Mommy Wars: Being A Stay-At-Home Mom Bankrupted Me
When I was 13 years old my mother gave me this advice: â€œalways earn your own money.â€ Because when my dad left she had been a stay-at-home mom for 11 years.
I had been married for eight years and at that moment was seeking employment. To keep busy I did the administrative work for our home-based business.Â After several months of fruitless searching, I found myself pregnant with my motherâ€™s words ringing in my ears.Â I dismissed them as I had a great marriage, or so I thought.
There were two aspects of my marriage that always bothered me: 1) what was important to me wasnâ€™t important to him and 2) we could never agree on money.Â I was a saver and he was a spender.Â Not to say I wonâ€™t spend money.Â We just allocated it differently based on our priorities.
For some reason it was OK that we didnâ€™t have any real common interests.Â I read, he gamed.Â I baked, he watched baseball.Â I yardsaled, he slept.Â So what did we do together?Â We ate out, went to the movies, travel led.Â We were TV buddies and occasionally we would play Scrabble.Â I thought it was normal that we each had our own lives and only shared a small part.
I also did most of the household chores: cooking. cleaning, groceries, garbage, laundry, gardening, etc. and the season tasks: cleaning out the garage, decorating the house for Christmas, etc.Â I rationalized his job was more important than mine and he needed more downtime than I did which is why I didnâ€™t ask, or demand, he be a real partner and participate in managing our home.
I knew no marriage was perfect so to ensure our marriage would always be strong, I read every self-improvement and self-help book out there.Â I figured if I did everything just right, we would grow old together.
The real disintegration of our marriage began after our daughter was born.Â I had no help from Charles.Â I was responsible for 100% of the childcare so much so that if I went out, even if he was home, I had to get a sitter.Â Plus I was still doing all of the above mentioned household tasks and beginning to build my own home-based business.
Slowly all the shared pastimes disappeared, the sticking points grew larger, and I was so overwhelmed that I didnâ€™t have time for Charles when he wanted it and vice versa.Â We grew further apart to the point where I was all alone in our marriage.
When I had finally had enough, I asked for a divorce.Â When Charles asked why, I gave him a myriad of reasons — most of which he couldnâ€™t remember.Â He said he would stop drinking.Â It turns out he was a high functioning alcoholic and his alcoholic spending was one of the major contributing factors of our financial woes.
I wanted to move out right away, but after spending 10 years at home running our business and offering a very niche service coupled with the recession, finding full-time employment was proving to be difficult. A month after he began his path of sobriety, we declared bankruptcy.Â It was less expensive for us to live together until the process was over than separate.Â Besides, I was still looking for work.
Twenty-two months later I am still living with my “ex.”Â After 20 months of seeking employment I work full-time as a marketing consultant and still run my own business part-time.Â I have yet to move out because we cannot file for separation or divorce until after both the bankruptcy and the tax year is over.
I wish I had heeded my mother’s words.