At some point in every woman’s life, you realize there are several things your mother never told you:
â€¢ Episiotomies, for example. (You mean I’m going to rip where??)
â€¢ That your mother’s thighs will eventually become your own
â€¢ Oreos really are a separate food group
â€¢ And that one day, two-income families would become the norm
Oh sure, I understood the genesis of the woman’s movement; that at one point ubÃ«r-feminist Gloria Steinem was bigger and more relevant than Oprah and that a girl could grow up to be anything she wanted to be.
Remember, I grew up in the generation where â€˜underwire’ was a dirty word. It also wasn’t a pretty sight.
But an equal contributor to the joint account? I wasn’t prepared for that.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom. So was her mother. Dad went to work and brought home the pay cheque. When we needed something, Daddy-o shelled out the shekels. Seemed like a pretty good formula to me.
Even TV moms provided little guidance for my eventual role as wife/mother/ contributor. After all, Ozzie supported Harriet, Carol Brady never worked a day in her life and Shirley Partridge was the only TV mom I knew that supported her familyâ€¦albeit by pimping them out as a band.
I understood the power of providing, just not the ultimate responsibility it would entail.
When I think about it, nobody ever informed me or my contemporaries that: a husband would hate his job, want to frequently change jobs or worse, lose his job. Or that divorce could leave a woman high and dry. In my case, my husband owns his own company, and makes a decent living.
Did I ever think for one minute my monetary contribution to our relationship would be as important to my inherent role as a mother? A wife? A helper of French homework? No, no and no.
And here’s something your mother likely did know: money is power. It’s just not a line in a movie. And to be a contributor to the household is liberating. Just like regular sex, there are certain things a man loves; and I think one of them is not having to be saddled with all the expenses. And personally, it makes for one less argument to have.
One day, after feeling quite good about writing a cheque to send my kid to camp, I broached the subject of my household earning power to my husband. He cast a wary eye in my direction.
“Well, you’re not EXACTLY an equivalent contributorâ€¦”
“Oh really? How do you figure that?”
He then went on to list the litany of things I didn’t contribute to early on in our marriage. You’d think he’d been keeping a mental list just for this moment.
“Well, okay (asshole). That was thenâ€¦but what about NOW?”
“Listen, there’s no doubt you working makes it a lot easier on me. Besides, this is a partnership. What we build, we build together. It’s better that way.”
And that was pretty hard to argue with. Even mom would have to agree.
It will be one of those things I will add to my daughter’s list; right after “thigh creams really do work. If you want them to.”