Can you guys help settle a "we agree to disagree" thing at our house?
I am currently reading Goodbye to All That by Judith Arnold (I got it for free, on NetGalley). It is a novel about Ruth and Richard Bendel, a couple in their 60s. After 42 years of marriage, Ruth wants a separation from her successful cardiologist husband. She's tired of taking care of everyone else, and not being appreciated or listened to. She wants a new life.
She wants to live alone, for the first time. She finds a cheap apartment and a minimum wage job at a discount chain store, and flies the coop.
Her three adult children are rocked to their cores since they felt that their parents were steady and stable and seemed to have a happy marriage.
I told The Mister that I understood how Ruth felt. That after years of taking care of children full-time, it's easy to feel invisible, unheard. That you can clean whiskers out of the bathroom sink for just so long before you want to shout "NO MORE!"
The Mister said that she was a bitch; I said she was selfish. Richard Bendel, the husband in the story did not come out blame-free, either. He was dismissive and prideful. The Mister said he was an asshole (we agreed on that, but I didn't use the a-word).
Then the volume of our voices got louder...
I said that Ruth had made a sacrifice to stay home with children and to care for her family. The Mister said it was NOT a sacrifice - it was a choice (and the best choice for the family).
I then explained how my eleven years as a SAHM represented a time when I sacrificed work experience in exchange for my decision to stay at home with my children. When my ex husband left our family, I was at a distinct disadvantage. I had never had a full-time job. My daughters and I lived on child support of $575/month (which was insufficient to allow us to stay in our house), and the rent in our apartment was $310. We were well below the poverty level. It took me years to play paycheck catch up with co-workers (one big reason I moved so often was so I could gain work experience and find jobs where the pay was higher).
The Mister was insistent that I made no sacrifice at all - that I had traded work experience for motherhood.
I ended the discussion by saying that we'd agree to disagree - but I'd love to find out YOUR opinion (and hope that you agree with me so I can dazzle The Mister with statistics).
What say you? Is the job of SAHM a fair trade or a major sacrifice?