I became a mom five years ago. I felt so much pressure to do it right and maintain my balance as a working mom.
I wanted to work. I wanted the satisfaction I found in doing something really well. I didn’t want to lose myself. I wanted to be a great mom. I wanted to maintain hobbies. I wanted to “have it all”.
I was frustrated when people said that wouldn’t happen. The balance is impossible. Unattainable. Not realistic.
A few years in, I decided (and was coached) that I had to define “have it all” myself. That changed my mindset. I still struggle, but it’s better.
(And, I am already worried that you will read my notes below and think I am a know-it-all … I’m very much still a work in progress … but I find joy in sharing and that’s important to me).
Instead of comparing, I will champion others.
Parenting took comparison to a whole new level for me. It’s just human nature to look at someone else and feed it through your own lens. But what changed for me was how I reacted to the comparison. Instead of comparing and beating myself up, I looked at someone else and I wanted to champion their success. Give them nods of encouragement. Ask for advice if I really wanted to emulate something they were doing. I began to look for the lessons in their situation. And in there I found a precious place of camaraderie.
It changed the conversation.
Sometimes I identified that the comparison was just silly. Other times I found hidden gems that I could apply to my own life. Over time, I find that the moments for comparison have lessened and I truly enjoy cheering others on.
I will be my own best champion.
One parenting lesson that become apparent to me right away was that I was going to do what was best for my child. And I needed to do it without apology. I didn’t need to explain myself and our methods to others. We know our little superheroes best.
Once I was comfortable in my parenting skills (and somewhat mastered my ability to handle sleepless nights) I began applying this lesson to other areas of my life. I changed jobs to better reflect my values and my life situation. I didn’t wait for a Mother’s Day gift for a spa day … I went ahead and scheduled one for myself when I felt like I needed it. I negotiated for my salary. I am my own best champion AND I don’t feel guilty about it.
I need others to support me.
I’ve always been independent and I deeply value my ability to be resourceful (yes, I am the first born in my family). But I love being surrounded by friends and family. I get energy from other people. I am an extrovert without question. I realized this a long time ago, but I didn’t realize that I needed their support in areas other than socializing. I pulled myself into a tribe of other like-minded women, and that made a huge impact on my life!
I need to ask for help.
Parenting humbled me to ask for help. Even from my spouse. I’ve always hated reaching out to ask someone to help me personally. Asking someone to volunteer with me or attend a concert with me or go to dinner with me was easy. But to ask someone to babysit for me so I could do those things was difficult.
Parenting made asking a necessity and I realized that it wasn’t so terrible. I will admit that this lesson is still a work in progress. But after many sleepless nights, instead of being passive aggressive about my sincere need for sleep, I ask for that support and I take a nap.
Not everyone will come along and that’s okay.
As your life changes, not everyone will come along for the ride. And I’ve learned that it’s okay. That doesn’t mean they are bad people. Life just evolves and our needs and wants change. Our ability to foster other relationships changes as well. Be a nice person. Don’t be passive-aggressive. Don’t ignore others because that’s easiest. But do what is best for your family.
What is your definition of “having it all”?