I always thought I knew what being an adult would look like. I wasn’t too focused on marriage, but it was always there in the back of my head during and after college. Naturally, I saw a house in my future (a cute one with all that curb appeal, of course) and when I would be pregnant, I could see myself going to mommy yoga classes and baking banana bread.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t have career goals. I studied global business marketing and kind of fell into my own business right away. But that biological urge to have babies and let someone else take care of me was probably just a little bit stronger.
And then it happened. I was dating someone new, a really amazing guy who was old-fashioned and wanted all the same things I did. I started feeling apathetic toward work, thinking in the back of my head, “What’s the point when I’m going to get married and have babies anyway?” It was a very Mona Lisa Smile kind of moment. BUT as fate would have it, I was about to do everything exactly opposite of how it “should be.”
Did you guess it? Yep, I got pregnant. I was going to have a baby with someone I was still getting to know, who was five years younger than me (and I’m sorry, but in your mid-twenties that is a LOT), who had no career and certainly no cute little home with a picket fence. Now amidst all that chaos, I did know a good thing when I had it and we decided to get married.
For the first couple of years, we tried the traditional way of life. Except instead of a house, it was a one-bedroom apartment. Instead of a 9-5 for him and mommy yoga for me, it was him having to get up at 3:30a to manage a Starbucks, come home and nap, and head to his night job at UPS while I tried to keep my business alive, take care of a baby, and live on an extremely tight budget. I remember having these out of body moments where we’d be sitting on the floor eating dinner and I’d kind of hover above myself looking down and think, “Oh my God is this really your life?” Then I’d get a hold of myself, reel it back in, and keep plugging away at the day to day. But you know what? It just got too hard.
I tried for a long time to convince him to quit Starbucks and let me try to build up my business. Of course, being that amazing old-fashioned, hard-working guy he is, he wouldn’t have it. But eventually our lifestyle wore on him too and we agreed we’d save up at least three months of his pay so he could quit and we could live on that until I started to make up the difference.
What dreamers! We could never get our savings up so after we’d had enough, he quit anyway. Sometimes you just have to step out in the universe and hope for the best. Wouldn’t you know it, I made up the income he left behind in just one month’s time! And it has Never. Stopped. Since.
Now… my business didn’t explode overnight, although sometimes it feels like it did. I just put my head down and I worked really, really hard to get it where it is now. In the beginning, when I wasn’t that busy, but even as I got swamped and was working all day and all night, it was really difficult for me to ask my husband to help more with stuff. I think somewhere deep down I felt guilty that I robbed him of his twenties; after all, he had just turned 21 when we met. (Side note: 7 years later, he just keeps on improving like a fine wine while I wither away like curdled half ‘n half, yet somehow he’s still into me! Talk about lucky.)
I barely asked him to do things around the house, partly because he didn’t know how, and partly because I thought I could just do it better. Have you ever felt that way? That you can really do it all, and do it better, than someone else would? I’d start to work up the nerve to ask him to do some random chore or errand and then chicken out and add it to my ever growing to do list. However, as my business grew and I got busier, I simply had no choice anymore! Let the man be a stay-at-home dad for goodness sake. Just let him do it.
The biggest challenge has been to let go. Let go of doing things my way. Let go of perfectionism. Delegate the things I thought I was supposed to be doing at this stage of life. So maybe my husband doesn’t buy the same kind of sourdough I would. Maybe he doesn’t dress our daughter in the same outfits I would. And maybe I can’t always re-wash the dishes that I notice aren’t washed perfectly (um, or maybe I can).
Talk about leaving tradition behind! I do feel for my husband when he’s the only dad sitting in the ballet class waiting room. I remember once I took her instead of him, and OH the conversations those women were having! I texted him right away and exclaimed, “I am SO sorry this is what you have to endure all of the time.” Apparently, there are more stay-at-home dads these days, but trust me, we sure never see them.
So, here we are, years later. My life is nothing like I used to imagine it, but it’s mine. Our quality of life has dramatically improved. It’s not “perfect.” We say hi in passing at 4p as I’m pulling in the parking spot and he’s pulling out, and we still live in that same apartment building (upgraded to a two-bedroom at least) so we can save for a house someday. But we’re happy. We found something that worked for our family. We figured something out. We embraced something that still so many of our peers just don’t get.
My husband has morphed into super dad and husband, teaching our daughter how to swim and rock climb, while learning how to brush out her hair and actually getting pretty good at picking out her clothes I might add. He grocery shops, does the laundry, makes me dinner, and so much more.
My social media business is booming. I have a team of 3 people who work for me now. There’s no debt in our lives, and I actually feel supported enough to have another baby (9 months pregnant as I type).
It’s not the way I saw my life turning out, but I’ve come to accept that I am the bread-winner right now and quite possibly for the rest of our lives. I’m lucky I find passion in my career , and that it can support my family.
And I tell you what, if another new opportunity came about that would throw this all out of whack, who knows, maybe I’d embrace that too.
Tracy Petrucci Marketing helps businesses grow through the use of social media, Facebook advertising, and email marketing.
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