It only occurred to me later that the “everyone else” I was thinking of was either decidedly not figuring it out or was a generation or two older than me; a gulf of inflation and recession separated my circumstances and theirs.
When my child was a newborn, I was able to leave him with my parents for an hour here and there, so I could go for a slow, leaky walk, or close my eyes for the first time in 24 hours, or even do some freelance writing to make an extra $300 while my breast pump parts soaked in the sink and my savings account shriveled to a wan husk of its former self. Then, when my twelve weeks of unpaid leave from my in-person job were up, and my husband’s even briefer leave was on its last legs, we found ourselves on waitlists for several local daycares–none of which we could actually afford without borrowing money from our families or somehow taking on more work. Of course, it was impossible to do more work with no childcare in place. Eventually, we figured out a grandparent-and-daycare mixture that allowed me to return to full-time work. The salaries we earned—mine, for my job as a health care worker and my freelance writing work; and my partner’s, for his work as a carpenter—could pay either our mortgage or our full-time childcare costs, but not both.