My partner and I discovered I was pregnant while on tour in Australia with Cirque du Soleil. We were about to depart for a new resident show in Orlando, Florida. Although we knew that his job change would be difficult, our main goal was to settle down and start a family. Two weeks prior to the premiere of our new show on March 13, 2020 the pandemic struck. I was five-months pregnant.
The Hard Conversations
We didn’t discuss our financial predicament for the first few weeks following the announcement that the new show had been delayed. Many of the choices we made before the pandemic like moving to Orlando or choosing a rental property were based on the expectation of show money. This show never premiered after COVID-19.
As we watched other tour friends lose their jobs, my pregnancy news became more painful. We sat silently on the couch, waiting for the answers. The unspoken money problem floated through our rental house, growing in excess day by day. The rooms felt larger and the ceilings seemed higher. I wondered: Why have we chosen such a costly house?
We expected it to last for a few months, just like most people whose lives were affected by COVID-19. It didn’t stop. We couldn’t ignore financial problems any longer.
Get Creative with Your Income
We discovered that it is possible to work remotely from home with stay-at-home orders. If your job requires you to work in a theatre or other venue with a lot of people, this is not true. My family was among the first to leave work, and they were also the last to return. Therefore, working from home was not an option. Entertainment workers have had to either file for unemployment or seek a new career path. We made it work. My partner got a job as a driver at a car dealership, which allowed him to remain socially distant. I was able to take on freelance work while still taking care of our baby, now seven months old.
Learn how to budget
My entire life I avoided tracking my spending and kept my finances in check. Even though I knew I shouldn’t I allowed myself to be ignorant. Our tour life allowed us to be free.
We are not the only ones who learn about money through hard times. Yet, I am still puzzled as to why my high school taught me so much about Chaucer and how to wear jean shorts in the right length than about taxes and sticking to a budget. This is a skill that everyone can learn, but I was not as good at it. I don’t blame anyone, but it took me a worldwide pandemic to become sensible about my spending.
Reaching out for Help
It is great to know that you can call for help whenever you need it. My friends and family were able to help me. Their support went beyond the baby registry items. Unannounced boxes of diapers continue to arrive at our door quite often. When I was experiencing medical problems, money appeared in my PayPal account on Saturday morning. Apple Pay transfers are sent out by certain family members.
It was hard, but I was open and honest. My husband and those closest to me said, “We’re struggling.” I don’t know where to turn. Please, help me. The feedback was amazing. Although I felt uncomfortable asking for help, I reminded my self that this is the purpose of family and friends. I would do the exact same thing for anyone of these people and I will certainly give it back when I can.
Accepting the Milestones
When I was inducted in July 2020, a nurse said to me that babies don’t need fancy toys. They need to be loved and fed. It is possible she could have seen my fearful expression and recognized that I was afraid, but those words helped me tremendously.
We learned to accept milestones as they came. My son’s growth has shown me that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to raise a happy, healthy baby. This is true for all parents, but for us it was a source strength to see our son’s growth in stages. His first crawl, sit up, crawl, pull up, and his first overnight trip. Every holiday. His first tooth on Valentine’s Day.
Take a break
It is important to stop thinking and talking about money. Money stress is a separate category of pain. It’s not a small thing to wonder if you have enough rent money. Add to that the fact that you are now responsible for another person’s life and it can be stressful. It can be difficult, but it is necessary to step away. If you don’t, it will take over your whole life.
This is temporary. It would have been devastating if you had told me in the beginning of the pandemic, that our show would be delayed a year later. Month by month, the path to where we are today unfolded.