“When my partner and I decided to move in together, I was ecstatic in every sense of the word. We had been together two and a half years and just welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Mia, into our lives. Things were moving along like a fairy tale.
When I was pregnant, we communicated and discussed how things were gonna go. I had been working in publishing for 9 years, and he in marketing. I made the decision to transition to be a full-time mom while he remained at his job and worked. In fact, it was my partner’s initial idea. I agreed to it, excited to be a new mommy. ‘I want to be there for our baby as much as possible during those early years,’ I told him. Once the terrible twos, threes, and fours were gone, I’d look into getting a babysitter and we’d both work, splitting the parenting responsibilities equally.
Well, it’s safe to say things didn’t go as planned.
I worked up until I was a little over 8 months pregnant, saving as much money as I could for our new life together as three. I read countless parenting books and sought advice from other experienced mommies I knew, full-time and part-time. I spent my weekends picking out cute baby clothes and accessories. I bought a crib and my partner and I collaborated to remodel our guest bedroom and make it into an adorable baby room. I felt ready. But nothing could have compared me for what happened post-labor.
The first time I noticed it was two months after Mia was born. Between remodeling the guest bedroom, making sure the house was child-proof, buying a ton of baby things (some needed and some out of pure cuteness), and just normal, everyday expenses, I blew most of my savings up pretty quickly. I admit I did go a little overboard, but it was out of love. I wanted to make sure our girl had absolutely everything she needed and more.
On one particular morning, two months after giving birth, I asked my partner, ‘Can you transfer $200 into my account? I have to get Mia some things and food for the house.’ I was planning to make chicken parmigiana for lunch but had run out of breadcrumbs and eggs. I also needed to restock on water and fresh fruits and veggies.
At this point in time, I was cooking, cleaning, and momming full-time. He’d help me clean here and there but most of the responsibilities fell onto me. After all, I was the one who chose to mom full-time. When I asked him for money that very first time, he looked at me in shock. ‘Didn’t I give you 50 dollars last week?’ I remember feeling annoyed and thinking, ‘This man doesn’t know a thing about finances, clearly.’ But I just sucked it up and calmly said, ‘Yes, but that all went to gas and formula.’ He rolled his eyes and said, ‘Sure.’
I went out for groceries, taking Mia with me while he rested at home because he was ‘so tired’ from the work week. When I came back from the supermarket around noon, he was knocked out, snoring, on the living room couch. I had wanted him to watch Mia while I cooked lunch but, alas, I had no choice but to multi-task.
I hadn’t checked my account until I got to the supermarket, so I didn’t realize until I was at the register that he had sent me ONLY $40 instead of the $200 I’d asked for. In fact, he sent me $41.99. It felt like a cruel joke. I was furious.
How could this man possibly think I could get everything I needed with that kind of money? Without any other option, I did what needed to be done. I returned a bunch of items and swapped out some brand-name products for the cheaper, store-brand items. I wasn’t in the mood to drive all the way back home, fight, and then come back for more shopping. So, I got enough for lunch and a few other things. If he wanted something else, he would have to get it himself.
When I finished cooking lunch, and he finished his beauty sleep, we sat at the table to eat. Not even two bites in, he said, ‘What’s this? These aren’t the breadcrumbs I like. I like the crunchy ones.’ I could feel my blood boiling. I had been watching our daughter alone all day, all week rather, running errands, and cooking, and now he had to audacity to complain about my food!
‘Well… interesting you say that. I couldn’t buy the ones you like. They were more expensive. Maybe if you’d have given me more than forty, I could’ve bought them.’ The next words that came out of his mouth shot me to a whole other universe. ‘My money. My choice.’ He went out later that evening, alone, with a list of the things we still needed. He came back with half, and a bunch of unhealthy snacks and foods that he knows I don’t eat at all.
I remember going to bed that night still angry but, above all, I was confused. He had never acted like such a jerk before in all of our relationship. We had made the decision TOGETHER for me to stop working temporarily and now he was acting like I was being a burden for needing money for OUR child, OUR house, OUR meals. I didn’t do anything just then. I hoped and prayed it was just him having a bad day. But, surely enough, it wasn’t the first time, just one of many.
Over time he got more and more possessive of his money. After that first instance, I was so enraged by his comments that I immediately looked into part-time babysitting jobs. I wasn’t going to let any man make me feel like I had to earn something from them.
I brought the idea up to him. ‘Babysitting will be perfect. That way I can make some side cash while still caring for Mia at the same time.’ Before I could even continue, he instantly shut down the idea. To add to this, he somehow made me feel like I was wrong because I’d be giving Mia less attention if I worked. ‘I work all day. Don’t you think she needs her mom’s full attention? At least wait another few months before you look into jobs.’ And I listened to him. Then a ‘few months’ later came and he had another excuse as to why I shouldn’t work.
Meanwhile, all of these months turned out to be hell. Sometimes he’d give me money, no questions asked. Other times it turned into huge, heated arguments about money. The final straw for me was when I asked him for $20 to buy diapers. His response was, ‘This was your plan all along, right? Make me work all day and then just mooch off of me while you do absolutely nothing all day?’ No words could ever describe the amount of shock, hurt, rage I felt.
I remember turning around slowly, ready to break into angry tears. ‘Nothing? In case you haven’t noticed, I do have a FULL-TIME JOB. It’s called being a mother!’ I stormed off into our bedroom and tried to close the door, but he followed me and his hand caught it before it could close fully. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. He walked right up to me and punched me in chest and then again in the left eye. I felt an instant, excruciating pain from the blows. ‘You will never have a penny from me, you pathetic gold-digger,’ he said.
He apologized to me the next day and bought me flowers (the ones I’m allergic to might I add), but I already knew that our relationship was done. I had read and heard many horror stories about abusive relationships. I knew it started out slowly and got progressively worse, never getting better. I wanted to move out immediately but had no money at all to do so. The more and more I thought about it, it became clear to me that all of this was orchestrated. Some sick plan. The wanting me to be a full-time mom with no job. The disallowing me to get a job. The not-so-subtle comments where he’d try to isolate me from my family and friends. The not wanting me to have money. Suddenly, it was all clear as day. He wanted two things and two things only: power and control over me.
So, two days later, while he was at work, I called up my mother. We had never had the best relationship and hadn’t spoken to each other in nearly a year. In tears, I told her what happened. She instantly said, ‘I’m coming over. I’ll be there in an hour and a half, tops. Pack your things. You need to get out of there fast. Come stay with me.’
I scurried and gathered as much as I thought would fit into my mom’s Honda CR-V, focusing mainly on the things I needed for the baby. I remember gazing in at the baby’s room. It looked sad, emptier. Nothing seemed real. I didn’t even get the chance to process, to say goodbye to this house, this life. I just kept moving and never looked back.
Today, Mia is 11 months and happy as can be. I am still currently living with my parents but planning to move out and into my own place this summer. I managed to get my old job back in publishing and was welcomed with warm, open arms.
I write this story for all the women out there. Understand that these early warning signs are merely the ‘calm’ before the storm. It doesn’t get better. Since leaving this monster of a man, I recently found out through a friend’s friend that my ex-partner had a long, ugly history of physically assaulting women. I cannot tell you how lucky I am that I got out as quickly as I did right when things were bubbling up. I’m also grateful that he didn’t know where my mother lives. I dodged a huge bullet and thank God every day that I am where I am now.
To other full-time mommies, understand that being a mom IS a full-time job. It IS work, even though it doesn’t bring in a paycheck. Unlike other jobs, you work 24/7. Your work never ends. In fact, it’s one of the most demanding, yet beautiful jobs out there. It should be cherished and appreciated. Know your worth and never let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Read more from domestic abuse survivors:
‘He proposed. ‘You’ll NEVER find a man as good as me.’ I was ecstatic and terrified. Finally, we will be married and everything will be perfect. I was lucky to have him, because HE would still love me.’
‘On the night of our honeymoon, I saw the DARKER side of my husband. My heart was beating out of my chest. He crouched down and whispered in my ear, ‘You… are NOT going to tell me what to do.’ I felt instant regret.’
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