A woman’s work is never done

My mother stopped working the second my dad returned from a three-year military stint overseas during World War II. Men were supposed to be the breadwinners back in the day. My goodness, what a burden for them! Staying home with little kids isn’t exactly a picnic, but it was the dad—and the dad alone—who worried about earning enough to feed, clothe and educate them.

My, how women have changed! Let me share some fast facts on women and the economy from an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress:

1.    Women are co-breadwinners or primary breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. (from The New Breadwinners, by Heather Boushey and Ann O’Leary.)

2.    In 2009, 34 percent of working mothers are their families’ sole breadwinner, either because their spouse was unemployed or out of the labor force or because they were heads of household.

3.    Wives’ incomes comprised 36 percent of family income in 2008.

4.    In the past quarter century, it has taken two earners to get ahead: between 1983 and 2008, married couples with a working wife experienced annual income growth of 1.12 percent, while married couples with a stay-at-home wife saw their average annual incomes decline by .22 percent per year.

I’m all for a woman staying home with her kids, if she and her husband agree that’s what they both want. I’m also a big fan of househusbands (my former husband, Douglas, was one of the first in the US in 1981.)

Whether or not we have children, each of us has an awesome amount of responsibility today, especially given the instability of our economy. It’s inspiring to see the role women are playing.

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0 Responses to “A woman’s work is never done”

  1. jodie says:

    I agree with Duchess, I have been working for 38 Years! I am a version of a “product” of the womens LIB. Movement!
    I wanted 4 children and stay home.

    In the 70s it was considered backwards!

    To my regret my children and family suffered by not having MEEEEE ! LOL around!
    Spent most of my 20s learning to work and get re-educated. 30s Divorced single Mom and dating!
    Money was tight. Coping with co-parenting. It never stops. Who goes where on holidays and summers.
    Changing jobs and not having vacations that coincide with Visits across the country?

    I always thought my son had “my” Childhood download . He did not. He went to day care at 18 months and I went to work! If I had to do it over I would have married later and had children later. AND I would stay home with my family !

    I am a Happy FOF but it took a lot to get here. My son (34) and I are in a really good place, Now that he realizes I did the best I could. Even though I was working alllllllllll the Time breaking through the STEELE ceiling! Forget Glass in the 70s and being 21 years old>

    A middle Eastern women asked me while we were traveling to China…. Why do American women feel better serving stranger at work rather than serving her family she created?
    I was taken aback…. I told her I never thought about it quite that way?

    Helen Gurley Brown…said it ” You can have it all” WE did the children, the job ,the worries, the bills, the shopping, the new family, his new family all in winter schleping kids on the subway at 7 in the morning to babysitters even when they had the flu!

    Just remembering and a bit of venting. This is how good middle class gals from the bronx had it!


  2. Duchesse says:

    #4 says it all: a middle class family could once be supported decently on one income- no longer.

    If the women I know were given the choice to work outside or inside the home, I estimate that 70% of the women aged 30-50 (with children at home) would choose “at home”. I have some friends who are very senior execs or professionals and love the responsibility and sense of contribution. But the women I know in mid-level jobs are not thrilled with the day to day grind.

    • Geri says:

      Hi Duchesse,

      I can understand taking that choice if they look at their jobs as grinds. That would make me unhappy. Thankfully, I’ve never, not for one day, looked at my job as a grind, even when I was the lowest on the ladder.



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