This time last year, my wife and I were planning her escape.
We worked together at the same company, and she had a promising executive career track mapped out for her there. She’d been promoted several times, and would have actually been my boss (but for that bit about her being my spouse).
So when she talked about how unhappy she was, I resisted. I didn’t want to let her give up on a great career. We never loved the idea of conforming to stereotypical gender roles. And perhaps the fact that she brought in two-thirds of our income played a part.
Ultimately though, she helped me realize that putting our son in daycare and going to work was chipping away at her self-esteem and putting her into a pretty scary depression.
So, we started plotting her exit. If we could just pay off the credit cards, we could eke by on my income. It only took a few months of austerity before she was able to say goodbye to the golden handcuffs and stay home full-time.
A couple of weeks ago, while pushing Soren in the grocery cart, she ran up and down the aisles of the store to get a laugh out of our son, who invariably requests, “go faster, faster!” While speeding down the aisle and laughing herself, she nearly ran over a group of our former coworkers.
They stopped for a few minutes to exchange pleasantries, and she trotted off, a bit embarrassed for the display.
The picture in my head of that scene makes me a bit misty-eyed, remembering the depression and pain she was in while I was encouraging her to “stick it out”, contrasted with the carefree happiness of hurtling down a grocery aisle with our three-year-old.
My wife’s been a stay-at-home mom for nearly a year now, and it’s certainly been a tough adjustment. But as long as I can help it, I’ll never ask her to trade it back away. That was her dream, and she pushed herself and me until she reached it.
So now, I have to wonder: Is what I do every day the equivalent of running up and down the aisles? For sure, some days are like that. If not, what am I trading them for? How many of those days will I let pass without doing something about it?