One of my very favorite two-day segments of each year is right now, in mid-February, when all our W-2 and 1099 forms are in. For two nights, I get to put the kids to bed, spread our documents across the living room, fire up TurboTax and do our taxes. Yes, part of the appeal is that, as a graduate student family with three children, we pay little tax up front but still manage to qualify for a refund that’s about equivalent to our annual tithe. AND it always somehow coincides with an expense or donation we have undertaken in faith with the hope that the coffers will be refilled. Uncle Sam always does replenish us in February.
But I also love numbers, and finances, and budgeting, and pricing, and the whole money management side of managing a household.
Especially in larger Christian families, I observe a good pattern of the husband and wife, over time, situating into traditional gender roles, largely out of practicality and necessity. The dual-income-n0-kids married couple relies on the husband to cook dinner and clean house while the wife works late. The mom with two kids, both in school, can find the time to research, select and purchase a new refrigerator or to communicate with the hired handyman. But when mom is home all day anyway with lots of kids, it just makes sense for her to prep and cook dinner and for him to decide on a good fridge and talk to the repair guy. I think it’s a really charming fact of large family life that we doer-moms, out of necessity, have to relinquish control and depend on our husbands for many household tasks. I’m so glad that our circumstances often render me the damsel in distress so that my husband can save the day. I have learned that my husband is much better at following instructions, at figuring out how to fix things, he is more careful and less hasty, he has an excellent spatial sense which is crucial when we’re living in small quarters, he is patient when I lose my cool with household issues, and he is the master of pest control (maybe sometime I’ll post about his 4am public execution of our very last mouse). The list goes on.
But I don’t know if I ever want to relinquish the books. While my husband could handle the financial management perfectly, and we always discuss financial matters, I love taking the helm. But I also think that most wives by now have turned the taxes and banking over to their husbands, who can work on family investments from the quiet of an office, who can seek tax advice from professional colleagues, who can call the bank without 10 decibels of household background noise.
Are there any other fellow Mrs. Money-Managers who are frolicking in piles of tax documents this mid-February? Or maybe, since our baby #4 will be born soon, my hands are about to be so full that this is my last year with my old friend TurboTax.