Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Was Jane Eyre a SAHM?

Jane_Eyre

I just closed my personal checking account. For the first time since I can remember, I have no money. I feel like Jane Eyre, lacking a dowry and station in life. Strangely, I feel stuck right around the part where her friend dies of TB.

None of it is true. My active imagination has landed me squarely in the land of overreaction -- not Thornfield Manor. I have my modern-day, seeing version of Mr. Rochester, and I have money in savings. The realities aren't making me feel any better about not having an FDIC insured, individual checking account with my John Hancock attached to it.

Before my recent trip to the bank and subsequent mental trip to the 19th Century, I didn't have a single problem being a Stay at Home Mom (other than the ridiculous acronym itself). Sure, I've experienced the struggles that other SAHM's talk about in their blogs. I've felt like my new identity as a mom isn't valued in society. I have moments of isolation and boredom. I've felt irrelevant at parties. These things haven't hit me all that hard.

I've changed my mind. Suddenly, I have to ask my husband for money. I've never asked a man for money. I got my first paper route at 11, babysat, lied about my age to get my first job at Sonic Burger at 15.

For a long time now, my idea of independence has been tied to my financial freedom.

Many women would happily spend their husband's money. I've seen them on Real Housewives. I don't like that I'm not contributing financially to our household.

The value that I add to the household is real, yet it is far less tangible, has no bottom line. I feel like I have my hand outstretched, waiting for the mercy of my beneficent husband. And, while I'm not planning on leaving George any time soon, I want that decision to be a matter of choice, not because it isn't an option.

George tries to bring me back to the 21st century. He knows just what to say…"His money is my money"…"Marriage is a partnership"…"Share and share alike"..."You give far more to this family than can be measured in a paycheck". And he's right. Blah, blah, blah.

I feel silly and frivolous for these worries on so many levels too. I know I should be happy that I haven't been working for two years, and have just recently run out of my "own" money. I should be grateful that taking off work and caring for Claire is an option for our family at all. With the exception of independently wealthy, someone needs to be bringing home the bacon. Why does it have to be me?

It's true. I have been able to define myself the way that I want in the last two years. I am lucky to be like the heroine, Jane Eyre, complete with my seeing version of Mr. Rochester. And I didn't have to beg for money on the streets of London before having a child like her either.

What's also true is that money appears to be a loaded issue for me. Particularly, now that I'm not loaded.


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25 comments:

  1. Oh Rachel, I think that is why I hold so tightly to my job. I "have" to have that feeling of financial independence. I am so glad you raised this important topic.

    I think you need to come up with a new title for SAHM too. SAHM just isn't the right one.

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  2. Being a stay at home mom is also a job, Rachel.

    You are doing a fine job bringing up your daughter in a safe and secure home.

    Hugs!

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  3. Funny, but we've never had money issues of any sort. All our money has just always been deposited into one account and when I write a check or DH uses the debit card, or we pay bills it just all comes out of there. We don't buy a lot of expensive gifts for each other (OK, like none) and we just talk over when we are going to be getting something big for one of our hobbies.

    I've always paid the bills -- maybe that is why I don't feel like I am asking DH for $$. He always says that he is in charge of the income and I am in charge of the outgo and as long as the outgo is less (or at least they balance) there are no issues.

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  4. I had a really hard time taking money from my husband every month once I ran out of my own too. Trust me when I tell you it gets easier. It also got much easier to let him pay the mortgage each month without guilt (we used to alternate months). And you rock for staying at home!!

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  5. I would really struggle with that too. I was raised to always have my own $$ and always be able to care for myself and not depend on anyone. That brings issues up when pregnancy and child care are thrown into the mix for sure.

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  6. While it definitely is hard sometimes to not have my own money to spend, I know that the job I'm doing as a SAHM IS very much a job. A full-time, no-frills, hard but rewarding job. And as much as my husband likes to joke about "what I do all day" he knows what I do also contributes to and helps our family as much as his paying job does. Just in different ways.

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  7. This is a very interesting subject... I work part-time, but I definitely bring in less money that my husband. We merged our finances years ago, and I have almost forgotten that the entire retirement account is pretty much his money. Money, marriage, and working/not working motherhood is so complicated...This really made me think!

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  8. I am so right there with you and that is why I work so hard at writing, doing web design and whatever else I can do to make a few extra bucks. Your husband sounds similar to mine, but I still want to try to give something back and this is the best way I know how.

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  9. I struggled with the whole not contributing financially for a long time but I am fine with it now!! I control the cash in this house!!

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  10. I'm not going to try to "make you feel better"... I completely understand. I still haven't given up my investment account, nor have I merged it with the rest of our finances. And I know that a big part of why I'm happy to be back working part-time is the financial consideration. Of course George is right, but it's easy to be magnanimous from a position of power. You know?

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  11. I have always struggled with the feeling of not contributing to our household financially. I love the feeling of financial independence and not having or needing to depend on anyone, however I will tell you that it does indeed get easier with time.

    Also I hate the title SAHM and therefore call myself a domestic goddess rather than a SAHM it doesn't really change what I do, but it changes how I feel about it : )
    www.mommysrambles.blogspot.com

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  12. This is a tough one. I handle all our money, so the way we work things is that my hubby calls the money he has his "walkin' money." I'm the banker and the bill payer. Also, I guess it's less of an issue for us because I'm working part-time. Like the comment above mine, though, I'll agree--a time passes, things will change. And one day, you never know...he may be out of work (and home with the little ones?) and need you to pay for things for him. Anything can happen in a lifetime of adventure together! :)

    I like your blog. I stumbled upon it through another website where you'd commented and I'm glad to add you to my bloglovin' list!

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  13. I quit a job that I loved a long time ago to move with my husband, and right away, we got a joint checking account, b/c I didn't want to have to ask him for money--especially when I had quit in order to support his moving up the ladder. We both have checkbooks and debit cards, so there's no asking for money involved. We do both watch the finances and are very fiscally responsible, though. Since I quit the first job for the move, I've found other jobs, either working full time (when we had no kids) or part-time (after we had kids), but a lot of that is simply because I like to work. Working part-time allows me to do what else I like: to be home with the kids. I have no issues with him making most of the money and me spending some of it, because I, too, see it as a partnership. Without having one of us to stay home with the kids part of the day, we'd be paying a hell of a lot more in childcare than we do now, and he wouldn't have the privilege of having the best person--a mother--to stay home with the kids. If I didn't enjoy working and we didn't need that extra bit of money that I make, I would have no qualms with staying home with the kids and letting the hubs bring home all of the bacon (and not just MOST of it). You just have to work through your own issues with it all and find what works for your family. You'll be fine, I promise!! :)

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    Replies
    1. I shouldn't have said the best person being a mother to stay home with the kids. I meant a parent! Mom OR Dad! :)

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    2. And also, I hope my LONG comment above didn't sound like I was trying to minimize your feelings. I know a lot of women struggle with this. I just wanted to give my take on it in case it would help you feel more comfortable with your decision! Hope it helped!

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  14. I understand how you feel. I stay at home with the kids and sometimes feel inadequate. I try to remind myself that I'm raising human beings and that's just as important as bringing money in.

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  15. I have felt the same way! While our job as mothers is equally important as a job that brings in money, there is no numeric value for the things we do as mothers. Well actually, Forbes did try to put a number on it (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/05/02/why-stay-at-home-moms-should-earn-a-115000-salary/). I guess we do contribute a lot financially because if we weren't at home, we and our husbands would be paying for childcare. For me, to solve my feelings of being a non-contributor, I've picked up little jobs along the way to help me contribute a little bit financially--contract editing, grant writing jobs, other jobs I can do from home. I don't bring in much, but it gives me peace of mind.

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  16. I feel your pain. I hate asking for anything. I like to have 'my own money'. And I've ALWAYS been a SAHM! I've run a day home. Did accounting. Wrote books. Anything to bring in a little extra and still be at home. I knew what I was doing was most important. But I still have a hard time asking for money!

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  17. We've had a joint checking/savings account since the word go. It's always been a joint effort to fund/run our home. When we did this, I was still working full time and contributing. I was laid off when our daughter was 3 months old and got unemployment for a year. With no luck job hunting in that time frame we came to the decision that I would stay home. Then came our son and I am still home and plan to be until he starts full time K in 2-3 years.

    I have fleeting moments where I feel like you do, but for the most part I understand that although I do not bring in any financial income, the amount of money it would cost for someone (or multiple people) to do what I do in our far outweighs what I would bring in pay wise. So no I may not bring home a paycheck but I keep our house running smoothly for my hubby to come home to and I am making the priceless investment in my kid's lives. They spend their days learning and spending time with their Mother rather than a daycare provider. There is no greater gift you can give your child. I look forward to the day when I go back to work, and my kids can see me earning a living through hard work as well. Because like one poster mentioned, that nice shiny retirement account is built for one, not two.

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  18. Well Rachel.... I don't know what to say. I really love being a SAHM because I know it's MY CHOICE. I am one of those people who think if you can you should. Which I know could get me stoned in modern day culture. But I think it's a blessing. I also happen to be the "keeper of the cash" so that might be part of why I don't mind not being the breadwinner. My husband's paycheck goes into our joint account that he doesn't even have an ATM card for, and I pay all of the bills. I don't know. I can't wave a magic wand and make you feel like I do, but personally, even if I didn't have control of "the money", I would still feel like I had all of the power. Because I am the one who is raising this boy to be a man. And he will have a positive view of everything I did to raise him, and I know that no one else will shape him like I will.

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  19. It wasn't our preference, but I worked and my husband stayed home for the first year of our first kid's life. Now, though I have fleeting moments where I feel weird "asking" him for money--well, those moments are rare. I guess because I was the breadwinner for a time, I just see it as another way to contribute to the shared goal of our family. But if I hadn't been the breadwinner for a time--I would totally feel weird, too!

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  20. I too have worked and have been independent for much of my life. With the demise of my job last year, I really hate not having my own money. We too share the philosophy that it's "our" money, but I never feel comfortable spending the money that my husband works so hard for. Even trips to Target for household things brings on a twinge of guilt that is totally unfounded!

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  21. Soooo there w/you!! I've been blogging (read that as not bringing in $) for awhile now and not contributing to the household steadily. Thankfully Sweetie believes in BB and even convinced me to continue. I guess the blog is my baby and makes me a SAHM too, so I feel your pain. Difference is, I JUST got married in March- I think you have enough time invested to follow the others' suggestions and open a joint account. As soon as Babushka's Baile starts a steady stream that's what I'm a plannin' to do. BB2U

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  22. My guess is you've just expressed the feelings of many, many women who made the decision to opt out of the career life and segue into the SAHM life. (you're right - it's a ridiculous acronym) You know the work you are doing raising a child is of the utmost importance, and yet...and yet...

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