Women’s role as mom and breadwinner grown over the decade

When most people saw Teri Garr dressed in a suit and heading out the door for work while Michael Keaton changed diapers in the hit movie “Mr. Mom,” I’m sure no one thought it was foreshadowing. Back in 1983, it seemed unlikely that a woman could ever be the primary breadwinner. In 2010, it is no longer just a movie plot. It’s many couples’ reality.

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, wives are now the primary wage earner in 22 percent of homes. It’s unbelievable that women were only 7 percent of primary breadwinners in 1970. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Aren’t men intimidated by this change in traditional roles? Not so, according to the New York Times. The divorce rate has fallen because men and women are feeling like they are on equal footing now, and women don’t have to marry just to be taken care of.

According to the Washington Post, there is also an estimated 159,000 stay-at-home dads in the United States, making up almost 2.7 percent of stay-at-home parents.

According to MSNBC, having one parent stay at home can save a family of four an estimated $20,000 a year. If the woman happens to have a better paying job that offers great benefits, men are waving goodbye to their wives and getting ready for a day of Elmo and sippy cups.

These situations, though rife with benefits, don’t come without their problems.

Some men are still struggling with their wives making more money, and some wives are struggling with having to give up some of the control at home. I think this would be the hardest part for me. Maybe your husband doesn’t feed the kids what you would feed them, or remember to wash the towels. I think the battle of work versus stay at home for women and mothers won’t end this easily.

According to a New York Times article titled, “She Works. They’re Happy,” couples that share housework, childcare and financial responsibilities have longer and happier marriages. But that seems to be a difficult and delicate balance to maintain. Financially, it might be hard because women still aren’t making as much money as men, even if they have good jobs. There might also be some issues at home.

Sometimes the balance of labor just isn’t divided equally, and a woman comes home from a long day of work and still has to do the chores.

According to New York Times, women are still doing about two-thirds of the housework. Being a working mom can be really stressful, and you may feel like you are missing out on things that happen at home. A popular novel called “I Don’t Know How She Does It” by Allison Pearson caused much talk a few years back because the central character, a working woman with a stressful and busy career, was upset because her nanny had become more of a mother to her kids than she was.

I remember feeling disappointed by the ending of the book, in which she decides to quit her job and stay at home. Don’t get me wrong, although I am a feminist, I am also a stay-at-home mom and think it’s a wonderful decision. But I would have rather seen her juggle parenthood and work more realistically, maybe working part-time from home or negotiating flexible work hours.

It’s not our parents’ or grandparents’ world anymore. Women are no longer fitting into “traditional” roles, and I think it’s amazing and exciting.

If only women could make more than that 77 cents to a man’s dollar, find affordable day care and have our husbands do some laundry once in a while, we could really have it all…or at least be a step closer to it.

Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communication major from Hillsboro.