There is a famous Filipino idiom that refers to the mother as the “ilaw ng tahanan,” which literally means “light of the home.” Traditionally, mothers were known to stay at home most of the time, with the main responsibility of caring for the children and the home.
We all know, though, that this is not the only thing the modern mom is responsible for. A lot of them also have to work, and many of them are the family breadwinners, even. Some become so because they are solo parents, while others make the choice because their respective partners are househusbands, or cannot work for health reasons.
Whatever their situation, we cannot ignore the fact that the breadwinner moms out there are a distinct breed of women. To celebrate their uniqueness, here are 10 truths that every breadwinner mom knows — truths that other moms (and dads!) should know, too:
1. She knows her priorities. Every breadwinner mom knows that family comes before work, but work is important, too. After all, her work is what helps her provide for her family, and her family is the reason why she works.
When push comes to shove though, she knows that family will always, always come first. After all, she knows what her priorities are.
2. She knows that she shouldn’t feel guilty about working. Breadwinner moms shouldn’t have to feel guilty that most of her time is spent at work – it puts food on the table and a roof over her family’s heads, plus the many other things she needs to provide her family with. (And we shouldn’t make them feel guilty about it either!)
On the contrary, if you’re a breadwinner mom, shout it loud and proud — you know you’re doing it for the people who matter most to you!
3. She knows that she shouldn’t feel ashamed about her husband not working. For the married breadwinner moms whose husbands may not be able to work due to different reasons (illness, disability, or by choice), having a “houseband” is nothing to be ashamed of. Every family is unique, and every person does what is needed to make the most out of his or her particular situation.
4. She knows that she and her husband should still have an equal partnership. Every breadwinner mom with a better half knows that she and he are partners in figuring out how to make their situation work. No one is “better” or “more important” because of her or his working status, and each must be committed to working together as a team.
5. She knows that if she and her partner want their situation to work, they'll need to discuss their roles in the family. Communication is important in all relationships, and in those that are “unconventional” — as in the case of breadwinner moms and their partners — it is doubly so. An open, no-holds barred discussion about family roles is crucial though, and can make all the difference in their relationship.
6. She knows she can’t do everything alone. “No man is an island,” the saying goes, and this applies to women too. Breadwinner moms, especially, know the importance of having other people in their lives — people whom they can count on for help, support, or even just a shoulder to cry on during tough times.
Usually, these people comprise immediate family, female friends, or a mentor who can lend a helping hand when needed. They can also be people from “virtual” support groups like mommy communities on parenting websites such as this.
7. She knows that because life can be stressful, she has to take care of herself even more. Being a mom is challenging enough, but being a mom that everyone in the family depends on -- especially with the finances -- can be doubly tough. Breadwinner moms know this, that’s why getting sick is never an option. They get up and fight on.
8. She knows that she needs to let go of certain things, especially when it comes to home management. Let’s face it: when you have a lot on your plate, as breadwinner moms do, you really need to relinquish control over certain things that are not on the top of your list of priorities — like having a spotless home, or healthy meals cooked from scratch, or folded clothes organized neatly in your family’s closets.
Yes, the aforementioned would be great to have, but if you can’t have them on a regular basis, you shouldn’t be beating yourself up over it.
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If you’re a breadwinner mom with a helper, you still need to accept that you might not be totally on top of things at home — and that’s perfectly fine. What matters most is that you’re doing your best.
9. She knows that other people might not understand her family’s situation but keeps on anyway. Breadwinner moms know that because of their families’ unique situations, some people will judge her for working, or her husband for not working, or, worse, for being a solo parent. Others might say that their family’s situation might be confusing for the kids, or that it is the husband's duty to provide for the family, and so on.
Whatever people might say though, she knows that others have a right to an opinion, and that while it may sometimes hurt, she can’t let these put her down.
10. She knows that what she does matters. Last, but certainly not the least, the mom who is the breadwinner of her family knows that everything that she does — especially for her family — counts. Every sacrifice made, every tear shed, every hardship conquered, every trial overcome — all of it is worth it, because everything is done out of love.
So if you’re a breadwinner mom, or know someone who does, hang on to these “truths,” and believe that you are valued and respected.
Are you or someone you know a breadwinner mom? Please know that you have our support, and we’re rooting for you all the way!