When we had our 1st child we split costs. My (now ex) husband took on the mortgage and I took on the nursery fees. Ignoring that at the time he earned more and had no commuting costs and I travelled 90 miles a day, still my outgoings seemed slightly more. Having grown up on a boat and only moved out to live with him, I was quite naive in the costs and needs of running a house and so trusted all he said.
When our 2nd child was born, he said there was no way he could take on more and so, all nursery costs were to be covered by me. (He once told me that It was my choice to return to work and so childcare costs were my responsibility. I won’t bore you with him not paying for food or clothes for the kids when I was out of work though).
I covered care. I covered food and clothes. On reflection, as is very often the case in families, the mum (me) was the only person going without. The needs of the children were met 1st. The needs of the man next and if there was anything left, my needs too. He would spend £50-60 on video games in the blink of an eye, buy shoes for £100, I would deliberate for hours over what I could afford or least afford to go without for a few pounds. My Mum would buy me clothes from charity shops that I’d spruce up and make do with. Anything needed for the house was way way down on his list. I would dream of decorating how I’d like. I would show images and designs, but having no spare cash meant I could not contribute, I couldn’t just buy it. My design ideas would be scrutinised. Judged. Deemed unfeasible. From a funky red and white retro kitchen I ended up with shitty green tiles. If it didn’t come from B&Q it didn’t exist. Slowly after pleading for something I’d be shown another option of what I could have. It’s not that as a household we couldn’t afford it, but having no cash myself meant I had no control. Over years it became apparent that control was the main factor in our relationship. Fastforwrd a few years and through an unpleasant divorce, and finding a new man who has learned to put up with my crazy taste, we are reaching the end of doing up, decorating and redesigning our house.
What most people fail to understand is that the goal means so much more to me than having a beautiful home.
I’m quite a creative person. I’ve been able to plan colours, themes, designs and see them turn into a reality. We still have a little way to go, but seeing our home turn into something I only imagined, fills my heart with so much joy. Seeing all of my ideas become real, no matter how simple, has made me so proud. I’ve sanded, painted, wallpapered, dealt with multiple workmen – all out of my comfort zone… but I did it. I threw the wallpaper table away afterwards, vowing never again…. but I did it.
Looking back on photos I’m amazed at what we have achieved, and through it all, I only fell off the step ladder once.