Why don’t I just let my partner provide for me while I am pregnant / on maternity leave?
Tracy brought up a great question A LONG WHILE BACK in my December 2013 Budget roundup that I thought I ought to address properly in a post. (I am REALLY happy she asked this!):
A question I have, your baby daddy works also as a consultant, yes?
So presumably he makes around what you do when you are working, ($100 – 300K a year depending on contract) which is more than enough to support a family of 3.
I can’t help but ask, since he’s working, why doesn’t he take over more of the expenses instead of it coming from you? (who is not working) I’m talking about at least rent, groceries, and household equipment.
Or does he also only work a few contracts year like you did … in either case, you ARE pregnant … he should provide!!!!
I just want to clarify that if he doesn’t work, he makes $0 a year too. It happens in freelancing, it’s called “feast and famine”. She’s not the first one to say this. His mother and sister said that too! They said to me: Forget about working with a baby, just get my son / brother to pay for everything. I chuckled a bit, but never considered this to be an option at all. Why?
1. I CAN PROVIDE FOR MYSELF AND I DON’T NEED HIM TO
I don’t need him to provide for me or the baby. Need being the operative word here. If I were a minimum wage worker or someone who was unable to make the bills if I had to go on maternity leave, I’d see this as a possibility; however with what I have saved, I can provide for myself 100% for the next 3 years or longer without a problem. (I am well aware that it all hinges on how much I spend each year! HAH!)
2. ALSO, I DON’T WANT HIM TO PROVIDE FOR ME
I don’t want him to provide for me either. I am a stickler for this 50/50 equal-in-every-sense kind of relationship we have. I really don’t believe in this big pool of cash that we can both dip into, and no one tracks how much the other contributed. I am not a fan of this “your money is my money, and my money is your money, and all this money we have is together forever” business, having already been on the side of the one contributing 100% for a lazy bum before. We both make equal salaries and as a result we both contribute to joint household expenses. I find this very fair. Whatever we spend above and beyond what we spend together for our family and ourselves, is our business (e.g. my shopping) and I like it like that. Just because I am the one who biologically has to carry the baby for 9 months, give birth and then feed the baby for 3 months doesn’t give me any right to ask him to pay for me when I don’t even need him to. This is an independence thing. I NEED to make my own money, I NEED (for my own self and sanity) to pay my half for everything we do jointly together, and it gives me great satisfaction to do so. For me, having someone else pay for me would be giving up my independence as well. What would I have to do if I wanted something for my wardrobe (that I don’t NEED)? I could just use my own money, but in that case, shouldn’t I be contributing to MY half of the rent and groceries if I am able to spend money on (unneeded) clothing?
3. HE IS A PARTNER IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD
He does provide for me but I don’t think just giving money is the be-all and end-all of the word “provide”. For instance, he splits all household tasks with me at least 50/50 (sometimes he does more!). He is truly my partner in and out of the home. I know other women who have husbands who think taking care of their child is “babysitting” (no, it’s called being a father if it’s your own child), and basically don’t bother lifting a finger around the house, or wanting to do anything with the kids that requires work. This is not our relationship at all. Also, I am in a very lucky position that I do make as much as he does which means he is not the primary breadwinner (and neither am I), so we both are on equal footing. I really, truly want to keep it this way and I don’t think that asking him to provide for me when he doesn’t need to (I have my own money), and I don’t want him to would be fair. To put it another way, if the positions were reversed and it was him carrying the child, I’d still want to keep things this way.
4. WE ARE BOTH PRIMARY CAREGIVERS
He isn’t asking me to quit my job to take care of the children. If he did, we’d have a whole different conversation altogether (for the record, I’d never quit to be a stay at home parent). Even though I am carrying the baby for 9 months and being the primary caregiver for the first 3 (at least), it doesn’t really give me a right to demand that he pays for everything just because I am carrying his child. It’s my child too. This is how I envision it happening:
- When he works, I’ll be the primary caregiver.
- When I work, he will be the primary caregiver.
- If we are BOTH working, then we will jointly pay for outside help (daycare).
We’ll switch on and off the role of worker / caregiver, and for me this is as equal as it gets. I plan on working as soon as I can, within 3 months of giving birth (maybe less if I am able to swing it). He already knows I am not interested in giving up my job, staying at home with the children and not working, and he is 100% behind this. So unless he or I say otherwise, this 50/50 relationship will stay the way it is.
5. WE DON’T SPEND A LOT OF MONEY JOINTLY
Jointly, our expenses come to about $15,000 a year each. I can certainly make $15,000 net a year to cover my half of our joint expenses if I chose to. I personally spend above that $15,000 but that’s my business, not his.
6. I SELECTIVELY CHOSE NOT TO WORK WHILE PREGNANT
As in.. I chose to not pick up any job. I wanted specific jobs, specific contracts. I didn’t turn anything down that looked viable, but nothing panned out. I would have gladly worked until 2 weeks before delivering if I could have. I am of the belief that when you want to work, you’ll find plenty of work, and this held true for me. Case in point: I could have picked up minimum wage jobs to work, but I chose not to. Not even minimum wage, I could have joined a company and made 6-figures this year but I chose not to because I hate being an employee. So …why would he have to pay for me choosing to NOT work in anything but my chosen job — freelancing?
7. WHAT IF HE MADE LESS THAN I DID?
I always think about the fact that if I made the money I did and he made less than I did, would this change things? Of course! If he was making $20,000 a year but I had $200,000 saved, I wouldn’t be asking him to pay for my share of the bills and household now would I? In that case, money and the way we divide joint bills has nothing to do with the fact that I have to be the one to physically carry and care for the baby for 9 months and at least 3 months after. A lot of working mothers I know went back to work after as short of a time as 3 weeks. I have another friend who went back at 7 weeks, and another who said she couldn’t take off for more than 3 months on maternity leave because she was needed back at work. Not all of them wanted to, but some did. Heck my own mother couldn’t take more than a month off when she had each of us. She didn’t tell my dad: Hey! I’m going to quit my job so I can take more time off for each baby and you’re paying for me. She just went back to work. Why would I ever think I have the luxury of being able to tell my partner: Hey I’m taking a year off and you’re footing the bill because I don’t feel like working even though I can? I’m sure he’d like the choice too, with or without a baby.
8. I AM ALSO A BUSINESS OWNER
As mentioned above, I’m basically a business owner. I can’t really leave my freelancing to go to ground if I want to stay relevant and continue to work (and build my career). As a result, if I work, I make money and if I make money, I should pay my half of the bills, especially since I already expect him to contribute half of his time and energy towards the home and baby as well. In summary, I do not feel like I have a right to demand that he pays for me because I don’t believe it’s fair to. If he could, he already said he’d carry the baby the second time around to be fair to me (even with the pain and all that!), but alas, we are not biologically engineered that way.