I’m guessing you have a friend you only see once every two to eight years and yet, the moment you enter the same orbit it’s like no time has passed at all. You can sit down at the same restaurant table or Skype each other from across the world and the friendship is just as strong and relevant as it was the last time you spoke.
Let’s just pretend I am like that friend. I don’t blog often enough and I don’t read your blog with enough regularity and yet we still love each other.
Last I wrote I hoped 2015 would bring me a new career, some peace from my boyfriend’s ex-wife and happy children.
Let’s just get right to it – I’m on a ramp up to a level of “exceptionally stressed” that’s going to peak in about three weeks. I made a couple of big decisions recently and I fear my timing may have been a little off.
1. I’m moving. Staying in the same city but will finally get my kids and I into a single family home with a yard and – this makes me weepy with joy – a laundry room bigger than a shower stall.
“Are you moving in with your boyfriend?” you may ask. No, no I’m not. “Ohhhh…” you might breathe out, wondering if you’ve said the wrong thing. No, no worries, it’s fine. We’re still together. But we’re not going to live together. At least not this year. Maybe not even next year or the year after that.
You see, combining two households where each single parent ruler has more than two children and those children attend schools in districts fifteen miles apart and the parents work more thirty miles apart, well, let’s just say it comes with some challenges.
Challenge numero uno being a boyfriend who is not entirely sure he wants to live together anytime soon and has difficulty communicating what he means by “wants” or “soon.” We’ve had about nine teary discussions since the beginning of April about this and what I got from it was that his “soon” and my “soon” may not align.
This does not spell a certain break up, but it does mean dating for an indeterminate amount of time during which we’ll continue to see each other fewer than half the days of every month. It means that when we spend a weekend together I’m bound to leave something I need at my house but driving 1.5 hours round trip to get it seems like a colossal waste of time. It means there will be certain Fridays when I’ll need a hug from my boyfriend and I’ll be unable to get one until Wednesday.
Knowing Greg and I would not be moving in together anytime soon meant I had to decide whether to move to a bigger home this year and know I’ll stay in it at least 2 years or wait it out in the smaller home on the chance he’d want to live together. Well, I’m not one to bank on maybes so when I found a home for rent that I could afford without selling any of my children I didn’t waste any time submitting my application. For once, my single-mom status gave me an advantage. When my landlord emailed me to say I’d been approved to rent her home she wrote, “I’m happy to have another single mom and her young family in my home.” Years ago she bought the house when she was still a single parent to three young boys, and I think she felt like she was passing the torch, in a way.
When I told Greg I’d found a home he grew quiet. I assumed he thought I’d acted too quickly, but he eventually admitted that his first reaction was one of hurt, that it seemed like I was moving on without him. His disappointment, in turn, hurt ME. How could he tell me he wasn’t ready to discuss living together and then within days be upset that I made a housing decision without him? He apologized, and said he’s happy for me and my bigger house and has even offered to take a day off work to help me move, if needed.
2. I got a new job. The day after I signed my new lease, the recruiter for a company I’d interviewed with over a month ago called to offer me the position. Yay, right? One of the things I hoped would happen this year! Yes, this is true. When considering the broader picture this should be a good thing. But in the short term I am going to be broke.
This job is for a larger corporation in a big city. Downtown and everything. In a building with elevators and security guards and all that other fancy, official-looking stuff. It’s an entry level position because, when you return to work after years as a stay at home mom and only a few non-corporate jobs since a divorce, turns out large companies aren’t eager to hire you. So I’m taking a pay cut of $4500 a year. Not an insignificant drop. I’m told I will be eligible for a raise in six months and then another six months after that, plus there are the opportunities for advancement that I am counting on grabbing when I’m able. At least, that’s what the New Employee Packet tells me.
In addition to a pay cut, I’ll be paying more in gas to get to my job and I have to pay for parking. If I want to not be drenched when I enter the building on a rainy morning I am going to have to fork over $120 a month to park in a ramp attached to my building. Do you know how much I pay for parking at my current job? $0 per month.
I was an English major, but even I can do this math. My rent for the bigger place is $170 more per month. I’m going to be bringing home around $300 less per month in paychecks. I’ll be paying $120 for parking. Friends, that’s almost $600 per month that I am no longer going to have access to. I’m a single mom. Ouch. Let’s not even discuss the fact that my oldest son is going through a growth spurt and eats approximately $75 in food each day all by himself, and that if my own teeth are any indication, all of my children will soon need some expensive orthodontia.
I have to remind myself that I am doing this for the greater good. My sacrifice now is going to pay off in the coming years because I will have more opportunities at the company I’m joining. It’s just going to hurt for a little while.
I asked Greg if he’s going to mind that I’m poor and he assured me he won’t.
I’m silently freaking out. I need to pack this house, somehow find time to shop for business casual attire and also figure out how I will make ends meet for the next year or two. I need to put a smile on my face and pretend I’m not bothered that, more than a year after Greg and I started dating, his situation with his ex-wife is not only NOT better, it’s actually worse. Pretty hard to look forward to living with him when his ex is actively trying to break us up and convince her children that my kids and I are morally and intellectually bankrupt.
As friends reminded me – I’ve made leaps of faith before and I’ve come out ahead. I am strong and I can weather a little halt in the old cashflow for a while. I’m not married to Greg; we don’t share children or property and so, if it turns out my needs for the relationship aren’t being met I can, with sorrow, tell him we need to move on without each other. He may do the same to me first, there are no guarantees. Right now we love each other and want to be together until we are old and gray, we’re just not sure how to get there yet. Dating with children and jobs and homes and all that fun stuff is not simple.
And yet, despite the freaking out, I’m excited. Walking in to this new job at a company that has approximately 108 times as many employees as my current company is going to feel a bit like walking into the high school my first day of tenth grade and realizing the senior guys looked like MEN and thinking omg who am I going to sit with at lunch and will anyone like me and am I going to be wearing the right clothes? But, despite my total lack of coolness and my deep social anxiety, I survived high school and I will survive the new job. I may end up enjoying it. Strongly hoping that one day I end up in a position of authority there. I may have less money for a while but I’m fortunate enough to have some wiggle room in my budget. Luxuries that I can give up until I pay my dues and earn some raises.
The new house is going to cost more but its size and storage are going to bring me so much peace, you have no idea. Do you know how much of my energy was sapped by the mountains of laundry in my living room and bedroom? Hooray, no more storing kitchen gadgets in the living room because the cupboards are too full! No more food in the linen closet. My boys will have significantly fewer Lego-related injuries because they won’t have to cram every single one of their possessions into their bedroom anymore; they will have a big living area for toys and spreading out.
Now I just need someone to teach me how to mow the lawn and I’ll be good to go.
Photo by Logan Ingalls used under creative commons license. PSA: Don’t steal photos from the internet for your blog; make sure you have permission and a true right to use them first.