Monday, May 18, 2015

The signal has been lost

How do you revamp a blog that's been let down so many times? It's been two years since I last posted here. I've moved to the suburbs, watched my kids grow, and now I have a kindergartner and a 4-year-old. So much is different, and yet, laughably, so much is the same. I'm back to where I was before, though in reality I never actually left. Overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, overworked, under-appreciated.

From the outside, things really seem to be looking up. They're not. My own facade is cracking, my motivation waning, and my desire to ESCAPE is escalating. I know that's not good. I probably just need a good vacation. And a housekeeper. A chef/nutritionist. Personal trainer. A nanny would be awesome too. And a secretary. But honestly, I'll settle for a vacation sometime this summer.

There's a decent chance I won't get one, however. For starters, we gave in and became a two-car family in December. The Versa had one payment left, and we were struggling with suburban family life, two kids, and one car. And we all know how much I've wanted a bigger family. So in December, we packed up the kids, dropped them off with my parents, and went car shopping. We returned a few hours later with a minivan.

I know, it's so cliche. Have two kids: a boy and a girl. Move to the suburbs. Get a minivan. All we're missing is soccer practice and a little stick figure family on the back of the van. And probably a dog, but that's not happening.

But I digress; around the same time we bought the van, we decided to upgrade some of our furniture. We were co-sleepers from the time my son was 4 months old, but as our family grew in number and we all grew in size, our queen bed ceased to work. DH was constantly sleeping elsewhere in part because he simply didn't fit with me and two kids. So we got ourselves a king-sized bed, bought a new frame for the queen and relegated the mattress to the guest room. Next came the new dresser and end tables for the guest room, too. And of course, with bigger kids, came bigger beds for them. Gone were the tiny toddler beds. We bought a sturdy bunk with a full on the bottom and twin on the top. Plenty of space for story time and snuggling when needed.

On top of an abnormally unrestrained Christmas shopping season, all of this buying things set us back. I knew we'd overspent, but I wasn't too concerned until I sat down to do our taxes. Since I became primarily self-employed, we'd been compensating on taxes by having DH withhold at the single rate. Every year we'd gotten a lot of money back at tax time, which as everyone knows is essentially loaning the government your hard-earned money interest-free. To avoid doing that, and to help cover the increased costs of our new domicile, I adjusted DH's withholding last year. Unfortunately, I kicked it too far in the other direction. Instead of getting lots back, we were going to owe lots.

After that, I put the taxes away and resolved not to file until just before the deadline, to allow more time to pay what we owed. And then the final shoe dropped. DH's computer broke, and certain parts needed to be replaced. Expensive parts. When the dust finally settled, we had roughly a $7K swing from where I'd expected us to be, not including all of that extra Christmas spending.

Unfortunately, when we suffer from debt, there's only one solution that makes sense. I have to work more hours. I make a pretty good hourly rate, and I have oodles of work that I'm behind on. So I've been burning the candle at both ends. Staying up late getting work done. Feeding the kids and making lunches in the morning, getting them to their respective schools (relatively) on time. Coming back, feeding myself (sometimes), and getting to work. Heading back out to pick up DD, coming back and spending time with her or trying to distract her while I attempt to get things done. I'm not keeping it together well, and everything is suffering.

I have deadlines that are so long past I can't remember when they were. I have unanswered emails, a neglected work website (and blog), an exploding laundry room, three floors of grimy, unvacuumed carpet, an overly-cluttered desk, two unwashed cars, a sink full of dirty dishes, an overly-cluttered desk, a disastrous mess in every room, and a front walk that desperately needs sweeping. My DVR is full-to-bursting, new novels on my Kindle remain unread, I haven't watched a live TV show in ages, I haven't seen the inside of my gym in weeks, my fridge is sad lacking in essentials, and none of my clothes fit. Remember when I lost all of that weight? It's all back, and then some. I've already had to buy new pants, shorts are going to be next since I've run out of clean skirts and dresses.

I have had some small wins recently though. I keep getting new clients without trying. DD turned 4 and continues to nurse daily (more on THAT later, I hope). I'm co-leader of ICAN of Northern Virginia now, and we had a great meeting over the weekend. I get to sing some amazing songs in church. I finally got an EIN for my business, and a bank account, and a credit card (all this week, actually).

There are just so many more stressors in the coming days and weeks and months that I'm beginning to despair about it ever ending. I desperately need to take better care of myself. Go to the dentist. Go see a new chiropractor. Get a massage. Go to the gym. Start meal planning again. Walk. Shower and comb my hair. Maybe even find a new hair dresser that specializes in natural black hair (more on THAT later, too). But in order to do those things, I need money and time. I don't have either right now, and I can't exactly make them out of thin air. More money means less time. More time means less money. We can't afford less money right now, so there you have it. No time.

I'm honestly not sure how long I can go on like this. I've been in manic mood for too long, and there's no end in sight. I need help.


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