My first year as a mom, a single mother by choice, a mom with a decade more under my belt then most new moms and a working mom with a new job after maternity leave ended. That’s a lot of new titles, new balancing and a new voice, a protective mama-bearness, a patience and efficiency and a deep appreciation for all the moms who have come before me. An even deeper appreciation for those who made it look simple but were probably paddling like mad underneath the surface.
What does that mean to me? It means we need to share more about our struggles, our imperfections, our shortcuts or life hacks. We need to stretch out of our comfort zone of saying “I’m fine” and say, “I’ve been there, what do you need”, “let me help” and sometimes, we need to utter the words most of us often dread saying out loud, “I need help.”
What does that look like:
At work, that looks like choosing an employer whose values align with your own. Personally, that meant choosing an employer who made it clear that people were their priority, especially before they were employees and before they were company advocates. Cheer Partners’ culture is that people come first with holistic lives that need tending to - parent or not. This company empowers employees to share when they need extra support or a PJ Day (day off with minimal notice) because there are days that you can’t bring your whole self to work, and that needs to be OK. As a new leader, I’ve told my team - you don’t have to tell me what is going on, but you need to tell me that something is going on, so I can support you. And as an employee, I am appreciative that my company is open and supportive of our whole lives.
At home, that means finding my support system and to me that doesn’t look like “the village” that parenting articles talk about. In fact, I bet many women feel like a failure for not having acquired a “mom tribe” - on top of everything else. That doesn’t mean I am not surrounded by loving family and friends, but it does mean that they have their own lives, schedules and priorities. If I ask, they are there. I think it’s important to find support in other ways, such as: backup childcare for the backup childcare or as I call it, my roster of sitters, and a handyman, who knows that an hour of his skills, can save me hours in frustration. Sometimes, it giving up control to someone else, but if I prioritize what’s important to me and give up a little control, I gain tenfold in peace of mind.
Instead of saying, “I’m fine,” I actually share my frustrating days and when I receive unsolicited advice, I pause to say, “I really just want to vent, could you just listen.” It also means my remembering that the words “that sucks”, “ugh so sorry” are often more appreciated then “have you tried” or “what I did was” or least remembering to ask first - “do you want to hear what I tried?”
In conclusion, in honor of my second Mother’s Day (my son was born a week before the holiday last year), I want to thank all of those who paved the way with your grace, humor, realism, authenticity and love. It has made this journey easier to know we all go through the same thing … whether we admit it or not.
Posted as part of blog series for Cheer Partners, May 2019