Friday, December 2, 2016

Young families in 2016

They say if you want to become any sort of serious blogger, to not treat your blog like your diary. Well, I'm going directly against this advice today and I'm going to treat this post like a diary entry.

I had a bit of a mommy breakdown this week, encouraged by none other than finances, of course.  It always seems to be finances.  At work, it felt like the briefest of interactions could have led to me breaking down in tears awkwardly in the hallway.  It was an on-edge sort of week.

I've been open in my writing about living on a budget and how that's been our life since we got married.  We've had some high highs and some low lows in that area.  We've run out of money a few times, we've had to borrow to make rent.

Since this is what we've known and have lived (on and off) now for a few years, I get incredibly frustrated and emotional when confronted with a financial hiccup.  I've grown the discipline to become a solid and diligent saver, which enables us to continue on when a hiccup arises.  But the hiccup doesn't become any less maddening.

This talk is a little beside the point, only a little, as this post isn't a post on saving or budgets.  I realized today, in the midst of confronting the list of unknowns and questions we're currently facing, just how difficult it is to have a family at a young age in 2016.  I mean, I guess I already knew this.  I mean, I did know this.  But when you ask yourself if you can afford daycare for the month, the reality sinks in in a new and painful way.

A fitting throwback picture for this post.  Me, pregnant with Ella, at 20 weeks.
I've been asked if I'm happy that I got married and had kids young.  And without hesitation, I say "yes." I think I've matured and grown in ways that only becoming a wife and mom could have yielded and the fact that I'm only 26 is, in my eyes, a bonus.  I like that I'm able to grow next to and with my husband.  I'd say we've already been a couple versions of ourselves, and we continue to pull out the best in each other in order to keep bettering ourselves.  I like that I'll be relatively young when my kids are older.  There are many great and wonderful things about getting married and having kids young.  The positives certainly outweigh the negatives, if it can be categorized that way.  But the negatives, or rather, hard parts?  They can weigh heavy on you.  In order to have and keep your kids fed and happy and clothed, you need a job, a job that might not pay enough as you need or the job might be in a state that has exorbitant taxes.  Insurance isn't needed, but it sure is nice as having a child in a hospital costs upwards of $25,000.  And even if you have insurance, the premiums are rising, the deductibles are outrageous.  Of course, the doctors visits don't stop at the birth.  You'll need maternity and paternity leave from your job.  If you're a dad, you might get 2 weeks unpaid vacation time, if you're lucky. And the mom? She seems to be expected to jump out of her hospital bed back to her desk.  Some aren't even able to take leave, because only part of the leave is paid and she can't afford to go so much time without pay. If you have student loans, this also affects the money and household.  Both parents might have to work, one parent might work 2 jobs.  If both parents work, childcare needs to be explored and we all know how childcare is rivaling the cost of college educations these days.  The family will eventually, maybe, want to buy a house for which they will need at least a 3.5% down payment.  Did you know that downpayment needs to have been sitting in your savings account for so long?  So dipping in and out of savings if needed, prolongs the process.  Did you know you'll need about 6% of the total cost of the house saved and put away to cover closing costs and all the stuff attached with buying a house.  Of course, rent is at an all-time high and it would be cheaper to pay a mortgage, if only young families were known to have at least $10,000 sitting in savings at a time...And this, this is alll just the immediate.  Saving for the fancy schools?  Please.  For family vacations?  Maybe one day. Retirement?  Anyone under 25 with kids would most likely laugh in your face.

I say this, not really to complain (but I am entitled to since this is my diary entry, right?) but to give notice to how freaking hard our world makes it for young families to function.  You see a young family out on a walk, their kids crawling out of double Graco stroller and think how cute.  It's in all likelihood that that family is making huge sacrifices to make their lives what they are.  They probably busted their butts to save for and buy that double stroller.  At the risk of sounding way too full of myself, the life of having a family young is a virtuous life, but as with anything that brings virtue, it's painful and uncomfortable and inconvenient.

So.  This one is for you young families, the ones trying to buy houses and pay loans, and hoping to maybe get a second car.  The ones that didn't have six figures when you had your first child.  The ones trying to get the best jobs that serve your passions but better serve your families.  Every day, your lives are full of acts that are charitable and kind and giving so much of yourselves.  Every one of you young moms and young dads out there are a very bright light in an increasingly dimming world.  I'm proud to be in your camp and among your company.

One day, when we've made our final student loan payments, let's all go withdraw wads of ones, throw them in the streets as if it were monopoly money, and recreate the dance scene from 500 Days of Summer.

Yes?

See you in about 10 years.

1 comment:

  1. Let me give you a bit of advise.....it DOES get easier! I stayed home with our kids for over ten years, but real life happens, and I had to go back to work in the corporate world. It wasn't easy, and that's not how I envisioned our future, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do to make ends meet. Now, our kids are grown. They've left the "nest" and are raising families of their own. I consider that to be a *win* in my life. You do the best you can for your family, with the resources that you have at the time. Your best WILL be good enough! Life may not unfold the way that you dreamed it would, but if you all stick together, it WILL work out just fine.

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