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What happens when a man provides for his family financially?
He may be praised for working hard and rightly honored for taking care of his family. He is doing what he was placed on this earth to do and everyone appreciates his efforts. How many social media posts did we all see on Father’s Day about dads who provide? How many tributes were paid to the men who log long hours, perform backbreaking labor, and endlessly number crunch just to make life possible for the family they love so much?
Now, shift the lens a bit and zoom in on the woman who does the same. The woman who carries her family financially. The woman whose paycheck brings in more than her partner’s. Is she praised the same way for being the family breadwinner?
It’s telling — the difference between a mother as the family’s breadwinner and a father who works to provide. When a woman provides, no one praises her. There are no humblebrags from her partner or kids about how hard she works. There is no appreciation for the bacon she brings home. There’s not even really acceptance of her role as the financial breadwinner.
Sure, women work because they have to or like to. And sure, mothers contribute to the household, but when those same women are blowing their husbands’ paychecks out of the water, they are more likely to avoid the financial spotlight. They may downplay how much they make. They may operate under the guise that of course, they wish they were home! But ugh, bills. Or they may avoid the topic of money all together.
When it comes to making money, it seems as though for fathers, it’s something to be proud of. But for moms, it’s more something they are taught to feel ashamed or apologetic about. Frankly, I think it’s high time for breadwinner moms to step out of the shadows. It’s time to feel proud of our efforts to provide for our family, of our work that is equal and often underpaid, of how much we do for our families at home and through our bank accounts.
It’s time for all you breadwinner mothers out there to stand up tall and proud of how much money you earn.
For over four years, I have been my family’s breadwinner. But in that time, I have kept pretty silent about my earnings, preferring to maintain the illusion that I am first and foremost a stay-at-home mom. Because I work from home and tackle most of the at-home parental duties, like picking our kids up from school and managing their lives, it’s a pretty easy illusion to maintain.
On the surface, I’m just another mom in athleisure wear driving around in a minivan. But behind the scenes, I’m steering our financial ship.
Yet I loathe talking about my work and my income, as if it’s something to be ashamed of or downplay somehow. Author Farnoosh Torabi covers this very topic in her book, When She Makes More. In listening to Torabi discuss how she and her own husband struggled with the dynamics of a relationship in which she made more money than her spouse, I realized how little women and wives talk about this.
How often do you hear moms chatting about how hard it can be to navigate paying bills when they make so much more than their husbands? How often do women congratulate each other on paying off debt with their latest promotion? You would think breadwinner moms don’t exist, and yet, almost half of mothers are sole or primary breadwinners for their families; another one-fourth of mothers are co-breadwinners.
I know you’re out there, ladies. So why are we pretending otherwise?
It may have something to do with the fact, as Torabi covers in her book, that money equals power. For so long, women (and mothers, especially), did not have that power. So it’s understandable that we may need a little extra prodding before we’re totally comfortable with our newfound power.
So I’ll go first: Hi, I’m a breadwinner mom who likes money.
I like talking about money. I like managing our money. And heck, I like making money. I like finding ways to make our family life work for us. I appreciate the security that comes with knowing that should tragedy or misfortune strike, I will be able to put food on the table for my kids.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with a man providing for his family. Nor am I saying there is anything wrong with a woman being rightly proud of her partner for providing for their family; there is surely beauty and honor in that.
But what I am saying is that if you happen to be a woman who does the same — well, there’s beauty and honor in that, too.