While we are settling in nicely since the move nearly 4 months ago, the fact remains that I’m working outside the home and bringing in 100% of the income, and Nutella has so far been unable to find suitable employment. This is very different than how it used to be. We used to make fairly equal salaries, have our own separate bank accounts, split the cost of nearly everything in half (not literally, but she paid certain bills and so did I), and it felt completely egalitarian. The original plan was to move to an area with a lower cost of living where I would be employed full-time and Nutella would get a part-time job and do more childcare, being able to then pick Curly up from public school at 2:30pm starting next year, thus negating any need for aftercare. It was a great plan, and when she was asked to come in for a second interview at a local college, we thought for sure that would be it.
Unfortunately that job didn’t work out and here we are. We’ve opened a joint bank account (which we would’ve done anyway) and I pay all the bills. Right now, Curly is in pre-school which is free until 12pm, so instead of paying for aftercare at the same facility, Nutella picks him up and spends the rest of the afternoon with him. So she is a “stay-at-home mom” (which is kind of a stupid title since they’re usually out and about, especially in the lovely weather here) and is the primary person who not only prepares dinner like she used to, but is now responsible for keeping the house in order, doing all the shopping, running all the errands, making all the phone calls, etc. Definitely a job, if not a paying one. Of course, this drastic change in roles has brought up a lot of different feelings.
I will say first that there isn’t “resentment.” I don’t feel resentful because she wants to be working, she and I both know she’d be happier working, and she’s trying. But the niche for what she does is small, and smaller still because she’s looking only for part-time work. We’re starting to wonder if she should just take any available job…barista at Starb*cks for example, just to be working. It’s a sticky situation, since to do so after having had a career in higher education administration and student services is to take a giant step away from that, but to not work at all for an ever-extending period of time never looks good on one’s resume. So basically she’s been applying to the jobs at the local college that come up and we’ve been holding our breath and crossing our fingers.
What I do feel is the heavy weight of shouldering all the costs on my salary alone. It’s a good salary, but at this point, we’re pretty much breaking even. Luckily we have some leftover money from the sale of our house, as well as some savings, but to not be able to save more, and to have to dip into that money for every unforeseen expense doesn’t feel good at all. And yesterday I had some weird “dad” feelings…I came home from work and Curly and Nutella were out in the yard. Curly was talking at me a mile-a-minute, blowing kisses, and all that….Nutella made a comment that “he’s all about you right now” and I replied that it’s because he’s with her all the time now while I’m at work. It brought me back to my childhood…having been with my mom for those few hours after school, and running to hug my dad when he walked through the door. Curly knows I’m the only parent working right now and that’s a little strange for us, too. Not bad, just different, and not what we want.
So…reaching out to the internets to ask for advice. Should Nutella continue waiting for a job she actually wants, or should she try for “any” job at this point? Is it better to have a gap on your resume, even if you have a good excuse for it (i.e. the move and the staying home to take care of a small child) or is it better to have not much of a gap, but to be working a job that is outside of, and what some may view as “below” your career aspirations? Anyone have similar experiences to share?