November 7, 2014

When YOU Become the Primary Breadwinner

About two years ago I left my day job working in the fashion industry and decided to call the blogging world my new day job.  To say it was scary is an understatement.  I had supported myself 100% from the age of 19 and had always had multiple jobs, even when I was living at home in a very cushy suburb of NY.  The thought of relying on my husband while working my way up...even though he was my husband freaked me out.  Relying on anyone else hit a nerve for me.  Strong and independent had always been my "thing."

I'll never be able to thank my husband enough for allowing me the opportunity to go out on my own and attempt to make a career of something that most fail at, many dabble in and few truly succeed at. Perhaps the stars aligned (and I'm not one of those THE STARS ALIGNED kind of people) because as I stepped out of the steady income world, Craig had the good fortune to step into a period of extreme earning.  He had quite possibly the biggest year of his career so far and life was good.

This allowed me to find my way before deciding just how to monetize.  To take my time and to truly dig in deep and attempt to understand the many aspects of the blogging world.  It also afforded me the time to make connections and learn a great deal about what I wanted to be and what I didn't want to be.  Most importantly, I met wonderful, inspiring, genuine I've-got-your-back friends.  I can say with honesty that if I woke up tomorrow to find that my blog and this entire industry was gone, I would move on and be so incredibly grateful for the people who have entered my life as a result of leaping into the blogging world.

Last year things changed.  I'm not a complainer so I never said much to anyone other than those closest to me.  The work my husband made such a killing at the year before slowed down significantly.  It didn't happen overnight but at some point I woke up to the fact that without truly noticing it, I had become the primary bread winner in our home.  Which was quite possibly the ONLY thing more terrifying than being reliant upon someone else.

I have always said that people can call me a lot of things, but if you know me then lazy is definitely NOT one of them.  Giving up or declaring something too hard (beyond the casual joke) is not in my DNA.  So, I went for it.  And I hid it.  That's right, I hid the fact that I took the reins for a while.  It wasn't because I was scared.  It wasn't because I was too proud.  Or because I wasn't proud at all.  It was because my primary concern was how he would feel.

Being a guy is something I know little about aside from my random observations as an obvious non-guy.  But I think we can all agree that pride in providing is something that typically falls into the man category.  So I very quietly went to work and put my blogging partnerships and contract work first in life for a long period of time.  I had to.  Our family depended on it.  Gulp.

What I noticed amongst the people I frequently communicate with online was that they continued to assume that I was the pampered-but-chooses-to-sort-of-work wife of a Wallstreet guy.  I literally had other bloggers say things to me like " I support my family.  I can't make the same choices as you."  To say it didn't sting would be a lie. There were several times I wanted to scream in response, letting them know just how much I actually supported my family, but I didn't.

It was then that I realized there are probably thousands of women like me out there.  We work our butts off.  We come home. Maybe we're already home, but we somehow pull ourselves away from our desks and take on the roles of supportive and non-rub-it-in-your-face wife and doting mother.  Every once in a while we treat ourselves to a pair of shoes, a handbag or a weekend away with the guy we love.  The guy we hope still loves us and doesn't resent what we've become.  As though what we've become is a BAD thing...

We feel guilty when our spouses are left to pick up the slack in another area of life.  I can't describe the daggers going through my heart hearing the other moms joke about how they saw my husband more than they saw me at school pick up and at the park.  I had become that mom.  Something had to give.  No, I could not do everything.

In the last year or so I have learned a lot about myself, about my husband and about our relationship.  What's pretty incredible is that it's basically all good stuff.  I learned that yes, I am capable of supporting our family if need be.  I learned that he is capable of taking over some things I would typically own as a mom.  I learned that despite going through this stress and role reversal we were almost always nice to one another and compassionate about how the other party felt.  I learned that he is an amazing father and I'm not such a shabby small business owner.

These days things are evening out.  Returning to the new normal I guess you could say.  The last year has been an invaluable lesson in my life.  Quite possibly the most important one I've learned in a very long time.

To all of the ladies and the mamas out there who put on a smile and make it work while working their asses off, I commend you.  You deserve a round of applause.  You probably won't like the round of applause because you are used to quietly going about your business, but at the bare minimum you should know that you are not alone and you just never know who is in your camp.
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