A new Pew study finds that working mothers have become primary breadwinners in a record 40 percent of American households with children—up from 11 percent in 1960. This trend is making headlines, especially because it reveals a rise in two primary groups: married mothers with a higher income than their husbands (37%) and single moms (63%). ACI Specialty Benefits got the inside scoop from breadwinner mom, and longtime client, Laura Khouri on what it really means to be living the ‘glam’ life.
Finding myself separated and on the verge of divorce at age 44 with eight-year-old twins, I found I was in for a rude awakening. I had fired my house husband and without a backup replacement! What was I thinking?! I didn’t for one moment take into consideration the new and sole responsibility of worrying about my children, our home, and my job. Suddenly I now had doctor and dentist appointments and all manner of extracurricular schedules to deal with in addition to homework, school drop off and pick up, grocery shopping, laundry, homemade dinners, pet maintenance, weekly trash pick up (what day do we put out the trash cans again?), landscapers, pest control, and a myriad of mindless mommy errands that I had previously delegated to my ex-husband. Oh yes, all of the above and hold down a 55-hour-a-week management job.
It was insane. I needed a 36-hour day to get it all done. Much to my dismay, there were none of those for sale. So much for money – I needed time! I spent a few frantic months living this new life of mine all the while wondering who I ticked off in a previous life to deserve it. I began secretly counting down the years until the children would graduate high school and go off to college so I could have my life back. I commiserated with anyone who would listen as I now had first-hand experience and a newly discovered respect for single moms. Payback, I’m sure, for the years of noncommittal comments I made to those unmarried women with children who had previously travelled down this pothole-ridden road filled with detours and no exit signs.
I hungrily read every article I could find on work-life balance and came to the foregone conclusion it doesn’t exist. And then one day about six months into the insanity, it hit me. This is my life. I chose it. I might as well embrace it. I will never, ever get another opportunity to raise my son and daughter and I better not waste time complaining about the requirements to do so. The reason I got divorced was I actually thought I could provide a better, more emotionally safe environment for my kids and that had to become my number one priority. I got divorced to be a better mom – and all that comes with it, the good, the bad and the really, really ugly. Not the least bit “glamorous,” which is all the more reason to tell you that I am living the “glam life” and loving every minute of it. Acceptance is a wonderful thing.
I would not trade the last seven years alone with my kids for anything in the world. We are a unit, we laugh, we cry, we grow. They are in high school now and life has not slowed down. In fact we are speeding at a reckless pace on that previously aforementioned road. I have mornings, evenings and weekends with the kids, taking care of them, the dogs, the house, the groceries, the laundry, and everything else. I have their dance competitions and their football games and their sleepovers and their sick days. Work comes between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm and an occasional Saturday or Sunday. The highlight of my life? Being filled with gratitude that I was not put on this earth to be only a powerhouse in the business world. I am not my title I possess at work. I am grateful to be the best mom I am capable of being and having the guidance of a higher power to slap me upside the head so that I could raise a couple of really decent kids. Yep, that’s what I’m really grateful for. Well, that and the occasional trip to Walmart. 🙂
About Laura Khouri:
Laura Khouri, single mother of two, is President of Western National Property Management, with over 750 associates and 25,000 apartment units under management in three states. She started her career with Western as a “Gal Friday” over 28 years ago. WNG started working with ACI Specialty Benefits in 2002 to support their associates emotionally, physically and financially during the most stressful times in their lives. Services like 24/7 clinical support, legal and financial consultation, child care referrals are especially helpful for busy breadwinner moms.