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Poor Working Moms...

July 18th, 2008 at 10:47 am

Not much to report here.

So I figured I'd go off on a tangent, though it is largely related to our approach to personal finance.

It has struck me lately that the blogs and forums (here and elsewhere) are full of talks about how impossible it is to have both kids and financial freedom. & a lot of the times these discussions tie in with how impossible it is to balance motherhood and a career.

I guess I am saddened to see, for all the strides women have made over the years, that so many women still feel they either have to work or stay home. There doesn't seem to be much consideration of some sort of middle ground.

Likewise, through all the discussions I realized a few things about myself.

For one, I don't really identify, for the most part, with young working moms. I have always identified more with older people, and I guess funny enough, that still holds true as I age. I think I identify more with older childless women. More than younger women with children. Mostly because I just can't take all of the "I am miserable" and the "I cant's." More on that later...

Likewise, I am tired of reading how one spouse has to sacrifice everything when you have children.

Don't get me wrong, having children is not an EASY road. We have certainly had our moments. We have certainly sacrificed some amount of freedom we had before kids.

But when I look at our lives I don't feel like dh and I particularly sacrificed much for our kids. My dh is degreed and has much work experience. He is perfectly capable of standing on his own financially. Likewise, he gave up a career he hated and got the guts to pursue his starving artist pursuits. Something he was far too practical to do before we had kids and he was home anyway. I encouraged him many times before kids to quit his job and pursue his dreams. Having kids gave him the guts.

Likewise, having children was more his dream than mine, and he does quite well with them. I got to keep the job I love. & yet I have plenty of time for my children because my spouse does so much to take care of the house and such. My experience is largely that of a very involved working father. I'm generally not worried about the household or how my children are taken care of. I know they couldn't be in better hands. & I know dh is much better with the raising them than I would be. It's just much more his *thing.*

Thus, we play to our strengths and neither of us has sacrificed very much in the process. There is certainly compromise, but there is always is compromise when you share your life with someone. Or when you bring other people into this world.

Of course, our life could be better and more balanced. Probably anyone's could be, but it gives us something to strive for.

Anyway, I share all this because not only have I noticed all this chatter on the internet lately.

BUT this topic came up quite heavily at the kids' birthday party. Whereas when the kids were infants we found plenty of peers home with their kids, we are starting to feel like a dying breed. At the party almost every mom there had announced that they had returned to work rather recently. & they all commiserated with each other greatly. Going on about their 20-hour days between their inflexible jobs and not-so-helpful husbands.

Then they all kind of looked at me in pity. "Poor MonkeyMama, she has done this for FIVE years!!!"

& my response was, "Huh?"

I just don't identify with their plight in the least.

I have concluded, for the most part, that people assume my spouse is a leech who does nothing. He is a man after all. & I am often quite insulted at what people have to say. But it's like, wait a minute, my spouse is home full-time taking care of the household and the child rearing. No, thankfully, I have not lived your miserable existence for the last 5 years. !!! If so I would have gone quite mad by now.

Of course, on the flip side, as we pass the ages where daycare is no longer more expensive than a second income, we have discussed the future and reveled in the idea of a second income to save. At some point down the road anyway. A lot of the times we look to this route quite cautiously, knowing it will bring great stress and work. Much more than we are accustomed to. We also champion the money we save with a spouse at home and are well aware a second income will have its share of expenses.

But spending a day with those moms? I am happy to stay on our current path. The second income just doesn't sound so grand, if that is the baggage that it comes with.

I told dh whenever I was down about our own financial situation I just had to spend 2 seconds with those moms. OR just about any working mom.

In comparison, both my spouse and I have plenty of joy and leisure in our lives. I am not even entirely convinced we have that much less money. LEss money, yes. But THAT much? Not really. The taxes on that second income always make me cringe. I know it will be much harder to stick to a tight budget when you consider a second commute and the loss of all that time shopping for deals, etc.

Anyway, in recent months I made a not so conscious decision to exit out of the mommy crowds. A lot of it was just the rude RSVPing and all that I had griped about. But I kind of just realized, I just don't really identify with the other moms. I think I am tired of them all pitying me as a working mom. IT just gets old. Who said I needed any pity? Likewise, I am tired of hanging around so many people who are just absolutely miserable. & my conclusion is that most moms are absolutely miserable. IT's kind of sad to say. I have been making an effort to hang around with my less miserable mom friends. & it has been a lot nicer. They are out there. Just harder to find.

But yeah, if nothing else. I am not sure I Can get across that I never had to pack up my children for daycare or communicate to another caregiver outside the household what they needed. I understand this an extremely unique position to be in. Likewise I Don't have to spend my evenings prepping them for the next day or whatever. Our evenings are for fun. Dh takes care of the work they need during the day.

You could argue I am lucky to have such a spouse. But it works both ways. HE is just as lucky to have me. Big Grin

& I think I mostly put this out for the "independent" women of the world who are scared having children will ruin their lives. You know, it just might if you sacrifice your own happiness or principles in the process. But there is not only 2 ways to do things. There are a million shades of gray in between. I think that is what happy moms realize and practice. So I just had to share.

I am one mom who is not miserable in the least, and though children have set us back financially, I still think it is quite possible to do quite well financially, even with children.

I think if nothing else we have both give ourselves much more permission to slow down and enjoy, now that we do have children. & there really isn't anything wrong with that. IT is rather freeing. IT's kind of nice we can slow down, enjoy, take on much more financially, and still do okay, in the grand scheme of things.



8 Responses to “Poor Working Moms...”

  1. kashi Says:

    Thanks for posting this!

    I think I mostly put this out for the "independent" women of the world who are scared having children will ruin their lives. You know, it just might if you sacrifice your own happiness or principles in the process.

    That's exactly what I worry about with having kids. It's awesome that you have such a supportive, organized spouse and that you are both so happy. Smile

  2. miclason Says:

    I think the main difference is they are working because they "have to" (or think they have to), whereas you're working because you want to ....to them, it is a sacrifice, to you, it's a joy...as for their spouses not helping around the house...well, they are just conducting "busines as usual", they didn't contribute before because they were outside working while someone was home holding the fort and doing the housework...and they just don't realize that now there's no one there all day to do that...

  3. merch Says:

    I think that you touched on a problem with the way people view marriages today. If you take the view that when you are married you are now one, it simplifies things. I think people are so engulfed with keeping things as an individual and not welling to blend. Married people keep their own bank accounts, jobs, parenting styles, etc. rather then taking a step back as what are our goals what do we want to accomplish.

    And you’re right. There are many ways and shades to set up a family, but first you have to agree with what that means. For your family, it is you work, and your husband manages the household. For me, it’s I work and my wife manages the household. Like you and your husband, me and my wife sat down and talked about what children would mean and who would work, would we both work, etc.

    Does marriage mean you give up part of yourself? In some aspects yes, because you are a “we” and not an I and you. But, it also has the potential to be some much more then the sum of the parts.

  4. fruitbowlk Says:

    I work 12 hours and go to school and have one child and I love my life. I wouldn't change it for the world. I have saved more money since I became a mom. I have been more determine to get out of debt. And I have been more passionate about living life today and letting tomorrow bring what it brings. I don't feel like I have given up anything by having a child if anything I have gains so much more than what I had before.

  5. Ima saver Says:

    I can certainly understand why you don't want to spend your time with "miserable moms" I like being around people who are fun and happy!!

  6. Analise Says:

    I admire that you and you DH have a lifestyle that breaks stereotypes. We know several families that have a SATD and all are happy and thriving...we love how it works for them. I get impatient with people who can't think outside the box. Your family is doing great... too bad more people are not open to creative approaches to raising children and defining married life. Your DH is to be commended because he is a real man in my eyes... one who is ready to do what is best for his family, not what society dictates or expects. And, MonkeyMama, you are an inspiration to other young women.

  7. Swimgirl Says:

    I did make sacrifices to be able to stay home with my kids (until my youngest was 9- I'm just going back), but it was because my husband and I agreed it was important. When I think of all those years of lost wages, it could make me sick.

    BUT I never sent my kids to school when they felt marginally sick, I volunteered in their classrooms, and I have been home after school. My kids KNOW that I am here for them (I have teenagers, too, and don't think for a second that just because kids go to school that they don't need a parent around supporting them! My kids' friends have parents who work, so they are unsupervised every day after school. Some kids are fine with that, but others are getting into trouble!) As a teacher, I have seen many a neglected day care kid. NOT ALL!! But where I live, we have a large number of parents who put work first, kids second. (Kid with a fever? Give 'em tylenol and send them to school anyway so the parents don't have to miss work---can't even begin to tell you how many kids I've sent home sick around 11:15 am when the tylenol wears off!!) I didn't want my kids in day care all day, so I stayed home.

    For you, MM, your husband is doing what I've done, so NO, you aren't really like the other moms. When my first child was born, I had to work because my husband was in graduate school. And yes, I was one of those miserable moms because I knew that I would rather be home with my child and that it is an important job raising children. I can't imagine having my husband stay home and me working. I wanted to be with the kids too much. Those other moms are probably assuming that you work because you have to.

    What is so sad is that so many people think they "need" to work, when all they are doing is working to pay for a new car, day care, vacations and clothes to wear to work! I drove an old car and didn't have tons of clothes for years, because I thought it was more important to stay home with my kids. Like you, we have managed to have a good time and have all that we need on one income. No European vacations, but many good times together!

  8. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Speaking of your getting along with older women, it bugs me a bit that sometimes there is this assumption that women just were not in the workforce from about 1946 to 1980 unless they were unmarried. There were plenty of full-time working mothers even with large families through those years. And they may have had wringer washers that required you stand there and work with each and every piece of laundry individually, then clothes lines, then ironing. They might not have had carefree surfaces on their floors, but had to wax wood floors weekly (no such thing as polyvinyl finishes). They may not have had a car, but walked, took the bus, or negotiated sharing a single car with the spouse. The may not have had disposable diapers, but cloth and pins. They did not have the plethora of convenience foods, but cooked every breakfast and supper, as well as making lunches for the kids to take to school...It goes on and on. Anyway, I think many older woman had just as much if not way more work to do than women and men now have.

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