I grew up poor. Not dirt floors and outhouses poor, but trailers and factory jobs and layoffs and bankruptcy poor. I know what it is to not have. I saw my parents struggle to provide for their family.
Lucky for me, they supported me getting an education. I got a bachelor's and then a master's degree and have worked in some form or anther since I was 15 years old. I have always known that it was important to work hard and earn money. I know what it is to have the wolves at the door.
Also, I have come to know the feeling of keeping up with the notorious Joneses. I love things. I love the security of having a nice home and nice things in my home. They provide (falsely) reassurance that I have moved out of reach of poverty. However, the love of things always leaves you wanting just a little bit more. Just one more thing and then I won't want any more things, I tell myself. We built a new home a couple of years ago. I love it...but. There's always a but. What if I could get new flooring? If my carpet gets a bit shabby, can I love it as much? My counter tops are laminate and not granite; can it be my dream home if I have laminate counters? If my car works just fine but is from 2003, can I be good enough? For whom? It's all a bit crazy-making, really.
On the other hand, I know that is important to find balance in life. I know that my relationships with my friends and family mean more to me than money ever will. I honestly believe that it is important to try and find things we love to do in life and to do those things well. For a variety of reasons, The Mister and I have worked jobs that put us on opposite shifts for the last several years - really since The Nugget was born. This worked well because it minimized our need for day care and we made good money. It also worked terribly because we have each operated as single parents for all of her childhood. Normal joys like family dinners and nights at the movies have become rare treats for us instead of daily routine. I have struggled because it is not what I wanted for our family.
The Mister has asked to be transferred to day shift at his work. It hasn't happened for whatever reason. Because of this, he began to look elsewhere. And just this week he got what I would consider to be a dream job offer for him. It is the kind of work he loves to do (unlike his current job which is simply the kind of work that earns money)! It is with a very stable company (which I hope to tell you more about another time)! It has daytime hours! And it pays less.
I absolutely want him to take the job. There is no question that he will. It is hard, however, to live out the dream of being a happy family in this society when making less money seems to equate to being less happy. It is hard to un-internalize that more factor. To let it go and know (and I know) that our happiness does not depend on the size of our bank account but on our great love for one another. I am working, though, to put that fear at bay and relish the fact that we will be a family just like I have dreamed of. That money is not the only thing, not even the most important one, that we have to offer our daughter or one another.
So, in the interim, I'm giddy. But scared. I have a quote hanging by my desk at work, though, and I'm going to keep looking at it, keep knowing its truth, keep making myself believe that our American dream can be more than just about bigger houses, bigger cars and bigger pay checks. The quote:
"Time may be money, but your money buys no more time."
- James Taylor