On August 28, 2003, six years ago, Steve and I met for a date for the first time and I knew that my world really was forever changed. It is an understatement to say that I am so glad I met him. We got all dressed up last night and went on a date to celebrate (it’s not frugal September just yet).
I was reading some archived entries from soulemama, and at some point her husband remarked that she’d been pregnant for 36% of the time that he’d known her (they’ve just had their fourth child, and they wed with their first already cooking). It took me forever to do the math (okay, I just asked Steve, who looked at the ceiling for a fraction of a second and then answered), but I’ve been pregnant for 1/12 of the time that I’ve known him — that’s about 8%.
I’ve been reading this book that talks about the many phases that we go through to become centered, complicated, purposeful adults, and I was feeling hard on myself yesterday for my faults. I’ve been wanting so badly to be the perfect vessel, but I’m not. I have so much work to do.
But I came upon this convoluted thought that gave me peace. We are given experiences that help us to grow, and they come when they should come. So the very nature of pregnancy is inherently conflicted, because a baby comes into a life that needs it; if it needs it, it must not be the perfect vessel yet. This baby will help me to grow into a better mother, and I can’t be there yet. We are all learning together.
We’d spent too much money with our babymooning through June and July, so we declared August spend-money-on-nothing-but-food month. We understood that one exception to this rule would be the preparation of Rosie’s new bedroom. Other than that, we promised to be boring.
But we got the credit card bill today and we did a horrible job.
It turns out we spent almost $200 at Blockbuster this month. I don’t watch many movies, but we did have a 30 Rock bonanza for a week (that show isn’t so great), and Steve watches a good amount, considering we don’t have a television. And we ended up having to buy a $70 movie that we had rented in June and didn’t return on time, though we so badly didn’t want it even in our house that we just gave it back to the movie store. That expense category right there is the worst I have to report. It somehow seemed at the time that we weren’t spending money when we rented movies because we weren’t going out at night, but that’s delusional.
We spent $1,000 in the category marked “miscellaneous.” That’s depressing. It included $200 for a new ipod for Rosie because she lost the one Steve had given her in June (sigh) (the new ipod was an arrangement that went along with her swimming all the way around the lake, and Steve didn’t have the heart to make her wait until September to get her prize). It also included a $550 hospital bill from an ultrasound in June that insurance didn’t cover. The rest was mostly parking downtown and mailing out a few packages.
We spent $1,050 on groceries, which, to me, is okay, though to others it must sound awful. We hosted a few gatherings of friends and cooked for them, and we have at times four people (five if you include the baby in my belly) who need to eat. One of the eaters is a high schooler who has swim practice twice a day, one is an adult male, one is a snacky nine-year-old, and one is pregnant, so no one around here is eating for less than one. And this bill includes some items that others might get at Target, like toilet paper and aluminum foil, plus prenatal vitamins that cost $3 a day, and other vitamins, and Steve’s wine, which I longingly watched him drink. And we shop at a local grocery store that provides us quality organic food, we don’t buy Lean Cuisine or anything, we prepare everything from nearly scratch, and part of buying local quality food is it’s going to cost more than Kroger.
But if that sound like a lot, then how did we total $500 in eating out? Most of this is from our morning walks, where Steve will buy an Americano and I’ll buy a hot chocolate or tea at the (expensive, organic, local) co-op (whoa those drinks add up). Some of it includes lunches we ate out alone, he at his office and I at my studio. There are two family pizza dinners in there, but no fancy dinners out or anything.
I spent $500 on the pets: about $200 on pet food, which averages $50 a week for four pets, which really isn’t bad for quality food — plus $300 on vet bills. Both dogs were due for their yearly shots, Joon got an ear infection that still hasn’t cleared, and we go to a vet who also practices Eastern Chinese medicine on our dogs, so that costs more.
We had to spend $750 on our car: the oil change was due, we guzzled gasoline by driving up north and to Pennsylvania and back, and with all that driving we waited and waited but finally had to get three new tires.
We ended up spending $850 on home improvement: $250 on tulilp bulbs (I think this was something Steve bought in July that didn’t process until August), and $600 on Rosie’s new room to make way for the baby (non-toxic wall paint, a shelf system for her closet, a new desk and a shelf, a lamp, and new pillows and bedding.
That didn’t include our mortgage, electric and water bill, the cell phone bill for three people, health insurance ($700 reluctant dollars a month), internet access, our student loans (between me and Steve, that’s $700 of student loans per month). Life is expensive like this. No one talks about money, no one gives numbers, but I am talking about it here because, one, I feel the need to confess our Blockbuster and to-go coffee sins, and, two, because I think it’s fair to show how expensive it can be to have a family, a home, and health.
Which brings us to September. We’ve decided to do a better job at spend-money-on-nothing-but-food in September. We’re not going to go to Blockbuster even once. We’re not going to eat out ever, and we’ll make coffee at home, and Steve’s cutting out alcohol. There are some things we have to buy in September and we’re allowing for those: plane tickets for a planned trip in October; to pay someone to sand the wood trim inside our house before Steve stains it (the wood needs to be stained or it risks water damage and warping); to pay for someone to fix the electricity in the laundry and storage rooms (the lights in there haven’t turned on for two months — I’ve literally been doing laundry in the dark [though this should not be compared with dooce's national laundry saga]); to pay for someone to deep-clean the wool rugs throughout our house (it’s been two years since we bought them, and you’re supposed to wash them at least once a year as part of their upkeep or else they’ll get ruined, apparently); gifts for Rosie’s birthday; and some big hospital bills that will be coming in from other emergency ultrasounds that insurance didn’t cover (that’s a whole other story). Here’s hoping we have enough for savings in October. Blah.
My brother gave me a book many months ago, Nature and the Human Soul, and I didn’t crack it until now. Partially that was because I was going through a phase where I needed fiction, and partially it’s because the title of the book made it something I couldn’t read in public. But the book is much smarter than the title belies. And in many ways it revives God to me in a way that I need to hear right now.
I’d say a year of wanting something badly, so badly, and having that want come from a place I couldn’t articulate, it just felt like a biological need, and then having to wrestle that something into my life in a painful, unintuitive way that by the way is banned by the Catholic church, that has been enough for one girl. All the while raising a teenager, who is chin-deep in a materialistic society and who half the time lives in a house that is wonderful but that has many different values than ours, and so watching her split more than most teenagers are. Raising a teenager, who by nature is questioning and defying and entering territory that sometimes conjures her darker side and sometimes turns her into a stranger to even herself, that right there is enough to experience.
Then those two together: wanting to believe I am meant to have a baby, then forcing it to be true, and then wanting to believe in the beauty of children, while also raising a teenager who is so done being innocent. When I’ve been thinking of having a baby these past five months, I’ve been very aware that what I’m having is a human being, a complicated person who will someday be a teenager.
But the book puts it all so beautifully. It believes in the necessity of all of us, and it puts the dark stage of adolescence in the greater scope of a purposeful life. The book posits that what we need is nature in order to be whole — in order to gather the wonder of this world as children, and to feel connected to so many mysteries as adolescents, and to connect to our creative purpose as adults. Yesterday, after reading the section of the book on the wonder of children, I felt truly excited about having a kid. It felt meaningful, and actually joyous, and like a powerful life lesson. I then spent the better part of the day researching elementary schools that could support this ideology — which is an absurd way to spend a day when the prospective student is negative-four months old. But that’s how excited I was; how much meaning and trust I felt again, finally.