Friday, 9 January 2015

I had another post nearly ready to go today and then this popped up in my newsfeed.

I don't like cleaning. I'll do it when I get around to it. My house is never filthy though. The bathroom may not sparkle, but so what? There may be a fine coating of dog hair along the skirting boards. A pile of papers, books, odds and ends building up on the dining table. My clothes may be scattered on the floor of the walk-in-robe and on top of the drawers instead of in them. Sometimes I look at everything and not know where to start, get a bit overwhelmed, then can't be bothered. This was even before having a baby.

When I met G, I was being made redundant. Although I didn't love my job, I was good at it. Great at it even. It's what I had done for 13 years and was sort of in a specialised area, so I couldn't get a job like that anywhere else except if I moved interstate. The thought of getting another job scared the shit out of me, having to start again from the bottom, meet new people, try to fit in. As I was pregnant, I didn't really want to start looking for work, get a job, only to have to take maternity leave after a few months. My plan was always to be a Stay At Home Mum and raise my kids.

Instead of finding another job, I used the time I had before I left work to look for a house to buy and get a loan. I was going to get a decent payout which would make a great deposit. Yes, I was basically lying to the bank about my employment but the mortgage would be paid by G even though it was just in my name. He promised he could afford it and everything would be OK. He said he would transfer money into my account every week like a wage. He wanted me to control his wallet, be in charge of paying the bills and help him save. He was hopeless with money.

Mum raised some concerns and said I could still get out of if if I wanted, take some time to find something cheaper. But then I wouldn't be able to get a loan as I wouldn't be working. I loved the house we had found - it was perfect for a family to grow up in and had room for my Dad to live with us and G's son would even have his own room, even though he only stayed with us every 2nd weekend. There was a big backyard for his trampoline and plenty of paved area to ride his bikes. I was quite upset that Mum was now telling me not to go through with it even though she was there with me when I put an offer on the house and at all my bank appointments. Why was she only bringing this up now, now that the offer had been accepted and the paperwork was signed? G saw I was upset and went to speak to my Mum - "Do not stress her out, she's carrying my child".

I told G I wouldn't make a good housewife. He didn't mind, he would do the cleaning as he actually enjoyed it. Dad and I did most of the cooking, unless G's son was there and only would eat what G made. As Dad couldn't contribute financially, he would do the vacuuming and wash the dishes. When L arrived, Dad told G that all he needed to do was go to work, make love to me and spend time with his daughter. What guy wouldn't be happy with that? G also told me that I wouldn't have to go to work until our kids were in school and even then, only if I wanted to.

I had most of L's stuff set up in the lounge room. Her blankets were on a chair next to the changetable for easy access. Her clothes were piled under the changetable. This is where she spent most of her time and she slept in our room. G would complain about the blankets - do they have to be there? Can't you put them away? It wasn't because he wanted to sit on that chair, or that they were untidy, it was because his son would stand on the chair while L was being changed and I kept telling him not to stand on her blankets. Regardless of the fact that he shouldn't be standing on furniture in the first place, especially with shoes on. Everything had to be where HE wanted, the furniture where HE wanted it to go. His pictures were on the walls and photos of his son were everywhere. It was like it wasn't even my house. With his bedroom and the back living area and big garden, there wasn't really a reason for his son to play in L's lounge area especially when she was feeding or trying to go to sleep, but all his toys managed to come down there, pushing L's play area out the way which was specifically set up so I could easily put her down without having to arrange it all first with one hand.

G's job depended on the weather. If it was raining, he couldn't work. If it was too hot, he couldn't work. There also wasn't much going over Christmas and well into the New Year. But he assured me and my family that there were other things he could do to make money. He was sub-contracting for a few different companies because he didn't enjoy working for the same people all the time. This also meant no holiday pay or any other benefits of having full time employment.

When L came home, I wanted him to be home with us to help me out and spend time bonding as a family. I knew this meant not making any money, but I still had savings to get us by and it was important to me for us to have the time together. I was only asking for a week or two, like other Dads take off when their baby comes home. Well he missed out on a lot of work and contacts and pretty soon it was the Christmas/New Year period. My savings were slowly decreasing, the money I was keeping aside to finally buy new furniture and make my house into my home. I didn't want to worry G but I was pretty scared to run out of money, I'd never been in a situation where I couldn't afford to pay bills or buy food or even something just cos I wanted it. I knew he didn't want me to use all my money and because I loved him I would still call it "our" money and I was using it for us. I was already stressed about being a new Mum and learning to cope with another child who was not mine and apparently had no say in anything to do with him (even though it affected me and my daughter - but that's another story).

Still G assured me he'd make money and everything would be OK, but never actually did anything about it. Here I was worried about the house and he was still able to spend money on his son, buying him toys for no reason on the weekend when he already had heaps of things to play with that he probably didn't remember he had. He could have tried to get one of the companies to put him on full time, regardless of how annoyed it would make him working with the same people all the time. He could have got a job as a truck driver, even if it meant spending some time away from us. He had a family to support now, not just him and his son. And no, he was not supporting my Dad too - I was responsible for that. Regardless of that fact, he kept bringing up that Dad needed to get a job or get Government benefits or something, like that was the big problem.

When I finally brought up the fact that the house would probably have to be sold, at first he told me he could afford it but couldn't reassure me how that was actually going to happen. Then he started to blame me for wanting him to stay home with us when L came home. Then he told me if I wanted this house so much I should get a job. I was devastated. How could he say that to me knowing my insecurities and anxieties? If I actually had a job to go back to, then perhaps I would have. But I didn't. I had already worked for 13 years to save money to buy this house and what had he contributed to it except a couple of months repayments and broken promises? His only other suggestion was to stay in the house until the bank kicked us out. The kick in the guts came when he told me if I sold the house then he would rent a place by himself. This was the talk of a single man who wanted less responsibility, not the talk of a family man trying to sort out where his family were going to live.

With that, ontop of everything else going on, I told him to get out. I couldn't stand to be around him anymore. I couldn't stand the thought of him being entitled to half the sale of the house if we kept living together for over a year. It took him months to get his stuff out. I needed it out to be able to get things fixed up and the real estate agent to assess it. It killed me to see him pack up his things and for my dream to be over. I would cry and tell him to stop packing, to just hold me and tell me we could do this. I could see he was sad, but not for the same reasons. He didn't give a damn that I'd lost lots of money. Mum and I tried to work out ways I could keep the house but it wasn't possible. Although I was angry and upset, I didn't want to lose G. We talked about breaking up but neither of us wanted to say the words. He thanked me for our beautiful daughter. I didn't know how we could move forward from this, but I wanted to try. He was worried about me kicking him out again and him having nowhere to go, no room for his kids when they came to stay. Having no furniture as he'd got rid of some stuff when he moved in with me. I thought he'd try harder to make sure that never happened. We went to counselling and he realised what he thought was one of the problems - he hadn't felt like the man of the house as my Dad was there. Irrespective of the fact he didn't exactly bother to act like the man of the house. He was clutching at straws, trying to blame something or someone else.

My Mum came up with an idea that she could help me build a house and if G was serious about wanting to be with me and proved it, then he could move in. Even though he didn't really like my Mum anymore, he agreed with it and I checked and double-checked with him that this is what he wanted. Rent would be so much cheaper and we'd be on our way to owning something again one day.

Then he had a falling out with my Dad over something really pathetic. That day, I really saw how angry and aggressive he could be and I was scared. This reaction from someone who told me it took a lot to make him angry and he wasn't a violent person. After everything that happened that lead me to kicking him out, my Dad had always been nothing but respectful towards him even after watching his daughter be upset by him day after day, night after night. And now G was telling me he'd lost all respect for my Dad and no longer would be able to live with him again. This broke my heart even more. I always tried to do right by everyone else, make sure they were happy regardless of my own happiness. Now I was being forced to choose between someone who cared about me and looked after me and someone who said he would but hadn't proven it. I knew I couldn't live with my Dad for the rest of my life and I had to make a choice. If I wanted my relationship to work, I had to let go of what I knew was safe and learn to trust someone who had already given me plenty of reasons not to.

I took the plunge and we found a house to rent. I kept telling him I needed to feel supported. That L and I now relied on him. That there would be some days I wouldn't get dressed or have a shower and not to make me feel bad about that. My priority was making sure L was healthy and happy. We moved in and I thought everything was going to be OK. Except for the fact that again, everything in the house was set up how he wanted, which I tried to ignore. I still didn't have a say on how the money was spent either. I cooked tea if there was something specific I felt like making, but most of the time I left the cooking up to him and I did the dishes. Even when he told me to leave them, I still did them. I didn't want him to be able to say I did nothing. Then he started to use the dishwasher, but I still did all the stuff that didn't go in there and made sure I emptied the dishwasher the next day. He also went to the effort of vacuuming and mopping the floors every week before his son came to stay, even though I thought it would be wiser to do it afterwards. The floor was never all that dirty - nothing that didn't just require a quick wipe, but would be covered in stickiness and grass after he'd been. It seemed like he was just making more work for himself.

It got to the point where he accused me of doing nothing while he did everything. Apparently I expected him to bust his balls at work and then do the same at home. Which was hardly the truth. I didn't demand he cooked, he wanted to. I would have been happy to have something easy like toast or weetbix. I didn't demand he cleaned, he wanted to as he liked to be on the move doing something. He still had time to play his guitar or video games and relax if he wished. I never stopped him doing that. My job - my most important job - was looking after L and I did that 24 hours a day. I went to bed as soon as she went to sleep, knowing I'd probably be up with her at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and then we'd be up again not long after when G's alarm went off. My day consisted of nappy changes, feeding, playing, rocking to sleep and washing bottles. The TV was stuck on ABC2 and I hardly noticed. My only adult interaction - besides occasionally visiting my Dad - was with virtual strangers on Facebook (who I now consider virtual friends). I spent hours playing Candy Crush, not wanting to get too involved in anything that I couldn't stop in a hurry in case the baby needed me. I was no longer able to keep up with the Kardashians. While I was extremely lucky to be able to stay home and be with my daughter, I was also very lonely and didn't feel like myself anymore. I was a Mum and didn't get a day off. Yes, I did have help thanks to my Mum and Dad, but not from the person I needed it from the most.

What I want to say is to the men. Please don't make your wives/girlfriends feel guilty for staying in their pyjamas all day or not doing the washing. They're still doing a job too, they're raising your children. Just like you're tired from your job, so are they. When they're sick, they still have to get up and attend to the children so make an effort too. Occasionally get up to the baby in the middle of the night, even if she's up too. Offer to take over in the evenings even just so she can read a book or have a bath. Show her you love her. Any don't kick her out.

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