Each month as the household bills come rolling in and we watch the scale tip; too much money going out and not enough coming in – it can be a hard pill to swallow. It is emotionally draining, pounding on the ego, frustrating and very easy to become envious of what others have and doubting of decisions that brought us to this point. This has happened to us before, as when we were first married we purchased our first home and had to settle into a mortgage payment that was a stretch. Then several years ago we felt the pinch, being in our third home and managing the growth of expenses with a family of 7. Now married 20 years this summer and 18 months into owning our own companies and again we have to make some major shifts in our spending and our income. In times like these I hear my dad’s voice “you need to make sacrifices, what can you live without.” Then my inner mom voice chimes in and says “roll up your sleeves and find a way to fix the situation”.
Getting organized is usually my first defense and that starts by reevaluating our expenses via a color coded spreadsheet. As a stay home mom, through trials we learn how to be creative for example; on where to shop to find the best values for groceries (Aldi), how the majority of household providers (cable TV, security systems, phone companies) are willing to drop your monthly expense by simply asking and cooking at home on a budget versus eating out is an enormous savings. Once those options are exhausted more difficult choices may be necessary. When I had four small children under the age of 5, I shared with my husband if I didn’t get some help around the house or with laundry I may never make it to see them graduate high school. Over the last 10 years, I was blessed each Tuesday from 9:00 – 2:00 with my own personal Mary Poppins. She arrived each week and magically created order in our house, especially the laundry room. I was spoiled and saying goodbye to that luxury was extremely difficult. She helped me care for my newborns and she will be missed. That sadness was lifted when I watched the kids’ expressions, as I showed them their new job charts. I kind of chuckled when I heard one of them say “clean the bathroom sinks, are you serious?” My oldest sister has the motto “a family that cleans together and prays together will stay together.” In our fast past society, busy with sports and activities on the weekend, I believe we lost sight of this fundamental life lesson on working together to care for our home.
We have many harder choices in front of us, that other families have faced and with perhaps less options than our family. A few things that I have noticed in this chapter of our life; the idea of walking in faith when we have so many unknown pieces is challenging, rising to be the person I believe God intended me to be is much harder than I thought when under stress and giving into despair is easy. On the flipside I am noticing blessings in the very small things of life; such as the joy of teaching my child how to wash the baseboards or asking one of the children to help me with calculating the groceries so we stay within a budget. Or staying home and having a family game night versus going out to the movies.
We have found ways to supplement our monthly income by selling some toys and items around the house via an on-line garage sale site. I have opened up my schedule for a few more speaking engagements; one at a Christian book store opening in the spring and a morning retreat for the Joliet Diocese Deaconate Wives. This is my real passion, so please pass along my name if your parish, community or network is in need of speakers. I also am working as a consultant for my favorite skincare solution and feeling so good about helping individuals address basic and everyday skincare needs; such as sun damaged skin, wrinkles, dull and sensitive skin, acne and eczema. Having balance in my life for healthy eating, fitness, skin care, nurturing relationship and faith formation all help my confidence and relieve stress.
Last year I spoke at Illinois Benedict College to a group of students about “Using Your Strengths and Gifts to Follow Your Dreams.” I shared with them wisdom from Saint Catherine of Siena “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on Fire.” It is easy to doubt who God intended for me to be when life is at a crossroads. When following your dreams isn’t quite financially sustaining the family then prayer and patience is necessary. In scripture we hear that God doesn’t want us to worry and he wants us to trust in Him. I also believe that God gave us a heart and a mind for a reason. I believe he asks us to be creative, think outside the box, wear many hats, look at all your options, reevaluate what is important and how do the choices we make impact our not only ourselves but our children as well.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream….” C.S. Lewis