One of Forty

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Surely the whole metric about  “40% of US homes tout women as the primary breadwinner” is old news for all of you. But I apologize, friends, because you see, I am one of forty. And no, I won’t be the first to blog about it, nor will I be the last. But gosh golly gee? I am going to blog about it.

First, let’s get down to business. Admittedly, a few other bloggers’ posts hit my feedly about this, I glanced, but didn’t get to into it until today. I got a tweet over on @lilburghers asking me to tune in to a local channel tonight as @momfinder chats with Ellis Cannon about this metric. Okay, I am one of forty, so sure. I’ll watch. But, I do not like to jump into something without doing a ‘lil bit of research, so I landed on this NY Times article (from last Wednesday, mind you) and found out this:

Women are not only more likely to be the primary caregivers in a family. Increasingly, they are primary breadwinners, too.

Four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census and polling data released Wednesday. This share, the highest on record, has quadrupled since 1960.

The shift reflects evolving family dynamics.

Yeah buddy, does it. Let me tell you, as one of forty percent, the family dynamic sure is changing. (On the side, I hope some of that means more of this happening, ahem.) When Greg and I got engaged, he moved to PA and started a small part-time job. Once we bought our house, he quit due to distance and the fact that my parents could no longer be Arianna’s daytime caregivers. Out of need, we became a one-income family, driven by me. Sure, Greg coupons and gets us staples and the ability to give to others, but 99% of our money comes from the time I put in at the office.

This makes things quite interesting for us. He’s had to learn to like doing laundry and to keep the bathrooms clean. I’ve had to learn that sometimes those things will not meet my (ocd) standards. He’s had to change lots of diapers and potty train two sassy kids. I’ve had to learn that sometimes the kids are going to run to daddy with a boo boo first first that hug and want nothing to do with me. He’s had to start (or make or keep warm) dinners when I put in long hours at the office (like this week, thank you Boo). I’ve had to learn to let go and that sometimes, dammit, Wendy’s does have to work as dinner because he’s had a long day, too. 

This isn’t something completely unfamiliar to us. Both of our moms were the sole breadwinner at some point in both of our lives. We turned out great, I’d like to think. But I don’t think turning out great is the question or the fight in the buzz around this metric. Recession–women having to work to make ends meet, more single moms doing it all, more families deciding mom can make more if dad stays home vs. daycare–has had a big impact on this. Women’s empowerment, another. I went to a women’s college and learned to be independent and strong…and frankly, I’ll say it…I don’t want to be sitting at home, “raising the kids”.

And that, my friends, brings us to the next dynamic of all this, marriage stability. I have to say, it’s not easy being the breadwinner. From my perspective, it makes me feel like Greg has to “ask” to spend money (and he shouldn’t feel like that). On the flip side, I have to balance the budget and do get irritated when he wants to purchase something “frivolous” like a hard drive to back up our photos (but I just run out and grab a few new shoes). We have to find a balance. And I have to step up, put dishes away once in awhile, bring home not only the bacon, but the milk and eggs, too.

Society is a-changing, and I am glad Greg and I are ready and armed to roll with it.

What do you think about this metric? How do you find the balance if you are one of forty? Talk to me, peeps. 

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