I’ve made more money than my husband for as long as we’ve known each other, right up until the point when I took the plunge and gave up the security and fat paycheck of my finance job to do something I’ve always wanted to do - become a full-time entrepreneur. I’ve always worked in business or finance, where people make a lot of money, my husband worked in several industries where average salaries are much lower. It never bothered me.
And then our daughter was born. I was happy to go back to work - I like to work, I want to work, and I have to work - but as time went on and I struggled to be a mom and keep up my stressful big-money-making career, I began to feel some resentment. I’d catch myself in envy of moms who had less stressful and lower paying jobs which they could afford to have because their husbands were the primary breadwinners.
Mixed in with this resentment was a tremendous feeling of betrayal and even shame. I felt like I was betraying the feminist ideals that I’d achieved through very hard work - becoming a successful woman in a male-dominated career field and doing it on my own terms. Here I was, a super-achiever by most standards, and the stress of it, the pressure of it was crushing me. Why wasn’t I strong enough to handle it? Why was being the primary breadwinner stressing me out so much instead of making me proud of the fact that I was able to support my family financially?
I was so happy to read a recent blog post by Self-Made Mom about this very issue. She is a successful professional and a mom, but her husband is the primary breadwinner for the family. And she wrote about the fact that she is happy about this, that right now, she really appreciates having the ability to have a job that she has (which includes some flexibility to work from home) and not have to worry about making the majority of the money for the family.
We put so much pressure on ourselves as women - to be incredible moms, great wives and partners, successful and high-achieving professionals. The modern woman is supposed to be able to do it all - superwomen, high achievers, trailblazers, Alpha Moms are terms we see so much in media stories talking about all the amazing things women are achieving. And by many accounts, we are doing it all - recent data suggests that more and more women are becoming the primary earners in their households.
But boy, do I wish I could give myself a break sometimes. I will likely always be the primary breadwinner in our family and I am OK with that; what I wish I could be OK with is the fact that sometimes I wish I weren’t.