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.