In trying to decide what to write about this week, I came across an email I’d sent my sister in May 2005, when my twins were almost 9 months old and my daughter was not quite 3. The email was 316 words of me freaking out over our family finances.
We were paying for part time child care for three kids, at the time. I’d taken a pay cut to have more flexible hours, and we’d bought a house and a minivan to accommodate our bonus baby.
Is it just me, or is money is a weird, big thing among families with multiples? Obviously the budget is tighter with each additional child, but also many multiples families are paying off fertility treatments and/or massive hospital bills from complicated pregnancies and premature deliveries. Then there is the gear – the more expensive stroller, the additional car seats, the second crib. The diapers. Oh, the diapers.
“We are all out of money in both our accounts and we don’t get paid until Friday AND I haven’t even paid our bills yet except the direct withdrawal ones.”
Maybe (quite possibly) I am defensive. When we were on WIC (holla!) last year after my husband lost his job, I felt embarrassed cashing in three kids’ worth of food vouchers at once. Don’t breed ‘em if you can’t afford to feed ‘em, right? With each additional child I have felt an increased obligation to prove that we are financially solvent. I would like to prove it by dressing all four kids in adorable matching outfits from Gymboree, but alas, we are nowhere near that level of solvency. I’m just proud when my kids wear underpants that weren’t pre-owned.
“Where does all this money go?? I know we are spending a crapload on groceries now that the twins are eating solids and we are buying diapers for everyone… I spent nearly $300 on Saturday and I didn’t even get that much. What the hell??? How do people live? I just hope the boys start eating regular food soon, but right now if I give them anything even as big as a pea they start gagging.”
Because discussing money is uncomfortable, and because we know how lucky we are to have our babies, we gloss over the fact that we can’t pay our bills. We joke about hospital bills and the cost of daycare and diapers, but the same cuties that push the family budget into the red make it nearly impossible to answer, “Hungry and scared,” when someone asks how you’re doing. Because we’re lucky, and we know it.
Our financial situation has improved. We have one in diapers and one in pull-ups overnight, but we’re done with formula, baby food, whole milk, and sippy cups. But I wish I’d looked into assistance programs back then, when the babies were so small and expensive. I didn’t think we qualified, based on our income, but I didn’t know that childcare expenses are also figured in. Lesson: It’s worth a call to your local WIC office, if you are struggling. Also, hang in there.
Jen is the married work-from-home mother of 7-year-old Miss A, 5-year-old boys G and P, and 3-year-old Haney Jane. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.