I was 10 years old when I first heard the term house husband. My sister had some friends over and I heard one of the guys say he was completely ok with a woman who went out and built a career for herself while he stayed home, cooked, took care of the home and the kids. I was in awe. A man who actually wants to do housework and be completely involved with the children that women have no choice but to bare? I walked away that day, independent as I wanted to be, thinking “I’m going to get one of those when I grow up!”
Fast forward 20 years and I’m a project manager on the largest ground up construction project in New York City. The budget is $600 million and at my alma mater Columbia University. The project was for a new campus expansion into Harlem, 17 acres of land being redeveloped into a graduate campus; a project I stalked while I was a student getting my Masters in Real Estate Development, but wasn’t hired for until a year post graduation.
My portion consisted of 2 mixed use buildings, 500,000 gross square feet of retail and academic space in total, plus one acre of open green space. I reported directly to the CFO and Dean of the school and had my own office. I mean this was my dream job! No if’s, ands, or buts about it.
But in 2014 life turn an unexpected turn.
I was married, with 4 kids and a 5th on the way. Throughout our marriage my husband and I took turns being super heros to our kids but I have always always worked from high school to beyond. Of course I took maternity leave with each child, but the question, will I go back or stay home never even crossed my mind!
I liked working. Probably a little too much. My grandmother was extremely independent, too independent, and she raised me the exact same way. I always knew I wanted a career, I wanted power, prestige, the corner office, and MONEY! I didn’t even consider myself stay at home mom material, I mean I loved my kids, but staying home all day every day? After all this education and career climbing? Why would I want that! Especially after that one time my husband got laid off for a year and my dream of a house husband finally came to life!
Unfortunately it wasn’t anything like what I expected.
For starters my younger girls became super attached to my husband and I became a little jealous. It was daddy daddy daddy all the time. They would only want him to console them, hold them or anything else. As a woman who took my job as a mom even more serious than I took my professional career this became super hard for me to bear.
Secondly, I love my husband but he truly sucked as a house husband (sorry babe, lol). Sure he was front and center with the kids, but my expectation of coming home to a clean house & gourmet meals didn’t really pan out and still landed on my plate of responsibilities because he simply never signed up for it.
Third the novelty of my dream job had long worn off. Six years had passed since my start, and there still wasn’t even a cornerstone brick laid. I wasn’t happy with the bureaucracy or red tape I faced to get anything done. It made me feel extremely inefficient and unproductive, but I had recently gotten a raise, was offered placement in a leadership development program and another raise and title change in 6 months.
Then on August 18, 2014 in the middle of the night a trip to the ER confirmed I was miscarrying my baby. The loss was so devastating, I didn’t go back to work for almost 3 weeks. Nothing work related mattered to me anymore, not the 6 figure salary, not growth, titles, promises for advancement, nothing. All I cared about at that moment was how much time working made me miss with my family. My kids needed me and for the first time in my life I was ready to chuck my career the deuces for life on the home front. You see having a career was always something I felt I needed, to define success, to validate my intelligence and to make a living, but losing a child impacted me in a way that I just never knew were possible.
I reluctantly returned to work…
Knowing I couldn’t stay there any longer. The guilt of being away from my kids all those years hung on me like 2 sacks of bricks. All of a sudden the one thing I never considered became what I desperately wanted. My miscarriage taught me that time is limited and so is life. It showed me very clearly that raising my kids should be my #1 priority not career climbing because 18 years is going to fly by before I know it, but I have forever to climb the career ladder.
Thankfully I had already begun saving rigorously 3 years prior for a leap into entrepreneurship and was already very close to my goal, but this unexpected experience accelerated my resignation date by almost 2 years. Within one week of returning to work I drafted my resignation letter, but still waited another month before handing it in with 3 month notice.
My last day of work was January 15, 2015..
Next Thursday I’ll share the reality of going from career climber to stay at home mom and
What really made me mourn the loss of my career as I knew it.