Thursday, April 9, 2009

It has been almost 5 1/2 years since I have earned a paycheck


Money is tight right now. For almost everyone I know. And it is no different for us. It is my job to see how far we can stretch the groceries and how many different ways I can reinvent the same dish...this week. Some weeks are better than others.

It is the life that we have chosen, my husband E and I. On most days I think we make a good team. I wanted to be at home when I had my children, and E wanted the same. We started on the same page, and we will go through many pages before we are done. Sometimes at odds or evens, but hopefully arriving together at the end of this chapter in raising our children. And there are many chapters...

Many would not do what we have done. For financial reasons. We struggle. A lot. It is hard on a marriage. Yet, for all the struggle, we are still moving forward. We have a full life together. And there is not a day that goes by in which I don't count my blessings. I love being home with my children, and if I had to do it over again I would make the same choice.

It has been almost 5 1/2 years since I have earned a paycheck. I've gotten used to it. Well...sort of. Truthfully, not really. It still feels odd. It is an unnatural feeling to work harder than I have in my entire lifetime, yet not earn a paycheck. There is no time clock to punch in or out. No. My time is ... tumbling end over end into another day, another week, another month... 5 1/2 years...

Someone told me once about a man who wrote a paycheck out to his wife every week. At first it sounded like an amazing idea. Wow! A homemaker who gets a monetary reward for the work that she puts in at home. And then I started thinking about it and thought...well, then does she work for him? Does that make him her boss? Does it matter? Maybe, it doesn't. Maybe it just feels good to receive a monetary recognition for her contribution. I'd love to interview her and ask her how that feels.

Yesterday, I checked the balance of the account I use for my BlogHer ad revenue. (My earnings are quite small through ad revenue, but it is fun to have a small check show up every few months.) I had enough in the account to pay for my daughter's next ballet class session. It is a class that she loves and is passionate about. It was joyful and yes, liberating for me to write out the check. It was money that I had earned. And it felt great! So very great, that the feeling of being empowered has continued into today. There is something about having my own money that is powerful. All the more so for being able to help contribute financially to our family.

I'm not sure when I will earn money again, but I must admit that earning this small amount lifts me up. And I'm looking ahead to when I can earn a paycheck of my own...


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17 comments:

happygeek said...

I'm totally with you. I love being at home and the scrimping and penny pinching that come with that is just part of the commitment we've made to this particular lifestyle which works for our family.
BUT, I do occasionally miss being the wage earner. I was for 5 years the sole bread winner (he went to school) and I miss seeing my name on a check every couple of weeks.

Jen said...

That is why working part time is a blessing for me. It allows me to see that paycheck (although small), and still spend the majority of my time with Dylan. But, it is very hard to find part time jobs, and even with mine, we struggle financially. I know it is worth it, though.

Jen said...

That is why working part time is a blessing for me. It allows me to see that paycheck (although small), and still spend the majority of my time with Dylan. But, it is very hard to find part time jobs, and even with mine, we struggle financially. I know it is worth it, though.

Cat said...

It's been close to eighteen years since I've seen my name on a paycheck. Oddly, I was just thinking this weekend that I'm ready to start earning one again, and it's not really that the family needs the money, but I need a new focus. Of course, I brilliantly decide this during the worst unemployment the country has seen in almost a century.

Kate said...

I admire you.

Yes, money is tight everywhere. I think about every purchase I make and pat myself on the back for not buying anything for several days.

Thought provoking post.

Ginaagain said...

When I went back to work for a year we learned just how valuable my time at home really is. Our budget went to hell in a handbasket and the money I made seemed to just evaporate. Now that I'm staying home again we are back on track and living within our means without too much of a struggle. I think what I really earned during that year of working again was a respect for my role as the manager of our family.

Manic Mommy said...

It's been 2 1/2 years since I earned a paycheck. And with few exceptions (like booking BlogHer), really feel like it's "our money". My staying home facilitated his taking the higher paying job farther away.

I have a lot of issues related to 'not working'. Thankfully, financial independence is not among them.

blognut said...

Congratulations! I'll try to do my share and click your ads!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Though I have been home for 20 years, I have been lucky enough to work for 5 hours a week all of that time. My hundred dollars a week was enough to cover the kid's activities (for the most part) and though I've never really thought of it, I have taken satisfaction in that.

The reason I worked at that job though had nothing to do with money--I thought it important that there be one night a week when my husband was "it." I never wanted him to be a secondary parent, I wanted the kids to see us as equally competent. I think it was helpful in that regard.

Professor J said...

How wonderful that you are able to make some income with your writing. I wish you more!

Angeline said...

Trust me! I completely know how that feels. And if you had not missed my 'critical post' you would know that this month is the worst ever since I became a Stay At Home Mom.
I used to be able to get a pay check from Blogher every alternate months, now after their revision, I hadn't had one for 3 months now.... *sigh*

flutter said...

seems to me that ad revenue IS a paycheck...just a small one

Jennifer H said...

I understand this so well. For me, it's been most of 11 years. Now every little bit (from ads or wherever) that comes my way from something I did, makes me feel very good. I just wish I could make it happen more often.

Ellyn said...

I agree. It has been a little hard for me to not be earning a paycheck anymore either.

I do have to say though, I would not be at all flattered if my husband cut me a check for my work at home.

phd in yogurtry said...

I don't like the idea of hubby cutting check for wife each week, either. Sounds too much like, "you earned this much (x)... while I earned THIS much (Y)" But if he took out and paid into her social security benefits? That rocks.

painted maypole said...

i'm gonna go click on your ad.. just to help with your ad revenue! :)

Nancy Gruver said...

I really appreciate your post on earning a paycheck and love your interviews. I've always worked because seeing the downside of my mom's financial dependence when my parents got divorced after 21 years made me determined to always be able to support my kids on my own. My husband and I are happily married for 29 years now and I'm still glad that I worked throughout. I admit to some workaholism and relying on work for some of my self-worth and life meaning. There were times when I felt guilty about putting work before my daughters but now that they're adults I don't think it harmed them. And for my emotional well-being working was important.

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