This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
As you grow up it’s only natural that all of your adult responsibilities mount.
First you graduate college, get a good job, find an apartment to rent, pay off those college loans and try to attempt putting a little away now and then for down the road. Then you meet someone, get engaged, pay for a wedding and with any luck you can buy a home. And all of that is serious stuff that can cause you to tear your hair out with stress. But add “have a baby” to the end of that list and the worry factor spikes to new heights.
And sometimes, it seems like all of those aforementioned issues rise up and attack simultaneously. I’m having one of those weeks as we speak.
First of all, we bought our condo at the exact wrong time, just before the real estate market went to shit. If we were to try and sell our place, we’d probably be looking at a loss in the area of $40,000 which is obviously unacceptable. And like so many young people tempted by the American dream of home ownership, we went out and got an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) thinking — at the time — we could refinance or (hopefully) sell within a couple of years and move to a bigger place. Well moving is out and because lending restrictions have tightened so dramatically, we’re finding we’d have to come to the table with roughly $15,000 just to refinance and get a fixed rate. And as you might imagine, we don’t have $15,000 grand just sitting around.
So starting this month, our ARM goes up and we pay an extra $350 a month in mortgage payments. And wouldn’t you know it, Will starts daycare on Friday. Even though he’s only going two days a week that’s an additional $360 a month we need to somehow afford. And as anyone in the northeast knows, winter is right around the corner and with the cold temperatures comes outlandish heating bills. We’re all electric here at Casa de Gouveia and the cold months can run us more than $500 a month. We also have an $1,100 special assessment from our condo association, increased condo fees and all the little added expenses that come with having a baby.
And that wouldn’t be so bad if my job situation was a little better. If you’ve been living in a cave, the newspaper industry is in rough shape these days. Granted, the Cape Cod Times is doing better than most and I really enjoy working there, all newspapers are facing the same issues. Layoffs, buyouts, not filling vacant positions, cutting down on overtime…it’s just a somewhat scary and unsure time for anyone in our line of work.
And when I stepped back and looked at our situation, I realized we’re really just one small step up from living paycheck to paycheck. All it would take is one bump in the road and we’d be in serious trouble.
It’s probably just my old-fashioned streak, but I hate that I’m not the breadwinner. MJ makes more than double my salary and we’re on her benefits. I hate that I feel like I can’t provide for my own family. I hate that MJ probably won’t be able to be a stay-at-home-mom. Even though she’s never come out and said that’s what she wants to do, I’m pretty sure it is. But a man/father should provide for his family at all costs and I’m not getting it done. And since I’m happy with what I’m doing, I really don’t want to find another job.
I hope I’m not coming off as whiny because I’m sure 99 percent of all couples/parents go through this exact same thing. But it’s so daunting when you look at the bills versus your income and see such a gaping disparity. Everyone always tells me “No one knows how it always works out, but it always does.” They’re probably right, but at this point I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I just want to give Will everything he needs and I’m scared that I’m going to be a bad father because I don’t bring home the bacon. But you know what? I look at him — smiling away — and he makes me believe everything will be OK. I feel like even if the bank forecloses on our house (we’re nowhere that point, don’t worry) or we have to move in with relatives or I’m forced to get a new job, that we’ll eventually land on our feet. I have to believe that and to hell with all the negatives.
I just need Will and MJ, the rest will take care of itself.