Jeff and I honeymooned in Fiji. Which was, in a word, ah-FREAKING-mazing. (And yes, that’s a word. I just made it up. But it’s TOTALLY a word.:))
Every night, after a day of snorkeling or or rafting or kayaking or scuba diving or whatever, we’d take a walk on the beach and watch the sun set over the water before we’d head to dinner.
The sunsets were pretty, of course. But what I remember from those beach walks was our discussion. We were newly married. We had dreams and hopes and talked about what we wanted out of our marriage: two kids (preferably three years apart, of course), a big house with land, careers that afforded us balance and family and vacation time with opportunities for advancement. And travel, lots of travel.
Both of our families didn’t have a lot of money when we were growing up. And the one thing we talked about was this idea of never having to WORRY about money. We wanted to live within our means and keep a savings account balance. We wanted to pay off our credit card every month so our debt was limited to mortgage and student loans. But we also wanted to be able to splurge here and there without too much worry: vacations, tee ball, dinners out, weekends away, etc.
It’s no secret that I don’t love being an accountant. I picked it because it was recession-proof and I figured it would be intellectually challenging. Which is was. Is. But it’s hard to separate what I COULD do with what I actually have time to do, and it can be stressful when I find an issue I don’t have time to find, and my clients often don’t love me, especially when it’s Sarbanes-Oxley work.
And I loathe, utterly LOATHE, the commute. Driving into Boston every day sucks the soul right out of me.
So this weekend I ran actual monthly numbers to see if we could afford for me to stay home. And discovered very quickly that, while it’s DOABLE, it would require us to significantly change our lifestyle. For the first time, we’d have to WORRY about money.
There’s plenty we COULD do, mind you, to save money. We could get rid of our gym memberships, and I could stop doing my running clinics. No more budget for a running coach, or deep sea fishing or golf for Jeff. No tee ball, no Museum of Science membership.
We could make it work.
But then I remembered our discussion on the beach in Fiji. So many of those beach dreams didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. We don’t have the two kids three years apart like we had hoped: we are SO fortunate to have our son, but there will likely never be a sibling. Balance with family and work does not come easily for either one of us. We do have the big house with land and great neighbors, but it means a long commute into Boston – for both of us.
I am fully aware of how fortunate I am to have choices, this day and age. I’m only a few generations removed from a woman who didn’t have the right to vote, work, or do ANYTHING with her mind.
And even, right now, I know so many people where both parents HAVE to work – there’s no choice in the matter. I also know people who have been looking for work for a long time and would LOVE to have the flexibility I do with my career.
At the end of the day, I have a choice.
And right now, I will choose to continue to do what I’m doing. Which means the suck of a three hour commute, but hopefully some time off here and there – and flexibility to work from home when I need to. It means I continue to work as an accountant, even though I don’t love it (on the good days) and hate it (on the bad days). It means Owen goes to aftercare at school three times a week. It means I continue to juggle and feel like supermom (on the good days) and an utter failure (on the bad days).
What we didn’t see on that beach in Fiji nearly a decade ago was the full picture; in our honeymoon haze, we saw our dreams through rose-colored glasses and imagined the perfect life without the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
The reality is that life is kind of hard, and it’s impossible to do it all without sacrificing something. My sacrifice, right now, for the flexibility to do the things we enjoy outside of work is a long commute and time at a job that I don’t love.
Really, at the end of the day, that’s not so bad.
And yes, remind me of this when I’m complaining about how I loathe it sometime soon, please. 🙂
What are some of the choices you’ve made to live the life you want? Are they sacrifices you’d make willingly if you could do it again?