Letting Go of My ‘Before Children’ Life

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I had about 50 suits hanging in my closet for TEN years.

They were beautiful, they were (mostly) a size 4, there were skirt suits, dress suits, pant suits and even fancy dresses that I wore to big parties in NYC. I loved how I felt when I wore them. I can still feel the ‘flow’ of being at just that place where there is enough adrenaline to work at your peak but also enough calm to be comfortable in those high-heeled shoes. I loved who I was when I wore them. I remember buying each of them and I remember being in them when speaking to large groups of business people. I LOVED my suits.

I had just finished three years of graduate school while working sixty hours a week and was preparing to receive my MBA when my husband and I were going to have a baby. I had visions of having our beautiful child, spending 3-4 months at home and then returning to my career just as I had planned since I was thirteen. I would get up in the morning, dress for work just as Mary Poppins would glide in and provide my baby everything they would need and then some. My husband and I would come home from work and we would sit down for a family dinner lovingly prepared by Ms. Poppins… We would stroll around town on the weekends stopping in to get a NY bagel and a Starbucks. Ahhh life was going to be AMAZING.

Then Ground Hog Day began. My daughter cried for a year. We moved back to Washington State into Suburbia. My husband was traveling at least 60 percent of the time. Mary Poppins was nowhere to be found and my job was back in New Jersey. My suits would have to wait for a year or two. That will be okay. I was sure that I would be back in them in no time. We won’t speak of them being a size 4.

Two more children and suddenly eight years has gone by. My beloved suits and high-heels are covered in dust – actually I think it transitioned to dirt by this point. I resolved to send them to a charity for professional women and so I gathered half of them and put them in another closet for removal when I got all the information together. Two more years go by. Now it has been ten years. My rational brain is looking at the size 4. My rational brain understands that I will not be going back to work in the same capacity as I did before. My rational brain understands that these suits aren’t even close to current style. My rational brain reminds me that the hundreds of dollars that I spent on them is way past sunk cost. Why was it so hard to give them away?

Then I received an email about a women’s charity that would be collecting women’s professional clothing in my home town. I gathered every bit of resolve to finally remove my old life so that I could make room for the new. I loaded my suburban to the top and started driving downtown. My stomach seized and by the time I got there (15 min) I didn’t know if I would be able to get out of the car. I went into the store that was collecting the clothing and the woman gave me a rack to hang my clothes. I stumbled in and out of the store and literally filled the rack with all my beautiful clothes. My professional life before children. Afterwards I went back to the woman to get my receipt but she had me sit for a minute while she attended to another customer. I thought I was going to lose consciousness. I started to sweat and became clammy. I needed to just hold it together to leave the store before ‘something’ happened. By the time I left the store I thought I might need my husband to come and get me. After sitting for a few minutes, I was able to drive home. I walked in the door and went directly upstairs to lie down. Fifteen minutes later I was absolutely fine.

Letting go of my before-child life was really, really hard. So hard I believe that I felt that loss physically. I did it though and there was no going back. That day I tried to remember all the clothes that I had just donated and if I really wanted them back. I didn’t. I haven’t missed them at all. I love my new life. I love being a mom. I love the opportunity I have to figure out what I really want to do when I grown up.

Ahhh. Letting go is so liberating in so many ways.

24 thoughts on “Letting Go of My ‘Before Children’ Life

  1. Yaaay for you. I know it is so hard to let go of who we used to be!! Your children are very lucky to have you today though…at home instead of working the long hours away :). I take great pleasure in knowing I have not missed any of my children’s childhood ;). I have been there for every single scraped knee, fever, milestone and accomplishment along the way and that makes up for all the showers I have missed !

  2. I still have a box of my professional clothes in the bottom of my closet. Although I’m back at work, I can’t wear them, but maybe one day I will. Thanks for sharing your story. Perhaps it’s time to sort through the box again and see what I can let go.

    • I had 3/4 of my closet full of clothes that I had absolutely no chance of wearing — ever! I think a box in the bottom of your closet can wait until you are ready. : )

  3. I just got rid of some of my before children suits too. I had kept them because they were also size 4 and I remember how I felt in them too. Now 17 years later, I never got in them again. I am however still in the workforce. As I packed away my old suits, I missed the me I was then, but I also wished that I was packing away my current suits. You are so fortunate to be with your children. Time goes so very fast. I am trying desperately to get as much of my last few years with my kids before they go to college. Enjoy your time with your kids.

    • Thank you for posting. I am glad I got the chance to give my corporate life to someone new. Having children changed my brain in so many ways. I feel very, very fortunate to stay home with my girls right now. However, I am now applying to a university to study psychology which has been a love for a very long time. Now that my girls are all in school, I need to have a professional side that also works with being a mom. My pre-kids career did not allow for both. It sounds like you were able to balance the two. : )

    • Thank you for commenting. It looks you have your hands very full right now. : ) There are so many paths to a happy life and being a mom is the most rewarding of all. Enjoy your twins and don’t worry about the suits. They will wait for you or maybe not but follow your own voice.

    • I know you wrote this many months ago but I was on a little hiatus from my blog. Actually I avoided it… ; ) I really appreciate you commenting. Sounds like you may be able to relate. ❤

  4. Wonderful story. I recently went shopping to replenish the business clothing I’d outgrown which is good, because I am a different person than I was 10 years ago– a bigger, better, wiser woman. I still have evidence of the young woman I was hanging in my closet, however– perhaps I should put my most glamorous get-up under glass and toss the rest, but my little girls like to use it for dress up.

    • Thank you for commenting. I think you should keep those glamorous clothes for prosperity and let your girls dress up. This phases goes by too fast. ❤

  5. I can totally relate! I really feel like I was sold a false bill of goods about “having it all.” Ultimately for me, I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be AND be the career woman I wanted to be. I’ve never regretted giving up those suits! 🙂

  6. I just read Lean In. I have very mixed feelings about her conclusions but I also have never regretted becoming a stay-at-home mom. I used to work a lot of hours and once you have stayed home with a child for that same number of hours, you realize how big of an impact childcare has on their development. It is a false bill of goods. You might be able to have it all but it is not going to be all at the same time. I also think that the business world is a much more divisive environment than other careers. ❤

  7. Beautiful post! Kudos to you for having the courage to step fully into your life as a stay-home mom and feel all the feelings (pleasant and less so) that go along with it. Looking forward to reading more of your blog! (And thanks for the like and the follow!)

    • Thank you for commenting. I still marvel at the catharsis that I experienced giving up those clothes. Kind of crazy! Really liked your blog as well.

    • Thank you for reading my blog. I am just figuring out how to quickly see and respond to comments. Look forward to following your journey in the blogging world.

  8. Reblogged this on Thoughts, Musings and Observations on Life and commented:

    I leaned hard into my career at one time. I loved working as a marketing director close enough to NYC to enjoy the skyline. I got so angry when a coworker (male) would tell me that I wouldn’t want to come back to work when my child was born. Determined to prove that I was not the ‘typical’ woman in the workforce, I doubled my efforts. My daughter was born, we moved back to the Northwest and my beloved suits got relegated to the top bar in my closet. I am reposting this Blog now that I have read Lean In and getting ready to go back to school for a PhD. in Clinical Psychology. The grit that I once had and needed to survive in the business world has been replaced by self compassion, intuition and the love I feel for my family, for my three daughters. Maybe I will Lean Into my career in psychology once my girls are on their way. For now I am learning to lean into my own voice of understanding what will work for me. I say this because of my personal journey in this world and know that all women forge their own. Love that!

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