The Truth About Being a Breadwinning Mama


“The most natural progression for you would to move into a full support role within the department, ” my manager told me from the other side of a desk in a small office. 

We sat for a long, awkward moment before I answered. “I know I shouldn’t tell my supervisor this. This isn’t what I am “supposed” to say to you, but I don’t want to move up right now. I am happy were I am at as an admin. I am good at what I do. Plus you guys give me enough extra work outside of my regular duties that challenges me. So I am not bored.

My 2 years here have been great. Before working here and since becoming a mom I was never home on time or if I was I would end up having to work from home. My family is finally in a decent place with our schedule and financially, thanks to this job.  If I move up in any other position I know that I will probably have to work some nights, weekends, or travel. I don’t want to do that right now.  I am happy where I am at.”

“Okay,” he responded.


The truth is, I am a working mom, and my husband is a stay-at-home dad.

It may be foolish for me to not entertain upward advancement at work since I am the breadwinner. Because of these choices we live in a small home that could stand for the floors and living room furniture to be updated. We have 1 new car, but our 2nd is much older. We scour for every item in our lives until we find the best possible deal before purchasing. It’s worth it though. Having consistency with my family is more important to me. 

The truth is, this is not my ideal situation.

I used to think when moms worked and dads stayed home that families were doing that because that’s what they WANTED to do.  I am sure that is true for some. But after talking to other breadwinning moms, it seems most are trying to make the best of their circumstances, like working while their spouses attend school or job search. After my husband was laid off a few years ago we looked at all of the stupid grownup factors, like benefits and childcare costs. Together we decided that this was our best option. 

The truth is, I am jealous of my husband.

I enjoyed staying home during my maternity leaves. I found it to be fulfilling. In the beginning of our current setup with me working and him staying home, it was pretty bad. I said hurtful things to my husband that I am not proud of. I’d cry every Sunday night about going back to work Monday morning. It’s gotten easier over time, but I still think I’d like to be home with my babies. The grass is always greener, right?

The truth is, there are lots more truths about being a mama breadwinner.

As much as I hate it, money does matter. Having a little extra breathing room financially can make a huge difference in my stress levels. Or navigating household responsibilities can be tricky. Certain things default to me just because I am the mom, even if my husband is home all day. Or even as we continue to adjust and this set up continues to get easier, I’ll probably always feel a little twinge of guilt for working

The truth is these are MY truths. I can’t speak for any other breadwinners because each situation is unique. All I know is that once we chose this lifestyle I just started trying to provide for my family to the best of my ability.

Well that and make it home for dinner on time.



  1. This is a really great, honest post. Thank you!

    I just returned to work from maternity leave this week. Being surprised with twins forced us to reevaluate our roles. I’m now the breadwinner and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. It’s really, really hard and I’m also feeling those pangs of jealously.

    We’re still figuring out our routine right now, but I could definitely see me making the same sort of decision about my future at work. Our family is on a journey to get out of debt and achieve financial semi-independence in about five years, so more money would be super helpful. However, we need to consider the well-being of our family too. I mean, we have five kids after all, and I can’t expect Mr. Smith to do everything at home.

    I find it helpful to remember that there are many different phases in life. There will always be new and different opportunities, when you’re ready to pursue them.

    • Wow yes I bet finding out about twins would have to cause you to re-evaluate. I know that is SO tough, especially right after maternity leave. It may take a bit, but it will get easier. I hope the adjustment period is short.

      You are absolutely right, there will be other opportunities at other times. No situation/job/position etc has to be permanent.

  2. Wow, this was good–very honest.

    Props, first of all, for being able to work and parent and keep up your blog! I struggle with that and I stay at home, whew…

    And I fully support stay at home dads, or any parent that stays at home. As a leftie, I’ve struggled with my own choice to go the traditional route and have taken lots of grief from my friends. It even feels like a betrayal sometimes, being an educated woman who choses to devote myself to family instead of focus on career.

    But just as you said, there are practicalities to consider. My husband made a lot more money than I did and he has benefits through his job. We’d have ended up breaking even, at best, if I had kept my office job and we had to pay for fulltime daycare for two kids. I’d rather do this, and ironically, my husband probably rather would too. He likes his job, but I can tell he’s sad to be missing out on so much time with the kids.

    I think that many people are making judgments about situations without realizing that families have to make the best choices they can. We have to eat and keep a roof over our heads, but don’t want to be gone all the time, either. My husband also struggles with promotional opportunities that would mean being at the office a whole lot more… these choices aren’t easy.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Erin. Well I get a few quiet lunch hours a week that I blog and read blogs during. Without that, I don’t think I would be able to keep up with it. At all.

      You are right. It’s crazy once the practical factors come into play. We end up doing or even considering things that we never imagined as options. And dad’s get stigma too for sure. When I think or work/family balance the first thing that comes to mind is for woman. Thanks for mentioning your husband. We as parents are all having to make tough choices.


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