how is babby supported
August 1, 2014 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I want to have a child, but I don't think it would work with my schedule and financial situation. My inability to solve this problem is affecting my daily moods and creating a negative outlook on life.

I'm 29 years old, turning 30 in the fall. I have a BA degree. I feel like I've been working my life away and I really want to get to enjoy having a family, but it just seems the pieces aren't in place:

The schedule - I work in a warehouse (active job) between 50-60 hours a week. I often get asked to come in 2-3 hours early or stay 2-3 hours late same-day, so my ability to plan things is non-existant. At one point my job equalized and I was working only 40 hours, but my company consolidated and it went right back to this current rediculousness. In addition to that I have a second job on the weekends because despite all this...

The money - I make less than 38k all together. I know I should look for another job and i send out an application here and there, but honestly I'm exhausted from work alone consider it an accomplishment to cook something to eat at night, let alone ramp up a job search. After paying for expenses (housing, commute, utilities, food, internet), I couldn't afford childcare and my parents both still work full time and are a good decade away from retirement. I feel like I need to be prepared to do this on my own because...

The dude - He wants kids, but in some undefined timeline in the future. He has nationality issues, so I'm afraid in the case of a split or something else, he'd end up halfway around the globe and I'd have to do everything by myself. I actually don't think his nationality contributes to my general anxiety over raising a kid alone because I realize that most couples end up divorced and a lot of women have to raise kids alone, hopefully with more hands to help them.

Being unable to work a family life into my current situation is really souring my life. I find myself what is even the point of living if I'm just a worker ant moving boxes around a huge metal sweatbox during the years when I should be forming and solidifying familial bonds? How can I deal with this disappointment in life's (lack of) offerings or reframe my outlook?
posted by WeekendJen to Human Relations (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If you think that it won't work out with the guy, then dump him now before you waste any more years on him.
You cannot plan for anything when it comes to children. Being a mom is the best, most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced. It is also the hardest. I've lost jobs because I've had to take off to take care of my children. I've lost relationships because the men (I'm divorced) did not want to be a daddy. I'm am ridiculously poor, tired most of the time, living in a messy house, with no time for me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. All the mess and poverty and lack of time and personal space are worth it because I get to love these wonderful people who call me mommy.
If you have children, your life will be a mess. You won't be able to do anything perfect. There will never be enough money or enough time. But it will be worth it. So don't let your job stand in the way of you being a mommy. But do try and wait until you are with someone who you feel could work out well for you and the children. Because, being a single mom sucks every second of every day. It is very lonely and my only regret about having children is that I wish that I could have given them a better father.
posted by myselfasme at 8:36 AM on August 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

I was in pretty much the same boat, which is why I went to grad school at 32, to improve my earning potential and schedule flexibility. If you aren't in a position to have a baby right now, can you throw all your extra energy (I know, I know, what extra energy?) into getting yourself into a better place? I worked full time and went to grad school full time for two years, and I didn't have a life and ate lots of fast food and was sick the entire second year, but then it was over and I got a job that doubled my salary and had the baby 3 years later, after I had saved up enough vacation and sick leave for 9 weeks' paid maternity leave.

All that said, I still struggle with money because childcare IS expensive, and we decided to have dad be a stay at home parent for the first 3 years so we were on one income, so even with my improved situation it was hard. And even working only 40 hours it doesn't feel like there are enough hours in the day.

So TL;DR since you can't have the baby now, work hard to get to a place where you CAN, and let that be your fulfilling thing as you wait for the right time.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:39 AM on August 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah: I even asked a similar question about a year before I conceived my son. I still don't know the answer, you just do what you have to do to make it work.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is an arabic proverb:

babies come with their own coin purse.

ie- somehow things work out and the bills get paid.
posted by misspony at 8:51 AM on August 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

I agree with rabbitrabbit: getting yourself in a better place, work-wise, would be the best thing to do right now. Yes, it's hard, but the life you are leading is not going to be sustainable even if you choose to remain childless; you don't want to wear your body out and have to quit working earlier than you might choose to. Take baby steps - brush up your resume - Blue Sky Resumes is a great site, I learned about it here on MeFi! Research possible careers. Refine your LinkedIn profile, and seek out people to do informational interviews with (these can be done by email).

Throw everything you have behind getting a new job. That will give you more breathing room to think about the baby issue.

About your SO - To begin with, does he even want children? Does he only want the fun part of parenting? Is he trustworthy in general, or does his behavior in other areas give off "untrustworthy! flake ahoy!" signals? How attached is he to his home country - does he plan to go back and live there eventually? Does he come from a culture where mothers do the majority of the parenting and fathers are more detached? Do you have plans to get married and for him to get permanent residency? All these are things to think about with regard to your SO as potential father.

But for your own sake, you need to work on the job issue before anything else.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:56 AM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

The financial realities of having a child are a very real thing. It isn't just child care, either. Maternity leave is a huge financial hit. All the stuff a baby needs like a crib and diapers and a stroller and a car seat... all very expensive and it all adds up fast to be an enormous amount of money. And kids continue to be expensive. I have a seven year old and while he costs less than an infant the money it costs to raise him still isn't cheap. Clothing, afterschool care, cost of activities, etc. It was a blessing once he started school because rather than having to pay for all-day daycare it is just afterschool daycare (which costs less). He is a major contributor for why we have/need two cars as well. Hell, getting gifts for all the kids' birthday parties that he is invited to adds up fast. I love that kid to death and he is worth it but he is expensive.

You're being very wise to consider the costs of a child before having one because it matters. Children are lovely and being a parent is great, but having a kid when you can't afford one and know that you don't have a job that would allow you to spend much time raising them isn't wise. Not good for you or the child.

If you aren't able to go on maternity leave, and if don't think you can afford childcare, let alone everything else that a child needs, then I personally think you need to focus on advancing your career/getting a better paying job. If you frame it in your mind as what you need to do in order to have a child that may be a great motivator to you and may help to keep your outlook on life from being so soured. Working two jobs with very very long hours and little to no free time would make raising a child very difficult. I know a lot of people have a "things will work out" type attitude, but they don't always, and in some cases where they do "work out" it isn't exactly a great situation for the parents or the children. Quality of life for you and your child matter.

And seriously, if you are having those kind of concerns about your partner then maybe he isn't the right person for you.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

I think you are in the position to start working for a better situation before you have a kid. You have at least 10 years of fertility left (I say this as a 38 year old who is pregnant). Ideally you want to set yourself on a path to get a job that has more stable hours and would lead you toward getting paid better. This could be through graduate school/certificate training, or starting at a lower-level job that can give you skills to move up the ladder, such as administrative work in a field you are interested in, or places that have management training.

More important, be sure that this dude is the right dude. Are your fears of a possible split just overall fears, or do they have to do with questions about your relationship? 100% DO NOT consider having kids with someone whom you are not sure will be there for you, emotionally as well as geographically.
posted by bluedeans at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2014 [11 favorites]

I think the attitude that that Arabic proverb expresses is scary. Poverty is no joke, and things don't just work out by themselves. Single women with children can find themselves in a very tight spot, and the volatile economy and political hostility towards working people do not give me confidence. I agree that you should work towards a better job and a more secure understanding with you partner. Longings for children, while understandable, are not enough reason to have them without longer term planning, first. I'm cautious by nature, though.
posted by feste at 9:52 AM on August 1, 2014 [30 favorites]

So it sounds like you have three things/challenges taking up a lot of your mental energy - work, partner and pregnancy. Is it possible you are focusing on the pregnancy part because it is the easiest to "fix"? Basically, stop using birth control, have lots of fun sex and you'll most likely be pregnant in a year. Finding a good partner; finding a stable, well-paying job, take a lot of work, and the outcome is far less certain.

Right now, a mother working 60+ hours a week, seven days a week, at a low paying job, and a father on the other side of the world, and grandparents too busy to spend time with, does not sound like the recipie for a happy childhood for the potential baby.

You will feel much better with the job/partner challenge squared away. For a start, as someone that worked multiple jobs during all four of my pregnancies up until my actual due date...the idea of you being able to work 50+ hours a week in a physically gruelling job is not realistic, especially as you have no savings in case your health demands you reduce your hours.
posted by saucysault at 9:53 AM on August 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

ie- somehow things work out and the bills get paid.

In my experience, this is not true, not even at all. Do not try to raise a baby on less than 38K.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:36 AM on August 1, 2014 [14 favorites]

Break up with this guy if possible and work on getting a non-physical job or a different physical job.

Better a sperm donor than someone who doesn't want the kid and will just peace out whenever he feels like it (or worse, drag you though a shitty custody battle so you can't move to somewhere with better economic prospects). Just don't do it.

This guy is your major problem.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:50 AM on August 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think the main problem here is not the job, but the dude. There are men out there who really want kids. If they don't have good paying jobs, they will be the primary caretaker. I'm pregnant right now and the thoughts of going through all of this change with someone who's only sort of into it, and possibly not going to stick around would TERRIFY me.

And that's not just about the money. Having a man who really wants to have this kid has been so important. I've been really sick, and he's been a champ in sacrificing his time and energy to help me get through it. If he weren't all in, it would be so much harder.

You're not too old to make the hard decision to jump back into dating. I know women who have done it later than you and are now getting pregnant with men who want to raise a child. I also know women who had babies in unhealthy relationships and now are single moms. They have the hardest lives of anyone I know BY FAR. Yes, it's anecdata, but there is real research that single mothers are the most vulnerable to poverty, depression, and a whole host of bad things.

You can raise kids on a tight budget. It's been done successfully. But you can't do it alone. That is the sort of struggle that can break you.
posted by ohisee at 10:51 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Better a sperm donor than someone who doesn't want the kid and will just peace out whenever he feels like it (or worse, drag you though a shitty custody battle so you can't move to somewhere with better economic prospects). Just don't do it.

Amen. The above is excellent advice. Be really careful about the guy!
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:52 AM on August 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm about ten years older than you are and I am married to a man who I trust not to bail on me and any potential offspring. We do not have children because we cannot afford to pay for daycare, and we have zero options for cheap/free family childcare. The time I have left to reproduce is rapidly dwindling and our financial situation is not likely to change significantly, so I have been trying to come to terms with the likelihood that I will not have children. I'm not going to lie, it sucks. I've been thinking about this for years at this point and I have not managed to re frame it in a way that doesn't make me want to throw things at the universe.

You are not even thirty yet, you have some time to find a better job, and just as important, a better partner. In your position I would dump the dude and devote all of my free time to finding a better paying job. Once you have that job, then look for another guy, one who wants to be a parent now and who doesn't come with the chance of being deported.
posted by crankylex at 11:00 AM on August 1, 2014

The main things I'd be concentrating on now are:

1) how can I improve my earning in a real way? Do I need to consider school or somehow make room in my schedule to make some vertical moves? Having a strong financial situation is a major advantage as are good benefits.

2) If I get along with my family and they'd be willing to help me, am I living close enough to them to take advantage of the extra hands? How can I move closer if I have to? Even though your parents are still working, being close can be a lifesaver as long as they're willing to help you.

3) And, the most critical for last, how stable and secure is my relationship? Are we on the same page in terms of timing, values, and plans? Is partner either willing to do the lion-share of parenting or are they a good provider? If you're not in agreement or the relationship isn't secure, find one that is. It'll save you countless heartbreaks and difficulties.

The Arabic proverb is rooted in a culture that has many supports of family built-in. We really don't have that same situation here - so a coinpurse really needs to be prepared for the crazy costs of daycare, health expenses, pre-school, etc. And, not to be a total downer, but you also have to be prepared to deal with the many extras that could be required if your baby isn't 100% healthy and perfect.

Wanting kids is the easy part, preparing for them can be really difficult. But, you're still young and you have time to get things set-up so that you can build a family that is strong and stable.
posted by quince at 11:02 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine who was in a similar position to yours (except that she had just jettisoned yet another terrible partner), who wanted a baby and a family, but wasn't sure she could afford it on her salary, and was afraid of being pregnant alone, etc. etc., chose to become a foster parent. The most significant expense of a baby (childcare) is covered or partially covered by the state, which made it possible for her to afford having a child (eventually two children). There is temporary foster care, both short- and long-term, and foster-to-adopt care.

She is extremely happy. (And, eventually, as a single mother of two young children, met and married the right man, but she's glad she didn't wait for him to show up to start her family.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2014 [11 favorites]

If you can't look for a new job and consider cooking dinner an accomplishment, how are you going to plan out having a baby? Honestly, it sounds like you need a better job. More stable, better pay and find a place that is OK with parents. Because here's the thing, having a kid is going to change EVERYTHING. Your life as you know it will never be the same. You should make sure you're in a situation to facilitate having a kid. Luckily, this is something you can absolutely control.

Your guy... why can't you get married and he become a permanent resident? Can't he work on his citizen status? It's a little concerning you're already thinking about splitting up before you even had a kid, but I guess it some sense, you're being reasonable about the possibility and practical in your long-term thinking.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:18 AM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think people are doing a good job of mentioning the worst-case-scenarios and encouraging you to seek out more stability in various forms, which is always smart. There's also the reality that anyone could suddenly become a single parent through death so we really ALL need to be prepared with a contingency plan. That said, I see a lot of middle class privilege in the comments, which I totally get because I tend to think that way for myself: I'd want to be able to spend a lot of time with my future children and afford occasional special vacations and the like. That said, there are also tons of American households with two parents -- or even just one -- who are raising happy and successful kids in working-class immigrant families, at times even with precarious legal status. I'm speaking from the personal experience of seeing the day-to-day over years as a public school teacher with a large at-risk population and as a volunteer at a community food pantry. I grew up in a unique situation that was a mixture of different social classes at various times, one that I cherish and appreciate. This conversation is one I've had often and I always am glad to hear different perspectives, many of which are admittedly people calling me out on my privileged ignorance. ;-) (Then again, one included someone telling me I'd be a horrible mother since I'd be willing to send my children to public school in a lower-income area and another mentioned how it's surely impossible for a parent to truly love five children. I mean, really?!) I'm not looking to argue people with different opinions but merely offer mine as one more in the bunch.

I agree that seeking out a better job -- a more flexible (or pre-set) schedule, higher pay and better benefits if possible, etc. -- would be an excellent first step. It's awesome that you already have your BA so, as rough as the job market is right now, you have a lot more doors open to you! As a lower-income family, you'd be more likely to quality for government subsidies and support: some people are against taking them but I say take it if you qualify because it's one of the fewer financial equalizers offered in the US and people who qualify do so for a reason. I know of couples where the mother had the more stable job with benefits, even if it's not high-paying, and the dad was the stay-at-home-father for the first few years, working a few night shifts that were low-paying but enabled him to stay in workforce and contribute a little bit of money. Might that be an option for you two?

As for your partner being foreign, I wonder if it's a bit of a red herring in that there are other reasons why you think he'd not be a good candidate for a dad? I'm a little surprised that you haven't started having these extensive discussions about having children yet but it's fine as you can do so now; I think there will be a lot more clarity if you two are really honest and wiling to lay things out on the table. I love the US but hate the current immigration policies, which make things super hard for immigrants with documentation and near impossible for those without. I can totally understand your and his hesitation if he is among the latter; I also think it's workable if you are both super committed to your relationship and future together but probably not worth it if either of you is not at least 95% there. For example, DACA is now available for DREAMers and amnesty available for hardship cases, etc. Again, I don't know your exact situation: perhaps you two simply aren't match long-term and that's fine. However, if this is a legal issue, I'm no romantic but also wouldn't let the current racist policies keep you from trying to make it work if you are both willing to try. (In fact, I have some students whose fathers got deported; some have fallen out of touch but others communicate regularly and go visit them in the summer, etc. And as you mentioned yourself, there's a much higher rate of people becoming single parents for other reasons.)

Perhaps the best part is that at almost 30, you likely have many years to have biological children and even more to foster or adopt, so now is the perfect time to start working towards your goal of having children. It sounds like you are very thoughtful and conscientious, and those things certainly give you an edge on becoming a great parent! I wish you luck in working out the details.
posted by smorgasbord at 11:57 AM on August 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

ie- somehow things work out and the bills get paid.

This is phenomenally bad advice; as a couple other people have posted this was advice for not only another culture, but for another time. It's not necessarily the case today.

My wife and I made more money than that when we had our child, and in retrospect, we should have had much more in savings at the time. One of us ended up losing our job shortly after the birth of kiddo; you can't really plan for that well. Unemployment, plus all those baby bills? Even with good insurance, its expensive. It set us back years of savings in just a few short months. If it wasn't' for the good graces of some of our extended family, we would have been homeless. Three years later we're still paying off debt accrued during that time.

If you're looking on planning to have a kid, you don't necessarily have to have the partner lined up, if you're so inclined. But you really need to have a phenomenally solid financial cushion. Babies are fucking expensive no matter how you cut it. Not just in cash, but in lost wages for time off too.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:09 PM on August 1, 2014 [9 favorites]

When your parenting priorities change, it's not at all unusual for your partnering to change too. Kids are really not one of the things you can compromise on. Plenty -- plenty -- of women have broken up with a boyfriend (or girlfriend) when they've decided they want to have a kid and the current partner either isn't a good candidate for parenting or is but not on the same timeline. Fertility is a very real driver in these decisions, and that's as it should be. Also, while you may look ahead and be grand with the idea of chasing toddlers at 35, you may not want to do that at 40 or 45. I sure don't.

So, I would regretfully part from the boyfriend. And I would look at co-parenting as an option. My sister had my niece with a gay man with whom she was not romantically involved. They worked out a legal agreement prior to artificial insemination. They split childcare costs and expenses. They take their kid on separate vacations. Now that she's 3, custody is 50/50 but it took a long time to reach that.

My sister is a teacher and lives in Manhattan; she could never have afforded to raise a child without this arrangement. Her child's father would not have had the opportunity to be a father without this arrangement. It could work for you, but it would work better if you changed your job situation.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:46 PM on August 1, 2014

I have to agree with many of the sentiments above. You are still young. Young enough to improve your education/find a better job, find the perfect mate (if your partner doesn't feel like he's going to stick around, just imagine what will happen when you add a baby to the picture?)

So make sure you can do it on your own (there are many late 30's single-mother-by-choice forums you could stalk or join) or perhaps you'll meet your dream partner in school or at a new job or finally having the *time* to pursue your own interests/hobbies instead of working so hard to scrape by. So much can change in 5 years and *that's* the age (35) most experts call the "true decline" of fertility. With the caveat that many women can have children well into their 40's, exhausting as that may be. Some intervention might be required post-40, but you will hear many stories like this one: my friends miscarried when the female partner was 40, and they were told she was too old. Last year, at 43, she naturally conceived twins, and had an easy pregnancy and their girls are mellow and early parenthood is seeming to be a BREEZE for them. I had my daughter at 26, and early parenthood was anything but a breeze. My point- it can be a crapshoot.

Do you have good insurance now? You can get an FSH (blood) test to find out your ovarian reserve. This test is given on day 3 of your cycle, and can give you a big picture look at your own personal situation.

Good luck, lady.
posted by mochilove at 12:50 PM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I suggest you read How to Survive without a Salary.

No, it is not about living without money. It is about making other choices if you want them. Yes, kids cost money. But it sounds to me like, kid or no kid, your real problem is that you are a hamster on a hamster wheel. No matter how fast you run, it gets you nothing. You remain in the same place.

I chose to not work when my kids were little in part because it was clear to me that if I worked, we would need to cover daycare costs and probably also would need a second car. We had a higher standard of living than a lot of two income families because I cooked from scratch, I clipped coupons, I shopped sales, the kids spent very little time in daycare, etc. (Of course, the contributions I made will not keep you afloat without someone else playing the breadwinner role.)

I made those choices because I felt that if I got a job, the entire family would be on this awful hamster wheel, with low quality of life at a high cost and going nowhere. I think what you really need is to find a way off your hamster wheel. I think you need to do that first and then revisit the question of whether or not having a baby makes sense for you. At the moment, it sounds like you are so stressed out that you are just not even in a good frame of mind to be making major decisions. When I find myself in that situation, I do my best to not make any important decisions. (Hell, if I am stressed out enough, I tell my adult sons to make even small decisions for me, like "what's for lunch?")

If you can arrange cheap housing, an income that doesn't take all your time and so on, to some extent, time can be substituted for money. You could also consider moving to a country that provides free medical for all residents. I think that can be found in parts of Europe.

So what I am suggesting is that you come at this problem from a different angle. Ask yourself what has to happen to make it feasible to have some of the things you want in life other than just working all the damn time. Do some brainstorming. Consider some options. At the moment, it sounds like your entire thinking is a) different job and b) how can I shoehorn a baby into this already overloaded life? And I think those questions are not going to get you good solutions. I think you need to rethink this on a different level entirely.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 2:43 PM on August 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

Here is another example of someone who's made some cool/crazy/hard choices in order to care for her daughter the way she wants to. It's a tour of the tiny house she built, but she also talks about the why and how it all balanced out for her. Everyone's situation is different, but it's an interesting clip and good for thinking outside the box.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:37 PM on August 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Poverty is terrible. That said, low income people should not be barred from having kids by their community shaming them for having children. Having children is not what causes poverty and the people claiming you are choosing poverty for your child are misplacing their concern trolling. Anyone who cares about child poverty would do better to fight the injustice and inequality in our communities than obsess over ensuring those who are lower earners never reproduce unless they become higher earners.

Make the best plan you can. Learn how to budget, find the best low income housing that's as safe as possible. Learn about all the social support, financial and social resources in your area and know that you deserve them if you should need them while having children.

The fact that our communities think foster parents deserve the financial resources to raise children well but not the childrens parents themselves is ridiculous and is not something parents who have kids without being wealthy should be ashamed of but the mentality that poor are hurting their kids by having them and those who perpetuate it.

I would suggest clearing up whether your partner wants to have children within a clear time frame (without being wishy washy) and break up if the answer is no or maybe. Having a partner who is reliable and a devoted partner and parent is a game changer here.

I don't know many women who make more than 30,000. The idea that none of them should be allowed to ever have children until they join the middle or upper classes is extremely classist and ablist. Having kids is a natural continuation of life- no one deserves poverty and anyone worried about kids born into it can get up and do something to help rather than blame the parents for it and feel smug. Some kinds of trauma and adversity are enough to make people wish they are dead, but plenty of people live through poverty and are happy to be alive and go on to make it to better circumstances. If humans stopped breeding every time there was adversity we wouldn't have a species here now. Entire generations have lived on terrible inadequate diets, shitty awful environments, and hope. Some of them made it and thank goodness they did, thank goodness they faced the terrible things going on to be born and live through it-- what our ancestor did to give us our lives now. Responsible family planning is one thing, but one or two kids is perfectly reasonable.

Learn about parent co-ops in your area, learn about DIY parenting communities where parents are creating healthy activities and projects and learning activities on very low budgets. People who make salary jobs is my parents world but it's never been mine.

You're probably getting depressed about family planning because you're using middle class ablist classist values that blame the poor for having kids while poor rather than standing beside parents and their kids and saying "poverty is unacceptable so I WILL HELP PEOPLE OUT" rather than stand around shaming parents for having kids.
posted by xarnop at 5:22 PM on August 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

The money isn't your issue so much as the time is.
I work in a warehouse (active job) between 50-60 hours a week. I often get asked to come in 2-3 hours early or stay 2-3 hours late same-day, so my ability to plan things is nonexistent.

This is not going to feel better if you have a baby. In fact, it's going to feel exactly the same (like you're wasting your life pushing boxes around a warehouse) except that you'll also feel crushingly guilty about how little time you get to see your child. You don't mention which hours you work, but if it's a day job, remember that young children may not get up early - mine sleeps until 7 or 8 am - and they go to bed very early, i.e 630pm. Therefore if I work a long day shift, I leave before my daughter gets up, and I get home after she goes to bed. It doesn't make me feel good, in fact, it makes me pretty sad and I miss her a lot on the days I don't get to see her. But at least I love what I do.

Before I had a baby, I also thought that maybe I could use daycare, even though I work long hours and have an unpredictable schedule day to day. Nope. I didn't find a single daycare in my area that opens before 645am, most don't open til 7 or 730, and I have to leave for my day shift at 6am. I do think there are daycares that are more flexible about late afternoon/evening times but it still can be tough, and I don't know how one handles the last minute changes in schedule issue. I have a high paying job and I am grateful every day that I can afford a nanny who I can text saying I'm going to be an hour or two late and it won't be a problem, whether it's 2pm or 9pm I'm supposed to be home.

Just wanted to give you even more detail behind the reasoning why your problem isn't a baby problem, it's a job problem.

also, re: "during the years when I should be forming and solidifying familial bonds" I think this is a construct in your mind based on social pressures from whoever you hang out with. My (large) social circle involves a lot of people who went to grad school and delayed childbearing. I know very few people who had children before 30, and most of them, including me, spent a lot of time enjoying solidifying bonds with our friends and romantic partners during the mid to late 20s, doing things that would have been challenging or impossible if we had had children at the time. While the circumstances aren't right for a baby, you might want to spend some time contemplating the things in life that you can do more easily while child free that are really amazing and fun.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:07 PM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

You don't need a partner to have a kid but I think you owe it to your future kid and yourself to find a better job before you have a kid, not because poor people shouldn't have kids but because it will make you and kid more financially secure. Even if you were making the same amount of money but working 40 hours a week instead of 50-60, that would be a better situation for you and future kid. Plus, since it sounds like future kid will not be a trust fund baby, I think that working a job you like is a good behavior to model for future kid. I don't think you would regret it if you worked towards getting a better job before trying to get pregnant.
posted by kat518 at 9:55 PM on August 1, 2014

You sound exhausted and depressed, and I don't think it is all about wanting to have a child right now, but instead feeling like your life is really tough and you don't see it changing any time soon.

You thoughts of having a child are kind of your wistful thinking about where you feel your life should be right now, and the emotional turmoil and stress are a result of you not seeing a clear path to get there. When you are in a partnership--which, by the way, is the best situation for raising a child, too--you can lean on each other. When one of you is having a rough time, the other one steps in and picks up the slack. You are feeling overwhelmed because you are trying to do this on your own.

Right now, you are not even taking time to properly take care of yourself. No, you are right--you cannot possibly bring a child into the life you are leading.

Okay, that's the bad news. Now the good news!

You may be stuck, but you can get unstuck. You CAN change your life. You have time to do it! You are still young! You can make these changes and really consider having a child when you are truly ready for that responsibility. You just have to be motivated to do it.

So, from my perspective, you have two situations that you have to handle here to get where you want to be: your job and your relationship.

First, the dude. I kinda think it is significant that you call him the Dude here. You don't refer to him as your partner, or your SO. And Dude carries a pretty fratboyish connotation. You don't say WE are considering having a child, either, and he is hesitant. You say YOU are considering it, and you sound doubtful he's even going to be around!

You don't sound like you are in a partnership. Can you change that? Would the dude work on strengthening this relationship with you?

The job. This ties into the relationship, really, because you are staying at that warehouse job when you're clearly miserable and you know you can do better. Sure, you pushing yourself is understandable, because we do what we have to do. But is the dude okay with you basically killing yourself for that 38K salary? Is he encouraging you to get to that place you want to be in your life? You don't say whether you live together, but assuming you do, could he help you with job seeking, take on more of the responsibilities you have outside of your job, pitch in and pick up the slack financially? In short, if you said, right now, that you need to quit your job for your own sanity, would the dude back you up? A partner would.

If the relationship and the job are broken, find a way to fix them, change them or dump them. It really is that simple. Only when you are strong enough to take control of your own life will you be in the right place to take on the responsibility for the life of a new little person.

Good luck!
posted by misha at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You seem to be asking the right questions, and the answers seem daunting, if not actually depressing. If you take it by pieces, you may see a way through this that makes sense.

You will be amazed at what you are willing to sacrifice for your child. Notice some of the things posted in this thread. But there is a limit to both your funds, your energy, and your time.

It would be precious of me to try to inject negativity in your desire to "be a mother" because motherhood (from my view as a man) is such a wonderful condition, and the bonds created exist nowhere else. They apply not only to your children, but to their father in ways that are both obvious and sublime. My version has me delivering my son myself, through an accident of timing at the ABC clinic, and continues, even now that my son is chasing 30 years of age. That's fatherhood, which is only an analogy, and not the same as motherhood. I could go on.

But please consider whether you have good support from your family. Sounds like the SO could be problematic, but who knows. The idea that he may fade from the center of the picture is not a trivial one, but it's not necessarily a determiner. Money and lateral support is key. You don't have to be rich, but you do have to supply certain material things. If your family can be counted on to help you, this would be a boon not only to you, but to the child who will grow up in the arms of a loving family.

Otherwise, like many things, the heartbreak of a mother's decision may come before the fact of motherhood: what's best for the child? Please consider that helping children does not always come in the form of motherhood. I don't mean that you should substitute some ersatz social hobby for motherhood, but rather consider whether another direction might help you fill this part of who you are, and who you want to be. So many children need love and attention. If the life of a full-time mother isn't in your cards, maybe another tack is.
posted by mule98J at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

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