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