Beth the Breadwinner

Since the pandemic began and our children’s music career crashed, we have been reliant on a combination of Beth’s virtual yoga classes, some gigs, unemployment insurance, and SBA loans. 

Now that the safety net has rightly disappeared (for us) we’ve been almost exclusively depending on Beth, our family breadwinner. I am deeply grateful for her abilities as a teacher and her clients who have been very loyal and supportive.

As a man reared to be a provider, I have successfully adjusted to this change. I am currently in a support role and, frankly, I love it. It’s giving me, a man who has worked super-hard since age 25, time to figure out what combination of things will be right for my next “act.”

It wasn’t always so. I had to release the belief that a man’s worth is based on his ability to make money. Pre-feminist revolution, this idea was taught to boys by men and supported by women. The arts and advertising sent the same message: if you want to afford the American dream, you need buck up and make big bucks.

At age 12, my father left and stopped providing any financial help to our family. This further solidified my belief that a man should earn because Dad abdicated his responsibility and left my mother to fend for herself. This created in me a strong sense of “I will NOT be like my Dad. I will not let my wife down!”

Fortunately, those strong, early trainings have given way to something more mature and collaborative in our marriage.

We are also learning to live with less, anticipating spending half of what we used to need. This change makes for more freedom and less stress.

It was a JOLT to make this change and my loyal readers and Facebook friends know that I have suffered through the shocks. But I tell you this – I can already say it’s worth it. I am returning to a pre-career level of peacefulness. I am in an increasingly easeful place to formulate my next moves.

Being in this wonderful, wooded campsite, I feel my child self returning. It feels like summer camp when my cares were small. I love being in this pine needle paradise, near the water and under an open sky. What a blessing.

I’ll be 60 next week. This experience is my gift to myself. I don’t need a thing, a party or a check. When one is at peace, life is the gift.

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