Trading Prada for Peace

January 31st, 2011

By Guest Blogger Marie Johnson


I was an advertising executive in the television industry for 12 years before I jumped off the fence.  I am an only child, raised by an Asian mother who had her own successful career in the medical field, and a German-American father with a successful career in the aerospace industry. I was raised to excel in my studies and obtain the high-paying executive job and title.  I was on my way.

I was fortunate to have found my soul mate and husband in my late 20′s, and we both decided to wait a few years before starting our family.  My first daughter came along shortly after my promotion into a management position.  Having the financial resources, we had a full-time nanny, which allowed me to continue my career.  My job required much time, travel, and intellectual/emotional effort.  Being in the entertainment industry, I got to meet and work with famous television and movie stars.  In addition to attending awards shows, movie premieres, and launch parties, my husband and I got to attend exciting events such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

I was “on the fence” about giving up my lucrative career in such a glamorous industry to raise my daughter the way I had been raised myself- by my mother, not a surrogate.  My family – everyone except my husband - did not support me being a stay-at-home mother.   How could I give up a career others only dream of?  After all, my mother maintained a career and raised a daughter, why couldn’t I?  How could I give up the fringe benefits that my husband and I enjoyed such as travelling and attending star-studded events? Surely I could maintain my management position and still have the flexibility to spend quality time with my husband and daughter every day. I struggled with this for a few years, but didn’t give up my job.

I then became pregnant with twins.  I felt like I just won the lottery!  At this point, I knew that I really could have it all with career & family.  I had a prestigious position with a top-rated television network, a loving husband, and soon-to-be 3 daughters.  My oldest daughter, whose early childhood I missed due to my career, would now have siblings and a nanny to keep her company, thus less guilt for me.  If she could survive her preschool years without me, surely my twins could do the same and I could continue with my career.  I misunderstood the message I was being given…BIG TIME!

Meeting sales goals, attending stressful meetings, entertaining clients around the clock, etc., were more important than my health and the health of my unborn daughters.  I lost the twins toward the end of my pregnancy due to my commitment to my career. I was knocked on my ass.  My charmed life all of a sudden filled with such sadness.  I went from managing the lucrative, glamorous career and family to having to bury two daughters.  Only when I held my dead twin daughters in my arms did I experience the heaviest feeling of regret.

I was had always made the excuse that my career was benefiting my husband and daughter.  I was sacrificing my motherhood to provide a financial safety net for my family.  I also realized that I did not want to disappoint my own parents by giving up the career they were so proud of.  I was looking to blame someone else (my parents, my husband, even my daughter) for my health and the loss of my twins.  After much suppressed anger and crying every time I found myself alone, I realized that I chose to make my career the priority in my life.  Imaging that… me!  I had a hard time accepting the fact that my choices led to my circumstances.  As hard as I tried, I had no one to blame except myself.

I gave up my career shortly after returning to work from the death of my twin daughters.  I went back to work thinking I could get back to the way things were…you know, get “back to normal.”   I immediately realized my feelings about my career and my family were changed forever.  With the support of my husband, I found the strength to put my life on the trajectory of my dreams.   I made motherhood and being a better wife to my wonderful husband my “career” and main purpose for living.

I am now blessed with 3 amazing kids.  In addition to being my husband’s wife, I am now his business partner.  I finally have the life I didn’t think was possible:  flexibility to be a mother and have a career. I take my kids to school, make their meals, help them with homework, and arrange play dates.  Giving up the second income was a big risk, and we have certainly made financial sacrifices.  But despite the lack of a financial safety net, my husband’s practice has grown beyond belief since we became business partners.  Two people working for the same goal really does make a difference.  And, our marriage and family life have never been stronger.

I can no longer afford the expensive business suits; I traded my luxury vehicle for a practical “mom car,” I have no entertainment expense account and now keep track of every penny spent; but, I LOVE my life and am grateful for the second chance I was given.  My only regret is that I hung on to the fear of getting off the fence for so long when I was pregnant with my twin girls. I have since released my fear of having no perceived safety net.

My journey has taught me 5 important life lessons:

1)       Fear is crippling…LET GO of your fear and let things happen.  Remember 90% of what we worry about usually never happens.  So take the risk and focus on the outcome you really want.

2)       The POWER lies within YOU, nobody else.  If you are not happy with your situation, don’t wait for someone else to change things for you.  Only YOU have the power to change, be it through changing your attitude or finding new solutions.

3)       Make DECISIONS based on WHAT YOU WANT. Don’t do things just to please others … be true to your own values.

4)       DREAM! If you feel strongly enough about your dreams, remember that you have the power to make those dreams a reality.

5)       SHARE.  You really are not alone in this world.  Having like-minded people to support you is an incredible tool to living the life you really want.

My message to fellow women sitting on the fence is that it is OK to jump off… you never know what happiness lies on the other side.

Happy jumping!

~~Marie

Tell us, are you at a career crossroads? What are you doing about it? How do you manage your work-life balance, please share your tips!

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Marie Johnson is a happy wife, mom, and Business Manager at www.EricJohnsonDDS.com, working daily with her husband.

xoxEDxox

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33 Responses to “Trading Prada for Peace”

  1. KK says:

    This is exactly the article i had to read. My husband and me are finally pregnant after ard 2 yrs of trying. I chose to give up my career and am in the last few days of my job now. But a lot of people i meet are telling me its the wrong decision. I understand that I could regret it later but what these poeple do not know is how much it hurt every time the test came out negative. God has been kind enough to shower his blessing on us now and i do not at all want to give it a second priority. My husband understands but the rest of my family- my parents, relatives etc. are not as encouraging about the situation even though they are all happy abt the soon to arrive member of the family. I was having seond thoughts abt my situation and i found this. thanks Marie. Hope your family is doing great!

  2. I can’t agree more, this post is very relevant we should live a more compassionate lifestyle.

  3. MunaNo Gravatar says:

    thank you
    I’m a new mother with a dream of my own
    my story may not be semeler to yours but you gave me the answer for what I’m looking for
    I am no longer going to follow what my frinds or my family or even anyone who is going to tell me what to do
    but I’m still scared I’m new in this life but I will be stronger and do what I want and I will make shore that I share it with the people I love
    thank you

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  6. renNo Gravatar says:

    thank you for sharing your story. I have a good work away from home and now I’m giving it up to be with my child. We are not financially stable but I’m still taking the risk. I miss the first 3 yrs of my baby’s life. I only got a chance to be with him annually for a month. Last month when we are chatting online, he called my sister mom! so i told myself, it’s enough! It’s ok to be a poor mom than to be a successful “aunt” to your own child.

  7. Sheri EarlNo Gravatar says:

    Marie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t know if I would have been able to walk away from such a dream job, but it is inspiring to read about you having the courage to do what made YOU happy.

    I am saving the 5 Life Lessons to share with my 13 year-old daughter.

    Thanks again,
    Sheri

  8. MoonrakerNo Gravatar says:

    Your husband is a bully and by joining him in business you cut yourself off from the outside world and you don’t see it. If you can’t see yourself, think about your daughter. What did you name your twins? Not his name Spirit Windwalker I hope

  9. AdviceNo Gravatar says:

    Amazing article

  10. [...] and walking away with literally nothing else.  No money, no home, no job – although I do have my Prada handbag still (there is a God!!!), but I have my integrity in tact, and the confidence that I will [...]

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thought maybe I am crazy to be a stay-at- home mom with a MBA, but it feels so right. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  12. DaisyNo Gravatar says:

    I’m facing some decisions right now. I took a leave of absence due to the stress of my teaching job and lack of support from administration. I’m looking at options: but teaching options, or not teaching options? I don’t know yet, but I know that the current situation was destroying my health.

    • Daisy, I can certainly empathize with you…listen to your body/health…it’s a pretty powerful messenger! My thoughts are with you, and I’m sure the answers will come to you soon enough :)

      • JulieNo Gravatar says:

        Just a thought–I worked with http://www.caliva.org, a public school that allows you to work from home and visit your students on your own schedule. I am not promoting a website, but I did find that it worked while my children were young. I now teach at a university and could not have accomplished this without the time I had at home with my three kids. Good luck.

        • Julie’s comment is a great example of the effectiveness of sharing one’s story in order to find a solution. I always thought working outside the home was the ONLY way to have a career. I now know there are other alternatives. Hearing the experiences of others can help you decide which path is right for you. So don’t be afraid to talk to others, you never know what you can learn! :)

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  14. I am so happy that my story can reinforce other mom’s decisions to do what is best for them and their families. It’s a big risk (and a scary one at that); there are no guarantees; but, it IS well worth it. I am also inspired by some of the responses and posts! Thanks for sharing :)

  15. AAANo Gravatar says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing. What a touching story. I have read this blog post 3 times in one day, I literally just resigned from a high paying job to take my dream job for about two-thirds the pay. This post made me feel so much better about my decision. Thank you so much for this, so so inspiring!!

  16. Very touching! I had a daughter, lost a baby at 28-wks and then had a set of twins. I know how devastating it can be to lose a baby. I also know what the blame and guilt feels like and the sacrifices we make in order to be a great mom and a great person. So glad you made the choices you did.

  17. HeatherNo Gravatar says:

    This is such an amazing and inspiring story that took a great deal of courage to share. I recently made the choice to leave my internationally focused corporate career and spend more time with my kids. Lately though, I’ve been second guessing that decision and obsessing about the future, security and where will my career be when my kids don’t need me anymore and I’m ready to go back. I think I just need to let go of that fear, change my attitude and enjoy the gift I have right now at this moment.

  18. KathyNo Gravatar says:

    This is absolutely true, and I’m happy for you. The opportunity to be a mother only comes along for a short time in our lives, and I’m grateful that I had the chance to be a stay-at-home mom for a while. I remember deciding to quit practicing law for a less demanding job when my first child arrived and my (female) boss would not permit a part-time or job-sharing arrangement (even though a willing job-sharing partner had filled in while I was on maternity leave); it felt like jumping off a cliff. Then I quit altogether when my second child was on the way. Ten years, two great kids, one move, and one bar exam later, I’m back practicing law part-time with great people. Children force choices and sacrifices, and I made mine…and I wouldn’t change a thing. But no one should berate themselves for their choices, either…we all do the best we can with the information we have at the time.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Heartwrenching.

  20. ReneeNo Gravatar says:

    AMAZING POST! I loved your tips. They seem common but they’re really not if you truly practice them. Thank you for sharing your story.

  21. Thanks for the comments! It took me a while to build the courage to share my story; but once I started, I was amazed at how many other women share a similar journey…

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  23. TanyaNo Gravatar says:

    Touching story, thank you for sharing. A must read for all moms, listen to your inner dialogue and don’t ignore the signs.

  24. KeriNo Gravatar says:

    Great post. I’m glad you found the perfect balance. It’s unfortunate you had to lose so much to discover that, but you found your happy ending.

  25. Wow, what an amazing and heartfelt story you have shared here. The five life lessons you have discussed are very relevant to me personally and has made me think about juggling motherhood and a good career.

  26. Frazzled Mom says:

    This is pretty much me, but my husband is currently out of work and we can’t give up the security of my income. It’s a very tricky situation and not black or white. I appreciate your decision to change careers and I think it’s a personal choice for every woman. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughters. That must have been devastating. You sound like you are in a great place now. Good luck with everything.

  27. Cathy GNo Gravatar says:

    AMAZING AMAZING RELATABLE. This is me. This the wake up call I have been waiting for. Now I’ll actually have to get off the fence. That’s scary.

  28. ShariNo Gravatar says:

    I related to this post. I had a high powered career that I also gave up for my kids. I now work from home and it’s the best of everything. It’s true that I miss the money I’m not going to lie but the alternative was killing me. Thank you for giving us this powerful message.

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