My husband came home the other night and said, “There are two jobs we’ve been given. One that anyone can do…thousands, actually. And one that only I can do, and only you can do. I’ve been living thinking I was indispensible for the wrong one.”
We’ve been on edge; fighting, a lot. When it comes down to it, we realize the root is I don’t feel valued, prioritized, and often am left feeling neglected and set aside, at the cost of his job. I recently stepped down from a life-giving and full kind-of-work that allowed me to travel and grow and learn in ways beyond I ever thought imaginable, because I noticed my kids were getting a stressed version of myself. I couldn’t separate the two, and balance was something I could not master. My husband’s job is demanding on all of us, and I carry the role of wife, mom, supporter, confidant, encourager, professional smiler, greeter, listener, get-to-know-you gal and so on and so forth. And I don’t mind it, I’m not complaining; it’s what we signed up for. But there are times where I’m not being nourished at home, either by myself or my husband, and then pouring myself out, and I get resentful.
We’ve hit that point. That monster called resentment has creeped its way in and out of our lives for over three years, and it’s ugly. It’s ugly in me, it’s ugly in my words, and it’s ugly in my thoughts. But it does happen.
One thing I love about my husband is his search for wisdom. He is constantly on the hunt for what has worked for men and women he admires that are years down the line from him. He’s humble like that. He knows he doesn’t contain all the answers, so, he seeks them out and forms his own solutions based on what he has gleaned. Yesterday, he came home and said, “I’m sorry for the last three years. I took the day to read an entire book, and I think I’m starting to understand more.” Then he proceeded to tell me the difference between jobs you are indispensable at, verses ones you are replaceable at, and how, most people are getting it wrong.
He told me that he had believed he was the only one who could do his job at work. That he would give work his best, then pray for God to fill in the gaps at home. All the while, I’m wilting away. That prayer was not being answered with my fulfillment where he was lacking. It was being answered with my complete and utter depletion. Instead, he realized, his job could be fulfilled by hundreds if not thousands of good, hardworking people. He is dispensable. At home, however, he is irreplaceable. No one else can respond to our daughter’s squeal of delight for Daddy, or teach our boys how to shave. No one else can give me comfort in days of financial or emotional stress, or remind me that I’m beautiful with my messy bun and spaghetti stained shirt. The only place, for our family, that either of us are indispensable at is home. Not on social media, not at work, and not even with people who feel like they need us.
When it came time for me to start thinking about transition from my career, my husband, being as supportive as he is, said, “This is only a hard season. It won’t be like this forever!” This was his way of saying keep at it, keep going, we can do it, and I’m here for you! The babies will grow more independant faster than you think, the days with kids will pass and it will get easier with time. This was so kind, and generous, and I knew he was offering his support and a helping hand to keep my dreams going, but his words had the opposite effect on me. Yes, these days would be over soon–way too soon. The babies are growing at rapid rates and, truth be told, I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to miss first steps and be too stressed to help with homework anymore. I want to be home and I want to love my family well; I want to love my family better.
This isn’t to say there aren’t moms and dads out there rocking both worlds; if you are one of them, please share your wisdom. Write, teach workshops, post on social media, we’re all learning from you! And keep at it, because it’s inspiring for onlookers and it’s inspiring for your kids. But, for us, I knew it was time to step back and reevaluate my motives, my passions, and my capabilities as a mom of five who loved her job.
It felt like no one could take my place at work. I thought it was going to be impossible to step away—but, you know what happened? The business is still thriving. It’s growing and it’s becoming more of what it was intended to be because I was able to step back and see I just didn’t fit anymore. It gave new, fresh eyes the opportunity to step into my role. It was necessary for both parties, and I was able to learn that I am replaceable.
This lesson of dispensability is not an easy one to swallow; nothing in line with humility ever is. But I believe it is a necessary one. Don’t be afraid to teach an apprentice your secrets. Don’t be afraid of your vacation days and find where you are needed most—not where you think you are needed most. Ask your spouse, kids, or friends where they need you today, and show up fully. And, in some years from now, you will be able to look back and see that these days were not wasted.