The invisible struggles of breadwinning women
Twelve years ago I wrote a blog post about the challenges of being a breadwinner. I reflect back on that essay today.
Twelve years ago, I wrote an essay about being the breadwinner in the family on my old blog, Sweet Fine Day. It was a piece of unfiltered writing that was born out of frustration from whatever was going on in my life at the time. When I look back, I sometimes cringe at how earnest it was, but those moments of raw vulnerability are often the words that resonate with others the most. It ended up being a seminal post, of sorts, during that blog’s 12-year run. Many of my old readers who found me again this year on Substack tell me that this is the essay they remember—and indeed, that post generated over 200 comments in response.
“My daughter sent me this post because I am stressed because I am the sole breadwinner supporting my family. I get so resentful; I get so angry and am ashamed of myself for not being more grateful. Everyone says I’m a superstar but I don’t feel like one.”
And the comments weren’t just from moms. Single women in their 20s wondered why dating as a successful woman was so difficult, while married women who out-earned their spouses expressed that they weren’t sure how they were supposed to stay in their high-paying jobs and have children.
“I don’t know how I can do both…how do you do it?? I want to be a mother, but I don’t know how I can do both!!”
When I published the post, I didn’t expect it to be an outlet for others as much as it was for me. The comments from other breadwinners in their family read like a confessional, flooded with pages and pages of declarations that they too felt enormous pressure mixed with the complicated feelings of resentment, frustration, and anxiety. It was like we were collectively holding our breath and was finally able to exhale as we let these thoughts loose, without judgment, in a comment thread where most of us were anonymous to each other. That blog post became exponentially more valuable because of it.