At one point in my life (okay, my self-absorbed twenties) I had all the trappings of “success”. I had two fully running and newish cars, a nice house, two good jobs between us, happy kids, a fenced yard, cats, etc. The whole shebang. I shopped at Nordstrom and Macy’s and felt like I had achieved the American Dream. These days when I go to Bellevue, I feel like a fish out of water. Like I don’t belong anymore. Let me share a bit with you about why, my journey, and why I feel like I’ve come through the storm (mostly) with a better outlook and hopefully as a nicer person.
In 2002 I was suddenly a laid off mother of three with one on the way and let me tell you, no one wants to hire a pregnant woman, at least not in the tech field. So I became a stay at home mom, something I had never planned on.
I tried meeting new moms but really didn’t fit in. Most of the moms with kids my age were older than me as I’d started early at 17, so I didn’t have much in common with them in any area other than childrearing. I wasn’t dealing with crappy husbands (Michael was awesome) and I no longer had the fancy stroller and Coach handbag. Instead it was me and my Goodwill hand-me-downs. In short, my image conscious self prevented me from finding support and in my thirties I understood that but back then, no way. I just thought I wouldn’t fit, so I didn’t really try.
In 2003 I had my fourth child and although I loved her very much I plunged into a deep postpartum depression from which I didn’t really recover, instead it triggered my bipolar and my adventure continued (more on that in another post). My shift from “successful professional” to stay at home mom with little perceived value was complete. I tried real estate, which I loved, but ultimately found it to be too conflicting with managing three kids under five, especially given that clients aren’t real enthused about an agent bringing along munchkins. It just became too much to balance and I started staying home full-time, something that triggered an unexpected internal shift.
I then started my journey in learning some hard lessons in compassion and humility.
So, my point in sharing all of that (excepting that I want to share more insights about my past with you) is to help you understand that all that perceived struggle led to now and my perceived, and sometimes painfully real, lack of material resources which is the true reason I consider myself more successful today than ever before.
Now instead of all the trappings, I have one well running car and another on its last legs with a third sitting in the driveway that might as well be an oversized paperweight. I’m barely working and my wife works two jobs just to keep us afloat and most days I feel so far behind the eight ball I can hardly see the number.
Nowadays though I have come to understand that value has nothing to do with what brand you wear, or what car you drive, or hell, even whether you see the dentist regularly. I had begun to see that not everyone has access to good healthcare, or jobs, or even transportation. I had started to realize that I was rich beyond means, and that my friend, was a lesson hard earned. In short, I had found humility, at least to some extent.
I had realized that frankly the worth of a person had not a damn thing to do with possessions and everything to do with their heart and their willingness to admit that everyone has value, just because they’re here, including themselves. Something I never would have understood in my twenties. Ever.
For all the strain I’ve been through over the past several years I wouldn’t trade it. It has made me more empathetic, compassionate, kind, considerate and humble than I have ever been. Who knows? Maybe it’s because I turned forty and now I care less about such things, I don’t have a clue but whatever the reason I am beyond grateful.