Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Epiphany and How Badly it Sucks

I've had an epiphany. A pretty huge one. I've had that moment where you realize you absolutely love what you do, but then realize you've fallen in love with (what might be) the wrong thing.

It is amazing and sucks at the same time.

This post today will require some background, some pure unadulterated honesty, and some general rambling at times because I'm trying to figure all of this out. This is probably the largest decision my husband and I have ever had to make.

Before we get to all that, we'll go back to my epiphany. I'm a tattoo artist by day. Spent years as a tattoo artist, then went back to being a stay at home mom for a little while, now back to tattooing. And I love it. I love creating art for people, for decorating people's bodies, for creating memories that will stick with them forever. I love the shop I'm in, the people I work with, the money I make- it's all good. But two things happened this week to cause my epiphany:

  1. We had an 80 degree day outside. The first this year. Absolutely beautiful, and I had to go to work. That sucked. Not because I wanted to go joy riding or sun bathing, but because I wanted to spring clean my apartment. Seriously. I wanted to open the sliding glass door, let the warm, fresh air in, crank up some tunes, and get this apartment clean. And I couldn't, because I had to head to work.
  2. I had my biggest appointment of the week not show up. What's that like when you work a commission job? Imagine working 40 hours a week and getting a paycheck that might differ slightly week to week, but is relatively the same. Now, imagine working the same 40 hours, and making $150 less this paycheck than you did last paycheck. Yeah, sucks, right? Now imagine that you blocked off 4 hours of your day for that project, and now you have 4 hours that you could have blocked off for someone else, and still made that $150. Thus is the life of a tattoo artist.
It was with these 2 things that I realized what I'm truly in love with when it comes to my life...

My family.

I want to be a stay at home mom again; I loved being a stay at home mom. I want to get my kids to school in the morning, clean the house, do laundry, bake, get the kids home from school, help with homework, have fun, cook dinner, relax with my family, put the kids to bed, spend time with Hubby, head to bed myself, and wake up the next day and do it all over again. I don't want to have to worry about whether or not my paycheck will be enough because a huge appointment didn't come in, or having to work when my apartment is a wreck, or what the kids and I are going to do on one of the 2 days a week I see them all day long.

When I first started this post, I wrote 'fallen in love with (what might be) the wrong thing.' I'm sure you are asking yourself how falling in love with your kids and your home could be a 'wrong thing', but right now in my life it is. I work. I work to make money, to feed the kids and take care of things in my life. Realizing I want to be a stay at home mom right now isn't the best timing.

Or, maybe it is. Here's the part where I explain the amazingly huge decision my husband and I have to make.

Hubby is in the military, stationed 2000 miles away right now. His enlistment is up in September, and we have the decision in front of us whether or not he's going to stay in the military. Whenever you have a huge decision to make, an internal argument occurs in your brain. You'll give one valid point, then the devil's advocate raises it's ugly head. So, I'm going to go through this with you all, through the eyes of the voices in my head.

If he stays in, we'll have a retirement check, for the rest of our lives, in just 6 more years. But it's 6 more years in the military, which feels like 10 years, full of deployments, and a suck ass job he hates.

If he stays in, the kids and I will move to Arizona, and be a family again. 2000 miles away from family and friends. If he gets out, he can come here, with family all around you as support.

If he stays in, I get to be a stay at home mom again. But he hates his job, the military is getting ridiculous right now with the government the way it is, and we'd be so far from extended family. Pretty selfish of you to want to be a stay at home mom with all that riding on it.

If he stays in, we have to pay for the kids and I to move our stuff to AZ and ourselves (5th move for the kids and I in a year and a half), out of pocket, which is about 5k, but we'll be together in June. If he gets out, the military will pay him to move home, but we have to wait until September or October.

If he stays in, we keep health benefits and have a steady paycheck. If he gets out, my job covers costs of living, and he wants to go back to school, which he'll love, and we'll get housing money from his GI bill to help out. It's definitely doable.

If he gets out, the kids and I don't have to be uprooted, and the kids love their school, family is around to help, and we don't have to worry about deployments or exercises- we get to be a family 24/7. But we lose the steady paycheck, the benefits, I become the breadwinner on a commission job (which means no stay at home mom)...
To stay a military wife or not stay one. That is the question...

My head is so screwed up right now, it's not funny. And Hubby is the same way. One week we're all for him getting out and coming home, him enrolling in school to do something he loves, and me continuing at the tattoo shop. Then, the next week, his work will be tolerable, my big piece for the week won't show up, we'll both be sick, and we realize we want to be together as soon as possible, as stable as possible, and the kids and I should move out there.

We're trying not to base our decision solely on money or benefits, because, well, there's no guarantee in 6 more years those will be there. The government is doing some screwy things right now, and some of it has to to with retiree's benefits. Not to mention, when you have a family separated by 2000 miles, money isn't everything. Being a family is, at whatever cost.

So while my epiphany of loving my family and wanting to take care of them is amazing, it's caused the internal conflict to grow. I was okay with being the breadwinner, of continuing tattooing, if it meant my family would be here, and my husband would be in school and be happy. I will still sacrifice whatever I need to for my family, but the weird thing is, me being a stay at home mom again wouldn't be a sacrifice; the kids would have their mom around all the time, helping them, raising them, loving them. It's all so confusing right now.

If anyone has advice, or a story to tell, I'm all for it, especially if you are a post-military family, a current military family, or if your husband got out of the military without doing the full 20, how it impacted your family and living down the road. Or, any generalized words of advice will help, too. Sometimes it's the smallest thing that someone says that has the greatest impact, or makes you look at things from a completely different perspective. So please, share below!!

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  1. I am for the stay at home mom position, that security and peace of mind is a hard thing to beat even if it kinda sucks. I dunno... it is a really really hard choice!

  2. The security and peace of mind is weighing heavily for me. It sucks, though, if we had to be 2000 miles away from family; it's been awesome here with their help... Thanks for your reply!!! =)

  3. Hi Tatted Mom = ) Just found your blog on the blog hop over at Clairejustineoxox's site. I just read a bunch of your posts...LOVE THEM! You are so to the point, honest and frank with what you write. I loved your post on your epipheny and kids and cussing 101. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you with the decision you and your husband need to make. Follow your instincts and heart and make realistic choices. Thats the best I can do. Good luck. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.


  4. Hi there,

    As a former Navy wife, I feel your stress. We made the decision to get out. This was years ago - hubby was a submarine officer for 5 years and we had to decide about taking our chances with the next assignment or getting out and figuring out life outside. I felt that same back and forth, a similar list of pros and cons, and the sinking feeling that we should just flip a freaking coin and get it over with.

    We took the life outside and it was the best for our family because we are together as a family.

    I don't think people can really understand the stress of a military family that deals with deployments and exercises. It is not the same as a business trip - lots of people take business trips. That single-but-married-mom thing (whether you are working or not working) is incredibly stressful.

    When he got out of the Navy he took a job in corporate America. It was what he wanted to do next. (Note - growing up he wanted to be in the Navy for life, in fact we were both completely committed to that life until the day he wasn't)

    Six more years in for a retirement check but doing something you hate? sounds like prison. there are retirement plans on the outside, too.

    Many of our friends stayed in the Navy, they have had wonderful experiences, they made the right decision for them. We made the right decision for us and never looked back.

    Following a passion is a powerful experience - whether passionate about serving your country or cleaning your house.

    I work full time and there are MANY days I wish for being a stay at home mom - and not because I think they sit on the couch all day! But because I could throw open the doors and really clean things that haven't been cleaned in too long. I could do so much more to help the art department at the HS raise money, sit with my daughter while she struggles with Math homework...

    I don't know you and you don't know me, but I can tell you that part of my desire for being an at-home mom stems from being both mom and dad and working full time all at once. My hubby travels extensively for work so I handle many of life's challenges alone. For example, a couple of weeks ago our daughter needed emergency surgery (appendectomy) and hubby was in China on business. I sat alone in the ER for hours waiting for answers. By the time he got home, the excitement was over and she was a few hours from coming home.

    That happens sometimes and it is ok. But, I love the fact that he COULD come home. I also love that he hasn't missed a birthday party in years. But that is me being selfish.

    As I said, many of our friends took a different path. They are just as happy and satisfied with their lives as we are with ours. So there is no right answer here - just the answer that makes the most sense for your family and the life you want to live.

    I want to thank you, your husband and your family for the sacrifices you make every single day. Truly, military families are heroes.


  5. Jen- you reply just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to reply and give me your story! It is much appreciated. =)