Thursday, March 17, 2011

I asked Jason to give up the fire department...

... basically.

What I actually asked was for him to make me a stay-at-home-mom.

***********

Background:
we had been dating almost a year when Jason got his first full-time firefighter job offer, something he had been longing for for years. The problem was it would be over a 40% reduction in his pay. And his divorce, which happened shortly before we met, meant he no longer had a savings account (she got the entire balance in the settlement), plus a few other minor financial issues. This mean that if he took the job, he couldn't afford his current living expenses. He would have to try to sell the house in a down market & move into a tiny apartment, and sell the truck to buy a clunker.
Or... I could move in with him and we could split living expenses.

It was the most logical move. I spent most of my time there anyway. Splitting his mortgage payment was less cost for me than my rent. And we both knew we were headed for marriage anyway.

We talked it over, at length. Jason knew I wanted to be a SAHM once we had children, and also felt this was ideal when the kids were young.

This wouldn't be feasible on just the firefighting salary though, but he already had a 2nd job lined up that promised excellent pay, and said they could work with his shift schedule.

We did the math. Within 3-4 years, he should be making enough from both jobs that I could be a SAHM.
For various reasons we thought that would be the earliest we would have children anyway, so... it was perfect. He got his dream job, and I would (probably) still get to be a SAHM.

But... we both were careful to acknowledge that me agreeing to do this was risking me not being a SAHM, if things didn't work out.

Needless to say, things haven't worked out. The really good 2nd job ended up not really liking his schedule after all. So now his 2nd job is something that is convenient, and is a decent place to work, and doesn't mind his schedule at all, and it does pay into his retirement, but... the pay is awful.

**************
back to current:
I know what I asked of him is selfish.

To be fair, I didn't directly ask him to quit being a firefighter. What I said went something like this.

Make me a stay-at-home-mom. (he chuckles, and says I know he doesn't make enough money). I told him that he could make more money. If he goes back to his old line of work, there would be more than enough $$$ for me to stay home. And he can still be a volunteer firefighter, locally. He could still be a firefighter, while I could stay home.

I told him it wasn't fair. When we made the decision for him to accept the job, which was only possible because I agreed to keep working and help support the household, I knew I was risking giving up being a SAHM, but I didn't know I was risking more babies (I confirmed before we started the conversation that if I were a SAHM, he would want more babies too, his reason for not wanting more has a lot to do with daycare costs & logistics).

And he can still be a firefighter, just as a volunteer.

He said that if he goes back to the old job he would be working 70+ hours per week, and would probably travel, meaning he would be gone overnight, and did I want that?

{{ blink. blink. blink }}                  [[ fellow FireWives feel free to insert chuckle ]]

I reminded him that he already works well over 70 hours per week (this week he will work 93 hours between both jobs), and is gone at least every 3rd night. Plus holidays, which he would get off with a "normal" job.

And once the children entered school I was willing to go back to work full-time, and he could try to get on somewhere as a full-time firefighter again.

Plus, I actually know of people at my current employer, who took unpaid leaves of 2-3 years each, and work either held their jobs, or provided them with an equal level job at equal pay, keeping their seniority, when they returned (awesome, I know). So I could look into that.

Or, I told him, he doesn't have to give up being a full-time firefighter at all. Just find a better-paying 2nd job. Or put more time into the business so that it will actually make money. We both know the market is there. It's picking up, slowly. Just put more time into it, a little more effort, and start making real money at it.

He got very quiet.

I told him that I know I chose to continue working so he could be a firefighter. I don't begrudge him that. At all.
It was my choice, and I wanted him to do what he wanted.

But, true or not, it feels as if I have had to give up on my dreams completely in order to fulfill his, and he's not even trying to help me fulfill mine. And that's not fair.

********************

A few hours later, completely different topic, we were looking at the calendar trying to plan a weekend getaway.

FireMan: "Hey! I didn't realize I worked Easter this year."

Me: "Are you kidding me?!? How can that be?!? You just worked Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years' Eve?!?"

FireMan: "That's just how it is" (indeed, as a fire wife, that is just how it is).

FireMan: "Looks like I work Memorial Day too."

Me: {{ stewing silently }}

FireMan: "And Fathers' Day"

Me: "Seriously?!? Are you being serious?!?"

FireMan: "yes"

Me: "I need you to tell me what I get out of you being a firefighter. Because right now it really seems like I'm just getting screwed out of the deal."

FireMan: "sorry"



Sorry indeed.

************

I know some will see this as flameworthy. I am being selfish. I have dreamed of being a SAHM since I was young. And I want my dreams to come true. It seems like maybe it should be my turn now.

I also know that my fellow fire wives, at the very least, understand my frustration. Even if they don't agree with my stance, they get where I'm coming from.

They know what families give up so that their husbands & fathers can be firefighters. They understand the sacrifice, the frustrations, the emotions.

************

I don't know what's going to happen next. But you can be sure I'll keep you posted.

2 comments:

Steph{anie} said...

Wow, that's an interesting scenario you find yourself in. Is he willing to compromise at all?? I couldn't really pick up on that little detail. Isn't life fun sometimes??

Antasia said...

Hmm.. Since you know a lot about my background you know I've been on both sides of this fence. I know your fireman dosen't make the best money where he currently is. However, I know that some of the local departments around the area we live in pay a lot better then what he is making. Has he tried to get onto any of those departments? I know of the one he has tried for. Also, if he gets his paramedic that will really advance him these days on waiting lists etc. My department gets faxes in all the time from other departments when they are looking to hire. If you nor him object, I would pass the information on. It's a crappy situation. I know the feeling of being a stay at home mom and wanting to be there for your child espically the first 5-6 years. However, I also know the feeling of loving the brother hood. Bouncing from volunteer to paid to volunteer at the moment; there is a difference. It's sad in some ways but there is a difference.Some people seem to think more highly of those who are all paid vs. volunteer. Along with some other reasons. Whatever happens, I hope it works out for the best for all 3 of you. Love ya.

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