After nearly 14 years of being a full-time wife and
mother, I discovered a hidden, deep dark secret: I wanted more.
Sometimes while washing dishes, my mind would wander to
beautiful, imaginary women waking up to soft music. These ladies
would look in the mirror, do their hair just so, carefully select
form and function of clothing, makeup and attitude and walk out
their front door. They would get into their shiny, gleaming SUVs,
drive to work, grab their last glance at the reflection in the
glass door to the office and dive into their very successful
These women are confident, happy and always admired, with
a twinge of jealousy. What I want to know is, do these women really
In my world of domesticated goddesses, I wake up, look in
the mirror and try to make what Mama gave me look its best after
four kids. I grab my T-shirt and jean skirt and then do the same
for my children. I gather up backpacks, lunches and kids and jump
into our gently dinged and crumb-filled minivan. I try to avoid a
glance at my rear-view reflection as my life is not exactly one of
high-class power meetings. Rather, my "office" is filled with
laundry, shopping lists, bill paying, diapers, homework
fact-checking, and meal preparation.
I know I exist, but is there a way for me to live in my
world and enter into that "other," more exciting world at the same
In my quest for answers, I read that stay-at-home moms can
feel unfulfilled when they are not getting enough exercise. That
was it! I scoured every healthy cookbook I could find. I shopped
only in organic food stores and prepared the most healthful and
beautiful meals of our life. (My children were most unhappy with
this new change in our diet.) I began working out to my favorite
dance music of the '80s. I lost about 10 pounds on this
self-discovery experiment, and physically I was in the best shape
of my life.
One morning, I was combing the produce aisle at the market
when I heard a voice inside my head. It spoke loud and clear (and
for some reason in a Chinese proverbial accent): Step away from the
vegetables; they are not the answer you seek.
I felt defeated. I began to relay my concerns to my
husband, hoping he would find just the right words or give me just
the idea I needed to feel like a "real accomplished woman." He
didn't have the answers either. Frustrated and angry, I grabbed my
laptop and ran to my next best friend-Starbucks.
There it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been asking
everyone-my friends, my husband, my myriad self-help books and even
the Internet-how to find contentment in my life. I had forgotten
the most important person to ask.
I realized there were too many years of taking care of the
rest of the world, but I had never taken the time to nourish
On my drive home from my epiphany I made a mental bucket
list. I took this mental list and wrote it out on paper and folded
it into my wallet.
That evening when my husband walked in the door I told him
I was going to take a yoga class. I didn't care if he thought I
would stick with it (he didn't), but I was going to try something
new. He stood there, briefcase still in hand, smiled and said, "Go
I pulled out my mat in the back of the classroom. It
smelled like incense and sweat, but I tried my best to shove the
negativity out of my mind. This was going to be my Me Time and I
was going to love it. I rested on that mat for nearly five minutes
trying to "observe without judgement." It felt so good to just
I decided I needed time for myself every day. I found
writing classes, new books to read, classes and seminars to take,
volunteering time in the community, even a mani/pedi here or there
to manage just a few minutes for myself.
It seemed selfish at first. Once I got used to the time, I
discovered I was becoming a better mother. I was becoming a better
wife. I was more present with everyone.
The answer to existing is so simple.
I don't need to become an imaginary woman with a
high-powered career. My career is living each day and learning to
love my life, always taking time to discover new things to
appreciate in my life and be grateful for the many gifts I already
Sara Kutliroff is a freelance writer living in Skokie with her husband, Daniel, and her four children. You can read more of her thoughts on life at kutliroffpages.blogspot.com.
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