Out of the mouths of babes. . .
OK, out of the mouths of seventeen-year-olds.
Even before the accident changed everything, as the saying goes, I was the family’s financial manager. I suck at it, and I hate having to do it, but again, as the saying goes, someone’s gotta do it, right?
When the US economy collapsed back around 2008, my husband was periodically unemployed. My hair was literally falling out as a result of the stress I felt during that period. Which, side note, is why I keep my hair long now. In case the stress monster wins any current or upcoming battle against my autoimmune system, longer hair can cloak the bald spots alopecia causes. It’s also why my hair is wavy now–it grew back differently than how it started. Man, the human body is weird! Anyway, where was I. . . Ah, my husband’s unemployment, yes.
He’s a spender, that one, and no savvy shopper; he buys what he wants when he wants it, no matter the price tag. To be clear, it’s not like he piddles money away. Honestly, he spends little on himself when it comes to clothes or material goods. He is a thoughtful and generous gift-giver too, but he’ll never wait for a sale or use a coupon. What he wants, when he wants it–that’s my husband. So, during those dreary days of recession when construction came to a screeching halt, so did his income. In light of my ever-expanding bald patches, I suggested he pay the bills for a while. He found himself with time on his hands, and I found myself wanting a break from it. Plus, full disclosure: I wanted him to understand just how much less money was coming in and how our bills bled it out of us in a real quick hurry.
My social experiment lasted less than one month. Guess how many bills were late that month? ALL OF THEM. He didn’t attend to one, single debt, so not only were the bills left unpaid, there were now late fees due on top of those accounts. You can imagine my displeasure. Yeah. I’ll never know if he did that (or didn’t, I suppose) as an f-you back to me or just ran some next-level Tom Sawyer kind of scam on his dear, balding wife. But I’ve paid every bill in our twenty year history.
I also do our tax preparation, at which I also suck and hate with a fervent passion. Every year, before I click the send button, I announce to him and the universe that I’ve filled in the boxes as accurately and completely as I believe I can and in entirely good faith. If I end up in federal prison for income tax fraud, I may be guilty, but I am guileless. Turbo Tax is great, but I have never not felt like I’ve gotten it all wrong.
This morning I met with a CPA who will be preparing our 2020 return. I just can’t handle that kind of stress this year. If I’m gonna get hammered by the IRS, I’d rather the news come from a kindly gentleman sitting at a desk than from my computer. My computer and I are spending entirely too much time together these days, and I need not to resent it, even if it is merely the messenger of impending income tax doom.
Before bed last night, I’d announced to my family that I’d be heading out early to meet with the CPA. Number One Son makes an inquiry about why I’d need to meet with someone else to complete this work. My husband chimes in with something like, “Well, you see, son, when we do our taxes every year. . .”
I couldn’t help myself. My head whipped around so quickly the breeze could be felt for miles. “What’s this WE??? Who is WE?? WE don’t do our taxes.”
Number One Son: “Yeah, there’s no ‘we’ in ‘Mom.'”
I skipped up the stairs in delight.
Not because I’m an asshole who enjoys taking a swing at her husband in front of the kids (although I’m sure a good many of you would and could say that about my behavior here), but because 1) his comment was funny, and 2) maybe he is paying attention??
As I’ve chronicled ad nauseum, I’m the default setting in our family. And while that’s going to be the case until the end of my time, out of necessity (the necessity being my sanity), I’m handing over the reins to some tasks and responsibilities. I can’t do it all anymore, and I never should have. I can’t model for my children the expectation that their mate will take care of everything. This is not to say that I’m anointing myself sainthood. There is a division of labor in our home, but the seat of our family’s executive functioning is embedded in my grey matter. And when I don’t do it myself, I do have to remind/follow-up/lose my shit when the other three manage their thinking stuff, so really it’s closer to 100% than 90% still. But this is a start.
There’s no “we” in “Mom.” You got that right, kid.