The Creative Struggle

By Jenna

I live a good life. I have a wonderful husband and two fantastic children. We live in a one bedroom apartment with our dog and cat. My husband has a good job and I am a full time student. That last part is what makes our lives a little more difficult. Being a full time student and a mom has put me in a position where I need to be a stay home mom instead of working mom. Though the trials that led me to this position were less than friendly, I am almost done with school and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The hardest part of being a stay home mom isn’t taking care of the children constantly, it’s the struggle to keep our head above water.

 

In 2014, my daughter was born. I had a good job working in hospice as a team coordinator. Right as I was asking to go back to work from a set maternity leave, not paid for by the company since they only would allow me to work per diem, the company advised me they were looking to downsize. Guess what that meant. The person who worked nearly 40 hours a week on per diem and had just had a baby was now the most expendable person in the company. My boss had refused to give me a termination notice for fear that I would take legal measures. I had begged her at least to write a letter for my apartment so I could get out of my lease. Without a job, we couldn’t afford my previous apartment. My boss refused and instead wrote a letter saying it was my decision to be a stay home mother instead of work. I cried because her lies and fears were controlling her actions to make my life harder than it was already.

 

I did not sue the company for wronging me. I did not have enough funds to hire a lawyer and I knew my heart couldn’t handle a new baby, searching for a job that would pay me enough, and a lawsuit. It simply wasn’t worth the misery I would have experienced. Instead, I went back to school. It was a long term goal of mine to have my BA in History. I chose history because I am passionate about history. I have one more year of school and I want to share how my little family of four survived this far on a single income in Orange County California.

 

When I started school, about 2 years ago, I was working a part time job making calls for a company, but wasn’t even making grocery money. This, plus my husband’s $20 an hour income was just enough to get us through my first year with our first newborn. Part way through the first year, we had to get creative with our finances because there was another baby on the way. We already had school debt from both my previous semester out of state, my husband’s education, and credit card debt from a vacation or two. Coupled with paying for my both of my children’s home water birth, we have been strapped tight with debt.

 

The first thing my husband started doing to help us is begin consolidating our debt. We were able to take out a bit extra in the student loans to cover some of our credit card debt and our children’s births. The student loans were at lower interest rates, and it allows me to postpone paying of that debt until I’m more financially stable. We have decided to stay in a one bedroom since we have that flexibility. We are in a downstairs unit with a backyard so we are as comfortable as we can afford for the short run.

 

As the years ticked by (I say that, but only 3 have passed), I was able to find cheaper groceries at stores like Aldi, how to make meals, where to find cheap and used baby clothes, and my husband was able to secure a bit of a raise. Even through all of this, he still had to get a second job. That is what being an adult is about though, I guess. Doing what you need to do, even though it isn’t fun or easy.

 

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