Thursday, October 24, 2013

measurable value & matters of money

Well, I survived the morning. How about you? However, there was a bit of turbulence...which is nothing unusual or abnormal for a stay-at-home-mom. Aside from the kid stuff, this morning's was particularly about money. This whole money thing has been rattling around for awhile in my brain. The topic of money, and especially when talking about yourself, is pretty darn personal {obviously!}. But, several moments/conversations/comments relating to the subject have caught my attention lately. So here goes...

We'll start with this morning. We got a late start, which was actually because we got an early start. The kids have been sleeping until about 7 a.m. lately {hallelujah!} and I've been goin' with the flow...especially with the whole fall/I-want-to-hibernate thing that's happening right now. So anyway, Elle West got up at six and True was up about ten minutes later. It was still dark and cold. We had breakfast and then I built a fire. Then I just wanted to snooze and snuggle in the recliner next to the fire.

Once I finally felt rested {I did doze + Elle West went back to bed} and True had done his lesson, I thought maybe we'd do something fun and different today. Maybe...we'd go to Sutherland Farms which has lots of fun fall/pumpkin related activities for kids going on right now. So, I decided to take a look at a couple of our bank accounts. Specifically, G's business account {which I help manage}. Looking at those accounts doesn't do anything except for give me a feel for where my husband's at. I've noticed that so much of his mood quality is determined by what's in his bank accounts. Money matters.

I manage our household + joint accounts. I've spent a little extra this month in preparation for upcoming holidays & birthdays, and on a little fall clothing for the kids and I. If I were to have a special and different day + drive a couple hours to do so, I'd have felt better with a little more cash in my wallet than what I have. I was considering calling G to see if he had some that I could easily grab. But first, I wanted to check the bank balance to get that feel for things.

Once I had a look, I noticed a recent substantial withdrawal that I already knew about. Then I also noticed a more recent less substantial withdrawal, that I couldn't account for. I scrolled through the last couple months of deposits/withdrawals to rehash their accountability & validity in my mind. I wondered what the most recent withdrawal was for.

There was no sense in feeling one way or another about it since I didn't know what it was for. But, seeing withdrawals in $1,000 + increments that I know nothing about still creates a little twinge in my gut {or stay-at-home-mom-once-working-girl-pride, or heart?}. I kept moving, and looked up Sutherland Farm hours to find that today would be a no go anyway, since they are only open to families on weekends {...open to elementary school classes during the week}.

I went ahead and called G to find out what the withdrawal was for, and he told me. I was a little less than thrilled. But hey, I'm not the one working, right? It's not my money, right? I have what I need, right? Not only that, but I get to stay at home with my kids, right?

This is where couples in similar family & financial dynamics go around and around...where stay-at-home-moms walk a fine line between blessed & suppressed.

Now let's jump back to Monday and a conversation I was having with a good friend. We had been talking about the idea of "good" and "bad" decisions relating to how to deal with using/splitting up family property. So many people get caught up in family feuds regarding the whole who-gets-what-and-why thing, and it seems like such a shame. But, as soon as money is involved, family members who have always gotten along well seem to have a harder time doing so. If for no other reason, I've always viewed that as a plus to my being an only child {I asked for a sibling for Christmas until I was sixteen and finally gave up, being forced to look at the positive side of things.}.

During our talk, and pertaining to my personal situation, I made the comment, "don't get me wrong, I really like money and I'd like to have lots of it. I'd rather make good decisions than not. But, I also kinda don't care...or, maybe I'm not that good with, or smart about, it."

I went on to talk about my feelings regarding my families interest in some joint property and how I didn't think it would bother me at all if the other members never paid another dime toward it or any improvements. I think that I'd be perfectly content with building a house and making improvements on our dime...just per a quality of life value. I was telling my friend about how I felt like being there was worth more that what the financial value {or possible investment} might be. I'm not sure that adding it all up on paper, including the other member's financial interests, would be in our favor. But, whether it be financially smart or not, I didn't really care. The things that I was finding value in are priceless we determined, like the old MasterCard commercials so sentimentally convinced us were important regardless of cost {or debt}.

Alright, now that you have that insight into my nature, let's rewind two days. I set my phone on the nightstand and made my way into my side of the bed. I lifted the tribal print blanket that hangs in our window as a curtain, the bottom of the window directly above and behind our mattress. Gabe was already in, and turned from his phone to look at what I was doing to say, "whatcha doin', checkin' on your pet spider?"

Yes, as a matter of fact I was checking on the black widow that has taken up residence in between the screen and glass of our window. The same window that is inches from our heads when we sleep at night. Reading this may shock and alarm some of you...Why don't you remove the screen and kill the spider?! you might be asking {or screaming!}. I will tell you why. It makes no difference...zero, zip, zilch, none. The spider doesn't care about us. He sits in the window, on his {or her} web, at night waiting for supper...some unsuspecting gnat or fly who has made it's way into the less than airtight, 1950s trailer house, window.

A couple weeks ago after spotting the eight legged protector I did attempt to smash it between the screen and window. It sciddadled in a hurry. I weighed my options of getting a screw gun, removing the stripped screws, taking down the spider web attached screen from the window {that is directly & immediately above our pillows}, and then what?...vacuuming the spider from the tricky old crevices that make up the internal mechanisms of the old crank window. The task was neither appealing, nor did it guarantee success. I settled on duct tape {you know you're a red neck when...}. I duct taped the holy {literally} heck out of the screen. I had placed a small duct tape patch on a 1x1" hole in the screen last summer that kids had slowly and surely picked apart. The screen was also completely detached from the bottom of the frame from the same kids pushing in on it at nap times. I didn't feel good about the screen's lack of security from the eight legged protector, however protector it may be. The spider may be keeping other bugs from getting to us, but I wanted to make sure there was some sort of barrier to keep the spider from getting to us.

Now the screen is duct taped in place; with all the holes in it patched. I check the window periodically, and at different times of day, to see what's going on. There definitely seems to be a routine. The black widow is out at night, when we sleep, to eat. Let me guess, you are still screaming and wondering Why, or How, are you okay with this??!! Why don't we replace the window you ask. Because there are twelve windows/doors in our 700+ square ft., white peeling paint sided, trailer house that need replaced. It would probably cost a few thousand dollars. Then what? I will skip all the descriptions of items in need of repair or replacement...the house is worth nothing and the next improvement on it that makes sense is demolition.

But...the house is our home. It's got a kick ass word burning stove, cool old windows lining the back room addition that were salvaged from the old Bayfield Gymnasium. It is where I have spent every day, at home, with my kids since we brought them home from the hospital. I love this house + we aren't in a position to rebuild right now. It brings me great conflict to speak of it so harshly because of it's character and history.

I'm not a spider sparing freak. Or, so sentimental that I won't jump for joy the day we tear this bad boy down. But, I live with the things that don't really matter, and I find value in certain things that can't be bought or sold. I think that taking the time to write this post counts for something, though it may never be measured. I'm convinced also, that someday, I will sell enough wish bracelets to develop nursing bras that will rock the world.

Quite the opposite of what it may seem from what you've read here, I'm a neat freak. My nature borders OCD, and it has taken all the strength of my soul to be okay living under the circumstances of this old house. But I am okay. I'm happier, and stronger, than I've ever been in my life.

So, whatup with money??? It can be tough seeing 10+ grand spent on things with wheels that may or may not be priorities, and when I work so hard to stay within the household budget each month. My income never changes, nor do I feel like I get to make big ticket decisions with money...other than those that are impossible to measure. My job is to be happy raising our kids, and to make most all of the decisions that affect them...something that is highly immeasurable. I, like other women I know, enjoy spending money on things that bring comfort or joy to ourselves or others, and on things that make life easier in one way or another; usually smaller ticket items like clothes or things for the home, and maybe vacations. While men seem to enjoy spending money on larger items, likely for many of the same reasons, but seemingly at higher price points...think technology and vehicles, property, houses, etc... In G's case and defense, things that can likely be resold and likely for a profit. I buy things to keep. He buys things to rollover or trade for the next thing.

Whatever floats one's boat, like I said in the beginning, matters of money are very personal. What someone buys is what makes someone happy, and who wants their happiness judged?

I sure don't, which is why I try super hard not to judge G's. But, give a woman, a mom, a boot & bag lover a break! Next time you flaunt a couple hundreds from a deal you made...share the material love with your baby mama or daddy who's staying at home; give them one or two that's outside the normal budget. Spare them the pride in having to ask, or going without.

I know I get the better end of the deal. I know what it's like to work and to earn an income closer to triple digits than not. I know that I'd rather be here, in my spider infested home, than working sixty hours a week away from my kids. I'm thankful for all Gabe provides for us everyday. But, all of the thanks don't make it easy to not earn an income, and to not contribute financially. And, all of the thanks actually make it difficult to ask for more. But sometimes it would be just plain fun and joyful to get a bonus...a little cash outside of the budget that needn't be accounted for {if one could be afforded of course}.

This morning after calling Gabe and deciding to stick around the house, I made cookies. I'd been craving homemade chocolate chip cookies since I made the most delicious ones of my career last week.  However, today's didn't turn out so good. They certainly are not bad, but not as good. I was beginning a rant in my head about how... if I take the time to make cookies then they darn well better be amazing...blah blah blah. Then I stopped, looked up and thought, well at least I didn't eat six today OR even have the urge. I totally ate six, in one day, last week which wouldn't be a fantastic habit to get into.

Anyway, while all of this was going on in me today, the kids were having a day of their own. When I put True down for his nap and was leaving his room...he whispered, "sssspsspspps." with a smile.

I said, "what did you say?" and got closer to him; just inches from his face where I could hear him this time.

"Today has been a wonderful day." 

He said it with his gorgeous smile, a whisper that will steel some girl's heart someday {or already has}, and sparkling green eyes. Yes, it has...my eyes twinkled back.

absolutely, utterly, and absurdly priceless {xoxo}, JL

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