2010 + 11’ + 12’ was without doubt, the most flat broke Dave & I have actually ever been. And we’ve both been those stereotypical university students, living on zilch. But 2010, 11’, & 12’? Well, that was less than zilch. That was the real deal zilch.
No actually, that was zilch. With a kid. Which was every bit terrifying as it sounds.
We’re not flat broke any more. We’re not cashed up either. We’re just … comfortable. And y’know what? I’d go as far as saying that our newfound ‘comfortable’ is deservedly so.
When I think back to life when I was working full-time ten hour night shifts in nursing, five nights per week, finishing work, driving home, not sleeping, & then beginning my day raising infant through to toddler Max whilst night shiftin’ for two years? Well, it honestly feels like it was in another lifetime. Not this one. Don’t get me wrong, I will never forget. Fuck, I used to cry all the time. Sometimes daily. And it wasn’t because I was depressed, I wasn’t. But our flat broke status meant that life for me, & for us, felt like I was kinda like a prisoner of war in my actual own life.
Sometimes I would cry because Max was crying, other times I would cry because I’d been awake for anywhere between 48-72 hours straight, but mostly? I cried because in the two years that I worked night shifts, & then raised Max the next day on no sleep, not a single family member or friend offered to take Max so that I could sleep. Just … sleep.
For 27 years, I was always the person who bent over backwards for people, asked how high I should jump when anyone demanded that I “jump”, organised surprise events for everyone, catered the birthdays of family & friends, photographed these events so that friends could get a decent family shot of themselves, hosted Mother’s group meetings at my house, told Dave “yes, absolutely, you should definitely play another football season”, etc. etc. etc.
27 years man. 27 whole years spent loving people intensely, & doing just about anything for them. And so y’see, … that’s why I used to cry. Because night shift broke me, & it opened my eyes to see just what happens when you pour a whole lot o’ love into family & friends. Sometimes? They kinda don’t necessarily pour anything back into you when you need it from them the most, no matter even how much you do for them, & will continue to do for them.
It’s been nearly two years since all of that flat broke, night shift workin’ hell, & life is incredible now, but my personality? Seemingly changed forever. I’m not that same sweet Cherie any more. It appears I’ve lost that do-anything-for-everyone nice’ness? Ok, sometimes? I’m a complete bitch, actually. And look, I really do hate the thought of holding a grudge, but it’s like I’m unable to forget all of the nothing I was given from the same people I used to do everything for.
I just can’t forget it, y’know?
I’m 31 now, & I still have my same kind heart, but I extend that generosity less frequently, & with an abundance of caution. Because I just don’t think I can forget those days where I used to sit on the floor of the shower sobbing after having worked night shift, then coming home to raise Max, then waiting for Dave to come home from work, just so I could get ready for the next night shift.
And yep, it’s my own stupid stubborn fault. Because yes, we could have remained on one income, Dave’s income. And we therefore could have remained in our shit load of debt, & hey, perhaps even dug ourselves an even bigger financial grave. Absolutely. But I needed my family to be out of the considerable amount of debt that we’d landed ourselves in, & retrospectively, I can still say I’m glad I just about killed myself on nights. Because we’re debt free now, apart from the obvious stock standard mortgage. And we’re debt free because I simply refused to add years to the already shocking financial situation we were in in 2010 by remaining on one income for any longer.
Dave worked. I worked. I worked nights in hospitals all over Melbourne, while Dave tended to Max overnight on his own. As a couple, we were like ships in the night. And at the time, I worried it would be forever.
We continued to work. We didn’t buy anything. We did everything on the cheap. We absolutely smashed our debt. In record time, might I add. We sold our house. We profited from that. We searched for houses closer to the city. We couldn’t afford anything in the areas that we wanted, so we crossed into neighbouring suburbs, … & then neighbouring suburbs again. And it’s there that we found our new, very old home. Dave was promoted, & then promoted again. We invested money. Those investments have been good. I returned to work (from home) four weeks post Frankie. We’ve been stupid. We’ve been smart. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve learnt from them. We’ve cut up all credit cards.
We aren’t flat broke any more.
I still remember flat broke like it was yesterday, & try not to make the same mistakes that we used to that landed us in flat broke territory. But at the same time, I enjoy everything that our newfound comfortable-but-not-cashed-up life affords. Y’know, like swimming lessons for Max, & art classes, & swiping my ATM card at the supermarket to pay for my groceries & not worrying about if it will decline, & haircuts, & spontaneous trips to the zoo, & weekend adventures, & family holidays to Queensland, & new linen, & takeaway nights when I’m solo parenting.
Just life, y’know? Without the stress. Or at least, financial stress.
This year Dave & I actually gifted each other birthday presents. It’s the first time in a long time, years even, that we’ve been able to. And my God, it felt good. I picked Dave’s present out, & I wrapped it up, & I wrote him a card from the kids & I, & then I put the present on our bed & photographed it. I don’t know why? Probably because I’m female. And because I’m a blogger. But it just looked pretty, & our bedroom looked pretty, & I guess I just had this moment where I realised that all of the pretty we now have in our daily lives? Well, it’s thanks to the blood, sweat, tears, & throwing of meat pies that Dave & I did way back when we were flat broke.
In case you’re wondering, that ridiculously cute cake banner was purchased here.
And now just in case you’re also wondering if what I just said there is sponsored, it isn’t. I bought that sweet banner with my own moolah.