Today’s housewife is more than a woman confined to the kitchen and raising their children. Our city had a glimpse of this reality on The Real Housewives of Vancouver. Each woman on the show brought along a different personality that made the city buzz and helped it become the highest rated show in the history of the network hosting the series. I had the opportunity to sit down with the softhearted Mary Zilba, who led viewers to cheer for the underdog and soon became a hero. What I found at the conclusion of the meeting was a person who is more than meets the eye.
These days Zilba is a career woman who balances between raising her three sons, overlooking a fragrance line, promoting her charities and restarting a singing career. The girl who grew up in a Catholic household of six siblings still embodies the lessons learned as a child today when it comes to helping others. “I believe in paying it forward. I’m just a person and if I can make a difference I will. It’s always been in my nature to be a helper and one act of kindness can sometimes change a person’s life,” Zilba says. A week before our interview, she personally helped out a homeless person in her neighbourhood.
When it comes to relationships, Zilba’s proudest accomplishment is her role as a mother. Her children have continued to inspire and support her, especially in her work with various charitable foundations. Zilba’s split from her husband was not what most divorces looked like in which partners become adversaries. Zilba continues to co-parent with her ex-husband while maintaining a strong bond and friendship with him. “I think there’s a reason we were attracted to our ex-spouse at one point. You share so much together as a couple and that bond has allowed for us to respect each other as people and as parents to our children. They have always come first,” she says.
Zilba described past experiences of heartbreak that left her questioning who she really was at times. But through it all she discovered key lessons. “I’ve realized that you can’t have it all. You can do the best you can. Don’t neglect yourself or lose yourself,” she says.
Friendships can also be challenging as we saw friendships break and mend throughout the TV series. Zilba admits that loyalty is key to her: “I will always be there for my friends and it’s important to me that they support me.”
Today, Zilba feels she is happier than she has ever been and found herself after being lost. She surrounds herself with those who care about who she truly is beyond her role on the TV series. She has found love again in a singing career she put on hold for motherhood years before. Her success on TV has not robbed her of her humility as she reaches out to her fans and takes the time to tweet or stop to say hello to them on the streets. “I will not say anything on TV that I would not want my sons to hear,” she says.
Zilba intrigues the viewer beyond her youthful appearance and on screen presence. She defies convention in showing that a woman can jump-start a career after having children. You can still continue to give even if people challenge your kindness. You can be famous and humble. You can be beautiful and intelligent. You can be single in your 40s and be happy. Perhaps the key lesson that I learned from her is that to love others well you have to first appreciate who you are as a person. That optimistic and hopeful girl who once dreamed of hosting Good Morning America, becoming a doctor, journalist and singer is not lost and continues to shine through.
We all have hopes and dreams but those who are brave enough to pursue them are people who shift our expectations. Breaking stereotypes allow for possibilities that were otherwise thought to be unattainable. Viewers are hoping that Zilba will return for season two of the Real Housewives franchise. Even though Jody Claman used the phrase “let the games begin” in the debut season, the ball appears to be in Zilba’s court as she continues to win the hearts of viewers proving that the nice girl does not always finish last.
Amy Yew is a researcher and therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to email@example.com. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.