I’ve been on all sides of the fence - I’ve been the Working Mom, the Stay At Home Mom, and The Breadwinner Mom. Currently, I’m very happily the Breadwinner Mom, running the role as the sole provider for my family while my husband stays at home with the kids. So I can add some perspective if you’re considering switching gears, or maybe you’re at a point in your life where you’re trying to figure out WTF you want to do.
Which one is best?
All of them. All are best. It's about what you make of it.
Is it possible to have a healthy balance?
Uh… I have no idea. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
When I was a working mom, my husband and I were both working slightly-above-minimum-wage retail jobs with varied schedules. Not glamorous at all, and we were barely getting by. It was hard, and I actually have some resentment from that time in my life, but not just because I had to work. It was from working a job where I wasn’t appreciated. I was doing more than my job description for a lazy unappreciative boss, and overall it felt like I was putting more into a job that didn’t care about me than I was able to put into my own family. The upside was that we were both bringing in the paychecks, however small they were. We were both on the same page and neither one of us felt like we were doing more than the other.
STAY AT HOME MOM
But then, my husband got a better job that would raise his salary just enough for me to be able to stay home with our 9 month old daughter, as long as we stayed frugal. That was my life for the next year and a half.
During this time, I continued to grow my freelancing business, which brought in some money but not enough to consistently put a dent in the bills. Times were still tough, mentally and financially. My husband traveled to Nashville every day and it felt like I hardly got to see him. Being home all day with just yourself and a baby can seriously drive you crazy. She and I would go out when I had the energy, but I often let myself wallow in loneliness. Of course, I loved that I was able to be with her all the time. She is such a smart kid, and I like to think all the hours we’ve spent together had a hand in that. I loved that I was able to focus on just her and my business. Throughout 2017, business started to pick up.
Then we got some devastating news. My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in September of 2017. I was also 5 months pregnant with our second child. Somehow, we made it through Christmas and the birth of our son in January 2018. Then my husband got test results back that said he was in remission. Oh my god, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten better news than that.
He’s doing better now, but he’s still not 100% like he used to be. So in July 2018, we decided that I would go to back to work and he would stay at home with the kids. Our roles totally reversed, and we have found our groove with this lifestyle. He now understands why I didn’t always get the dishes done and why the house was still a mess even though I was “home all day,” and I understand how he just wanted to chill the F out when he came home from work.
I am absolutely in love with being the breadwinner. It might sound selfish, but I love to get out of the house and focus on my aspirations and myself. It’s hard, of course. It’s scary. It’s a lot of freaking responsibility. But it’s also empowering. I pay the bills, and it’s up to me to continue building up my business and growing my passion so that we’re not homeless next month. That’s… that’s a lot of pressure. Only, it doesn’t feel like a lot of pressure because I’m doing something I absolutely love to do. I’m working to pay all the bills and yet it doesn’t feel like work. I guess that’s the perks of doing what you love!
PROS AND CONS
Each family dynamic - SAHM, both parents working, or Breadwinning Mom - has pros and cons, obviously. Honestly, being the “breadwinner” is where I’m happiest, but that has everything to do with what the fact that I’m able to work in my passion for a living. Don’t let the thought of having to slash your budget scare you off, especially if you’re wanting to pursue your passion. If you take the leap to go full time doing something you love, it’s really not as bad as you think and things have a way of working out. Of course, if I were back to working that same retail job (even if, hypothetically, it brought in the big bucks), I’d probably still be miserable. Being a SAHM is awesome but lonely - at least it was for me, but that also may be because I often didn’t have the energy to make an effort in keeping up with other mom friends, so keep that in mind if this is the path you’re considering. You really have to make an effort to be proactive in getting things done in your social life and around the house to stave off that stir-crazy cabin fever. Being half of a working duo gives you both the empathy for each other. You both worked all day and are now coming home to kids jumping on you and shouting excitedly, when maybe you just need ten minutes of peace and quiet. But you know that’s not going to happen because now dinner needs to be cooked and laundry needs to be done. It’s exhausting, but you have the peace of mind that there are two paychecks coming in.
But let’s be real… it’s all exhausting. You just have to make the most of it.