As a girl, I was raised very traditional. Mom did everything in the house, and dad was the bread winner and the “head” of the household. I was raised to believe that as a woman, your job is to marry a man who will take care of you financially.
After high school, I was just like so many teens out there. No idea what I wanted to do with my life. And my mom pushed me to get an education, didn’t matter what I took, just go. So I went and boy did I have fun, I drank and partied and ended up with a large debt with not much education. I even even ended up getting pregnant. I told myself it was ok, this was my high school boyfriend and we would be fine. We would work together on this, and he would take care of me and it all would be fine.
The fact is, it wasn’t fine. He instantly wanted me at home all the time. I was 18, and not ready for such a shift in my life. But, as I have been raised I stayed home at his request. You know what happens when your 18, pregnant and at home all the time? Lots… and none of it for the good. I became insecure, I lost all friends, I had no money, lost all sort of purpose in my life and I gave up my dreams and living my life and I was uneducated with little to no experience. Yes, it was my choice… but at the time I also felt like that was my only choice. To top it all off, when you are not making any money… all of your purchases no matter how big or small are under scrutiny.
As the years went by, nothing changed. I continually wanted more for myself and found myself constantly asking and negotiating to be “allowed” to get a job, take a class, anything that was for me. I knew that I never wanted to be a stay at home mom for my entire life. It is the hardest job in the world, and I was thankful that while they were small I was able to be there. I just knew once they were in school, I would be wanting something for me. Since I gave up that part of my life when I was younger. I had always wanted a career, and to make my own decisions. I was miserable.
After several different attempts to find a job or class I could work around the kids with. I finally enrolled myself in university. All online, I could do when it worked for me, during naps or evenings, whenever possible. This ended up being a huge sore spot for many years because I was not earning any money. I was told I was selfish for spending so much money, the money that he earned and spending it completely on myself. But I forged on and kept going.
My daughters are being raised to look after themselves. Have your own life before you become a wife. When I look back, when I felt forced to stay home, my family applauded him for stepping up which in some ways I do agree he did. However, they didn’t see the pushing me down the stairs jokes, the guilt when it came to purchases… even freaking diapers could cause a fight. In actuality, the move to keep me home was more to control me further, a baby made it so much easier.
Years later, I am still finishing that degree. I have lots of side roads in there, other certifications and designations, but I will finish this degree because it is important to me. And I worry, had I never fought to take these classes, I would never have the job that I do now that enables me to support myself. The option of leaving that marriage would not have existed. I can’t imagine what my physics and emotional health would have looked like. When I think of this, my heart goes out to the women who are stuck because they literally have nothing. No income or education, breaking the cycle would be so incredibly challenging. It is hard enough when you have some of the resources needed.
So be careful what you teach your daughters, what you want for them may actually come true. Teach them to be strong and independent, to have the option and ability to take care of themselves if they chose. Without resources, abuse can thrive.