Dec 08, 2015The Commons
Brandie Starr

We both have good jobs, but the economics are just not working. Why?

When my husband and I contemplated having babies, we factored many things into our decision.

But we never imagined that we would have a hard time with a two-parent-working household.

Why would we? We both have good jobs that pay well, and other people do it, right?

What we found out very quickly is that working and paying for child care is not that easy.

With two kids enrolled, we are paying more for child care than I bring home, and we are watching other financial obligations slip as we prioritize the budget to ensure that our rent, child care, car payments, and groceries are covered.

It is easy to think that the solution lies in me staying home, but the couple hundred bucks we would net per month does not really balance the loss of health insurance, dental insurance, and 401K.

Not to mention, I love my job. My job is exciting, meaningful, and well-paying. My boss is a family-first guy, and has always been nothing but flexible and compassionate.

My husband likes his job, too. Okay, maybe it does not really take advantage of his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience; it has been tough to find a job here, in this area that we love, that would truly fit that bill. That said, the job he has is also well paying, and it has growth potential.

Our salaries are not the issue, and we are certainly not overpaying the teachers who care for our boys; break it down by day and by hour, and really, it is not much.

So what is the problem?

* * *

HOW DOES this work? How can a family of four with two working parents stay afloat?

Is it the government’s problem to solve? Probably not, though at some point any of us who feel like we are drowning would likely be grateful for any help. Let's Grow Kids has been working to figure out the issue, as well — and hopefully someone can do so soon.

The truth is, I don’t know where the fracture is that makes it hard or for some of us, and impossible for others, to maintain a middle-class family structure.

But I am not ready to give up on what feels right to me.

I want to work, even when I miss my boys terribly. I want to work, and I want to be able to pay my bills with the money I make at work, and I want to be able to pay those bills and still be able to treat my boys, because that is why we have pushed so hard to get where we are!

Financial comfort and stability is, of course, not everything. But it is something.

I am not sure it is the American dream to have to choose between the work you love and paying for child care. Something is not quite right with this picture.

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