If you’ve been in the news cycle recently, I’m sure you’ve heard of everything being discussed about Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. But if you haven’t caught wind yet, let me fill you in. Tom Brady is unretiring and returning to the NFL while Gisele Bündchen is taking a step back in her career to focus on raising their children.
And for mothers everywhere, even in the midst of the support Bündchen shows for her husband, this is just another reminder of the sacrifices that we are too familiar with women often being forced to make.
In a recent interview for ELLE, Bündchen shared her thoughts about her husband’s decision. In all honesty, she doesn't appear to be too bothered by his return to the NFL and how it affects her pursuing her passions.
She quoted, “Seeing my children succeed and become the beautiful little humans that they are, seeing him [Brady] succeed and being fulfilled in his career—it makes me happy. At this point in my life, I feel like I've done a good job on that.”
If you ask me, she seems to be clearly content with her husband’s decision to return to the NFL mere months after announcing his retirement back in February—even though it affects their entire family.
"Obviously, I have my concerns—this is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present," she said of her husband. "I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too."
She also tells the magazine that she's ready to steer her own career again.
"I feel very fulfilled in that way, as a mother and as a wife,” she says. “And now it’s going to be my turn. It’s not like I’m going to be in the valley forever.”
But even through being supportive of her husband and encouraging him to follow his dreams, for many women and mothers who have stepped away from their careers to focus on their families, I think there is so much more that needs to be unpacked here—and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
On the heels of Serena Williams’ decision to retire in order to focus on her family, it seems like there is a recurring theme that mothers everywhere continue to face—hanging up their dreams to support everyone else’s.
And though many may see this as selfless and heroic, it is truly a sacrifice that comes with a cost.
Women supporting their husbands—even when they could use the extra support at home and in the lives of their kids—comes with a cost.
Serena Williams even discussed what we all know to be the harboring weight of gender roles—especially in the parenting dynamic, and even further for the dynamic of working parents.
"If I were a guy, I wouldn't be writing this because I'd be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family," she says. “Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”
But she doesn't have that opportunity. Gisele Bündchen doesn't have that opportunity. And many normal, everyday women and mothers don't have that opportunity.
Can we agree that if any of us women retired and then doubled back on our decision in order to continue chasing our careers, we would be chastised for not doing our due diligence and putting our families first?
And this shows a problem that is so deeply rooted in society when it comes to parenting and gender roles.
Mothers are expected to tend to their families and be supportive of their husbands, who chase their careers and provide for their families. But even in the age of working moms re-establishing their identity in their careers and finding much more to themselves beyond motherhood, there still exists a huge gap in what's expected of us.
And society continues to push the agenda to make us to believe that motherhood comes over everything else—even though fathers would never have to grapple with that presumption.
I’ve seen first-hand how hard it is for a woman to get back into her career after stepping away for her family. My mother was out of the workforce for over ten years while she focused on raising my siblings and me. She diligently took care of the homefront while my father followed his trucking dreams.
There was a lot of time missed with my dad and many unseen battles that my mother had to endure in order to be everything that we needed.
Eventually, once most of us grew up and moved out to start lives of our own (only three of my siblings still live at home), my mother made the decision to rejoin the workforce.
But I saw how her return was riddled with many declines before she found something to hold her over for the time being—and yet it wasn’t even a job that truly spoke to what she was passionate about.
But she settled for what she could get and what would allow her to be easily accessible to the children who still depended on her.
And that's my fear. That in the society that we live in, women—from top-performing athletes and fashion models to "regular" women—have been forced to settle for what the world gives them. And often, it’s not much.
It’s not much when over and over again, women understand that our careers and passions being put on hold come at a far greater expense than the men around us.
It’s not much when women even have to choose between their careers or their families—yet men get to have it all.
Can we just agree that women don’t receive the same support or backing that we so often put out there for men? And that even when we find contentment in taking "our turn" to manage the homefront while our husbands chase their dreams, the vast responsibility has always fallen on us—and will continue to? Can we agree that we often get handed the short-end of the stick? That if any of us women retired and then doubled back on our decision in order to continue chasing our careers, we would be chastised for not doing our due diligence and putting our families first?
Women have had to give up their dreams so that their husbands could have theirs. We have had to put ourselves on the back burner for far too long. We have had to let our passions fall to the wayside, as if they don't matter enough. We have had to plaster smiles on our faces and convince the world that we are completely fine with doing so.
And we've had enough of it.