Recession Mama











{June 12, 2009}   It’s Been HOW Long?

—by Carla

Six months ago today, I was laid off from my job as a Dallas radio news anchor.

I may have actually looked a little cuter and way more pissed when I was let go.

I may have actually looked a little cuter and way more pissed when I was let go.

No “Debbie Downer” drama here. Just a few thoughts about how my life has changed in that time. 

The new catchphrase these days seems to be “New Normal”. “What’s your new normal? How are you living your life now since the economy went south?” In fact, ABC News is hitting this theme pretty hard right now and Recession Mama has been talking “New Normal” since we got our cute, little feet off the ground. 

I can say with 100% certainty that being laid off was the absolute best thing that could have ever happened to me. I’m not saying that to snub my former employer or anyone else in the world, I really mean it. I had two smiling faces here at home who needed me. At the time of my layoff, my oldest son was 20 months old and the baby was just 5 weeks old. And although I had never wanted to be a working mom, I had resigned myself to the fact that it was the way it had to be. In fact, I had started writing a book about my experiences, entitled, “…But I Don’t WANT It All: Confessions of a Reluctant Career Woman Who JUST Wanted to be a Mom.”

Here, I describe the moment when everything changed three years ago…

“When I found out we were pregnant (with son #1), I was so SO happy and so nervous and so everything…just like any first-time mom-to-be. And I knew one thing for sure: I’d be quitting my job and stepping back from my career for a few years until the little one(s) went off to school, then I’d make my way back into the workforce. I had it all planned out in my head, how it would go down with the husband, when I told him about my plans. We were on a “babymoon” cruise…I was 3 months pregnant…we were in our stateroom, looking out the porthole when I started talking. I told him that since my contract was almost up, it would make sense to tell the bosses that I would not be coming back because I was going to stay home to raise my child. But things didn’t go as I had imagined in my head all this time. See, in my head, we’d embrace and he’d have tears in his eyes, and I’d wipe them away, and he’d tell me that he couldn’t be luckier than to be with a woman who was willing to give up her successful career…one she has worked so hard for…for so many years, to raise his child…and we’d embrace more, and cry together, then we’d hit the buffet. What ACTUALLY happened was much, much different.” 

I’ll stop there. Needless to say, I became a working mom.

(And for the record, I would never dream of passing judgement on working moms. Remember, I was one. These are my personal thoughts I’m sharing with you now.)

As much as I had tormented myself about going back to work with baby #1, I had completely reprogrammed my brain to BE that working mom with baby #2. Then the universe said, “Naaaaaah…change of plans again” on December 12, 2008.

In the last 6 months, I’ve gone from being a working mom (who was home at 11:30 every morning to spend the rest of the day with her baby boy) to being a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids. BAM…just like that. Talk about on the job training. I went from having a twice-a-month housekeeper…to doing it myself. I went from ordering out and bringing in food and eating out…to learning to cook (and I mean learning everything). No more buying whatever I wanted to buy because I could buy it (not that we racked up credit card debt..it was all cash, but that meant no savings). 

This transition has not been all about money, either. It’s been a deeper life lesson.

bitch-slap

I was basically bitch-slapped back into reality. And you know what? I have loved every minute of it. That is not to say I’ve been running around screaming, “Yippee, I was laid off! This doesn’t suck at all!” But there is something about this “new normal” that I have been able to accept rather easily. I am glad this happened. It has put everything back into perspective for me…and it feels great.

Happy Friday !

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{April 29, 2009}   …Are We There Yet?

–by Carla

pool-0011

I’m looking out the window right now and I’m actually really enjoying this rainy weather. Seriously. It’s probably a Texas thing. “Will it just rain or will a tornado come out of the sky and force me into my closet?” Always keepin’ you on your toes, Texas weather. Then a thought hit me. Well a few thoughts, really. First I thought, “Our backyard looks really beautiful”. Everything is green and things are starting to warm up out there which means pool season is just about here. My next thought was “Ok, I’m tired of the rain…bring on the sun”. Call it a short attention span, call it my totally undiagnosed ADD, but I am over this rain (which is supposed to stick around all week. Lovely). And with that short attention span…how can I possibly weather the financial storm we’re in right now? It’s been 4 and 1/2 months since I was laid off and my attitude about our new, trimmed down lifestyle is still pretty upbeat, but how long is that going to last? I actually worried about that today…because I’m a woman and we worry…it’s what we do…while doing everything else. So I started looking around for answers as to when the recession will end and more to the point, when I will be able to re-hire my housekeeper.  Well….

Hmmmm, that’s not so upbeat. But I can deal with that. Then news of the swine flu starts spreading like, well, swine flu and things just got a little worse:

D’oh!

All I need is a little information on when this is all going to wrap up. That way I can program my little brain like an alarm clock, suffer through get through the next few/several months as best as I can with a giant smile on my face…counting down the days to when I can call Suzanne up and say “So, can you make it on Thursday just like old times?” I keep putting off mopping the floor because in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “It’ll end soon. Don’t mop now, Suzanne will be here to help you any day now.” Pathetic. I know. Yet there’s the mop, mocking me 24 hours a day…

mop

This all feels a little familiar to me. I’m going to make a confession that will no doubt make me sound spoiled AND rotten. Here goes: This feels a little like being grounded. Remember that feeling? Mom and Dad wouldn’t let you watch TV for a week, or they’d snatch the car keys from you for 2 weeks. You made due for the time being…you stayed inside, didn’t go anywhere…maybe you read a few more books or thumbed through a few magazines…but you killed time. You told your little brain that “this will end…you’ll be getting the car back in 6 days, 20 hours and 7 minutes”…and it felt really good knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh and you learned a lesson and stopped doing whatever it was that you were doing that got you grounded in the first place. Then one day ..BOOM…you got your keys back…hopped in the car and you were off like a prom dress.

And yes, I do realize that my current economic reality is directly linked to my actions of a spender versus a saver. I get it. I’m grounded. Thankfully, I can come and go as I please and don’t have to check in with Mom and Dad. But I’m starting to think that the recession isn’t going to end “just like that”….in the snap of a finger. I’m guessing that this new, trimmed down lifestyle will just become my actual lifestyle. That’s perfectly fine, too. I would just like to know which way to program the old brain here.

The great news is that there are ways to stay happy in tough economic times. We get it straight from a few happiness researchers.

And knowing that there are happiness researchers out there working hard to figure out how to make us happy at a time like this, well that right there just plain makes me happy. At least they’re not studying up on the bad habits of the ho-fish…



et cetera