I am a Suzy Homemaker. I am wildly fulfilled by keeping house. And I am truly jazzed by an efficient and well-run household. I love to put clean laundry away in drawers and know that everyone will have what they need the next day. I love to sit down to a family dinner that I have made and watch my family dig in and enjoy. I love to bake in the afternoon so that when my kids get home from school the smell of freshly baked goodness greets them warmly.
I absolutely love nurturing my family.
It is Sunday afternoon and I am feeling on top of the world. While the boys played another two hours of shinny at the park this afternoon I baked a quinoa pumpkin bread and quinoa brownies. I have done three loads of laundry and have our rib dinner slowly cooking in the oven. And as I was folding the third, and final, load of laundry it struck me that I was feeling a keen sense of both satisfaction and fulfillment.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
I was a full-time stay-at-home mom for the first decade of my parenting journey. Before I had Max fifteen years ago, I was sure that I wanted to be an at-home mom. And I was sure it would be the fulfillment of all my Suzy Homemaker dreams. I was sure that baking, cooking, cleaning, laundry, child-rearing and the day-to-day running of the household would fulfill me deeply.
It never, ever occurred to me that it would be the hardest and most demanding job I could imagine.
It was emotionally crushing when my dreams did not live up to my reality. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt uncertain, I felt lonely and I felt undervalued by society. I can remember going to parties and meeting new people. Invariably the first question out of anyone’s mouth would be; ‘what do you do?’ As an at-home mom with self-esteem issues, that question was the death knell for any further conversation and I would slink away feeling marginalized and judged. And to make matters worse, there were other moms around me who seemed to be doing it so much better than I was. They were fulfilled and happy. They were the June Cleaver that I had aspired to be. And they didn’t even break a sweat doing it.
Looking back, I realize that I was struggling with the ‘Perfect Mom’ archetype. And while I was struggling with the archetype, I was marginalizing and judging myself. I was ashamed of my perceived failure. I didn’t feel proud of what I was doing because I thought it wasn’t enough. Actually, I thought I wasn’t enough.
I launched my coaching business six years ago when Zachary started Junior Kindergarten. The impetus was a financial one. As a single-income family for a decade, we needed another income to make life less financially stressful. And even though I was struggling with my at-home job, the idea of being back in the work force was off the Richter scale in terms of stress. I already had a full-time job running our household and caring for our kids and I knew none of that work would magically disappear just because I wasn’t there to do it. In addition, I didn’t want to miss school concerts, track meets, volunteering, field trips and class parties.
I had no idea how I was going to make it happen but I wanted it all. I wanted to be at home and at work. I wanted flexibility, life balance and I wanted deep fulfillment. And, I wanted abundant prosperity that flowed into my life resonantly and with ease. I wanted a life that aligned with my deepest core values.
Flash forward six years and I am living the life of my dreams. I am a leadership coach, a course architect, and a corporate facilitator. I have work that is fulfilling, lucrative, challenging, and fun. My work is, essentially, play. When I ride the GoTrain home from a workshop, sometimes I have to pinch myself to truly believe that this is my life. I get paid to connect with people. I get remunerated to hold space, reflect and challenge the wonderful people that land in my workshops. And, I get to do it on my own terms. I work with clients of my choosing and I work on my own schedule.
The incredible gift of my professional life is the balance between home and work. I am not only a wildly fulfilled professional woman but also an equally fulfilled Suzy Homemaker. On days when I am not delivering workshops or meeting with clients I get to work from home. And while I am running my business from home, I also get to bake, cook, clean, take kids to appointments, take part in school activities, keep laundry moving along and run the enormousness of the household day-to-day.
And…I am really good at it!
Now, I get to embrace Suzy Homemaker. I get to applaud her for her talents and her gifts. I get to put clean laundry in my kids’ drawers and feel the satisfaction of a job well done. I get to celebrate the smell of pumpkin bread wafting through the air when they get home from a cold afternoon of shinny in the park. I get to stand proudly in my role as primary holder of the family system.
I never gave myself the recognition I deserved when I was at home full-time. I didn’t see the value in my role. The grass was so much greener on the other side that I struggled to be where I was. Now that I am living both sides of the fence, I can see the incredible gifts equally on each one. And from both sides, I stand with deepest awe and respect for all those moms out there who are home full-time and those who are out in the work force full-time. Because no matter which way you slice it, it’s a hard job.