When asked, one of the first pieces of divorce advice I offer, is to develop a plan for financial self-sufficiency. That’s a bigger deal for some people, such as stay-at-home-moms, people who’ve been out of the work force for some time or people working for minimum wage but there’s almost always less money after divorce and it’s always an adjustment. Even when there is a legal obligation for child support and maintenance, there’s no assurance it will be paid.
That quest for self-sufficiency leads many divorcing mothers to move to where their family is. It’s where they know they will have a support network and help getting back on their feet. That’s exactly what Andrea did. What’s unusual about Andrea however, is that she’s still a stay-at-home mom. So I asked her to talk about how she manages for money. Here’s Andrea:
[contemplate1]I live in a house that my family owned before. I live on the street where I grew up, so I know all the neighbors. Some of the kids have moved back, so my kids play with their kids, and there’s a little swing at one house, there’s a trampoline at one house, there’s a play house at one house, there’s pools at two houses, and it’s a cul- de-sac so they can ride their bikes, there’s a basketball hoop, they have a really nice, relaxed life.
They don’t go to their small, exclusive schools, but they both like their schools better. I was hoping that the small schools they were in before would be this nurturing environment, but they were like a microscope. We had enough money to pay our bills, but the families that we went to school with were like the Kennedys. These people had islands and their own airplanes and things, so we were never really quite in the group.
It’s so much more relaxing now. Everything is so much easier. I don’t have to pay rent or electricity or anything like that and I get support from my husband at a level that allows me to stay at home. My attorney worked it out so I get spousal support forever!
I’ve had this talk with my best friend many, many times. If you want to put your kid in a care facility, which no one ever does, I lucked out and got the best possible care facility. She’s in a fabulous place.
If you have to leave your transvestite, bisexual husband, I lucked out and I got my kids and I into the best possible place. It’s not a scenario anybody wants, you don’t grow up dreaming about it, but I landed on my feet and my kids are happy and I’m happy and everybody is safe.
The children don’t know about him being a transvestite but my youngest one has said a couple times that she thinks he’s gay. All my friends and family down here know now but where we lived, as far as I know, nobody knows: not his parents, not his brothers and their families, none of our neighbors, nobody at the church or the school, nobody where he was an athlete or is an athlete. Nobody there knows. Here, everybody knows.
Very few things worry me. Sure my ex could go out of business but what is the worst thing that could happen considering what I’ve been through?
I’m always kind of looking for a job. The economy here is bad right now, but I’m always looking for something. The problem is, it’s not that I can’t do the jobs but frankly, when I look, I don’t have the computer skills to do what they need. Even for the most menial job, I’ve never heard of the computer programs that you need to know.
I asked my dad,
“You’re paying for this and you’re paying for that, and you’re contributing here and there, maybe I should get a job when the kids start school again?”
He said, “No, I don’t think you should do that. I don’t need you to pay anything.”
I’m an only child. My dad and I have always been really, really close. He was a great dad, he’s very generous and he’s great with my kids. I’m lucky.
It’s funny. People say when you leave a marriage, there’s always things you leave behind and you leave your friends and there’s not anyone to talk with late at night and there’s not anyone to share parenting responsibilities with. I never had any of that, none of it. I feel like I don’t know what a marriage should be. Now I just don’t have anyone complaining about how much it costs.
I’m so excited to be free from him. I seriously have these moments where I just feel like doing gran jetes down the hallway. It’s like,
“I’m not related to him anymore, I have my own name back,”
and I’m running down the hallway and skipping. I’m so relieved that I’m not trapped.
Andrea and I didn’t get into the mechanics of how her attorney had negotiated maintenance for life but my sense is that it’s pretty unusual these days. And as much as I can appreciate and admire Andrea’s fearless attitude, the rational, practical side of me stills cautions the need for a self-sufficiency plan. What happens when her ex dies? What happens if his business goes bankrupt? What happens when he retires? Lots of what ifs.
Yes, not having the computer skills is intimidating but local authorities often offer free skills training classes. Another great way to learn these skills is to volunteer at a non-profit. Megan is another SAHM I’ve interviewed and unlike Andrea she was receiving maintenance for a limited period and faced a very uncertain financial future.
And oh, the visual of the grand jetes! It brings such a smile to my face and reminds me to keep everything in perspective because life is good
This is the last post in Andrea’s series and I’d like to thank her for sharing her courageous story.
Photo credit: fingle