03
Jul
13

I Sprained my Ankle Falling Off my High Horse

Early on in the long history (weeks) of this blog, I wrote something about a Today Show bit where they asked if men could “have it all” or not and the relative ridiculousness of the actual question.

During the piece I took the subject of the Today Show segment to task for being stuck in what I feel is the dated idea that, as a man, he had to make the money to support his family.

I felt pretty damned good about myself post-column, I can tell you.

Fast forward to last week when I suddenly found myself broke.

As you may remember, I am a sportswriter and last April I found myself without a contract for the site I worked for. I won’t get too much into it but it was sudden, surprising and eliminated quite a bit of income for our little household.

Now, the Wife makes good bank so while we aren’t Scrooge McDuck rich or anything, we are OK and I pick up the odd job here or there (dog walking!) as well as some freelance work.

Still, my bank account isn’t exactly fat at any time and last week I realized as I ran from the grocery store to the gas station to my son’s gymnastics class that I was going through what little I got paid per month really, really fast.

This was on top of a general freak out I had the weekend before over money which I chalked up to just starting to diet and not having received my first dog walking check.

Really, though, it was about not providing for my family. More embarrassing, it was about having to ask the Wife for money.

OH SWEET IRONY, THY KISS IS DEADLY!

Let’s break those two things down here—though they are connected.

First of all, despite the fact that the plan had always been for me to be home with the kids and work from home, that’s almost never been the case. We haven’t been able to do it for a number of reasons—my wife getting her Masters, the collapse of the economy, bad timing—but it was always a goal, even if we lost sight of it for a bit.

Quite often, in fact, I’ve been the one to keep the family afloat as my wife has slowly put her career together to get to the point where she could carry us.

Even before I parted ways with my employer, the Wife had told me “if they low ball you, we can walk away. We’ll be fine.”*

Of course, I didn’t expect to have to take her up on that so I didn’t really think about what that meant.

Confronted with the reality of it—I’m not as in control of our finances and not a huge part of paying our bills—I pretty much felt like I got slapped in the face.

For the first time in years—probably since I went back to work post-Alpha Tween—I was not the main source of income. There have been brief times when I wasn’t but this felt final.

I don’t think it hit me until the past two weeks—probably until I started this blog and began looking at my whole life through the lens of “what it means to be a guy and a dad.”

The second part—asking for money—is something I haven’t really had to do since I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong—when things were rough for our family, we’ve had to ask for help. But I have not had to ask money for me in a long time.

Now I’m asking—at the ripe old age of 42—another adult for a few bucks. Forget that, for the most part, it’s for important things like food and gas.

Whatever I need it for I’m having to ask my wife for money.

It’s a reasonable request, right?

Now I will admit that I don’t know if it’s more of an issue I have to ask my wife for money, a woman for money or another person for money.

I understand how brutally sexist that makes me look and I’ll be honest that I’m a tad shocked myself.

So while I lean towards the idea of asking anyone for money as the source of my issues, I can’t say there isn’t a little gender role issue mixed in.

Asking for the money is especially tough because, given that I am broke, I can’t just do anything I want. I might have to borrow money to go see a movie or to rent a DVD or any number of things I was able to just go and do.

It felt like—I don’t know if degrading is the word, but it’s close. And again, the idea that I can feel degraded or lessened because I have to ask my wife for money is upsetting in it’s own way.

I thought a lot about the two things listed above this week before I wrote this piece.

A few factors that, once I admitted them to myself, became much easier to overcome.

Ego

Man or woman, we all like to stand on our own. We don’t want to have to rely on someone else, even though most of the time we should and have to.

I had to come to understand that it wasn’t insulting to rely on the Wife. Hell that’s part of marriage. You rely on each other for both little and big things.

It’s not degrading to say “hey I’m short cash, can I get $60 for gas?” and it’s not degrading to say “Listen I really want to see the new Iron Man, is it cool if I borrow ten bucks?”

Marriage is a partnership. I’ve picked up the slack before and now she is.

This is about me dealing with my hangups. Meanwhile, she’s patiently waiting for me to get over myself.

And toughest thing about asking for help is getting over yourself.

It’s not easy for anyone. When it comes to money, it’s even more difficult for most folks, though I think it’s very hard for men (especially family men) because we still buy into the myth that a real man is a man who brings home the bacon.

Truth is, sometimes your partner brings it home and you get to cook it. And that’s fine.

Plus either way: bacon is delicious.

Freedom

Not being able to just pick up and go to the movies, buy a wacky T-shirt (I have many) or whatever other nonsense I waste my money on—that’s difficult.

I have to think things through before I buy them? THE HELL YOU SAY.

It’s also about worrying that my purchases and spending habits will be judged.

Mind you, my wife knows I buy stupid T-Shirts. It’s part of my charm, after all, and for goodness sake, if she hasn’t figured out I can’t help myself by now, what has she been doing for the last ten plus years?

But to some extent you really feel like you have to check with the other person when you ask for money. “Can I have X for Y? seems like a reasonable sentence until “Y” becomes “this really awesome Game of Thrones T-Shirt” which I already know I don’t need.

In the end though, either you ask for money or you don’t. I’m not getting grilled about why I need it unless I’m in her face every other day asking for $100 for “stuff”.

The lack of freedom is really just in my head. Lots of weird things live there.

Usefulness

If I’m not earning money to contribute to the household, what good am I?

That’s the single most devious thought that has entered the back of my mind and nested there.

It’s insane, given that I really feel like contributing to the household isn’t just about money. It’s not even mostly about money.

The idea that a man has to earn the living for the house is bullshit but it’s there. It’s there in our society in film, on television, in books—you can’t escape it. And it needles into your head like the Ceti eels from Wrath of Khan and pretty much takes root there whether you like it or not.

Men aren’t defined by how much money they contribute to the household any more than women are defined by whether they stay home with the kids or not—or even if they have kids. Not anymore.

I mean, society will try to define you that way but we sure as hell don’t have to play that bullshit game, right?

Whether I earn the most money or not isn’t all that vital—how I help with carrying the load for our family in other ways  is what’s critical.

Remembering that is really hard as I have found out over the past two weeks.

So if you’re like me and you find yourself home, working some and hanging around to shuttle the kids here and there, remember—you’re still you, you’re still a critical part of your family and what money you make—if you make any at all—isn’t all the value you have to your family. Not even close.

You’re more than that. Much more.

Now join me in going to ask our wives for some pin money.

* I just want to take a moment to praise the Wife for that. That sort of support is incredible for a writer (or for anyone) and really, really helped prior to and after the fateful phone call. This is one of the many reasons I love you, Wife.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

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4 Responses to “I Sprained my Ankle Falling Off my High Horse”


  1. July 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    wow,that was great 🙂 I really like this line..
    ‘.Whether I earn the most money or not isn’t all that vital—how I help with carrying the load for our family in other ways is what’s critical.’
    I am so happy to finally be with a man who appreciates what I do and does not feel like he has to tear me down for making a bit more money(my ex did). I wish more people,not just men, would get that sentence!!!

  2. 3 The Wife
    July 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    For the record, he already has that awesome Game of Thrones shirt. In fact, each of us has our very own. Because that’s how Awesome Dad rolls.


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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages

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