Taxing the Family

If you’re a woman (and I’m operating under the presumption that most of my indulgent readers are), you may have taken note of the little gaffes prompted by Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen of late. This is not a political forum, so I will reserve any comment on the intelligence or idiocy of the discussions coming from these women regarding the value of a stay at home mom (SAHM). I bring it up only because of its relative proximity to yesterday’s tax day (queue dread music).

Presuming that research firms and therapists are correct in their assertion that finances are the biggest stressors for marriages, and that taxes are one of the most financially stressful hurdles that a family faces throughout the year, this should be a horrid week. And for those families made up of a husband who is going out early every morning and coming in barely in time for dinner – or just in time to kiss the kids goodnight (if daddy isn’t traveling), it means that the husband is shouldering the direct burden of this stress. And while certainly there may be some distribution of that stress, it’s the earner, not the at-home parent feeling the most immediate pinch.

If I’m kicking a beehive here, I apologize. Read on. We wives and moms are given our due.

Over the past few days, my husband has been slightly left of himself. Normally not one to ask for time alone, he relished in cashing in a massage he’d received for his birthday on Saturday, and stated that he needed (not wanted) to go for a run on Sunday afternoon. Both are simple things, and not really anything to note. And of course he doesn’t need to ask for time to himself, but underneath it all, I could sense a need. (We wives can be pretty intuitive.) Last night, as we were cleaning up dinner and the kids were upstairs getting ready for bed, I asked outright if he was okay. He was – he always is – but he was seriously stressed out.

Of course he was. As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I are both entrepreneurs. In case you are lucky enough not to be subject to the ludicrous small business taxes and penalties (again, I’m biting my political tongue), you may not know what is involved in paying taxes as a small business owner. I won’t get into the details, but suffice it to say, you’re pretty much hung out to dry. It is up to you to save enough, penalties abound and almost as soon as you’ve paid one chunk, another is due.

Obviously, I’m simplifying this a great deal, because this really isn’t meant to be a lesson in taxes. (Also, I’m a writer by training, hubby is the accountant.) The point here is this. While I am an entrepreneur and someone who loves to take on small projects, I am also a W(ork)AHM. What that means is that I work (an earn) considerably less than my husband, yet shoulder the primary tasks of running our home while my husband shoulders the primary task of funding it. What I do professionally doesn’t bring in much to affect our family’s bottom line, but what I do as a wife and mom certainly does.

Most of the time, the ability to scrimp, budget, shop wisely, shuttle kids, cook healthy balanced meals that my kids hate, keep things clean and ironed and mowed – all while running a business and doing volunteer work – well, most of the time, that’s a valuable contribution to our family.

Moms know what it is to be a hat rack. But let’s be honest, while there are many of them, we wear some pretty light hats. Think about it seriously, what would happen if we didn’t vacuum? Nothing but a little dirt. What would happen if we didn’t get our kid to soccer or lacrosse or music (or whatever)? Nothing but a missed practice. What would happen if we didn’t get a balanced meal on the table every night? Occasional sandwich or cereal night (and our kids might actually eat).

Not to be overly blithe, but what we do as S/WAHMs is very busy but also pretty darn flexible when it comes right down to it. Paying our taxes? Not so much. If we don’t get that done, it is a big deal. And if your husband is the primary breadwinner in your home, he is probably more than a bit stressed over it.

This is not meant to be a conversation about who is more valuable. Husbands and wives, dads and moms all bring value to the family. Everyone plays a role. At times, we at home moms are incredibly taxed and stressed. You know the feeling. If your WAW (work at work) husband is the one shouldering taxes this week, perhaps an extra hug and thank you might be in order.

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