‘You have to work. Stay-at-home moms are lazy and uneducated.’ He brainwashed me. He refused to adopt my girls in order to get child support money.’: Man adopts wife’s children in wake of divorcing abusive ex

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“I live in a small town in PA. Not a very rich area, not poor. We don’t have a lot of job options here unless you drive to Pittsburgh or Ohio. I grew up with my dad working full time in a steel mill and with my mom staying home to raise my two brothers and myself.

Growing up, I always dreamed of being married, having children, and being a stay at home mom. Watching my mom work endlessly, day in and day out, inspired me. My mom has always been a super mom. She worked when she had too, but I remember her being home from a very young age. I wished to be exactly like my mom. This woman, GOD, this woman.

She made my dad coffee every single morning, cleaned from morning until night, homemade meals for us every dinner, and our rooms were ALWAYS clean. I never remember cleaning my room, because my mom did it (Yes, we were spoiled, with LOVE). My mom was always there for every cheerleading event and every band concert I ever had. She was the real MVP. I was going to be JUST like her, stay at home and take care of my babies.

Courtesy of Erin B.

Well, turns out, life had another agenda for me. I met my daughters’ biological father in 2007, got pregnant a month into dating, and thought I’d be with him forever. We ended up having two daughters together in 2008 and 2009. My dad got him a job at a local steel mill and I was able to stay home. I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I have everything I’ve ever wanted, I am staying home taking care of my kids.’ Except, it was far from what I wanted.

My ex was abusive. I found out later he was bi-polar, and it really got the best of him. Instead of being like my mom, in a loving relationship staying at home with my children, I was crying myself to sleep at night, in fear of being killed. When my youngest daughter was nine days old, I left him and ended up back with my parents who helped raise my daughters, until I met my soon-to-be ex-husband. FINALLY, I could stay home with my kids and do what God brought me into this world to do, or so I thought.

Courtesy of Erin B.

See, my ex-husband was a narcissistic, money-hungry, selfish man. He would never consider adopting my girls because he wanted the child support money that came with them. When he found out I didn’t work, I remember him telling me, ‘You have to work, there is no way you can be home with your kids all day. A stay at home mom is lazy and uneducated.’ He brainwashed me into thinking he was right. I went to school to become a Dental Assistant. I worked a few jobs here and there and finally got a job I absolutely LOVED, except it came with 12-hour shifts. My girls at that point were in kindergarten and preschool.

Courtesy of Erin B.

You guessed it, I missed out on EVERYTHING. I absolutely loved my job, I loved doing what I did, I loved who I worked for. However, I struggled with working from 7 a.m. until seven p.m. and not being home for my kids. My ex and I were constantly fighting over my wanting to just be home with my kids. But, as he reminded me, I couldn’t stay home, I would be lazy and uneducated. He reminded me more times than I can remember.

After four years of brutal hell, I finally divorced my ex. Love is funny sometimes, it comes unexpectedly! I was still working at the same job, and in the middle of the chaos, or what I call my storm, I met my current husband, Josh; I fell hard and fast. My girls fell in love even quicker!

Courtesy of Erin B.

We became pregnant with our first son eight months into dating. Josh sat me down and said, ‘I will support you in anything you choose. I would love to see you stay home with our kids and be there for them, and I’ll take care of you guys. But if you want to continue to work, I will respect your wishes and I will support your decision.’

We were married on December 21, 2014, and I quit my job January 1, 2015. Josh adopted our girls in 2017, not caring about ever getting a dime from my girls’ biological father. Josh didn’t want money, he wanted our family. We have added another beautiful son to complete our family.

Courtesy of Erin B.
Courtesy of Erin B.

I have not worked in five years. I’ve come to the realization that society makes us feel utterly disgusted with ourselves as mothers. If we work, we’re allowing others to care for our children. If we stay home, we MUST be lazy and uneducated. The thing is, there is no easy solution. Some mothers HAVE to work, such as single moms or moms whose husbands don’t make enough. In my situation, there are struggles. I grew up with very little money, but a LOT of love. So, I try to instill that into my children. They may not have enough money for an iPhone 11, but they have love that will last far longer than any phone. We are not able to go and do things as a family with two working parents, and we budget A LOT.

There is a difficult side of being a stay at home mom. For me, I get in a place where I feel I am not worthy, and I will question if I am doing enough. My husband works his butt off and what do I do? I can’t have an adult conversation for the life of me. I am physically and emotionally drained by being surrounded by children ALL day, every day. But, I am there for every concert, soccer game, and basketball game. I get to make dinner for my family and put all my kids to sleep at night. I still struggle on whether or not I am good enough because I don’t work or if I should work to BE good enough as I type this. At the end of the day, My family has food, shelter, and clothing on their backs and they are happy. Seeing my sons grow up like I didn’t get to with my girls, is a tear-jerker. Listening to my almost five-year-old tell me to give him ten hugs, and five kisses, and ‘three more books mommy!?’ It makes it worth staying home. Having my two girls thank me for staying home to be there, and for their daddy sacrificing his time with us to work, is worth not making extra money to allow us to go to the zoo every week or out to eat daily.

If it ever comes to a point we can not feed our children with one income, I will be going back to work. As of right now, our youngest is only 14 months. I will try to enjoy the time I have with him. I will try to be the best stay at home mom I can be, even if I am discouraged at times. I will remember having such an incredible husband that gave me the support five years ago I needed to be where we are RIGHT NOW.

We are ALL trying to do what’s best for OUR children, whom we love to the moon and back. Working or staying home, we are ALL great mamas. I respect every single mother out there, doing what is best for THEIR family. Stop looking on social media, we are NOT perfect. We aren’t going to ever be perfect. We all struggle with, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ People will talk either way. You are either a terrible mother for working or you’re a terrible mother because you aren’t helping financially and ‘putting pressure on your husband. BE REAL. It is OKAY to feel guilty for working, it is OKAY to feel guilty staying home.

It is NORMAL. Men have it SO easy, they go to work, they never have to worry about what others think. We are the ones being judged by people, and to them I say, YOU try to walk in our shoes. YOU try to feel the guilt and the pain of BOTH sides of the spectrum. We as moms feel we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, so do the best you can and be the best mama you can be. Your kids will love you and they will remember you working hard for them, whichever way that is. They will love you for and they will be proud to call you their mama.

I know if I had to go back, I’d want the same life I had. At 30, I finally see what my mom has instilled in me, to never be ashamed, be the best mom you can be, and that will be enough, no matter what.”

Courtesy of Erin B.

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erin B. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories and YouTube for our best videos.

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