Being a mom is hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. Being a working mom is hard. While we surely can all agree all are hard, most of us are always clawing, comparing, judging, envying, and secretly holding resentment.
Resentment is huge and can be consuming. Resentment of the PTO moms who can make the 3:00 p.m. meetings that the working moms can’t make. Resentment of the stay-at-home moms complaining about being exhausted, that the working moms pray to understand what that exhaustion feels like. Resentment of the working moms that get to socialize with other adults daily and have an identity aside from “Mom.” But the one resentment that doesn’t get a ton of attention is the mom who is the breadwinner.
I am the breadwinner. The burdens I carry are heavy. Very heavy. And boy can it be lonely.
I am a mom too. I feel guilt, loads of guilt, like many moms, but I can assume at times is at a different level. I feel guilty that I like my career and that it is a top priority for me. I am not ashamed that working means a ton to me, but I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I have no desire to ever be a stay-at-home mom. I am ashamed as a mom of four beautiful healthy kiddos that I don’t long to be home-tasking for their greater good.
I feel guilty that I have to be at the ball field on a conference call. I am ashamed because other moms are disgusted at my lack of being present. I feel guilty that I am interviewing someone while carpool driving. I feel ashamed that one of those kids in my van will go home and tell their mom I was working–again.
I feel guilty that I need to ask to be in late or leave early to help get kids somewhere and don’t want to be judged at work for my need for flexibility with four kids at home. I felt shame when I was pregnant for the fourth time and told my then employer as if this last addition would be a distraction to my work.
It all builds resentment in some facet. I carry the burden of it all, at least in my mind, and likely mostly in reality.
Society historically teaches us that the man should be the breadwinner, and if not, as the woman, you can’t be so bold to boast or have pride, in turn making the man feel less than. At my house, the financial income is 90 percent me and 10 percent my husband. And to be clear, he works full-time and is a wonderful man who I love dearly.
However, breadwinning moms carry this secret pressure to always perform and be accountable for all things. I go into this place of always being the driver of the schedules, the financials, the social events, the registrations, the buyer, the cooker, the cleaner, the reminder, the friend, the mom, and the wife. All that grows is resentment and loneliness.
I am the alpha in our family. I know it. I own it. But man, sometimes it is lonely and I am screaming inside . . . someone please just do! Do without me telling. Do without me reminding. Do without me driving.
From the moment I wake till the moment I fall asleep, I am directing. People joke about what would happen if I just stopped. I don’t know about you, but I surely don’t want to find out. Seems like more work to clean up, than just doing it to start.
There is a weekly agenda of all the kid’s activities, typed up, color coordinated by kid, and text distributed in a group, which is followed up by daily reminders, a shared calendar app (no one can look at it), direct text messages, and even reminding the other carpool parents the times. My favorite is the afternoon text from one of the eldest, what time do I have to be at practice? I work so hard to make it so easy for everyone around me. I resent them.
Judgment from family and friends when I am constantly on for work, wondering why I can’t break away more or be more present? I know the why but they don’t understand no matter how many times I explain. My job “needs” me and I must always be showing I am available, accessible, and accountable because I have a big role.
The comments of, “Well if your husband would just get a better job, you wouldn’t have all this pressure.” Backhanded comments . . . as if I should have married someone who had more earning potential.
Then the hurt I feel that my friends and family are looking down on my husband who I love deeply and is an incredible spouse, teammate, and father. It isn’t because he is less than or that he doesn’t want to provide; his industry just doesn’t pay, and I can make more and flex into other side gigs. I go through mental circles justifying to myself, and then I allow it mental space.
It all builds into resentment for breadwinning moms. While you are working in the office and he is playing with the kids—you hear the giggles and are angry you’re missing out. It pours over when you have a hard day or week, and he is taking a nap on the couch, and you look around at the endless tasks in the house. It explodes when you lose your breadwinning job and now feel the failure of supporting your family on your shoulders solely.
With all the weight and at times self-inflicted pressure, you hibernate with your thoughts. You don’t know anyone in the same situation as you as if it is almost taboo to discuss. Your friends either have a breadwinning spouse or their incomes are more neutral to each other. Your parents seemingly think it is unfair to you even though in many ways it is so fulfilling. Your coworkers are clueless about the lopsided financials at your home. Your kids’ friends’ families look different so your kids don’t understand either. You are lonely and resentful.
When the resentment outweighs contentment in my mind, I turn to, 1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
To the breadwinning mommas out there. I see you, and if I don’t see you . . . I feel you!