Today's Image
September 24, 2002

Yuck, I'm slipping. Way too much time between entries, I know. We've been keeping busy around here, mostly because Sam is prone to throw temper tantrums if the day lags; as long as I keep us occupied, he stays mostly happy - unless, of course, he drops a toy, trips over a stray air molecule, wakes up from a nap...

The tantrums are brutal. He cries for ages, head buried against my shoulder, nose running and chest heaving until his sobs become rhythmic shudders and he falls into an exhausted sleep, or else he finally consents to being distracted by a sippy cup of cold water or a quiet book on my lap. It's a rough time for him; he wants to do so much, but his coordination gets in the way, or else he lacks the vocabulary to explain his desires to me and convince me of their merit. It's hard to be a toddler.

Not that it's much easier to be the parent of a toddler. Ahem. Still, reminding myself of how powerless Sam feels makes it a little easier to sympathize with him.

Anyway, keeping Sam, and myself, occupied has kept me from spending time at the computer, which has made updating the journal a low priority at best. I miss it, and I regret not keeping a more thorough record of these days. So, resolved: I shall, from here on out, update at least twice a week, barring family emergencies. Where possible, I shall try to update daily. I need a good kick in the butt to keep moving; excuses have been too easily given lately. "My camera batteries are dead," or "I don't have on any makeup." Not acceptable. Today's picture? Au naturel, the way this journal was supposed to be in the first place. Scary, in more ways than one, but a done deal.

"We're going under," says Eric from time to time. Our bank account is resembling a slowly leaking sieve, draining faster than we can fill it. Sometimes the leak is not so slow, and he gets scared. I get scared. Sam, picking up on our joint tension, gets cranky, and we're all a bundle of whines and snipes.

Eric feels helpless, like he can't provide for us. He also feels confused, since he makes a decent salary, and others seem to manage to provide nicely for a family of three on less. Why is this so difficult? He gets angry.

His anger makes me feel defensive and guilty. I'm staying home with Sam, doing the most important job in the world; I'm bringing in extra money with my writing and with a new project I'll be starting soon, hopefully. Still, I'm not making as much as I would be if I was working full-time, and the fact that daycare would be expensive doesn't make me feel better. Plus, I end up buying things for the family, and I feel as though my spending is a huge part of the problem. My defensiveness adds fuel to Eric's fire, and we fight.

This weekend, we sat down and wrote up a budget. In a book I've been reading, I came across some advice that allowed us to sidestep a trap into which we've fallen on almost every previous money-handling discussion: write a budget, not a balance sheet. A balance sheet reflects how you've spent money in the past; if you've overspent in the past, it's too late to change it. A budget shows how you intend to spend in the future, which is the important part. Focusing solidly on the goal, we ended up with a workable budget without a single argument. Victory!

Of course, our money examination revealed the main problem, which we both could have predicted, if not to the extent to which it ran. Food. The amount of money we spend on eating out and on having convenience food delivered is positively obscene. There's no excuse for it, not one. I can cook; it's just been a bad habit of ours to wait until the last minute to plan a meal and then head out to a restaurant instead. Weekends are the worst for it.

So, resolved: we will be eating in from now on. Knowing our weakness, we've allowed for one meal out per week, but no more.

Also resolved: we will stick to the budget. I have a question for you guys, though. How much do you spend per week on groceries? Right now we've budgeted a hundred dollars a week, but I have a feeling we can probably get by with less than that. That includes things like paper towels and detergent, though I can get those in bulk. Any tips would be helpful, too.

Food budget?
How much do you spend on groceries a week?

More than $200

Current Results

Resolved: I will make more of an effort to maintain good levels of intimacy with my husband. He's been feeling, well, "needy" lately, and I've been neither sympathetic nor accommodating. I need to make him a higher priority.

Resolved: I will pre-make lunches for Eric to take to work. That will save money, and also have the added benefit of helping Eric feel nurtured and loved. Healthier, too.

Resolved: I will improve my rate of response to email and other communications. Bad girl, I am.

Resolved: I will begin exercising more regularly. Sadly, I have a long-neglected membership to a gym that I can't seem to use, as there's no childcare available. Even if I can't find a way to get to the gym, I should start taking walks again with Sam. The Metropark would be ideal for that, especially if I carry him in the sling or use the stroller. He's getting heavy.

Resolved: I will start a more formalized bedtime ritual for Sam. He doesn't fight sleep too badly, but it couldn't hurt to make the procedure a little more routine for him. A bath, a book, and bed. I usually watch him for signs that he's ready for bed, but I'm going to start encouraging a more regular bedtime.

Finally, resolved: I won't neglect myself, either. No neglecting Eric's needs, certainly no neglecting Sam's, and no pushing away of my own. If I need a rest, I'm not going to feel guilty about asking Eric to take Sam for a walk so I can relax. If I want a bath, I won't automatically think about how I'll share it with the baby. I may even start making a weekly trip to the library for coffee and a newspaper a regular treat.

Just call me greedy. I want it all, don't I?"

previous one year ago:
I'm not certain that one small talk with the priest will get us back on track, but it could help.
two years ago:
I swallowed hard, then got down on my stomach with my knife (read "pair of dull scissors") and prepared to play Blind Surgery.
On the Stereo:
random television shows

On the Bookshelf:
Rereading The Shadow Rising

Gratuitous Sam

The wagon, as garage

Mommy's rocker

Uncle Cory


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