I was nine years old when my mother killed herself. She jumped off the Mississippi River Bridge. After years of young adulthood angst and destructive behavior (followed by a potent dose of therapy), I can now write about my watershed moment, at peace with the past.
My present life is an endless kaleidoscope of uncertainty, exhilaration, gratitude, fear and exhaustion. I own multiple businesses, including a brand new startup and a decade-old retail chain with 18 locations that’s still rapidly growing. All were started on a shoestring budget, grown and nursed organically. I don’t like other people’s money and I feel very confident making decisions and getting things done; it’s the one benefit that comes from raising yourself.
It’s my two children who I think about on the late night flight home from a grueling business trip, and of course, my tall, gorgeous husband. I think about him with a rush of uncertainty: Was it hard on him being alone with the two kids for two days? Did he wish I was a more “normal” mother and wife?
My days are filled with a ferocious rush of responsibility from the moment my morning alarm goes off. I shuffle through email, bracing myself for a work fire. That elusive morning workout (We modern women are supposed to be smart, successful, and in kick-ass shape too, right?) crosses my mind, but it’s game on with the kids; a flying frenzy of breakfast, mittens and backpacks, as I try to get them on the school bus. As I juggle conference calls while trying to get them to school on time (sometimes with a sharp pang of guilt) I look to the Colorado Mountains for strength, or I call a girlfriend to give and receive a quick word of encouragement. When my son James smiles and sinks his sticky hands into my hair as we say goodbye, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I haven’t screwed him up. After all, my ambitious career and its side effects, good and bad, are ultimately for my family’s benefit.
This woman I’ve become – an independent, strong, successful woman, yet, like most of us, still a work-in-progress – doesn’t want to feel beholden to a man. The irony, however, is that I am. Maybe even more so than my mother ever was.
Because beyond a great team, a bevy of babysitters and loyal girlfriends, my husband is my secret weapon. Folks often ask me “How do you do it all?” and the answer is that I could never take the road less traveled without his commitment to my success. He often selflessly puts my career above his own. Perhaps I married someone who is half the mother, and I, in turn, am half the man. Our relationship (and my life) isn’t perfect, but then again what really is? I don't have time for traditional definitions of anything really. I make up a lot of it as I go along.
My future is exactly how I want it to be – unknown, but filled with promise. We can all have a fulfilling career, family, friends and a wonderful life. Find the support you need and give your dreams everything that you have.