Over the last couple years I have read many stories of women who had become consumed by their jobs. Jobs that they put everything into that never really gave back. Working fifty or sixty hours a week over and over again, taking work home, putting everything else on the back burner. In the beginning it was a thrill having those bigger paychecks come in, being able to afford that new car and the fancy vacations. After a while though the exhaustion starts to set in, families start to not care about all the ‘stuff’ they just want their mom/wife, things start to fall apart at home. Moms aren’t there to tuck their babies in at night (the nightly phone call doesn’t suffice anymore), they aren’t helping with homework, reading bedtime stories, having long talks with their little loves or comforting them while they are sick. Instead Dad’s are taking on the extras of a mom; or a grandma or nanny is picking up those duties. Wives aren’t there to be their husbands confidantes, they aren’t there to share joys of parent hood, text messages and quick phone chats aren’t the same as time together, even sex becomes rushed more often and less enjoyed because the connection starts to fade. Longing turns to loneliness and resentments set in for everyone. Sometimes, they lost everything before they realized it. Affairs, divorce, custody disputes and hurt children. Other times, though, something happens and they realize they aren’t happy and their families aren’t happy. You can’t turn back time, but you can change the future. Some of the women I read about chose to walk away. Walk away from those exhausting hours, away from the paycheck, away from the high stress demands and back to the ones that love them. Some of them left it all and became pilates instructors, opened their own little bakeries or became stay at home moms. Most importantly they left it all behind and became happy again. They mended their families and found joy and their sparkles and that of their families. Without a doubt it wasn’t easy and there were still struggles and hard times (changes always have those), but there was that light at the end now. There was family time, time for laughing and time for relaxing with and enjoying one another.
These are the women that I envied. The women that I thought were so brave and that I could never be like. These things were happening to myself and my family and I didn’t know how to fix it and was scared of what would happen if leaving didn’t work. Would it make things worse? Did my husband prefer my paycheck over time with me? Wasn’t the vacations and mini trips I took my daughter on what she loved? A lot of mom’s work a lot of long hours and make it work…..but were they happy? Were their families really happy? I didn’t know and I was scared to talk about it or ask my family what they really wanted. So I kept pushing on with the long hours, the night shifts, trying to juggle both family and work. Getting less and less sleep and becoming sadder and grumpier with each passing week. I saw the changes in my family, but didn’t know what to do. The distance between my husband and I started to grow more and more. Neither of us seemed to know how to bring the connection back so we lived together in separate worlds. My daughter would cry on the phone every night and I would cry every day when my tired crabby self would snap at her. It broke my heart each time she asked if I was staying home or working every day – no matter the answer it broke my heart that her little five year old self needed to know each day if she was going to miss me or not.
Then it all crashed down. Everything I didn’t want to see or know was staring me in the face. I was about to lose my family if I didn’t change something. It was true that I wasn’t the only one that needed to make amends and changes, but it was my place to start fixing things. Thankfully, I have an amazing and strong woman in my life. She is a mom to me and I would be lost without her. She saw what was happening even before I did. Not the little details, but she saw how my work was affecting myself and everyone around me. She saw how unhappy we all were before I did. She gave me an opportunity a choice really. It would be hard, but I could take it and start to mend my family. When I was so broken she picked me up and gave me courage to put my gloves on and fight for them and for myself. Her love for my husband, daughter and myself shone through and pulled me out of a place where I was ready to give up and just accept that that was all my life was.
And then there was my husband. The man I still desperately loved, but I thought I would never be enough for again. The man I thought I had already lost. I was scared to ask him what he wanted. Did he want me home more or did he want to continue this way we were? I was scared of what his answer would be. What if things were too broken and he didn’t want me anymore….what then? I was wrong though. He said yes. Yes, we would make it work. Yes, he missed me. Yes, he thought it was done too and didn’t want that. He said yes, he still loved and wanted me. He wanted the happy me, the one that laughed and sparkled. And with that simple word, yes, I felt myself start to breathe easier again. Just with that word my stress started to lessen and my smile started to come back.
I found my courage to be one of those brave women I envied. I found it in my daughters joy when we told her soon mommy will be home more and at night to tuck her in. I found it in my ‘mom’ who is herself a courageous woman who reminded me that my family needed me and gave me a way back to them. I found the courage in myself because of the love of my family.
The future is still unsure, like it always is, but I know now I won’t be alone in it. I know what I need and who I need to shine again. So, it is time to jump….hands holding tight we are going to jump this ship and see what happens together.