When you were at school, did you find that, for years and years, you thought you were “writing essays” and then suddenly, midway though GCSE, someone suddenly decided to teach you how to do it? And then, when they did, their advice was always totally rubbish? “Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end.” Like, duh. I mean, you might have written something that lacked structure before, but it’s not like you’d have been doing it on purpose. Then there was always “make sure you include the arguments for and against.” Why would you want to do that? Surely only one set of arguments is correct. There is such a thing as right and wrong. Otherwise you end up in a right pickle. Gah! I was ace at writing essays before anyone told me how to write them. They’ve stolen my essay mojo.
This morning I thought I would write a rambly post on my desire to have a third child, despire my knowledge that this is a rubbish idea. I was all set to do it and then suddenly, the Essay Police intervened and started messing with my Real Life. This afternoon, rather than getting on with my work, I have been transported to For and Against Land. It’s like a low-level version of A Christmas Carol or Sliding Doors. Only the Essay Police haven’t be arsed to send me any cool ghosties or to create a parallel me. Instead I’ve just had two slap-in-the-face events happen which yell, with full force: DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER BABY! And then, half an hour later: HAVE ANOTHER BABY! AARRRRGH!
Event 1: The argument against Baby no. 3
2.23pm (okay, I don’t recall the time that precisely. I just thought it would look better – a bit Jack Bauer-esque – if I did). My partner rings to tell me that the bank have been in touch because we’ve defaulted on the mortgage. I thought I’d sorted things this month, what with buying food on the credit card and panicking hard enough to think I’d earned a bit of a break. But no. How I regret that £14 spent seeing Snow White and the Huntsman.
We’re not on the breadline. We’re just muddling along, almost. I earn what was the average graduate salary a couple of years ago. The average, that is, for someone in their first job after university. I’m 37 so it’s not great going. Still, it’s better than the average graduate salary now, which is probably £2.80, a Close Protection UK poncho and a sandwich.
My partner doesn’t have a job. However, that’s not what’s crippling us financially. It’s the fact that since he’s training to be a teacher, he can’t be a stay-at-home dad, and we’ve been unable to find practical term-time only childcare. So we’re paying for our youngest to be in nursery full-time despite the fact that Daddy looks after him in the holidays and Daddy isn’t even in employment.
It was worse when we had two in nursery (even though at one time my partner earned a reasonable amount as a researcher). I might as well not have gone back to work, if immediate cash in my pocket had been the main concern. And then on top of nursery we have a fixed-rate mortgage from hell, obtained in May 2008 just before no one could become a first-time buyer ever again. These days, combined, nursery and the mortgage are just below what I earn each month. So each month I get further into debt but think “it’s alright, it’ll all be okay once partner gets a job and youngest starts school in 2013”. There might be a few months of prostitution in between then, but it’ll be okay.
Well, anyhow, don’t I just sound like a Daily Telegraph “coping classes” whinger? I’m sure it will be fine, just as much as it will be fine for anyone in one of the richest countries in the world, albeit a world in the grip of a recession. The trouble is, though, when I’m standing in the bank, having nipped out of the office without telling anyone because I’m too ashamed, and having maxed out my credit card to get enough to pay into the current account to pay the mortgage, I can’t help thinking having a third child would be the craziest idea ever. What I want more than anything, for all of the family, is breathing space. So we can all have our heads above water, pay back what we owe, just not feel this constant weight of debt and failure. So I can do the weekly shop with money I actually have, not money I’ll owe back at an extortionate rate. So my children have some freedom, so we can take them places, show them more stuff. And so I can get a haircut. The bank has mirrors and I look rubbish.
Anyhow, that’s what we need. Not to get back on the nursery fee treadmill for another four years, and to get sunk by all the other costs that follow and never end.
Event 2: The argument for Baby no. 3
3:04pm (as above). I sneak back into the office. Everyone is crowded round one particular desk. A colleague has just come in with her new baby. Not just any new baby – a third new baby. He is 14 days old. He is perfect.
Having weighed up the arguments presented by the Essay Police, I have now reached my conclusion / end. Obviously, as you can see from the above, one argument definitely outweighs the other. I need to have that third baby, don’t I?
PS Obviously I might not even be able to conceive a third baby, or I might have another miscarriage. Oh well. All the more reason to get my skates on re: partner nagging.