It was 8:45pm by the time I finally heard my husbands truck pull into our driveway.
“Daddy’s home!” I said to my son Gregory.
“Dada?” He replied excitedly, he pushed himself off the floor to a standing position then toddled out of his room and down the hall way to greet his daddy. Gregory’s bedtime was usually at eight but I kept him awake so we could greet my husband as he came home from work.
Mihei had recently started his own business and while that came with many benefits, it also meant he had been waking up very early every morning and coming home late almost every night. We didn’t spend a lot of time together as a family, so the few moments we had were precious to us.
But if I had known how late Mihei would be, I wouldn’t have kept Gregory up that day. By the time we got to the door, Mihei was already inside.
“Dada!” Gregory squealed as he ran to hug his Daddys’ legs, smiling up at his most favorite person in his life.
“Hey, Buddy.” Mihei replied softly, tiredly, as he stroked the top of his sons head. Satisfied, Gregory turned to play with his toys in the living room as Mihei finished taking off his boots. Knowing he needed a few moments to collect himself, I quietly leaned against the wall to watch him.
His grimy orange shirt stretched over his broad shoulders as he leaned down to untie his laces and slip off his shoes. He took his hat off, and hung it on a hook by the front door, muddling his hat hair as he walked into the living room. The hard working exhausted man sighed, finally coming to rest on the living room carpet with his ankles crossed and his arm shielding his eyes from the bright light of the living room lamp.
“Long day?” I asked gently. He agreed with a slow drawn out groan.
Suddenly, a flash of a half clothed diapered toddler flew across the living room, landing square on his fathers chest, squealing in glee.
“Gregory, No!” I jumped up to stop him, a second too late.
“DADA!” Gregory giggled, thinking his daddy wanted to play with him, his sharp knees digging into his poor fathers diaphragm, knocking the wind out of him.
“OOF!” Mihei jerked away from his son, his arms instinctively swinging out knocking Gregory to the ground, who immediately burst into tears.
I’ll never forget the look in my sons tear-filled eyes. He had been looking forward to his daddy coming home all day. He wanted to play with him. He wanted to be loved and tickled and hugged but instead his father pushed him away. Gregory couldn’t figure out what he did wrong. He didn’t understand why his daddy didn’t want to play with him.
I’ll never forget the look in Miheis eyes.
They were the eyes of a man that had been getting 6 hours of sleep every night for months.
They were the eyes of a man so burdened by bills and debt that he pushed himself to work one more hour that day, and the day before that and the day before that.
They were the eyes of a man so full of regret for his actions that he reached for his crying son, but last minute pulled away. He looked up at me and said;
“I… I can’t do it… I’m sorry.” Then turned to stumble down the hall to our bedroom where he collapsed in exhaustion onto our bed and promptly fell asleep.
I hate writing this story, I really do. For one thing, neither of the participants remember this moment.
Gregory was put in his crib soon after then woke up the next day with a renewed excitement and joy for when his father would come home.
Mihei woke up at three the next day and the day after that and the day after that. Some days were good and he was home by six or seven. He would have enough time to eat, shower and have some family time before bed. However, on bad days he would come home late and fight to stay awake long enough to shovel some food into his mouth and shower before going to bed.
To them, it was just another day.
To me, it was the day that I will never forget. The day that changed my life forever.
You see, I don’t blame my husband for that heart jerking moment, nor do I blame my son.
I blame Debt.
It was Debt that kept my husband working long hours.
It was Debt that motivated him to accept jobs that were further away, all because they paid better.
Debt was tearing this family apart, literally.
Debt was keeping my best friend from my side and my childrens father from their memories.
Debt drove my husband to near collapsing from exhaustion. Its weight so heavy, his shoulders drooped with their burden.
That week I tore the decorations off the walls. I dug brand new shoes, still in their boxes, out from the bottom of our closet. Wedding gifts, unopened and unused, were pulled from storage and sold.
I sold them all.
I sold clothes, knick-knacks and even a few of my husbands things I knew he hadn’t used in a while. Overtime, I was able to contribute close to $8,000 towards paying off our debt. Now, we had $300,000 of debt so while the money I was able to pony-up hardly made a dent, as a stay at home mom it was the best that I could do.
I vowed that I would do everything in my power to make sure that I would never see my loved ones in that kind of pain ever again. No car, no house, no credit card was worth that much to me.
My families happiness, no, my families peace means more to me than any “thing” in the world.
So where are we now?
Well, it took a while, but we were able to pay off the $300k of debt.
Mihei now comes home by 4pm and yes, Gregory and I still run to greet him. He’s four years old now and beats me to the door. Thankfully he isn’t too good at unlocking the deadbolt. It gives his brother Isaac enough time to catch up with us. He is 9 months old right now and while he might not fully understand why his mama and big brother are getting so excited, he is smiling giddily alongside us as he is swept away in our merriment.
Mihei is greeted by our smiling happy faces. Gregory jumps to hug him as Mihei leans down to kiss me ‘hello’ and pinch Isaacs fat cheeks. The baby recognizes his dada and reaches for him as he takes off his work boots. He smiles lovingly and picks up our little bundle of joy as he makes his way to the living room couch.
Gregory is already telling his dad a story, going a mile a minute, mixing hand motions with some words he made up and settling himself on the couch besides his most favorite person in the world. Mihei listens intently, laughing as the baby playfully tugs at his beard.
When I look at my husband now I no longer see the war torn spent shell of a man, burdened by the guilt of debt.
I see a man that can FINALLY be the father he was always meant to be.
Isn’t that why we do it?
We as parents work our asses off to give our children the best life we possibly can.
But are they really going to be happier if we buy them the newest and most expensive mini-van on the market? No. Our sons are plenty happy in our 2007 Honda Accord.
Do children need to live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a big yard? Maybe, but do they need parents saddled with debt and a mortgage payment that they can not afford in order to get them into that house? Hell no.
My husband and I now live comfortably in a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment with our 2007 Honda Accord parked in the driveway. We are… content… but not settled. By the end of 2019 our goal is to have a house, one that we build with cash so we can stay out of debt. We also know that Gretchen, our car, won’t last forever, especially with our plan to expand the family. We already have the cash set aside for our next vehicle and won’t need a loan to cover the cost.
We are never going back into debt and we will never have to.
You see, we have the same goals as anyone else. Get a bigger car. Buy a house. Be happy.
But the difference in the family that we used to be and the family we are now, is that we have a plan. We budget every dollar that we make, we live well below our means and save with gazelle intensity.
Anyone can do it.
At any income level.
At any age.
All you need is a plan and the drive to stick to that plan. If our past sounds like anything remotely like your present, just know that you are not stuck and you are not alone.
So tell me, what is your debt costing you?
Mihei is now a financial coach. He guides couples and small business owners through the principles that we used to get out of debt. It saved our marriage, our business and now our children have a brighter future than ever before. You can have that too. Let him show you how! All 1st time clients are provided with one FREE session.
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