The Hidden Side of a Stay-at-Home Wife
My latest online date, a successful divorced half-time dad, looked at me curiously and asked:
“Do your clients know that this could save their marriage?”
My jaw dropped and my breath faltered. I hadn’t told anyone about this motivation behind my work.
I had just finished telling my date about the program I designed to help moms relaunch their careers and passions after taking time to raise children. Before answering, I wondered again about how things could have been different if I had continued pursuing my own goals after having children.
What would have happened if I had chosen change instead of waiting for change to choose me?
I had been a passionate, confident, intelligent, career-driven, empowered woman.
My husband was my equal. We married quickly, both thinking that in each other we had met our “match.” That was true…
until we had children.
A difficult pregnancy and caring for a child with massive health issues shifted our world dramatically. Our traditional notions of what the “perfect family” looked like kicked in and we assumed the roles of “breadwinner” and “stay-at-home-mom.”
When I left my career behind, I knew there would be short-term pain, years of learning and lots of joy in the experience of raising children. What I didn’t understand was the culminating effect of forcing a shift into these roles.
I didn’t anticipate the long-term impact of what happens when you take a woman raised to be self-sufficient, goal oriented, accomplished, career-driven and equal to a man and put her in a role where she would fail to be any of these things.
I didn’t anticipate the long-term impact of what happens when you take a man who fell in love with that woman and wakes up to discover his wife is no longer who he thought she was.
I didn’t anticipate so many things.
- No one told me I would pack my daily life beyond capacity so I felt my life had purpose and meaning, but feel so empty.
- No one told me my perceived value in this world would become non-existent.
- No one told me that I would learn to hide my sadness because everyone thought I had it “so good.”
- No one told me I would live in fear because my husband could take everything from me.
- No one told me that I would reach a point where I was so miserable in my own life that I would fantasize of leaving everything so I could live my life just for me.
- No one told me that I would hate the person I had become, horrified by how I behaved and how I had sacrificed my dreams and values.
- No one told me that I would forget ever having my own dreams.
Change had been calling my name for a long time. I didn’t listen – how could I possibly take on one more thing? My family needed me. I would have to wait.
Change started demanding. Still, I didn’t listen. I didn’t choose change.
It just wasn’t the right time.
No one told me that one day, my marriage and I would hit bottom, and change would choose me.
To add insult to injury, no one told me that the baggage I carried from my time as a full-time parent would negatively impact my ability to advance in my relaunched career.
Through the years of my tumultuous relaunch I have wondered how different things might have been if long ago I had listened to my inner voice and bravely chosen to make the change I knew I needed.
- What would have happened if I had rediscovered me before I felt so trapped I wanted to scream?
- What would have happened if I had valued my own development as much as I valued the development of my children’s and my spouses?
- What would have happened if I had believed that raising children was only half my job and half my spouse’s?
- What would have happened if I chose to believe that I had just as much right to pursue my own dreams as my children and spouse did?
What would have happened with my marriage?
I won’t ever know.
But, I do know what happened when I finally embraced change.
I found my voice, my dreams, my passion, my strength, and my knowledge that I’m valuable just as I am. I found my power, my compassion and the wisdom to see another’s perspective. I found my confidence, my drive and my humility.
I found my ability to learn, to think and to forgive.
I found peace and grace and that awesome nervous energy that comes right before you push yourself to do something that scares you.
I found my courage to face the unknown and stand up after failure.
I found me.
I see things today that were hidden from me then. Today, I aim to help other moms see this too.
The work I do isn’t just about helping parents relaunch their careers,
it’s about REvolving –
evolving into the person we need to be to change the self-defeating patterns of our life and build upon the experience from our past and our time as a full-time parent to create a more fulfilling life in today’s innovative world.
As my thoughts drifted back to the present moment and I found myself looking at a man with an honest question. I took a deep breath and replied, “No, but you are right in thinking I’m hoping to help them in all aspects of their life, not just their career relaunch.”
Then, I asked him, “What made you ask that?”
“Because I think it could have saved mine. It’s not just about going back to work. It’s what you said about helping them find that part of them that seemed to die when kids came into the picture.
I have read what you write, and it made me wonder what I could have done to help her find herself again. What would have happened if she had?”
Do you know a Mom that needs to rediscover her passion for life and learning?