8/15/13

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Housewives




A few nights ago, I stepped knee-deep into a pile of Mommy Wars. Thankfully, it was a wholly internal incident, so the only witness to my slip into the eternal debate between working moms and SAHMs was me. 

But still...it was unsettling. You know me, right? I'M SWITZERLAND. I'm a very kumbaya kinda lady. If what you're doing isn't hurting anyone? Keep right on doing it and I'm not gonna judge. That's what I thought about myself, until the other night.

Cut to the CAbi party I attended Tuesday evening. We will wait until a later date to discuss the fact that I am way too fat and way too poor to even BE at a CAbi party, okay? For now, let's just focus on the fact that I was there. Along with a few of my really good friends, some I've known since I was a fresh, young stay at home mom. 

So we watched the presentation, ooohed and aaaahed over the clothing. Honestly, it's cute stuff, and if I had a few less chins and few thousand more dollars, I'd be all over it. Instead, I focused on the huge bowl of Greek pasta salad and the red wine. Because, it was free. And delicious. And I didn't have to try it on. I already know it fits like a glove.

Then the chatting started. Some of us hadn't seen each other for a while, so the gabbing was catch up talk. Where are your kids going to school, how's your hubby, and that one question that starts coming up when mommies of a certain age get together:

"And what are you doing these days?"

Which is code for: Are you working at all or are you still "just" a stay at home mom?

Now, as I have stated before, I'm not one to judge a woman by what she does all day. Or so I thought. Because when I overheard one mom, who happens to have two adult children (her youngest is my oldest's age, 19), reply to that question by saying, "I'm still just a slave to my family!", I felt something so foreign and cold and icky...no, it wasn't my ex-husband rubbing up against me...

it was judgment. I heard her say this, and something in me bristled. And a shrew-like voice in my head actually said these words:

WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU DO ALL DAY???

(to clarify: I didn't say this out loud. Thank God.)

Almost immediately I felt bad. I felt shameful and regretful and worst of all, I felt mean. 

See, I like this woman. She's a great person who has raised great kids. And if her job of raising her family continues on despite the fact that her kids are, for all intents and purposes, raised, whose business is it? She is lucky to have that choice, to have the (yes I'll say it) LUXURY of not having to work outside the home. And that doesn't make her any more of a woman or any less of a woman than you or I. 

I think what bothered me most about my knee-jerk reaction to her seemingly innocent statement was the sheer indignation I felt. It was only there for a moment, true...but the fact that it was there for even THAT long bothered me. 

So much for my Kumbaya Lady status, huh? 

Maybe one of the reasons it stirred such emotions in me is the fact that I once WAS her. I was the woman who was told by my husband, "You'll never have to work." Hell, even after our divorce, when things were still amicable and we still spoke and he still paid child support, we sat across from each other at a little sports bar and he said to me, "I don't understand why you got a job? You don't need to work." 

Maybe another reason was due to the whole Opt In/Out discussion that's happening all over the freaking place. I read these stories with a somewhat jaundiced eye, seeing as I'm part a demographic which isn't discussed much at all...those of us who never had anything from which to Opt in or Out of at all. 

Women like me didn't make an agonizing choice between a high paying, satisfying career and motherhood. Women like me, we basically went from Friends to Parenthood without batting a well-mascaraed eyelash. Some of us have degrees, some of us never finished college. Some of us never started. We had jobs, some of us had really good jobs. But we also had boyfriends, serious ones. 

These boyfriends became our husbands and then the fathers of our children. And most of us were told, like I was, that working wasn't something we had to worry about. Ever. My ex and I used to lay in bed, after the kids had finally conked out and after the comfortable married sex happened, and we'd talk about The Future. We discussed remodels and vacation homes and golf and how crazy it would be when those four snoozing kids became teenagers. We talked about college and cars and sometimes we even talked about what would come after all of that...retirement and Florida or Arizona and even more golf.

What we never talked about was what would happen if he decided to leave us. What would happen to me, and our children, if he decided that the co-worker he had started screwing in parking lots after Happy Hour was his soul mate. 

We never got around to having that discussion. And I think that might be what triggered such big feelings in me at the party that night.

I try to not dwell on the less than positive aspects of my life. There are slips, now and again, because I am only human and because even the crappiest parts of my life make me who I am. I think I do a good job of living in the here and now, and not thinking about all of the should-have-beens and the could-have-beens, although there are times when it happens. 

Like when I'm sitting in a room full of chatty women, eating pasta salad and listening to a stay at home mom talk about her life. That's when I see things a little differently, with a little more emotion.

That's when I want to stand up, toss my fork aside and proselytize to these women, to all women who were and are like I once was: comfortable and safe and complacent in their roles as stay at home moms. I want to shake them and sit down with them and make sure they have a Plan B. And a Plan C, D, E and yes, even a Plan F. I want them to look at me, and my life, and the shit I've slogged through and see that you can Opt in or Opt out or Opt sideways and somehow still find yourself struggling just to make it from paycheck to paycheck. 

I know that the majority of these women are going to be just fine. They lucked out, they chose wisely and ended up with solid men. Men who really do take care of them and who love them and their kids and want to stay with them until death truly doth part. But I know that there are some who aren't going to be just fine. Some will end up like me. I had great alimony and even better child support, and a five year plan that would have left me with a house that was paid off and plenty of time to think about finishing my education. And then, after about a year and half, it all stopped. My ex left his high paying job and therefore, left me almost penniless. I lost my house, my credit and for a while...my confidence and dignity and hope. It didn't have to be that way. It never should have been that way.

I want to make sure that what happened to me doesn't happen to my daughter. And the daughters of my friends.

I was sitting on my best friend's couch the other day. One minute we were laughing about something trivial and the next minute I surprised both of us by bursting into tears. I know, I know...me crying isn't a surprise. This time, though, it was. 

I had just spent the morning sending out emails to the hockey association my youngest son plays with. Last year, they graciously allowed him to play via a scholarship. Only the details of the scholarship were never really ironed out, which was as much my responsibility as theirs. I was so desperate to have my sweet boy play, play this damned sport that is so out of reach for poor kids. This sport that he loves. One of the moms on his team was the Team Manager, and it's her job to take care of the financial end of things. Which meant she had to deal with my broke ass. 

There was some confusion as to how many of William's expenses were covered, and how much there was leftover, for me to pay. This woman, who I consider to be a good friend, ended up covering our last piddly expenses out of her own pocket. Verklempt? Yes, I was, along with grateful. She sent an email asking if I would be able to pay her back, which I of course said YES to. The kicker was, and I had to explain this to her, if I wrote her a check she'd have to wait until Friday to cash it. 

"I only have $35.00 in my checking account right now" I typed. "So it's in both of our best interests if you wait until Friday to deposit it.". I think I added something lighthearted or semi-funny in an attempt to soften the pathos, but sweet baby Jesus. It was that moment where I felt myself just kind of break. Hence the weeping on my friend's couch.

The reason I'm in this situation, this bleak financial one, isn't my ex-husband's fault. Oh, there is no question about it, he made certain choices that helped me get here, but ultimately the blame for all of it: for the desperation, the worry, the scrambling, all of it...lies squarely on my shoulders. 

I should have had a career. Or should have learned a trade, or honed a talent. I should have had a Plan B of my own before I settled into my short-lived role as a housewife and a stay at home mom. I should have finished that last year and half of college, if for no other reason than now I'd be able to check the box that says "college" instead of the one that says "some college". I should have been able to respond to my then-husband's statement "You don't have to work" with "Yeah, but if I ever do have to work, I'll be okay".

I also find myself with one surprising feeling here...a weird sort of respect for that woman my ex used to have secret parking lot liaisons with. The day he moved out of our family home, he moved in with her. And she immediately took to finishing her degree, while she had someone else to pay the bills. She may be a homewrecker, but the girl isn't dumb. I'll give her that, along with my ex-husband. And my retirement. 

But I digress. I did have a point when I started this post, and it was this:

No matter what you do in life, whether you aspire to career greatness or whether you embrace motherhood and housekeeping with open arms, or whether you find yourself doing both of these things at the same time, do it well. Do it with everything you have, with all your heart and with great gusto. But do it wisely. 

Don't ever make the same mistake I did, and put your life in someone else's hands. And always, always, ALWAYS have a Plan B. 

Tell your daughters and your granddaughters and all the other girls in your life this: it's okay to fall in love and have babies and be the homemaker. It's also okay to go to law school or business school or medical school or to beauty school or trade school. In fact, it's more than okay if you want to do BOTH. Better than okay...it's the smart thing to do. Tell our girls that they really can have it all, but ALL on their terms. 

I never, ever want my daughter to write an email pleading with someone to hold off on cashing a check because she only has $35 dollars to her name. I never want her to look at her own children and have to say "No, I'm sorry, we can't afford that" over and over again. I want her to find herself and her passions, whether it's at a four year college or at a community college or at a school that's sandwiched between a Chipotle and a Starbucks at a strip mall. I want her to have something, ANYTHING she can fall back on if she finds herself falling at any point in her life. I want my girl to have a Plan B. No matter how amazing and lovely her Plan A ends up being.

As for me? I'll be okay. I need to finish my schooling, which is something I should have started doing the second my husband left me. I have eleventy million excuses why I didn't: I was scared, my kids were traumatized, blah blah blah. One thing I have learned, even without a degree, is that you're never too old to start anew. 

Today, I got an official full time job. The first full time job I've had since my first sweet baby was born over 19 years ago. It's a real job, with vacation time and sick days and health insurance. Just writing this brings tears of joy to my eyes, tears of pride and relief. I'm not going to be making much money, I might even have to figure out a way to supplement my new income.

But dammit, it's a job. It's all mine, and I did it myself.

I finally found my Plan B. 



63 comments:

  1. Good for you Jenny!! You KNOW we are all in your corner, cheering like crazy!! I am PROUD of you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks my friend! I can hear you cheering, you know. It's what keeps me going.

      That, and hunger. The hunger is a big motivation too.

      Thank you so much :)

      Delete
  2. Congratulations on your new job - I hope you like it! And yes, you NEED to go back to school. My uncle completed college at the age of 60, just so you know you aren't the only procrastinator out there. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I love the stories of old farts like me going back to school.

      You know, I was all set up to go back. At Augsburg. Had my application ready to submit, financial stuff all set to go. And then I didn't do it. I don't know why. I think the hardest thing for me will be deciding which part of my life will be neglected while I go to school. It seems to me that the kids will suffer the most, and maybe that's what is holding me back. I just wish we had an extra car, so the kids had some other option for rides other than MOM TAXI.

      We'll see about that.

      Thank you so much for reading!

      Delete
  3. You deserve as many congratulations for the bravery of this post as for your new job. Mazel tov on both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you. I appreciate the mazel! I also appreciate you reading and commenting.

      Delete
  4. This. Is freaking fantastic! The advice, the job, YOU! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks lady. What a long strange trip it's been :)

      Delete
  5. girl. I could have written that...change the sport to lacrosse, 3 kids (2 boys, 1 girl) and porn for the girlfriend. yeup yeup yep. keep killin' it like a boss. you know you have all you need in your noggin'.
    so much more to say to you but suffice to say: Congrats on the job. I did that too..the build a career path. It rocks. I love it. I might have a small 401K right now, and I might have to work until 6 months after I'm dead but I don't have to be tied to a miserable man any more. hot damn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww thanks Ann!! We are TOTALLY killin' it like bosses.

      I'm proud of you! A small 401k beats an empty one. And you made me smile with "I may have to work until 6 months after I'm dead". AND AMEN to not having to be tied to a man! A-FREAKING-MEN! I didn't even add child support to my budget when I looked out over the next year. Because I hate having to depend on him for anything. ANYTHING.

      Thank you for a most kickass comment. I loved it.

      Delete
  6. Yay for you! Congratulations on the new job! Your kids must be so proud of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kay!! Yes, they are very proud of mama. I'm especially happy because I'll be getting home earlier than I had been. Which makes the whole dinner/rides to practices/evening routine much easier to navigate. It's all good.

      I hope you're doing well, friend.

      Delete
  7. Congrats on the new job! This was a great post and I totally agree about having a plan B. I was never a sahm, although many days I wish I had that luxury. There's a part of me that doesn't think I could do it though. My dad always taught me to have my own....whatever that may be. I've always been SO independent that I just don't think I could put all of my financial eggs in someone else's basket.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mommy, it really is a luxury. Thank you for pointing that out. I look back on my SAHM days with great nostalgia. They were good times, times that I don't think I ever really appreciated.

      But..now that I've been working for several years, the days that I have off? They feel weird.

      Here's to keeping all of our eggs in our very own lady baskets. LOL. That sounds kind of funny but you know what I mean.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  8. As always I love your writing. Your voice is gold. I'm a little jealous of it actually. But putting that aside, I'm so excited for you about the job!!! Is the one we discussed at the buffet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nina, what a beautiful and kind thing to say. Can I quote you? "NINA BADZIN SAID MY VOICE IS GOLD!" That's pretty high praise. Thank you!

      This is a different job, I have actually been on 4 interviews this summer. One of them is still "pending" but I accepted this one because, well, they offered. Every job I've interviewed for is in the school district..this one is preschool :)

      Delete
  9. I've had to ask people to please don't cash my check until Friday, and I'm married with two incomes. I know the embarassment and sting of that particular shame. And I don't know why the shame is there. I think we're all doing the best we can with what we have. Congrats on the full time job. It's a wonderful feeling, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Donna, thanks for sharing. That shame, I think, comes from wounded pride, or from having to expose ourselves to others. That's the hardest part for me, is just letting it all hang out. But I've learned that once you do drop all pretenses life sure does get less stressful.

      And yes, it's a super wonderful feeling! I'm still feeling the high of it, and I hope that continues for a long time.

      Thanks so much for reading!

      Delete
  10. Congratulations on the new job! I am so happy for you. A Plan B is always a good idea -- especially when Plan A changes through no wish of your own. All the best to you with the new job and I hope your first paid vacation day is a wonderful one for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "when Plan A changes through no wish of your own"

      BAM. That's exactly it, right there. How I wish someone had sat me down and explained this to me 18 years ago.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your sweet words. That first paid vacation day will ROCK. :)

      Delete
  11. Let me add to the congratulations chorus on your new job!! Yea, yea, yea! Don't you love it when a "plan" comes together ;) You will be more than ok, girlfriend...**hugs**

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Traci!! I'm honestly amazed when anything in my life comes together, including this, ha!!

      Thanks for the hugs. They are awesome.

      Delete
  12. Can one cry and jump for joy at the same time? Yes, yes I can. I am in love with this post and in love with you and your writing more than ever. You say what needs to be said without blinking. I am so happy for you, not just because of the job (congrats), but because you make no apologies for how you got to where you are. The thing that bothers me about the opt in/opt out discussions is that there is this great big myth that young people make every decision in their lives with one eye on the future. Hey, I've been young and I can tell you the "future" was not as far away as it turns out it actually was--five years ahead was about as far as I could see. Yes, we can do a better job preparing our kids but let's not kick ourselves for living in our present when we were that age. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Kelly I love this comment, thank you!!

      Yes, my 17 year old daughter does roll her eyes a bit when I start in on my "LEARN FROM MY LIFE" speech. I hope some of it sinks in, though.

      I'm impressed that your future spanned five years! I was lucky to plan for a month at a time. And if memory serves I did some poor planning. Thank goodness for forgiving landlords back in 1990's Uptown!

      Delete
    2. My 20 years old rolls her eyes too when I tell her to learn from my life and stop spending money on clothes.

      Delete
  13. Just now read this post so I'm a little late to the party (did someone save me a glass of wine? LOL) but CONGRATS ON THE JOB Jenny!! SO happy for you -- even if the pay isn't great, the benefits and security will add a lot to your peace of mind. This is AWESOME! Teaching preschool still, I take it?

    Your wise advice sounds like it could have come straight from my parents (yes, that is a compliment), probably because it's exactly what they told me more than once: always know that you can support and take care of yourself (and any family you might have), and be sure you've got the tools to do it. You've actually done very well -- better than some people I know of who DID finish their degrees or certificates, because you're frankly smarter about life than they are. Plus, while you might not yet have the formal education and training in a particular field of work, you obviously have a real gift for working with young children. Also, you're an articulate, intelligent, effective communicator, which so many people AREN'T. Actually, I didn't even realize you hadn't finished your degree till like 6 months ago, when I was catching up on your older posts and noticed you mentioned it. You could've fooled me, girlfriend! Considering your level of writing and all, I had just assumed you had at least a BA (if not a Master's) in either English or education. Seriously. So you have a lot of strengths already!

    Glad to see, too, that you aren't beating yourself up for not doing things differently as far as education. As you know, you can't change what's already happened, just learn from it and move ahead (something else you're better at doing than a LOT of people I've known). And it is fabulous that you're planning to go back to school whenever you can!!

    BTW...I know the feeling of having to tell someone to please sit on a check I wrote them for a day or three...or at least hoping I could beat them to the bank to feed my starving checking account...happened to me more than once in the past.

    Finally...the whole "opting out" thing leaves me pretty cold too because exactly like you said -- women who don't have the luxury of opting out or in are never discussed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Jenzi. You always say the nicest things. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for not only being so damned supportive but also for being so kind to me and the kids. I don't think I've ever thanked you properly, at least not with a fancy thank you card or marching band or in some other fabulous way. But thank you. Really.

      And yeah...I like what you said about the Opting Out thing. I think it's a very relevant discussion, for many women. But I think there's a HUGE section of the population, millions maybe, who are just like me. And we don't really fit into any of the neat little cubbies. We're not uneducated, we're not popping out multiple babies with multiple men, we're not teenagers. We are the displaced housewives or something like that.

      Mayhap I need to become the voice for us??

      Thanks so much, again, for EVERYTHING. You rock, my dear.

      Delete
  14. This is wonderful, my friend! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm new here...this is the first post of yours that I've read. In the last few minutes I connected with these words, your story, your voice.
    Thank you for sharing. As a single mama to 4 kids, 3 of which are girls, I can tell you that your message here resonates.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Robin!! Thank you so much for chiming in. We have the opposite..three boys here and just one girl.

      I'm always SO HAPPY to hear from other single mamas. Thank you so very much for reading, and for saying hello. I hope you stick around!

      Delete
  16. Congrats on your new job!!

    I'm a SAHM, and I'm always kind of confused when people say not to rely solely on my husband, or to have income of my own, or to have a Plan B, etc. If I get a job, I won't be a SAHM anymore, and that's not what I want right now. I have a college degree, with a double major, but it's not going to do me much good if I had to find a job tomorrow. I don't want to live my daily life in preparation for something that might never happen.

    I've been a single mom, had the rug ripped out from under me by my eldest child's father. I worked 2 jobs, finished college, and raised my daughter alone. But I still wouldn't do anything differently right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :)

      See...you did prepare yourself, which is so smart and so brave. I don't think what I'm (trying to) saying is that all SAHM's should be out working a part time job "just in case", rather, to be aware of what their opportunities would be if worst-case scenarios happened. Does that make sense?

      I don't think you should be doing anything differently, honestly. Sounds like you are doing just what you should be doing.

      One thing I do have to add, however, is you'd be very surprised at how much that degree would help you if, God forbid, you did have to start looking for work tomorrow.

      I'm reminded of my now-departed grandpa. He lived through the Depression, and as he aged he became kind of a hoarder. "You never know when you're going to need it" he used to say when someone would question the rooms FULL of toilet paper and other goods. Nobody wants to live with rooms full of t.p. But it never hurts to have a *couple* rolls extra on hand.

      And that, my friend, may be the most insane thing I've ever written. I think I need more caffeine.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your reply. :)

      I've actually had people tell me that SAHMs should have a job, just in case. And I don't know if I'm crazy, but how can you be a SAHM and work? LOL

      I don't know, I have friends who have actual careers and lost their job for whatever reason, and they're all having a horrible time finding a job. If you're over 35 and have kids, it seems like nowhere wants you, even grocery stores. That's so depressing.

      I understand your grandpa! And I think it's a great analogy. I'm the same way. I wish my husband would get with the program! ;)

      Delete
    3. It really is kind of depressing. Yesterday I was at Target, and the cashier was a woman who appeared to be in her late 50's, early 60's. Now, it could be she's working because she wants to. And hello, Target discount?? But part of me wondered if she found herself, at this stage in her life, searching for something to pay the bills and she landed behind a register at Target?

      I'm not belittling Target AT ALL. Nor cashiers/retail workers in general. But I saw myself in her. And for some strange reason I wanted to hug her. Glad I didn't because that would have been really creepy but, still. It just makes ya think.

      When I was a SAHM, I did have "little" jobs here and there. For a long time I worked weekends at Gap Kids, for the discount. And I did have a job at Once Upon A Child, again because I did a lot of shopping there. But when you are a SAHM, your real job is running the household and making sure everyone is fed and dressed and that the bathrooms are not horrifying. It's a huge job. And some days, it's a hard one.

      Delete
  17. Congratulations on the job, my dear, and AMEN! I want my daughters to be prepared--to have the education they need to follow their passions and take care of themselves even if they decide at some point not to go that direction.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Congrats from me as well on your new job.
    As a mom in her 30s now - with a 2 year old and a baby on the way - I could not agree more with your post. Already I see tales of woe and loss among my generation, some from divorce, some from untimely deaths, some from money management mistakes within a marriage. The women and men who have Plan B and an education that give them some options are so much better off emotionally and financially.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, so much! I was just looking at your blog...YOU ARE ADORABLE. And the boys aren't too shabby either :)

      Thanks for bringing in a younger viewpoint to this discussion. It's disheartening to know that women in the generation after mine are already feeling this.

      Also, thanks for pointing out that this kind of preparedness helps out EMOTIONALLY as well as financially. I don't even want to know what kind of damage I've done to myself with the stress of the past few years. So much to be said for a healthy state of mind as well as a healthy bank account.

      Thanks so much for saying hello! I look forward to reading more of your stories.

      Delete
    2. I just popped back on for a re-read because I just couldn't get this topic out of my head last night. When I got to the end, I saw your wonderful comment. Thank you!

      I have been incredibly blessed. It was hard to work through college and pay off all that debt within five years and build a career and walk away from relationships with wonderful men that weren't looking for the same lifestyle ... but I learned from my mom's experience. She had to do all the same stuff but WITH three children to care for in addition. Me? I did it with just myself to lug around! And that was hard enough. ;)

      The great news is that your children are watching, learning. And based on some of your other blog entries - they are learning the 'right' lessons.

      Excited to read more about your full-time gig. And see you PAID vacation pictures! :D

      Delete
    3. Thank you!! Sounds like your mom taught you well. I hope my daughter says the exact same thing some day.

      So glad to have connected!

      Delete
  19. Great advice!
    -From someone who has had to ask people to not cash a check until payday way more times than I care to count.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holla, sister! Thanks for everything. Including bailing my broke ass out more times than I can count. I'll never forget the night you "happened" to be at Trader Joe's and brought us a gallon of milk and a couple bags of orange chicken ♥

      Love ya!

      Delete
  20. I feel like women just need to be more ambitious while they are growing up in general. I was actually pretty ambitious, I graduated from a good college and always knew I would have a decent job and could support myself. But my (now ex) husband had even bigger ambitions while he was growing up. He wanted to be able to support a stay at home wife and kids and buy himself a lot of crap. I'm not saying it's right to be all about material success (at all) but I do know it made him really go after what he wanted. Having these really high expectations of himself caused him to think practically about how he could accomplish these things and he made it happen. While I just got lazier about my career once I met him. Staying home with kids was never in my plan before I met him or even during the beginning of our relationship, but when the time came along it just made sense and I don't regret those years at home (in fact, I am so grateful I had them!) even though it's causing me trouble now as I look to go back. I guess I'm better off than some. I have a Plan B, my ex is paying decent support, but it still chaps my hide sometimes that my ex still has his career Plan A. And it bothers me as well because I know my work downgrade is my fault - I did get lazy about it because I (rightly, I think) realized that there is so much more to life than your job. And I of course assumed I'd be with him forever. I stayed home to help the family as a whole. The Catch-22 is that even now I don't think I'd do it any differently. I got my few years at home with my babies and my kids and I are still going to be okay.

    Anyway, congratulations on the job! And you should look into scholarships for school... I know someone that was able to get A LOT of help because she is a single mom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erika, you are not the first divorced mom I've heard from who is grateful to have had "at home" time with her kids, despite the fact that it did indeed have a negative effect on her ability to support herself (and those kids) later on. Count me in as one of them, strangely enough. Yep, I know that being completely dependent on my husband was STUPID but I think, on my deathbed, I'll be happy I had those sweet years with my kids. Even if my deathbed is in a homeless shelter, ha.

      Personally, I think that says a lot about what kind of people we are. That is something good to come out of all this.

      And thanks for the school tip! I started to look into it about 1 1/2 years ago, and in fact had applied to a couple of good colleges here in Mpls that offer great weekend programs for working adults. And then, I didn't move on it. My excuse is that my kids don't see their father very much at all anymore, there are no "every other" weekends for me now. Parenting 24/7 leaves very little time for self improvement. But I have to figure it out.

      Thanks so much for joining in the discussion!!

      Delete
  21. I think, that I found a little piece of the world I belong with, Thank you. Truly. Your words have inspired and changed a life today. Betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Betty. Thank you so much. Of course you belong here! You are not alone :)

      Delete
  22. Love this post. I just started my MBA program and I was feeling guilty because it is going to cost me a lot of money and I dont want to have that burden, but than I just read this blog and I think its important for women to have a plan b and be educated. I worked full time until I was 35 and then after I got my daughter I have worked part time and part time at home. I would like to go back to work full time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tara

      You are so smart. Don't let the money guilt hold you back from going for it! It will pay off for you, and your daughter.

      Thank you so much for reading, and for sharing a bit of your story.

      Delete
  23. I loved the end of your blog when you said you got a full-time job. That is so exciting (and a little bittersweet). All I can say, is if you do your best and look to do more than your current job requires, you may not even need school. You are a smart and valuable person and you have already proven that you can do what you put your mind to.

    I was also on the very brink...you write so well that I was reliving my events along with yours. I am proof that it all works out and you get stronger and stronger each day. On a sad note, those bitter feelings always creep up, but they go away faster and faster.

    God bless you, your kids and the road you are on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello anonymous! Thank you so much for such a lovely comment. Unfortunately the "career" I've chosen doesn't have much in the way of advancement. It's a field notorious for low wages, so even if I do a great job (which I think I do) there's not many (in any) rungs on the ladder left for me to climb.

      The insurance kicks butt, though.

      Thanks so much for saying these sweet, encouraging things. I appreciate it so much.

      Delete
  24. Did your story ever resonate with me! I'm a working mom who has always wanted to be a SAHM, if only to be able to be in the moment with the kids when they were little. But I always feel on the edge of divorce so I'm glad to have a career that could see me through. But really - the reason I'm writing is because my 9 year old daughter has been telling me she wants to be a housewife when she grows up. It breaks my heart. Because I know she's looking at how hard my life is - or how hard-working - and how her friend's moms have it good. It has left me speechless, her new "ambition." And I haven't known what to say - until now. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cori...

      I'm sorry that you are feeling on the edge of divorce..that's not a fun way to live. I hope you're doing okay.

      Hmmm..I'd be kind of baffled if my daughter said that, too. Mine pulls the "I'm not going to college" thing now and again, but she's never said anything about being a housewife. I'd probably have her read this, ha!

      Thanks so much for commenting, and for sharing a bit of your story with us. I wish you the very best :)

      Delete
    2. Yes, that is how I felt for all 14 years and it ended up in divorce. His porn addiction was always bothered me. He also took me to swinger parties and I did it for him because, well, I loved him. But I never stopped working except for 2 years while getting my second BS and CPA license.

      Delete
  25. While I think it's great that you've gotten a job and are recovering from all of this---I gotta say this sounds like something written like 40 years ago! I grew up always knowing that I needed to rely on myself and to never, ever expect a man to "take care of me" because who knows what can happen.

    I never finished college, either---you can still have a challenging, fulfilling career without it (I'm a Marketing Director). Most jobs accept "equivalent experience" in lieu of a degree. As someone who has hired a fair share of employees, I can assure you this is generally the case.

    Based on your post, you appear to have lived in a fairly rarified world while married (and engaged) which most women in America don't. My husband is a professional, making a decent living, but some form of income from me was always needed. Even before our daughter was born, my income helped pay bills, not buy Lancôme (and we technically qualify as "upper middle class", though it doesn't feel that way).

    Not to mention, most mothers do work in this country, with the bulk of those at full time jobs----statistically the moms who don't are more often than not the ones in families that could really use the income.

    Again, congrats and good luck---but just know, plenty of the other wives whose lives you think are golden and intact might be hiding a dim façade, as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you and I reached a truce on HuffPost, right? :) So I won't go into a long-winded defense speech here (plus I'm way too tired).

      I appreciate your congratulations, and also for you sharing part of your story. I value other's opinions, even when they differ greatly from my own. I think we can all learn something from everyone we cross paths with, and I can honestly say that I learned a few things from you over the past few days.

      Although my situation may indeed be rare, please keep in mind that it truly is/was MY situation. It's the only life I've had, therefore, the only life I can write about. It may be the exception, not the rule, but it does seem like there are oodles of others like me out there. And I hope what I've shared can help them.

      And amen to your closing remark. I've found that nothing is what it seems anymore.

      Delete
  26. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog and this post in particular. I'm currently going through an unexpected divorce and will have to re-enter the workforce at 45yo. My soon-to-be-ex told me years ago that he can make in 4 days what I make in a year. So, that sounded great to me and I stayed home and made babies, took care of our home, took care of my husband -- and lost track of any business connections, etc. Here I am, 10 yrs later and the husband found several other women (almost half my age) who don't have kids to tend to or early wake-ups, etc.
    I won't have much to fall back on financially but at least I will have my freedom.
    I do feel like I need to preach to all the young women, and others my age, who are opting for the SAHM route -- have that Plan B, C, D, E, etc. You just NEVER know.
    I will keep following you as I go through my journey.
    Be well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello anonymous! I'm so glad you're here. I'm so very sorry about your marriage. That sucks. But like you said, you now have your freedom. It's scary, and it can be absolutely suck-tacular, but you can go to bed at night knowing that you've done the best you can.

      Thank you, so much, for stopping by and for saying hello. I wish you the very best on your new road. Please keep in touch :)

      Delete
  27. Great post, I really appreciate your fine writing style and touching honesty. I wish you the best! As for the young SAHM's who balk at having a 'Plan B' because 'I don't want to live my life thinking about what could go wrong..' I would say this -- Do you make your children wear seat belts? Do you wear protective gear when you weed wack? Do you keep health insurance? Those are ALL things we keep in place in case, God forbid, something bad should happen. No one likes to think about bad things happen. And ESPECIALLY things like a marriage ending. But marriages can end. About 50% of them end. To not at least consider a plan B is foolishness. I hope at least some young ladies heed your warning and very good advice.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Once again all of the responsibilities and burdens are placed squarely on the shoulders of women. Careers, daycare, SAHM, divorce, why would anyone have children?! I got my degree as well as tried to keep fresh, relocated with my stbx job and eventually became a SAHM. There is no perfect solution because after having a plan d etc. I am too old to be considered as an entry level professional in my field. Hell finding a job at my age is hard for everyone. I gave my best years to my family, made sacrifices for them and yes it was all worth it, even though my marriage is ending. I am a strong no poweful woman and I will get through this as well. Dad was an ass, but mom was the stabiliy, familiarity, the constancy that allowed them to spread their wings.
    SAHM do a lot, much more than working outside because your job never quits. There are no vacations, sick leave, bonuses. So I really don't get the "lazy" aspects of being a SAHM, it's insulting. When you leave your job, you make the decision to bring it home with you. Also daycare can never come close to what I provided for my family.

    That being said I do understand being left without any financial support or a bleak future through divorce. What I've done over the years is to have a series of home based businesses around my family's schedule. The latest one I've been blessed with for ten years now and it's paid me more than if I were utilizing my skills in the work force. GOD is good. It is hard but I worked around my kids schedule. Childcare was never an option for me.

    Ultimately my role model other than my mom was the woman of Proverbs 31. Sorry for the rant, but I've seen and been on both sides.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am 43 and divorced now. It was second marriage. Lasted 14 years. But I never, ever was going to stay at home and have kids. Because I simply do not trust men, especially my ex. It was my second marriage as I said. My first husband was cheating on me. My second husband behaved so badly from the get go, I knew I would not have kids with him. What I decided to get is a CPA license. I already had BS Engineering but did not work in the field. I went to school and got BS in Accounting while he was supporting me, passed CPA exam from the first try. Once my ex got rich, he dumped me. I was sick to boot, Chronic Fatigue. But I made it through with my state job and income from CPA practice that I have on the side. If I trusted him and had babies, that what he wanted, I would be doomed now. I still have a lot of health issues because of his abusive treatment of me. Never trust a man, sorry it is a sad truth, you like or you do not. I do not date anyone because I am better off by myself. I am happy. I did not sob after divorce, I went on hikes, I love nature, I am building my tax practice. My last year before he dumped me, I was getting all relaxed since he was making so much money. I would spend weekends gardening. Cooked every night for us for 14 years, from scratch. Cleaned, grocery shopped. He would hold my face in his hands and say " You do not have to work anymore. We are happy, I make so much money" Then, bam, I am not in love with you, I need a romance, blah, blah, blah. Same story. He is 47 and now he is dating 35 year old. There. Live and learn. Never again. I have 20 years old daughter from my first marriage and that is plenty for me. My daughter does not want to get married or have children and I support her choice.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Someone reposted this on my feed, so here we go - great writing btw!

    Of course it is great advice that you're posting. Absolutely invaluable. Did nobody (parents, teachers, friends) give you this advice when it would have done you some good if you'd followed it? Really nobody? It's not exactly new.

    I only ask because as mothers, I think we all know how children think they know everything, and the best advice is wasted as some lessons are only learned by repeating the mistakes. The best hindsight blog post in the world isn't going to reach those who believe it couldn't happen to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica

      Thanks so much for your kind words. And yes, I get what you're saying. Maybe it's an age thing, maybe a regional thing, maybe it was just my semi-shady childhood (way too long to get into here) but there really wasn't anyone telling me to be careful or to be ready to fully support not only myself but several kids as well. For many of my friends and peers, it was absolutely commonplace for a woman to not only expect to stay at home and raise the kids but also to focus solely on that job and nothing else.

      It wasn't until about mid-way through my marriage that my amazing mother in law started talking to me about how she had been left alone with kids (she's my ex husband's stepmom, the third wife of his dad) and how she had to scrabble and dig and keep herself above water. Sometimes I wonder if she could see the writing on the wall way before anyone else :)

      I didn't write this thinking it would be some huge kick in the ass to every SAHM out there, and you are 100% correct about the best advice being wasted. But...if it reached just one woman and turned on that little light bulb, it was worth it.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...