My Word of the Month is Breadwinner

I’ve been a breadwinning mom—outearning my husband, Bob—for most of our 28 years of marriage. In 1988, this was such a novelty that Oprah Winfrey invited us on her show to ask how our marriage could survive this upending of the usual male/female relationship. Being on Oprah put us in hot demand on the media circuit, because most husbands who earned less than their wives were embarrassed and refused to go public. Bob, always an independent thinker, was proud to be on national TV with our atypical story.

This role reversal deepened as my career took off. Bob grew roots that wrapped around the community, volunteering for the fire department, ambulance corps, PTA and New York Guard.

He revitalized the ambulance corps by recruiting mom volunteers and was named Citizen of the Year by the Chappaqua PTA. I was proud to rush home to attend the ceremony in his honor.

His volunteering kept me grounded in the community while I focused all of my home time on our kids, Robert and Julia. At work, I felt I could go at the intense pace I enjoy, eagerly following the career path that twisted and turned ahead of me. The obligation to “bring home the bacon” felt heavy when things went wrong on that career path, and the stress was high when Bob and I disagreed on how to parent, which was often.

Yet the choices we made were genuine to our personalities and needs. Every decision was incremental to the last one. We didn’t have a grand plan. We followed our deep inclinations without being constricted by ingrained gender rules.

As you can imagine, I am very proud of our research on breadwinning moms published in the February/March issue of Working Mother. Thank you, PwC, for supporting us in this exploration of how millions of mothers are creating a new model for families. I am also extremely proud of our NAFE Top 50 Companies for Executive Women. These companies succeed at supporting and promoting female talent—including breadwinning moms. Our winners are role models to study and emulate. Congratulations!

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