I’m going to tell you a secret: I’m poor. According to every government statistic available, I live in near-poverty. My husband and I have been living on one income since two weeks before Parker was born and my doctor put me on bed rest. I initially planned on going back to my job, but the longer I was pregnant, the more I knew I wanted to stay home with my baby. Dave pulled in a decent income at his job, so we cut back expenses and made a go of it. Once we got used to living on one income, circumstances and choice have kept us there.
Dave continued to work when I went back to school to complete my bachelor’s degree; while I was in school his corporate job as a benefits administrator was “reorganized” out of the company. For about a year, we made do with my internship and his part-time substitute teaching. When we moved west to care for my mom, he worked while I tried to be there for her. After she passed away, I went back to the corporate world and Dave went back to school. After having his job in the corporate world come to such a frustrating end, he’d decided to become a teacher.
My corporate job was the home of the “atrocious boss” that Parker writes about in KidPower, so when we mutually agreed to part ways (they offered me a nice severance package, most likely because when the atrocious boss told me I could not use my sick leave to stay home with my sick kids he violated a whole bunch of FMLA rules) Dave and I both decided the corporate world would not be a part of our future.
Sometimes, I miss the regular paycheck and the social time (working at home can be quiet and lonely). Most of the time, I am grateful to have the flexibility and freedom I have to work at home and support my family. Dave finished obtaining his teacher certification last year – just in time for every school budget to cut teachers rather than hire them. It looks like we’ll be on one income and stay “poor” for a while longer.
Things get tight, and we do without things that other families would consider necessities. Bit we are here together most days, available when our kids need us. When we do have extra money, we don’t spend it on stuff; we travel. Our kids have been in New York City, Niagara Falls, and Montreal. They’ve been to the Museum of Natural History and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. They’ve been to Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine.
We only have one car, which can be a pain sometimes, but beats having two car payments and double the insurance. And our TV is like a dinosaur compared to what’s out there now – we don’t have the newest big screen. Heck, we don’t even have a Blu-Ray DVD player. Our cell phones don’t get email or do Facebook. Mine has teeth marks where the dog tried to make a call one day, but it still works, so I’m waiting for my “free” replacement.
But I have to tell you another secret: we’re pretty happy being poor. We’re rich in other ways than money, and for that, I’m grateful.