confessions of an ex-housewife

Almost three years ago I wrote this post in which I ranted about the difference I perceived between stay at home parents and housewives. Now I’m revisiting that post to eat a massive slice of humble pie…

Firstly I must apologise for the gross overuse of exclamation marks in that post!!!!!!!!

Secondly, well, despite my assertions otherwise I totally was a housewife and I am paying for it now.

One thing I did get absolutely right in that post was this bit:

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children…

As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

Between finishing high school and having my children I spent much more time studying than I did in paid employment. In my first year out of high school I studied one year of a three year advanced diploma in theatre lighting design, after that first year I left to study an advanced diploma of naturopathy, and on completion of that course I worked for a while in the south west of WA before traveling to Northern NSW to do a permaculture internship. All of these things were really interesting and I gained a lot of life experience while studying them, however I never really established a career in these or any other fields before Girlie was conceived.

During my relationship with Girlie and Boyo’s father I didn’t have paid employment. I stayed at home with our children and I did the lion’s share of the housework. I was a housewife.

Now that we are separated and I have become the sole, full time carer of the sproggets I am really paying for that choice. While their father left our relationship with a useful qualification and an impressive CV I left with one (economically) useless qualification and a bit of two other qualifications, all of which I had before we began our relationship anyway. During our relationship their father was able to further his career significantly with my support, and I thought that was 0k because it was all going to benefit our family and I knew it would be my turn next. Unfortunately I was naive and my turn never came. I left before I got my turn.

I now rely on a parenting pension and child support while I study to gain a usable qualification so I can independently support myself and our children in future.

While I am entitled to receive child support payments to help care for our children the reality is that I haven’t received any money from their father since February. The child support agency told me they’d get onto it immediately, but their idea of immediate is three months and counting. Due to his comfortable income the mythical child support that I receive from the sproggets’ father is an amount that causes my parenting pension to be reduced to just covering my rent and nothing else. Since February I have been relying on loans and charity from friends and family to put food on the table while the sum of my overdue bills is now in the hundreds. There is no guarantee I will ever see the child support that I am owed, that our children are owed.

If I had chosen to study or do paid work while I was still with my children’s father, instead of being a (fucking) housewife, I would have far more control over my life right now.

I would not be relying on external and unreliable sources of income.

I would be able to put food on the table.

I would not have overdue bills.

I would not be borrowing my father’s second car.

I would not be borrowing school uniforms for the sproggets because I have been unable to buy them their own.

I would not be answering every request with, “No, I’m sorry, we can’t afford that.”

If I could change anything about my past it would be the choice I made to stay at home with our children and believe that I would be rewarded for that*.

In the wake of last week’s announcement of the Abbott government’s proposed budget I am despairing even more than I was before.

I may have made a financially misguided choice to stay at home with my children to the detriment of career advancement but after finally having the courage to leave an unhappy relationship and embark on a course of study to enable me to establish a career,  I am now in a position of having to question whether I can afford to complete the university degree I am currently enrolled in. As a university student and as a sole parent I will be shafted by Abbott’s budget.

They really don’t want to support people to better their situation do they?


 

 

*It utterly disgusts me that our culture does not value the work of child rearing. I shouldn’t regret my choice to be a full time carer to my children when they were babies. With regard to the impact my choice had on their early childhood, I have no regrets, but I am bitterly sorry that we currently have a reduced quality of life because of that choice and I am terrified I will not be able to financially recover from that choice.

 

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have No Comments

I am NOT a housewife!

Over the last four years my role as a stay at home parent has been called into question countless times. Recently though I have been criticised for not being a good enough housewife because I expect my partner, a responsible adult, to do his fair share of the housework at the end of the day when he comes home from working outside the home.

I have 2 things to say about this, the first is not very nice so I won’t write it! The second, well…

I AM NOT A HOUSEWIFE!

In my role as a stay at home parent I have 2 young children depending on me all day. To list just a few of my duties, I dress them (or help them to dress themselves), change nappies & wipe bums, feed them, breastfeed one of them (giving of my physical body!), console them, answer their questions, play with them, take them out to socialise, read to them, sing to them, dance with them, pick up after them & ensure our home is a safe environment for them to be in.

Not only does Bean regularly get a full 8 hours sleep per night, compared to my average of 4-5 hours (due to me doing the bulk of the night time parenting with Babyman breastfeeding overnight), he also works a job with a set lunch break & smoko. Most days I don’t even go to the toilet without an audience! I work all day.

I do the food shopping for our whole family & I do it with the children in tow. I prepare at least 2 meals plus snacks each day for our children, I often get dinner ready also since Bean isn’t usually home until late of a weekday evening. I change 5-6 nappies per day & I do the bulk of our family’s laundry – including Bean’s laundry!

I can't credit this image to the original artist because no one else on the nerd has. If it's yours, do let me know.

Like Bean, I enjoy my job most of the time. Like Bean, I sometimes feel tired of my job because it’s physically & emotionally hard work. Like Bean. I sometimes want to swap roles, working out of the home seems very appealing some days.

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children. This is a decision we are lucky enough to be able to make & we made it because it’s important to us that our children have a parent at home with them while they are young. Given that breastfeeding is also important to us, & I have the boobs, that job falls to me! As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

I have 2 children, not 3! Bean is an able-bodied, able-minded adult. If we did not live together he would be responsible for himself. Why assume that, since he lives with the owner-operator of a vagina, he no longer has to be responsible for himself?! Being a woman does not make me his slave. I am nothing to him but his equal.

Just as I am responsible for myself & responsible for providing for the needs of my dependent children, so is Bean. What is between our legs has no bearing on our responsibilities!

Our children are Bean’s children as much as they are mine. The fact that I care for them full time means Bean doesn’t have to worry about finding someone else to do it, nor does he worry about paying someone else to do it!

When I have furthered my study to bring my earning capacity in line with Bean’s & when our youngest child is no longer breastfeeding I intend to return to paid work. I’m really looking forward to it, actually. Eventually we will both work part time in paid employment & part time caring for our (unschooled) children.

As a student I will need to set aside time at the evenings & weekends to do my study. Being that Bean is their other parent, the children will spend that time with him. Neither of us view that as a chore, or an unfair expectation of him. His anatomy doesn’t disqualify him from being a good & involved parent.

While I am studying, then when I am working in paid employment, & Bean is caring for the children, as I do now, the housework & general household responsibilities will be divided as they are now – EQUALLY!

I am responsible for myself. He is responsible for himself. We are both responsible for our home, we are both responsible for our children & will continue to be until they are able to be responsible for themselves.

I am not a housewife, I am a woman*!

 

I originally published this with the last line reading,

“I am not a housewife, I’m a feminist!”

and another woman pointed out to me that being a feminist is a choice, but being a woman is not. She explained she thinks what I have described in my blog post should be reality for every woman simply because she’s a person, & that some men & women may read it & think something along the lines of,

“Well that’s your choice.”

So, I agreed & I have changed the post to reflect that.

Every stay at home parent deserves to have the work they do recognised for what it is, a job. Regardless of our sex or our gender, I believe no one in a partnership should be cleaning up after another able bodied, able minded adult as part of the role of stay at home parent!

posted by wildecrafted in home and have Comments (5)