When my oldest son was 6 months old, I had to go back to work and we put him in an in-home daycare. Pause as I think of the weeks of tears I shed at this tough decision. In order to limit his time in daycare, I would go to work early and get off early, while my husband would keep later hours. My husband would drop him off at 9:00 in the morning and I would pick him up at 4:00 in the afternoon. This was our routine. I like routine. I need routine. Without routine, things get… messed up. I am eloquent, aren’t I?
On my husband’s first business trip post-baby, we had to adjust the routine. I would go to work a little later, drop my son off and still go back to pick him up.
The first morning started so smoothly. I set my alarm early to allow time to feed him, change him into a onsie that looked just like the onsie he slept in, but was clean, and still get myself ready for work. It was a little cold out, so being a model new mother, I added a pair of socks with adorable bears that rattled.
I loaded him in the car, carefully buckled his 5 point harness (these days I pull out of the driveway like a bat out of hell, yelling, are you buckled!?) and headed out. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I saw a couple of neighbors out jogging. That made me smile. No, not because I was proud of them or because I love to run, but because I thought better you than me suckers. Then I frowned, realizing the joke was on me, that they were fit and I was… a new mom. I realize some new moms have babies, then look like Giselle two weeks later. I was not that mom! I was the one who was so enraptured with my new baby that my self-identity no longer mattered. I thought I would never care about hair, make up or clothes again. Okay, I still don’t but I pretend to. Or vice versa. Not sure.
Anyways, I continue driving thinking about how Dr. Spock would be so proud of my newly acquired parenting skills. I’m nursing, I’m pumping, I decorated with primary colors, I…
What is that noise?!
Oh my gosh! The rattle of my sons socks…
I forgot I was taking him to daycare. I was halfway to work on autopilot.
What would have happened if I hadn’t heard the socks? Would I have parked to car and gone into the office? Would I have been one of those mothers on the news? I am thankful that I never found out. I am also proud of myself for shredding the post-it-note that said ‘Don’t forget the baby’ that was taped to my steering wheel, before my husband returned.
Secretly, when I see one of those mothers on the news who forgot about their kid, I think to myself, shame one you, but I feel ya sister!
What have you done that was, or almost was, newsworthy?
Tonight is my daughter’s first ballet recital. She is excited, as am I. But I have a little unpleasant business to attend to while I am there.
One of the other mothers from the class is on thin ice with me (seasonally appropriate don’t you think?). Last night at rehearsals, I found her to be so offensive and clueless that she has penetrated my normally namaste demeanor (I am on my way to yoga shortly).
The first time I met
Judgy Judy (too much like Judge Judy) “Judgy Janet” (not her real name, in fact, I can’t seem to remember her name), was at the park. I was with my daughter and Janet said hi to her by name. I walked over and introduced myself and she explained that the girls are in ballet together. I said, “Oh then you must know our nanny, Jessica” (who takes my daughter to ballet). She interrupted and said, oh yes, I have known Jessica for years, and I always wonder “Where IS this girl’s mother!”
Eh hem, excuse me, while I capture my composure and take one step back to help diminish the cartoon in my head of me shoving tan bark in your mouth to silence you.
The conversation didn’t improve, she talked about how she used to work, but quit because she wouldn’t dream of letting other people raise her children (although, it might be better off for her daughter if someone else taught the girl tact). Throughout this first conversation, I remained calm and polite. I was internally trying to determine if the woman was a condescending bitch or just socially awkward. I decided she might be just lonely and awkward, so I didn’t say anything in rebuttal. But the conversation bugged me for a few days.
Fast forward to last night. It was the only second time I had spoken with her since I do not attend my daughter’s ballet class very often. I attended the rehearsal with another working mom friend whose daughter is also in the class. We were sitting with our girls, waiting for their turn, when Janet sat down behind us. Her opening comment: “You must be their mothers. You never come to class.” The conversation didn’t improve. My strategy was to keep my back to her, in order to avoid giving her a piece of my mind in front of the girls.
Which leads to tonight. Me, the duck, who normally lets things roll off my back is quite sure that one more comment from this miserable mom will force me to politely share with her my thoughts. Much to your surprise, I do mean politely, because I am a believer in having more weight in my message when coming from a place of kindness, balance and class. So let me share with all of you what I plan to say (and secretly hope I have the opportunity to do so).
“Excuse me, I am not sure if you are aware that you are being rude. In the two times I have spoken with you, you have mentioned my absence at ballet over ten times. I am trying to decide if you realize you are being rude or have merely made an unfortunate choice in conversation topics. Either way, I feel you are in desperate need of some education. It is narrow of you to make any assumptions regarding someone’s life or how one raises children based upon their attendance at one activity.
I share this with you not out of concern for my own feelings, but to help you avoid offending other’s who are not as calm and forgiving as me. You see, you don’t know what keeps a mother from a ballet class – what if she’s a single mom and working to put food on the table, what if she’s an ER doctor that may someday have to help one of your children, what if she’s at home with a newborn. The point is, an absence does not speak to the character of a woman.
Furthermore, since my absence is because I have a career, let me share the “consequences” of me being a working mom:
- My children are independent, but loving
- They are confident, yet kind
- They are comfortable in any social situations
- They are being taught that they can be anything they want when they grow up. My daughter can be a pilot, a doctor or a stay at home mom – each holding equal weight in my mind. My son can be a CEO, an artist or a stay at home dad, as long as he is passionate about what he does.
- My children travel frequently and see other cultures and have unique memories, while always returning to a happy home.
- And most importantly, we are rasing our children not to judge other people based on their profession, home, socio-economic status or any other life situation. We choose our friends based on character and kindness and see the benefit of diversity in our circle of friends.
So, do you think she’ll stay quiet long enough for me to say all of that?
I’ll keep you posted.
I have been thinking a lot about the balance of my career and being a mother. In other words, I am still struggling to balance the two. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot permanently solve this issue of balance, but rather attack it every day and set new priorities everyday – generally based on who is screaming the loudest.
What has helped me with my daily prioritization is having one über focus. I have decided that I am a mom before anything else. So as I read the summary of my resume, I decided it might need some editing…
Yes, this is really my summary of qualifications… I am in HR and can’t believe I thought this was useful…
- Professional and effective communicator with the ability to establish a positive rapport with internal and external customers
- Responsible and competent in high pressure situations, motivated and willing to put in 110%
- Successful in leading and managing projects
- Contributes to process improvement and strives to enhance job effectiveness
- Demonstrates innovation and helps achieve company wide goals through meeting challenges and exceeding expectations
Now here is a more realistic copy, who wants to hire me now?
- Professional and effective communicator with the ability to establish a positive rapport with internal and external customers, unless I have been up all night with a sick child. If that is the case, I stick to one syllable words and that sounds more like gibberish than communication. Positive rapport? Unlikely.
- Responsible and competent in high pressure situations, motivated and willing to put in 110% on some days. If it is my classroom volunteer day, my child’s birthday, the first day of school, the last day of school or sunny outside, I am willing to put in 72%.
- Successful in leading and managing projects only because I have learned the art of delegating so that I can spend more time with my kids.
- Contributes to process improvement and strives to enhance job effectiveness these are only so that I don’t have to work as hard to get the same results so I can spend more time with my kids.
- Demonstrates innovation and helps achieve company wide goals through meeting challenges and exceeding expectations the challenges I like to focus on include how to work less and spend more time with my family and I hope to exceed my children’s expectations of being present for them.
What is the truth behind your resume?
Speaking of spending more time with my kids, I made the very tough decision not to pursue my coaching dream at this time. I don’t want to give a serious passion anything less than my best. As I take stock of my life right now, there is no room to give my best to anything else. Hell, I can’t even give mediocre to anything else right now.
I am having a serious struggle with work life balance right now (as evidenced by my lack of writing) and just can’t pull any more time out of my a.. (absolutely crazy schedule, ahem). So I am focusing on
restoring balance not going insane, and getting back to blogging (as I miss it and all of you) and will revisit coaching when my schedule permits. Thank to all those who have provided amazing support!
Now seriously, what’s going behind your resume? Tell the truth. The truth is always more delicious.
Imagine you were given the gift of four days to tune out all other distractions and focus on your passions, your hopes and dreams.
Suppose you were supported by a group of strangers who are now dear friends. These people helped identify roadblocks to your dreams AND ways to bust through them.
Picture sitting in a beach community being encouraged to chase your dreams and live your life on your terms and by your personal priority list.
Between the sounds of seagulls and waves crashing you hear people saying ‘go for it’, ‘you can do it’ and ‘you deserve it’.
No, I did not have a wonderful dream, sustain a head injury or consume too many cocktails at book club. (That was all the week before!
Last weekend, I lived this experience. I spent four days in Santa Barbara, attending the Life Launch program I told you about. This program gave to me what I hope to give to others; a sense that you’re not alone, that people are in your corner, that anything is possible. It focused on the good in each person and supported each person’s life journey. I was reminded this weekend that everyone is slightly off-balance; that we all have fears and obstacles, but with the right support, we can do great things. This weekend was a prelude to a coaching certification I hope to obtain, when the time in my life is right.
That time for that certification maybe now, if I can figure out how to juggle work, family and an intense 8 months program that requires 10-12 hours per week. Stop laughing! Or at least bring it down to a giggle. I know, ‘where I am going to find the time’? If I do this, will I miss more soccer practices, ballet or my own yoga classes? Will my husband forget that I even knew how to cook dinner? (Hmm… this might be a benefit). Will I completely disappear from this blog – I have already been delinquent as of late. Will people think I am selfish for adding something else that is about me? Will the mold in my showers run rampant? Will I start to wear dirty clothes and stop washing my hair? Okay, I already don’t wash my hair that often… Life would certainly get messier. But maybe a messier life is a fuller life. Maybe, messy is good. You can’t argue with the fact that an empty room may be clean, but is empty, whereas a messy room is full of living; mementos of life’s adventures. (Do you think my husband will buy any of this?)
These are all questions I have to answer, but my gut is telling me to give it a shot. I have a little more research to do and I’ll keep you posted. But I’ll make you a promise, I may have less time to blog, but I’ll try to post the messy pictures!
I just read a series of articles in the most recent Oprah magazine about intuition. As a mother, I have always believed in intuition, but I also feel I am more intuitive than some. I have been trying to listen to my intuition more lately.
My intuition is a big driver in exploring new careers. As I stop and listen to that little voice, she has become louder and more definitive in where she’s trying to lead me. My intuition has had to overcome the bully that is my intellect. My intuition has been quietly whispering to me that a more purposeful and passionate career is out there, but that bully, my intellect, kept stepping in and drowning out my intuition.
Intellect told me how fortunate I am, I have a great career, a loving family and wonderful friends, how dare I want more. Intellect told me that those crazy ideas coming from my intuition were risky and half-baked. But my intuition is like the little engine that could, it quietly persisted, and it built up steam. I would sit in a meeting or work on a project and my intuition would suggest how what I was doing could be leveraged in a new role. Intuition is sweet, she validates the choices I have made thus far and has shown me how they could be a path to my next stop. The more I listened, the easier it was to see new possibilities.
For my intuition to work well for me, I have had to give her respect. I have had to publicly stand by my intuition with conviction in order to get others to listen to my intuition. You might ask yourself, who else needs to listen to my intuition – uh, my husband! He’s in operations, he believes in data, research and is a dedicated follower of intellect. Imagine his reaction when I went to him several months ago and said, “something tells me that I am meant to do something different”. He and his intellect, joined forces with my intellect and really challenged my intuition. But overtime, I have shared the points my wise intuition have made and even my intellect-driven husband is now supporting me exploring other options. (He did make some “irrational” demands like, not giving up my current income and researching my ideas before jumping with both feet). But we’re all a work in process.
The more I listen to my intuition, the happier I find myself. My intuition is my best ally and she helps me with career ideas plus so much more. As a mom, I have always listened to parenting suggestions from my intuition, but now I listen to my intuition around choices with friends and family as well. So far intuition has not steered me wrong (as long as you don’t count 80′s wardrobe choices!).
As proof of this, here are some of my intuitive moments from today:
- My house is quiet, but my kids are home, I sense trouble
- I heard the toilet flush more than once, I sense trouble
- My daughter is holding my son’s Lego, I sense trouble
- My son has asked for glue, but told me not to worry, I sense trouble
- I sense a cocktail in my future
See! This intuition girl knows her stuff! You know what else, my intuition told me? That I have some amazing opportunities on the horizon. She also told me I am very fortunate to have a network of friends to support me in this journey! Why wouldn’t I listen to someone who tells me what I am hoping to hear?!
Are you an intellect or an intuition person? Maybe a combination of both?
My summer sabbatical was not planned. I never thought my last post would have been June 1st. In fact, my one year blogging anniversary came and went without any fanfare and trust me I am a fan of fanfare.
So why the unplanned sabbatical from my blog? Hmm… not sure. All I can tell you is that in the beginning I was busy living. The last weeks of school are hectic, than summer swept me up in all it’s sparkle, sunscreen and sangrias (actually, it has been mostly rum, but I love to abuse alliteration). Both of my kids have summer birthdays, so there are parties, presents and pinatas (actually, there were no pinatas, but again with the alliteration). I have been enjoying the little moments, the everyday joys of summer. Before I knew it, I looked up and I hadn’t written in over a month.
Then it became daunting.
I felt like I would need a spectacular re-entry and was at a loss. I would get pings from my dear bloggy friends and readers and I would hide. (I actually tried to respond to some tweets and am having Twitter issues). Every time I read the brilliant writing of those I follow, I would feel like I was in a deeper hole. Whether you’re a writer or not, I bet you have been there; procrastinating a paper in college, putting off a work deadline or avoiding thank you notes (of which I need to do for both my kids). The longer you put it off, the bigger the task becomes.
A friend asked me this week, if you’re not writing, where are you putting that time? Well, that’s a post in itself, besides enjoying small summer moments , I have been more serious about window shopping for my passion and purpose. I have been more focused on exploring new career options and have taken a big step. I am enrolling in the September session of the Life Launch Program through the Hudson Institute in lovely Santa Barbara, CA. I have some hunches on what I want to do next and I hope the program will help evaluate those hunches.
I told a friend that I didn’t think I would blog about the program and my thoughts behind it. I felt that this blog was about Paige, the crazy, cocktail-drinking mom striving for balance through humor. But looking for passion and purpose, trying to balance our personal identities with our parent personas, actual feels like a perfect fit. I am convinced everybody has that moment (or several moments!) where they say ‘how did I get here’ and ‘do I want to be here’? Let me be clear – I want to be here, in my home with my children and husband, but there are other parts of life that can be tinkered with. I think about my friends who gave up high-powered careers to raise their families or those who work 80 hours per week, we all have those days where we ask ourselves if we should have chosen differently or wonder if it’s time to chart a new course.
Therefore, it is my plan to continue to share with you my journey, my experiences and my thoughts, because we are all multi-faceted, unique and amazing people who fit in more than one bucket, whether that’s parents, working professionals or cocktail-loving crazies. I hope you’ll share with me your questions about your chosen path, your future journeys and dreams yet to be fulfilled. Crazy loves company. Yes, I will still share parenting stories, but my seven-year old son is in the all farting, all the time stage, so I plan to spare you.
Do you feel like you’re fulfilling your life’s purpose? Are you passionate about how your spend your days? Do you have another goal on the horizon? Do you live a double or triple life to fulfill multiple passions? Do you put lime in your rum? How do you get a little boy to stop with the incessant potty talk?!
I am still on sabbatical, but there is sure a lot to discuss and now that I am here, it’s good to be back.
I have been a little MIA here lately. I have written many posts… in my head. Trust me, I have some brilliant thoughts at 3:00 am that I never put to paper (or keyboard) the next morning. So what have I been doing instead of blogging? Why am I up thinking at 3:00 am?
I have been shopping. Well, window shopping actually.
I have put a lot of energy into window shopping for my purpose and passion.
I am a happy person. I love my life and feel blessed with the things in it. I have a wonderful husband, two adorable children, a stable and rewarding career… but…
…I feel like I am wearing a shirt I love that doesn’t fit quite right.
…I feel like I am meant to do something else, something more in line with my passions and strengths.
…I feel like my happy life could be happier.
I feel like I am searching for my “purpose”. Yes, I am a mother and wife, those things are paramount. But when I take away relationship titles, who am I?
Is this just a career search? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. I have a career, but does it speak to who I am? I am not sure. Does it capitalize on my strengths? Not all of them. The time we spend working is significant, shouldn’t it or couldn’t it represent us?
In search of quieting the questions in my head, I have invested more time in my work while researching new careers. I have been trying to gauge how much I love my job and if it is the right one. I have been searching for the ideal job that fits multi-faceted me.
Then something great happened, a chance conversation. A wise friend, who I respect very much, recently shared with me that he is trying to figure out what is next for him after he wraps up his current corporate gig. He explained he might put more effort into a few small companies he runs, he might do philanthropic work, or he might do something totally different. It sounded like he might dabble in several things.
As I reflected on our conversation, it hit me that I was trying to get all of my passion and purpose in a few places. I realized that I have more than one purpose and I need to figure out how to prioritize them, not combine them. I am the queen of multi-tasking, but you can’t multi-task life. I think life is meant to be enjoyed and lived in separate streams. Career, motherhood, charity work, friendships, hobbies – they are each deserving of their own time. And I deserve to enjoy each of them without distraction (on the ideal days – don’t get literal with a woman with young children).
The other important thing I am figuring out is that I need to focus on the details and let go of the big picture. No, I didn’t write that backwards. I would like to better appreciate the happiness and passion I already have instead of trying to connect them to one purpose in life. I read a quote by MeiMei Fox that I love:
“The key to happiness is not enjoying every single moment of every day. That’s an unrealistic expectation that sets you up for disappointment. The key is to celebrate every tiny but glorious, extraordinary and surprising experience you have.” She goes on to provide the critical reminder that:
“When something miraculous takes place — and by miraculous, I mean any of the seemingly small yet phenomenal events that unfold all the time, from your child laughing in your arms, to your best friend calling in tears to tell you her mother has cancer — stop. Put down your smart phone. Watch. Listen. Taste. Touch. Show up.”
sometimes often forget to stop and show up. I over multi-task, I miss the passion, the purpose that already exists. So I am still window shopping from time to time, but I am trying to spend more time just experiencing.
The restless feeling hasn’t completely left me, but now I interpret it as excitement and anticipation for the many blessings that I will experience in the moments, days, months and years ahead. My personal challenge is taking them one moment at a time.
Do you feel like you know your purpose? Do you experience life? Do you show up?
One of the most amazing things about writing this blog is the other writers I have met either virtually or in real-life. I cherish their friendships and talents. I also love learning things from them that help make my life easier. A few such lessons have stuck with me lately and I wanted to pass them on to you:
- Coping with messes.
I am a bit of a neat freak.I have OCD. Sometimes when the kids make a mess I literally think steam is going to come out of my ears like a cartoon character. Kelly over at Dances with Chaos takes pictures of her kids messes to laugh and blog about. Even if you don’t write or blog, taking the picture to laugh about (or blackmail your kids with) really helps bring the situation down from DEFCON 1.
- Know your role. Blessing over at Working Mom Journal talks about our role of inspiring our children. What a great reminder of thinking past homework and toothbrush enforcer. Blessing shares 9 elements of how to inspire your children.
- Tools to get you through the work day. Rene over at Grown Up for Real shared with her readers the Little Pink Book, career wisdom for women. It’s short articles and videos for all of you, who like me, need career and life-enhancing tools.
- If all else fails, just keeping up is a good day! Angie over at The Little Mumma reminds us that parenting is a bit like Groundhog Day and our accomplishments from yesterday don’t count for today, so just keeping up is great!
Do you have a helpful tip or sage advice? I am listening and always in need of wisdom!
I know what you’re thinking – “Paige, don’t you mean treading water?”
Do I ever mean water over wine? Not unless we’re talking about laundry and I rarely talk about laundry.
For the last several weeks I have been struggling to tread wine. You see, if I was struggling to tread water, I would have simply gotten out of the pool (or lake, or ocean). But wine is complex, sometimes surprising, occasionally corked, but usually delightful, just like life. So therefore, treading wine is worth the struggle.
So what I have been struggling with that has kept me off-balance (and writing very little) for the last few weeks? I think I have it mostly figured out (how’s that for confidence and conviction?). I have shared on occasion that I haven’t always been happy in my job. The thing is, I love what I do and I am
good great at it. But I am a perfectionist and it had gotten out of hand. I had gotten to a point where nothing felt good enough. My confidence was slipping and my self-critical side needed a beat-down. It had started to spill in to my personal life. Everything felt hollow and I had stopped trusting my own instincts. Very few people knew how it was affecting me, because, like my dramatic diva of a three-year old, I can put on a show. The irony is during this time, I received a promotion, a raise and several accolades and still didn’t feel like my work was good enough.
But I am very fortunate, I am surrounded by smart, caring people (and a few paid professionals) who have helped me get things under control. By examining my perfectionist tendencies, I realized that perhaps I am a wee bit… off-balance, unrealistic and um… crazy. As I thought about the standard I was
holding strangling myself to, I had to laugh. It was absurd and not the level I hold others to. My higher self-bar was not because I thought I was better than the average person and could deliver more, it was because of that pesky perfectionism. This may confuse you since I talk about mold in my shower and all of my follies, but there are parts of life where I feel safe being “normal” and parts where I wasn’t giving myself that same luxury. (Trust me, the mold is still in the shower and I think the whole house needs dusting).
So I have perfectly cured myself in about two weeks. (When you’re done laughing, feel free to continue reading).
Welcome back, need some water or a kleenex?
In lieu of an instant cure, which I was dismayed to discover does not exist, I am being more thoughtful about my goals, my decisions and my feelings. I am letting myself off the hook a bit. I am taking risks again and know that sometimes I will… eek… fail, and gulp… that’s good for me. I am also reminding myself that my job is only one facet of my rich, tannin filled life. I am treating myself the way I would treat any of my precious friends and family members: with support and encouragement.
I know that I will have to keep an eye on that bothersome perfectionist side and I may have to occasionally smack her around, but just being aware makes me feel so much better!
So I am again successfully treading wine and enjoying it. Not to mention that cabernet-colored skin is more attractive than some of my spray tan debacles in an effort to avoid my natural pasty white color!
Thanks to a Mad Women who inspired me to share the hard, not always funny, parts of life.