Everything is breaking in our house. Okay, maybe not everything (though it sorta feels that way). The list just seems to keep getting bigger. Our computer is dying. Our walls and ceiling are cracking. It's winter and we're feeling the drafts again. We kinda need a new furnace, but have our fingers crossed it makes it through another winter. Our entire electrical circuit keeps shorting out everytime we use the dryer. (And we use the dryer, you know, a lot!) Our desktop computer takes about 20 minutes to turn on and crashes almost everytime we download pictures (which is why I haven't posted a shot of my spanky-new purse). Oh - but I can't download pictures anyways, because our camera is broken. You have to stick your tongue out and wiggle the cord just so to get my cellphone to charge. Girlio broke the IPOD dock, and Boy-o stuck quarters in the cars' cd player. My treadmill is stopping in the middle of a run. Yup - breakage is everywhere.
So why don't we just replace things? Get them fixed? Deal with it? Because, of course, we're broke. Paycheck to paycheck (with a little bit of overspend in there.) Money is tight. And December brings the one-two punch of Boy-o's birthday and Christmas. Shazam!
And lately, the money crunch is starting to get to me. I have provider anxiety. You know, 'cause my paycheck isn't getting any bigger, or put more properly, my paycheck isn't getting any more, well, existent. So I guess the real crux here is that I have anxiety about us being broke and me not, you know, being able to fix it, as they say.
It's a real struggle, sometimes, to figure out what the best thing to do is (for our whole family, not just for me). The cost-benefit analysis always seems to come out a 50/50 split. I could try to go back into the workforce, but there are so, so many complicating factors that even contemplating that option seems dizzying: 1. Boy-o's school does not have a daycare, and we have to drive him across town to get there. 2. I would be hardpressed to find a job that made putting both kids in daycare full-time financially worthwhile, and 3. I'm not sure the zigging and zagging to and from schools and daycares and grocery stores, and the constant time-crunch of having a family with two full-time working parents is worth the added benefit of having slightly more money. And then the biggest complicating factor of all. Sometimes I think I might want to start working outside of the home. And sometimes, I really, really, really, especially don't.
And yet, the anxiety about money, making ends meet, having extra, etc. persists. And though I recognize, of course, that the work I do is of value - it does not provide us with any economic benefit (unless you count me being an extra 'dependent' at tax time. Oh how I loathe being termed a 'dependent' - just sayin'), which is perhaps the most frustrating part of all. I work my heiny off most of the time ('cept when I'm slacking off blogging, naturally), and it does nothing to further my family's economic outlook. Makes a mama-bear want to roar a bit now and again.
(Note: if anyone wants to look at some really neat explorations of the economic importance of at-home labour, you should check out feminist economist Marilyn Waring's book "If Women Counted," or the full-length NFB documentary "Who's Counting?", which argue essentially that mainstream economics ignores the necessary contribution of at-home labour in its analyses).
Until a decision gets made one way or the other about me 'going back to work' (another expression I loathe - 'cause I'm working my arse off now, but anyhoo), we ponder other ways to tighten the pursestrings. How to get back to the basics, abolish the credit card, revisit a cash-based existence, shop more carefully and buy less, possibly explore cheaper schooling options for Boy-o (emphasis on possibly here. It would have to be a pretty damn special public school for me to go public here in Redneckville), and, the most important thing: continue in our quest to be independently wealthy via buying lottery tickets and hopin' for the best...
And in the meantime - if it ain't broke, we won't fix it... and if it is broke, well, we probably still won't fix it.