Big corner office with a wall of windows and a picture-perfect view of a skyline. Sleek desk. Trendy pumps. Pencil skirt. Coffee cup in hand. Can you picture her?
Lately, it seems like our culture glorifies the career woman more than ever before. The hashtag “girl boss” is trending across social media platforms. But who is that woman, really? And is she happy?
Chances are, she’s not. 12 million women are diagnosed with clinical depression in the United States. A study done by sociologists at The University of Texas found that women with job authority- the ability to hire, fire and influence pay- have significantly more symptoms of depression than women without this power.
Another study across 30 European countries found that depression in middle-aged women has doubled over the last forty years from the increased pressure and stress of juggling work and family responsibilities. In a world that puts the career woman on a pedestal, it seems that more and more women are struggling to “have it all,” and their mental health is suffering.
Whether you are the husband whose wife is struggling with depression and stress, or the wife who is working crazy hours and feeling guilty for not spending more time with your kids, or you are a full-time wife and mother feeling devalued and worthless, we are shattering some misconceptions about “having it all.”
[RELATED: Sick of battling against your spouse? Check out some simple steps to put an end to miscommunications, work better as a team and put the romance back in your relationship!]
In our society, there are two extremes for women. There is the strong, powerful entrepreneur or high-level executive climbing the corporate ladder, or there is the stay-at-home mom who takes care of the kids full-time.
I believe that we have devalued the role of the wife and mother. We look down on her. We say, “Oh she’s wasting her potential. She’s not smart enough to get a real job. She’s lazy. She’s so lucky she doesn’t have to work.”
Meanwhile, we lift up the woman who is working 100 hours a week and either puts off getting married and having kids or sacrifices those relationships for her career.
I’ve been on both sides, my friend. And in both extremes, I was depressed. When my kids were young, I was working 100 hours a week. I left before they woke up in the morning, and most days they were in bed when I came home.
I even worked on Saturdays, which means the only time I had with my kids was on Sunday. By then, I was so exhausted and worried about laundry, and dishes and all the other things that had to get done, that I was impatient with them. I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t invest in time with them.
I was miserable because deep down I desired to be a mother. I wanted to be with my kids. I felt guilty leaving them. Is that you? Do you even really know your kids? Do you know their interests? Do you know their fears? Do you let them tell you what they want? Or do you just sign them up for every activity out there to keep them busy?
I bought into this idea that if I wasn’t out there building a business and making money, I was nothing. So when I did retire and stay at home full-time with my kids, I was still depressed. There was no joy in taking care of the home.
I was jealous of my husband, Hans, who got to go out there and build a business while I was at home changing diapers, rolling out pasta dough, making homemade bread and pies and doing endless loads of laundry every single day. I was a bitter, resentful wife.
[RELATED: Here’s how Hans and I went from a toxic, horrible marriage to absolutely madly in love for many years without a single fight.]
Every day, I went to bed depressed knowing I would have to do it all over again the next day. I felt so lost because I didn’t feel like I added any value.
When I was in business, I had goals. I had a daily measure that told me I actually achieved something that day. As a mom, I didn’t feel like I was contributing anything. I didn’t feel important.
Do you feel like that? Are you unhappy? Unstimulated? Devalued? That is because there is propaganda setting you up to fail. You are told that you are nothing if you aren’t a high-powered businesswoman, but it is homemakers who have held the fiber of our nation together forever.
There is a balance, friend. When I first got married, I had no idea what my role was as a wife. I was already a CEO and founder of two companies. I had my mind made up that there was no way I was quitting my job and cooking and cleaning for my husband all day.
But I was inspired by the example of the Proverbs 31 woman. She had a role as a wife, mother and caretaker of the home, but she was also a businesswoman. She was a real estate investor. She was a merchant and overseer of staff.
I found a sweet spot for myself and for my family. For most of my life, I worked 20 hours a week and took care of the home full-time. I set aside certain days of the week for work, and certain days of the week to be home with my kids.
We had a schedule to keep peace in the home. I got up at a certain time. I had a morning routine. Dinner was ready at 5:15 p.m., the kids were in bed by 8 p.m., and then I had the rest of that night with my husband.
In finding that rhythm, I found joy in fulfilling my role as a wife and mother. Domestic things relax me now. I like working with my hands and actually exercising some creativity. Taking care of my home, strengthening the household and acting as caretaker for my family builds confidence in me.
Every woman is different. Every family is different. What I can tell you is I found what worked for me. I made millions of dollars working part-time, have an amazing, passionate relationship with my husband, and raised five honorable, hardworking kids. All while maintaining peace and having fun!