12 month income prior to that date.) I think the actual income will be closer to the current stock value as it’s unlikely it will go up fast enough to hit the analyst target within my actual earning period, but I also think it won’t drop all the way down to the lowest analyst estimates.

But the absolute best my 12-month income will be worth as of April 1, 2022 (assuming I am not getting any stock refreshes or raises, which I assume to be true) is ~$287,000. Which is still a very good income(!) but it is definitely in a range where at least looking for a new role makes sense. It’s an extremely high 12 month income for the role I’m in now at work (after my demotion) so I’m not complaining about it by any means, it’s just completely unrealistic to think I will ever be able to replace my previous income in this very limited role that is unfortunately not respected in my industry. I’m lucky in that my company likely won’t go out of their way right now to reduce my pay after I just had a baby — but they also won’t ever go out of their way to increase my pay. My days are numbered at worst and my income potential has a sharp ceiling at best. The absolute most I can earn in 2023 would be $248k (no raises or refreshes) and in 2024, it would be $213k — whereas if I go into a new role in a public company I’ll get a new larger grant that can possibly increase in value. My company is doing a favor by not giving me any raises or refreshes at this point… it helps the math tell me what to do.

That said, this year has a lot of good 12-month earning periods. My expected quarterly income is as follows for the next 5 quarters:

  • Q2 – $191k ( 103k-265k)
  • Q3 – $219k ( 131k-293k)
  • Q4 – $191k ( 103k-265k)
  • Q1 – $101k ( 88k-113k)
  • Q2 – $51.4k ( 38k-62k)

This also helps me figure out if I can potentially obtain a signing bonus to make up for any lost income, where it would make sense to move to a new role.

The above also shows that if I can move into a new field, it may not look like such a horrible comparison if I base this off next year’s Q2 income (as it will take me another year to have the potential to earn a bonus anyway and my stock is not increasing.)

The big question is — how do I stay employed for the rest of the year? I’m going to try to focus on taking it one quarter at a time, and celebrating earning the quarterly income. I have to remind myself that my husband earns $100k a year and I very well may earn $200k in 3 months if I can manage to retain employment for those 3 months. Even if I were to get fired at that point, I will have made over  $450k this year, give or take, as of July 1. This alone should support my leaving my company and taking 6 months to gain experience in a. new field and figure out my life. But then the tradeoff would be losing out on another $300k or so, which also seems like a really dumb thing to do. At what point in the future of time will I ever have the opportunity to earn this much in such as short period of time?

I just assume my new boss is earning less than I am overall, and that’s not going to set anyone up for success here. He may be earning more but it’s unlikely given he came in at a later date. He may have gotten substantial stock refreshes since he’s a company star but even then I bet we’re around a similar income this year. Maybe he will realize my income will be dropping substantially soon and won’t hold that against me, but he may just look at everything I do in the lens of what I’m earning now (due to stock appreciation) and in that case I would agree I’m not worth what I’m earning.

…I don’t know how the company looks at that because it’s not my fault the stock has appreciated so much… but on my annual performance review they note my expected annual compensation and that’s based on the stock value at the end of last year. That’s a big number (even bigger than what it actually is now because all tech stocks dropped a lot since then.) In any case, I just want to get myself out of all of this and get a job where I can add value. Which means I should probably change fields. It’s tough when recruiters are calling me left and right for senior-level roles in my field, all that pay in the $250k range (and maybe I could negotiate more.) Do I really set myself back years and take a job that pays $100k-$125k to try something new at 38? And why does my husband get to earn $100k yet I can’t do this… even if it will make me happy? I guess he doesn’t believe anything can make me happy… and that might be true. But I have high hopes for this new field. I think it will at least work the right part of my brain vs the one that makes me constantly frustrated and unsure how to do good work. Hmph.

Adulting Hardcore is Challenging for this ADHD Adult

I’m TRYING to get my life together before I am paying someone to help me wipe my butt because I can no longer do it myself. I have no idea how to manage everything required of being an adult while also saving for (early) retirement while also trying to enjoy life. I get little glimmers of joy out of seeing my kids smile or learn something new every now and again, but for the most part I just feel like I’m stuck in this never-ending horror story at worst or a very bad book that’s too long with no actual plot line or conclusion at best.

What I want… is to feel like I can afford a fairly basic life (which I guess is a fairly fancy life–but to afford taking care of a house and a family and still have money left over to save) while I also am not locked into a career that has me on the verge of a mental breakdown pretty much every second of the day (though that may be the case in any career.)

I’ve put together a new family budget that’s still on the lower-end of what I’d like to be able to spend, and it’s not pretty. I’m tracking it in YNAB to try to actually start budgeting vs just hoping that I get my bonus and stock to pay my bills and save adequately. I feel sad that there seems to be no “winning” this game–the best I can do is try really hard to maintain a job that pays better than I expect to be paid for the next 30 years. Once the house is paid off then… I guess, at 67, we’ll be in better shape?

But as I see many get sick or pass away in their late 60s, I feel sick thinking of trying to make it until then to enjoy life. Even if I live to 100, this doesn’t mean my loved ones will. I keep thinking about how men die younger… how my husband turns 40 next year… (I’m not far behind)… how maybe he has 25 years left to live. I mean, my dad died at 67. It’s difficult to process how short life really is. These are the good years. As long as everyone in our family remains healthy. My kids are young, we’re in our prime, I guess — but it doesn’t feel good at all. It feels terrifying. It feels like I’m watching life slip away and the best I can do is try to plan for what job I’ll get next after whatever one I’m in currently falls apart.

This budget seems impossible, both in that it requires way too much spending AND does not really allow me to spend what I want to spend. Boo hoo, I know, I’m a spoiled brat. But I want to be able to take family photos and go on vacation and dine out and send my kids to summer camp. All “wants” for sure, but why does the next person deserve these things more (or less) than I do? Yea, maybe I should have married someone who cared about earning more income, but given that he doesn’t care he’s actually earning a lot and still able to take care of our kids part time. But I don’t see him earning more… ever… which means I’m just – stuck. And I think the weight of that has really hit me lately. That I have 30 years left of working and that’s a short time and a long time. 30 years of life is short and will go by fast, especially if all the living I’m doing is on exhausted weekends. I really want a job that is fulfilling–one where I don’t dread waking up every day. But can I get a job that is fulfilling and also pay the bills? In a HCOL area? I really feel pessimistic about this. I also feel like I have to make a change soon. I can’t keep doing this.

The budget: $15k

  • Home: $9000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, renovation/maintenance)
  • Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
  • Car: $800 (*includes saving for a new car every 10 years)
  • Food: $1500
  • Life: $2500 (kids activities/preschool – with only one kid in preschool at a time, shopping, travel, tech, gifts, etc)

$180,000 / year of spending

Saving Goals $11.6k

  • 401k/Roth – $8.5k
  • 529 – $1k
  • ESPP – $2.1k

$139.2k / year of saving (57.5k pre tax)

Total:

  • $261.7k post tax
  • $57.5k pre tax

Income needed – $493.5k

That makes sense… in that, as I’ve always said, in order to live a middle class lifestyle (this doesn’t include what I’d consider upper middle class lifestyle such as home cleaner, personal trainer, a larger shopping budget, etc) you need a $500k income here. Granted, this is a high savings rate, so if we were to cut back not the savings we could splurge a bit more… but the reason I’m focused on saving so much is that most years we probably won’t be able to! Right now any high earning year must be a high savings year too.

The reality is that we’re not going to be a $500k a year income family. My husband, if he keeps his job, is going to contribute $100k to that. I cannot see how I can find a job that pays $400k a year. It seems much more realistic to imagine both of us earning $250k, give or take, than for me to have a job that actually pays $400k every year for the next 30 years.

My reality is in my current career path I can likely earn $150k with bonus in some sort of stable way. Sure, this year I’m on track to make $750k+, if I keep my job, but that’s just because my stock grant is worth a lot. I’ll never earn that again. I have to live and plan based on an $150k income. So $250k total. I tried to put together a plan based on $250k income and I run out of places to cut.

$250k income… should spend ~ $12.5k / month

The budget: $12.5k

  • Home: $8000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, minimum fixes)
  • Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
  • Car: $500 (*we buy cheapest cars possible)
  • Food: $1000 (not really realistic but some people do it)
  • Life: $1500 (all spending goes to kids activities, no travel, no shopping or hair cuts or anything)
  • $1.5k/mo left for saving — plus anything else pre-tax, so maybe max 2 401k and that’s it

Doable? I guess so. But again that’s assuming my husband keeps his $100k/yr job AND I manage to maintain $150k a year employment for the next 30 years. Maybe in 20 years $150k won’t seem like a large salary due to inflation, but then all of our costs — except mortgage — will have increased as well.

I just don’t know how to do it. And we’re “high earners.”

I’m trying to get us closer to that $12.5k budget now, which allows us to save more in our higher earning year and maybe will free us up for more flexibility later. But when is later?

I want to change careers entirely. I have some ideas. I’m scared to start over. I feel like I won’t be able to compete with 20-somethings. I have these ideas but then I’ve been on maternity leave for 2 months now and I haven’t taken a class or anything, which I could have done. My mind is scrambled eggs at the moment. But I don’t have the drive or focus or something to work for anything. Which is my problem. I admit it. Am I lazy? Perhaps. But also something is wrong with my mind. I can’t focus. It’s the bad anxiety. The ADHD. The ruminating on everything I say and do that’s so wrong. I feel lonely alone and anxious with others. I don’t know. It’s all too much.

My dream is to be able to live a life that doesn’t feel like I HAVE to make so much money to do the things I want to do. But I don’t even know what I want to do anymore. I don’t really need more “things.” I’d like to buy some new photography equipment and that’s expensive. I’d like to travel when travel is possible again, and pay for experiences with a family of four plus probably pay for my in-laws to come so that adds up really fast. I always think what is it that I’d ever want to buy and then my spending just adds up. And the I freeze, like I can’t even enjoy what I spend on because I feel guilty for spending anything. I should just be saving.

But at 38, I don’t even own a kitchen table. I melted my cheap-o food processor years ago (oops I left it on the oven that was on somehow) — and I need a new one. We don’t have matching sheets or much for furniture. We don’t have kitchen dishes (we’re still using my remaining target single plates I got when I graduated college.) We need a new garage door and should get a water filter for the kitchen sink. None of my clothes fit… because I just gave birth to a baby… which doesn’t  matter now but when I have to reenter the world shouldn’t I buy some new things so I feel acceptable? Clothes seem like such a waste though. I hate buying cheap stuff but then I hate buying expensive stuff. So why buy anything? My car has a lot of dings on it. And I need new brakes. That’s a safety issue. So it should be a priority. But I just spent a ton on a checkup. We should get a van anyway. Should I sell the car for parts? Should I get a van? I like the idea of getting a new electric mini van but I wish my husband would take on some more clients to help pay for it. He wants the fanciest model with the leather seats and while I’d like that too maybe we should buy something a little cheaper?

My biggest challenge is not really understanding what we can afford. Because I don’t know what I’ll earn in the future. I’m so fortunate to be earning a lot right now, but I’ve already been demoted in title and I can’t maintain this income at my current company. So I need to find a new job to just maintain. And I’m so tired of jumping from job to job and never feeling like it’s right. Never knowing what the hell I’m doing. Always feeling like I’m on the verge of getting fired.

So it’s safer to cut our spending down. $11.5k a month plus anything on top of that saved would be really good. The more we can save, the more cushion we have for the future. And $11.5k should be a comfortable monthly budget. But… after $8k on the house, that leaves us with $3.5k for everything else. I don’t know how to get everything in that. It seems like I should be able to but then things just add up. It’s a fun challenge, sort of, but I’m not any good at it.

Deep Down I’m Happy, I Just Want More Than This Provincial Life

Belle’s plight to seek out something more than an average life always spoke to me since the first day I saw Beauty and the Beast at the movies in second or third grade. It’s easy to get caught up in my mood swings, especially the ones that swing be down into depression, but everything in my life is pretty darn good. Even if I lose my job (again), things are ok. I’ve managed, in the last 10 years (and getting fired 3 times) to go from $50,000 in net worth to $1.5M in net worth. I’ve had two healthy kids. I bought a house in a very HCOL area and convinced a bank I’m worthy of a $1.2M mortgage. I convinced a man to spend the rest of his life with me in wedded bliss.  I haven’t jumped off a bridge or overdosed on any number of pill combinations despite that occasionally seeming like a practical solution to the impractical problem that is me and all the things I do or don’t do on a daily basis.

Things are pretty damn good, aren’t they?

It’s ok that things are hard. What isn’t ok is that I’m the type of person who will only be satisfied if I’m doing something meaningful in life–beyond raising two happy, healthy kids and buying a house and having a husband. I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but I’m on my way to figuring it out. It’s tough because I don’t deserve to be successful or unique or to do anything great–but then again, who the hell does? Maybe someone born clearly brilliant, with a ridiculously high IQ. But there are plenty of other people doing great things who weren’t born any different than I was. They may have had parents who taught them it’s ok to take risks and fail, who instilled in them a growth mindset, or somehow learned to go against everything they’ve been taught to take risks and believe in themselves–but other than that–how different are we really?

I spent a good chunk of last night, in between breastfeeding and half sleeping, watching YouTube videos about Adult ADHD. If you know me (or heck, if you read my blog likely) it’s pretty clear that if Adult ADHD exists, I have it. Out of leftover FSA money one year I did a neuropsychological screening and was told I do not have ADHD, but do have severe deficiency in short-term memory, anxiety, and depression. However, had I gone to an ADHD expert for said screening (I did not) I would have undoubtedly been told I do have it. The test used by the neuropsychologist to determine if I have ADHD, the click test, is far from considered an acceptable method of diagnosis by the scientific community, and yet for the last few years I’ve been walking around convinced I don’t have ADHD due to this test and my neuropsychological profile. Yet even the finding that my short-term memory is severely impaired is a symptom of ADHD. Alas.

I also feel like I ought to do something creative in life as people with ADHD tend to do better when working in creative settings and that’s what I went to school to study and that’s what I always though I’d do, but then didn’t, because I was too scared to take such a risk when I knew nothing beyond wanting to not be deemed a failure by my parents, especially my dad. Failure was asking for help–any help–once I graduated college. I was lucky to have my very expensive (too expensive in hindsight) college paid for by my parents, and they never fought me on my degree in the arts despite having no clarity into what a career in the specific field I majored in would look like, or how little of a propensity I had for its technical requirements. But once my final graduation photo was snapped, I was on my own. I had no college loans, but I still had to pay the rent. And then I figured out that having money was better than not having money, and having a lot of money was better than having a little bit of money, so that even with my non-frugal habits I could still manage to survive without asking anyone for help.

Since my creative dreams weren’t fleshed out anyway, they were tossed to the sidelines and my only mission at hand was to not run out of money. My “career dreams” were non existent. Which is ok. Lots of people work to work. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’ve done that. In smaller companies, at the least, I felt like there was this energy of doing the impossible that I was familiar with from my creative pursuits. Sure, everyone wanted to get rich–but we knew it was a long shot. We enjoyed building something new together. At least that felt a bit more home to me, despite not being right. Had I founded the company–maybe then it would feel right, but inevitably with a thick-headed CEO who thought they knew everything (and clearly didn’t) I ended up, along with my colleagues, becoming frustrated watching our collective dreams turn into a company worth less than investors poured into it.

But in a big company, where money flows into bigger salaries and stock packages, especially for those considered rockstars, there is a clear focus on work for work’s sake. I sit back–fall back–and watch those around me operate flawlessly, with the energy of a doctor saving the life of a newborn child, to promote a product designed to help automate processes and save costs by removing human labor (amongst other useful but equally dystopian value props.) As I’ve managed to double my net worth in the last hand change of years, many others who, pre-covid, sit alongside me, are off on a rocketship straight to the .01%. And those fresh out of college, lucky with a relatively small grant that has turned a small amount into a large amount, are not set for life, but on the path to far greater wealth than I’ll likely ever see. These people work hard as hell (or fake it well enough that even intuitive I can’t tell the difference.) They send perfectly-scripted email notifications that thank everyone who contributed to a project while, barely reading between the lines, self-promoting their own work. These people talk the talk so well, from using all the business jargon without a hint of irony, to making everything sound so damn important. There’s humor as well, but a certain type of humor that is not dark or witty or particularly funny. It’s careful and redundant, and yet everyone laughs anyway because that’s what you do. Those who can’t do humor tend to avoid it until their boss tells them to throw a joke in their next speech, and we continue to laugh.

I’d rather get to the point, I guess.

What is the point? My point. My point is that I don’t fit in this world. I like making money. Clearly. It’s pretty incredible. Necessary, of course. How else does one pay off a $7k a month mortgage? Even if it’s $5k a month now with my FIL paying $2k a month in rent–in a few years it will be all us. Can we really afford this? I guess so. Eventually $7k a month will seem reasonable… maybe. Going rent for a house here was around $5k, so in some odd years it will catch up. But then there’s the cost of keeping the house functional. So many things have popped up. I’m now budgeting about $2k a month for house stuff. Some of it is must have, some nice-to-have, and maybe eventually we’ll be able to bring that down to a lower amount. This doesn’t include utilities and such, but everything else that goes into owning a house. It’s not cheap.

The house does kind of lock me into this high-earning lifestyle, even if I’m unable to get a job ever again that’s quite as high earning (likely.) That’s why this year is so damn important. It’s crazy that every 3 month I can make about $200k ($100k after tax) on top of my salary and such. I’m basically making 4 years of normal income in one year, which doesn’t make it possible to quit corporate America and spend my waking non-parenting hours on passion projects, but it’s a start. It has me questioning–from the moment I wake up the instant I drift off to dreamland–what the fuck is next? Do I seek another rocketship? Do I learn how to play the game better next time (and maybe not admit to my boss, in a momentary lapse of judgment due to the sleepless nights of being a new mom, that I’ve been fired numerous times in the past and that I think I’m overpaid — oops) and see whatever’s next as another step towards freedom to do something meaningful, whatever that is? I won’t see a stock package like this again unless I manage to obtain a very senior role which is a bad idea for numerous reasons even if I could do that–but staying in my current company won’t ever see this kind of income again either (I’m not getting stock refreshes since they don’t actually want me to stay–it’s clear I’m going to be leaving by choice or by force at some point and this time I prefer to do this by choice, I think, though a few months of unemployment and COBRA may be just what I need next year–but I don’t think I can handle the mental toll of losing yet another job. I should leave on my own, with my head held as high as I can hold it, weak neck and all.)

But–where was I? I guess, I feel like maybe if I lean into this ADHD thing and try strategies that work for other HSP with ADHD then… maybe I can find something that works for a bit longer than 3 months > crashing and burning in whatever new job I take on. Maybe it’s finding a different yet still decently-paid career. In order to afford this house, this $84k a year of mortgage/taxes/insurance, we need to make $300k a year (if you go with the 28% rule.) My husband makes $100k at the moment (though that’s 1099, so we can reduce that to $85k, which means that need to make $215k a year in order for our house to make sense. Anything above this is great. But I don’t have to make more than $215k. The question is, how do I make $215k consistently? If I can get on a career path where $225k-$250k is the norm and I can get one one that I’m decent enough at to not lose my job every few years then — we’re ok. If my husband can keep his job (which he will unless the org he works for goes out of business) then I just have to get that $215k each year and we’re doing ok. Not living a fancy life, by any means, but we’ll be able to pay the mortgage for the next 30 years.

That’s clearly not what I want, though — 30 years of my entire life being centered on making $215k or more. From 37 to 67, needing every single year to have a career making such income is pretty darn depressing. My dad died at 67. So there’s that. I don’t want this to be the rest of my life. At some point I want to be able to take a risk. Make something. Do something meaningful before I die.

Does that make me a selfish person? An unrealistic one? Maybe. But I have dreams. I might be getting old(er) and grey(er) but I’m not dead yet. My kids remind me of the dreams I once had when anything was possible. I didn’t notice the moment when life switched from everything is possible to practically nothing is, but somehow that switch triggered and I missed it while I was counting up my net worth and figuring out how to convince my boss to give me another 30 days before pulling another trigger to have HR walk me out of the building. The years just go. And soon they will be gone. How do I make any of this make sense while not putting my family on the street? I guess it’s not that dire. We’ve got plenty of savings now. Enough to ride of a few bad years. But I don’t want a few bad years. I want many good ones. And I’m desperate to find a path to them.

I’m Not Actually Jealous of SAHMs. Right?

Making money doesn’t make me happy, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never find a job that brings me joy. So I have to find happiness outside of work. And I have to figure out how work fits into my life now and short term and long term. If I ever do save enough to retire early, then what? Would I even like being a stay at home mom?

I have friends who are stay at home moms, or who run their own business and work flexible hours and aren’t actually working to support the household but instead are running a business as more of a passion project. I’ll never be those friends–I don’t have a husband who is a senior-level engineer who makes enough to afford a Bay Area mortgage. And I’m ok with that. But I’m growing tired of paying a Bay Area mortgage altogether, 4 months into doing just that. Only 356 more months to go of paying $7k a month to live in a house that needs a good amount of work that will cost who knows how much more.

I went for a walk with my 2.5 year old last week and realized I’ve barely seen him lately. It’s hard now with a baby, but it was nice to have some 1×1 time with him. He’s at that age where he notices when you’re not paying attention, and when you are, even if you’re just sitting behind him while he doodles on a water mat or with chalk on the sidewalk. All my son knows of me is a mom who is constantly on her computer or on her phone. I want to change that.

But in 2 more months I’ll go back to work. I’ll likely work from home for a while. Maybe the rest of the year. I’ll be busy, if I’m so lucky. I’ll stay employed through the end of the year. And then I’ll see what’s next. I won’t be anywhere near Fat FIRE then. Especially not with this $7k a month mortgage weighing over my shoulders until I’m an old lady. My husband isn’t interested in earning more income. He isn’t interested in moving somewhere cheaper so I can have a little less pressure to maintain employment. So I can maybe spend a little more time with my kids before they become adults.

I guess seeing how old my 2.5 is — how fast childhood goes when you’re watching it form the lens of being a kid’s mom — of seeing my grandmother’s heart breaking over and over again when we talk about my dad, her first born, who died 2.5 years ago at age 67 — and you can hear the memories in her voice, memories I’m not making with my kids because I’m so busy not only working but also just worrying constantly about work and how I can’t manage the social/political pressures in the corporate environment… I’m losing precious moments of being a mom.

So I keep parsing my life to date to try to figure out what might bring me happiness and what won’t. I want to work, but not to make money, which is a privileged thing to even consider, and it isn’t actually logistically feasible right now, or maybe ever, but maybe I don’t have to make quite so much eventually. What if we get to $2.5M-$3M by the end of the year–which is somehow possible–then… could I shift the way my life works? Not here. Not in the Bay Area. But what if we moved? What if we went somewhere else where I could work remote for a company and make less or do something creative and who knows…

What I do know is I’m counting on work to fulfill me and it’s failing at that, and my life isn’t fulfilling me as I feel isolated and no one gives a shit about hearing anything about my day or telling me about theirs and I have a few friends but we rarely talk and when we do I never know what to say or I find my only friendships are just back-and-forth complaining which isn’t very positive and there hasn’t been much positive in my life except my children, and I’m not present for them at all. If I’m not present while on maternity leave, how will I be when I go back to work? My father-in-law is raising my toddler and while I love that they have a close relationship… I miss being a mom. Whatever that means. I’m not the mom I want to be.  And by the time I’ve saved “enough” it will be too late.

My husband gets upset when I talk about moving or doing anything drastic now as we’ve committed to the house his dad lives with us and we really can’t move now. I need to stop complaining about what I thought I wanted even though now that I have it I realize it isn’t what I want at all. I need to shut up and keep my head down and make it work, like so many people do. I’m not going to last forever in this job, but maybe I can get to the end of the year. I think it’s possible. I may get that salary decrease I’m expecting, but I’ll still get my stock as long as they don’t fire me. So, I just have to focus on this year. But I’m worried my mental health will be so shitty I’ll fail to appreciate any of the moments with my kids even if I’m actually here for them. And pretty soon my toddler will be a kid in school and I won’t be able to randomly take him to wherever during the day (not that we can do that now) and spend time together. I want to do those things now before he’s in school 5 days a week except holidays and a short summer until he’s 18 and then he’s off to college. We’ll never get this time back.

Can I manage to fight through this year and keep my job while also being a present mother? I want to figure out how to feed my toddler healthier food, keep the house clean, teach him new things. I see the way he looks at me now. I’m his mom. I want to have time to figure out what that means. Maybe next year.