Uncertain Future

A few years ago my husband and I decided we were going to make a change. After years of having children and grown children living under our roof we decided we had earned the right to concentrate on us for awhile. We wanted to visit our one daughter and her family who doesn’t live close by. We wanted to be able to visit our mothers and our siblings more often. We wanted to spend time traveling and just enjoying each other once more.

In preparation for doing this we started cutting back and paring down on our expenses. We evaluated everything and made adjustments to not only our spending but our way of life. For example we traded our fancier phones for more basic models and turned to a month to month phone plan. It saved us 50% off our phone bill at the time and it has served us well, at least to this point.

Along with the phone, we cancelled our cable and opted to keep only our internet. We now watch Netflix and Hulu and again we slashed our bill by 50%. We started paying very close attention our electricity usage. We were careful to unplug appliances while not in use. We checked over our current plan and changed to one that more suited our needs. This brought about move savings.

We made a list and shopped for groceries once a week. We avoided the stores at all other times. This provided huge saving for us. We also learned to shop sales and stock up. My freezer and pantry stayed very well stocked during that time.

Thrift store shopping became the norm for us. We always searched out used before making any new purchase. That included clothing. That is something I had never done before but I quickly became hooked.

At the time we had a Dodge Ram dual cab pick up truck that we were putting quiet a few miles on every day picking up and dropping off children from school. We bought a new Honda Fit. Although buying a new vehicle is not necessarily a wise financial move, it proved to be cost effective for us. The new car payment, insurance and gas amounted to considerably less than what we were spending for gas alone on the truck. We choose to be a single car family so we gave the truck to our son.

We even considered selling our three bedroom home and moving into an apartment or smaller home. We considered it but couldn’t make ourselves make that move.  Even buying the smaller car was difficult for me because I was afraid it was not going to big enough in the future.

Here we are in the future. We still adhere to many of the changes we made before. We may have to upgrade our phones soon. The basic phones that have served us so well up to this point are unable to handle all the apps the kid’s school want us to have just to keep up with what is going on there. Who knew we would need all that.  Still we have been wondering if we need to make other changes. Do we need a bigger car or an additional car? Do we need a different home in a better school district?

For right now we are uncertain of what the future holds. We have no definite answers on how long our grandchildren will be with us. It is still the plan that they be reunited with their parents. If that happens our phones are plenty good enough for the two of us. Our car is more than adequate for us as a couple and we do not need more than one vehicle.  If we do not have children living here there is no need to worry about what school we are zoned in.

So for now we wait. We pray and wait and try to make tentative plans for the future. The not knowing and waiting is harder on me emotionally than my husband. He is much more of a go with the flow type of guy. I wish I could be more like him at times.

No Work Involved With Raising Your Grandchildren

The other day a friend called to catch up. She is an older lady from church.  She calls out of genuine concern and I have never heard her gossip about anyone.  Still I dread those conversations. She asks question after question and many of them feel quite invasive. She asked, as she always does, what most would consider a seemingly innocent question. She asked if I work anywhere.

For years I worked in retail management. While I have nothing against the retail industry, I had just become burned out. Years of working every holiday and almost every weekend had gotten old. Frequently schedules are not very regular and it can be difficult to plan a life of any kind around that uncertainty. I never had the same days off from one week to the next, and because I was the manager, days off and vacation days were often forfeited for the sake of business.

When it became obvious that there would be issues with one of our grandchildren, my husband and I made the decision for me to come home and be available to help care for this child. Little did we know what this would lead to. Not only did I care for this child until things settled down, I became daycare for my daughter’s little boy.  Then shortly there after we had two other grandchildren come to live with us for the first time without their parents. I was a very busy grandmother.

Fast forward five and a half years to present day. I still do daycare for my daughter’s  now seven year old  son and eleven month old baby boy.  I still have the older child that I originally quit work for here frequently on weekends. The two little boys that came to live with us then are back with us along with their little sister. I also have five other grandchildren living close by who occasionally spend the night. I am with kids all the time.

The day before the conversation with the lady from church I had my daughter’s two boys, my older grandchild and the three that are living here. All day I cleaned up messes and spills. I swept my hardwood floors at least a dozen times trying to keep all of the little stuff off the floor that the eleven month old could and would put into his mouth. I cooked two meals and baked muffins for snacks. I filled drinks, changed diapers, accompanied children to the bathroom, settled disputes and kissed boo boos. I searched out the perfect shows on Netflix,  found the age appropriate Youtube videos, and fixed the XBox. During all this I washed, folded and put away three loads of laundry and washed dishes. (I don’t have a dishwasher. I am the dishwasher.)

By the time my son-in-law arrived for his boys it was nearly bedtime. I still had to get the four remaining children bathed and ready for bed. Of course they needed one last snack and drink before brushing their teeth and heading off to sleep. When the last child had finally fallen asleep I looked around my house. I needed to sweep my floors. I had a few dishes to be washed. There was a sticky spill in the kitchen and the bathroom floor was wet. On top of that the clothes hamper was now full of dirty clothes again. I was completely exhausted and I knew I would get to complete the whole process the next day.

When my friend asked if I worked anywhere, I took a deep breath and sighed. I plastered a smile on my face and said as nicely as I could, “No I don’t work outside my home. I have the three kids here and I watch my daughter’s boys while she works.” My friend replied, “Oh well that is good that you get to stay home and don’t have to work.” Yep no work involved with what I do every day at all.