I’m writing this in hopes of finding some solidarity. I can't be the only one suffering from Chronic Mommin' Syndrome (CMS). If you haven't heard about it, don't worry-- I made that up.
Y’all, this season we are in is a tough one -- so tough. I can only imagine how we will come out on the other side of it. As a mom and a woman with a professional, essential career, I’m feeling the heat. For the last 6+ weeks, I’ve been doing all the things. My latest titles include: mom, teacher, nanny, chef, maid, entertainer, referee, boo boo kisser, dog walker, gardener, grocery shopper, computer fixer, pool attendant (although it’s a blow up on our deck), tear wiper, wife and let’s not forget VP of Strategic and Global Accounts at Smarter Systems. The plates are spinning. Sometimes they are out of control, but they aren’t hitting the ground... yet. Many days I feel like a duck. On the surface, I look like I have it all together, but under the water, I’m paddling my short legs off.
When North Carolina implemented a stay-at-home order back in March, I was confident and cool starting the journey. I’ve done many hard things in life, so I was ready to stare at this challenge square between the eye and win. The first couple of weeks were “normal” and precisely what I expected. However, it didn’t take long to blow through all the fun activities I had planned. (Did you read about my eight activities to keep my toddler entertained?)
I’m not sure if you have a toddler now or if you remember, but they have the attention span of a gnat. Moving from one thing to the next is their way of life. I quickly began to realize that I was losing that cool. I felt defeated. How could I give 100% to all those who needed me? How would I not fail at all these things? Funny you should ask, but here is an old mantra that has saved me; You can’t pour from an empty cup. Let me explain that. If I’m not taking care of myself, how on earth can I take care of all the others who were counting on me? My kids, my husband, my friends, my neighbors, my coworkers, and my clients.
My fellow moms (working or not) I want to offer some encouragement. Although we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is coming. You see, normal is relative, and nothing is really “normal”- it’s just familiar. Once I realized this truth, I decided to focus on what was familiar to find my bearings. I determined that there is no way I can be all things to all people, but I can be me, and that is what they are looking for anyway. I began to give myself grace and work on the things that I could control instead of focusing on things I couldn’t.
I decided that my kids are 3 and 9, and it is ok if they don’t learn how to read a second language before August. I realized that it’s ok if my house isn’t spotless, I mean, no one is coming to visit anyway. I hunkered down with my team and delegated tasks to make them even more involved in our success. It has helped. I’d be lying to you and myself if I didn’t say some days are still hard, but it’s getting better.
What does our future hold? I hope it still holds your dreams. I fear that we working moms will give up. We will think that we can’t bear the burden of where this is taking us. We will get it in our heads that if we continue to work hard, we are letting our kids down. I love this study (check it out here) by Harvard, showing how kids of working moms become happy adults.
Don’t be discouraged. You can do this! You are capable of great things. You can be a fantastic mom and (insert professional title here). I am a wonderful mom and take care of my clients better than anyone else. I can have my cake and eat it too and so can you. So with the anticipation of Mother’s Day, I challenge you to sit back, relax, and embrace this time as it too will soon pass.