Saturday, September 25, 2010

Out with the Old...

Today, I threw out old and bought new underwear. It sort of got me thinking about other stuff that I have been holding onto that could use some updating. Thing-wise, we are doing well because I did a lot of purging before the move, but I have a lot of ideas and attitudes that I should really try to put out with the weekly trash.

This week I have been coming to terms with our new budget. Although moving here means we have more job stability than ever, it also means some belt-tightening. I don't mind living cheaply, but I hate trying to live with a specific budget. Keeping track of each and every item we buy and categorizing it, gives me a stress headache just thinking about it. More importantly, when I get stressed about things, especially money, I tend to catastrophize. One minute I'm going over the bank statement,  looking for where we can make cuts, the next I'm telling C that we will be homeless living under a bridge if he continues to buy coffee on campus. I need to learn to take a deep breath and take more responsibility for what's making me nervous about a situation. In this case, after the move I hadn't been paying as much attention to our spending habits as I normally do, so that when I looked over our monthly spending, I felt ambushed by a month's worth of purchases all in one sitting. It wasn't, in reality, a bad situation, but it felt out of my control, so I felt like my whole life was out of control.

The weird thing is, I am really good at feeling out of control where Wiggle is concerned. One day a few weeks ago, we were at the library, and he kept running away from me up and down the aisles. I was having trouble catching him without making a big commotion, so in effect, we were playing peek-a-boo, with him at one end of an aisle and me at the other. Then I popped my head around the next aisle, and he wasn't there. I tried the next few aisles, the last few, I hurried to the end where he had been. I didn't see him. My heart started to pound, and I was beginning to feel frantic because I wanted to yell, but I was in the library. Instead of totally freaking out and yelling his name as I ran around like a freak, I was able to calm myself down by remembering that a lot of people had seen us playing and were therefore aware of him and could help me if needed. Also there were a ton of families there; I felt pretty sure that if an unattended little boy was wandering around, a concerned mother would probably look after him until I could find him. Plus, if I decided I did need to yell his name, since it was a library, everyone would hear me, so everyone would look up from whatever they were doing. It would not be a proud parenting moment, but he would be safe. All of this went through my head in a matter of seconds as I looked around the unfamiliar library. I found him after maybe a full minute; he was "hiding" under a computer station. He had felt nature call and was taking a minute alone to complete his business, which seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation for abandoning our "game" in the stacks.

Why can't I do the same thing with our budget? Or thinking about going back to school? Why can't I see a frivolous purchase and think "that was not the best way to spend that money, but all I can do is change how I spend our money from now on" ? Why can't I realize that even if that latte pushes us over our budget, if we change our behavior the next month, we will only be over budget by one latte, which even I can see will not cause us to live in a refrigerator box under the freeway?

I still need to make that penny-pinching budget this weekend, but I'm feeling less overwhelmed by it. Now I need to sign up for the GREs, make sure I have done everything I can to establish Virginia residency, study for the GREs, and start looking at application deadlines. Perhaps my money stressing has just been masking my going back to school stressing.

So many things to stress about, so little time. Scratch that. So little time, so few things worth stressing about.

Who knew new underwear could say so much?
Painting on the porch
Hamming it up for the camera
Strutting his stuff while putting a crayon in his "button"
Just a guy starting his day by taking off his pants, putting on his hat, sitting in his chair, and drinking his milk. You know, a regular guy.


  1. I like this idea of throwing out old ideas, like old clothes. I definitely need to do that too! And I'll say it again: he is SO cute!

  2. He sure does like his button. He looks like he is having a very fun day.