Keeping up with the Joneses

Little over a year ago, our second child was born! My husband and I have truly been blessed! Life is amazing! It truly is. During my maternity leave, we had endless family time. My husband, John, had been a stay at home father for a few years by then. So we used that time to explore, take hikes, and think about all the things we wanted to do with our girls, Alex and Hailey. And then one day we were listening to this podcast. I’m sorry I forgot the author, but what they said struck me. “You only have 18 summers to make memories with your kids.” 18 – Think about that for a moment. I know I did. During this time I also found Youtube. The knowledge that is shared and gained from Youtube is impressive. No more silly cat videos. Hello Keep Your Day Dream, Overland Bound, World Towning, Finding our Someday… the list kept going and I watched average people transform their lives into something more for them and their family. For three months I absorbed their lives.

Back to reality – For awhile after going back to work I was content with the life I had created. Why not? I had two beautiful girls, a loving husband, a playful dog, a large house in a well respected community. My job was very rewarding. I had worked myself up from minimum wage to a six digit income after only five years. And when I got back to work my employees were excited to see me. I had succeeded in the American dream. We were keeping up with the Joneses. Everything was perfect right? People dream of having all of these things.

The flip side to living the American Dream.

Money. Over those five years of climbing the corporate ladder I found that the more money I made, the more bills I owed. It seemed to go hand in hand. Or maybe I just lacked discipline, I definitely lacked something. When I received the medical bill 6 months later for my c section I realized just how far down the rabbit hole my husband and I had gone. I couldn’t pay it. I went back to my finances to see where we could save money and pay off the medical bill. There were little things I could trim. But nothing serious enough to pay that medical bill off quickly. Then within the same month we had a few more financial changes that came our way. While we simplified our life and ate in for every meal, turned off all the lights, canceled Netflix and cable, we were still getting further into a situation that seemed further from where we wanted to be. Certainly not having fun. But then we did have a very expensive house. We had a very expensive water bill, cable bill, electric bill, truck loan, student loan, gas for work… and all of those things seemed like necessities. Right?

Time. Money can’t buy time. My rewarding job required me to commute two hours round trip every day. I averaged a 12 hour day at work and I was called or texted often at night and on my day’s off. You can do the math and see my time for my children was very little. My health and fitness had also steadily decreased over the years (two kids didn’t help) and I was no longer the fit and slim young woman I had once been. Yet I was providing for my family! They were healthy and happy and growing up strong. As an adult you have responsibilities. Not working was not an option. My parents were hard working Americans. I am a hard working American. Time was just something I had to sacrifice to ensure my kids were provided for.

Last December my husband and I came to a conclusion that something had to change. My job had become less satisfying. And while it was still financially rewarding John and I still struggled to pay all of our bills each month. We had already trimmed off all the fun activities. We could not continue our current path. Looking into the future I saw only bitterness and regret for our situation. Is this the way we wanted to live the best years with our little girls? I don’t believe in regret, I believe in choice and action. If you want something in this life, then stand up and make it happen. And the ability to do that is the American Dream.

And that day in December – John and I laid out a path to make it happen.


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