In the midst of school dance preparations, as I was sewing in the buttons on a costume (which, by the by, I had personally made by hand), I started getting hot and dizzy; it was a feeling like the one they’ve been saying happens when you are dying: a haze, your whole life is flashing before your eyes, and you can’t breathe. A semi-panic attack, and I’m thinking “Am I going to make it this time around?” as my daughter tugs down on my skirt. On autopilot, I pull myself together and think “It is all worth it”.
Scattered and unfocused with all the activities I’m stretched between – working small consulting jobs, volunteering at school, driving endless carpools, minding the household, freelancing as a writer, running, making costumes for school dances (to name a few), I was drowning. Deadlines started escaping me; I would miss the kids’ games’ I skipped running more often than I actually went on track; I had no time for my friends or husband; and it felt like failing. All of it. And the worst part? I thought I was in it alone. All other mothers seemed to have it all figured out while I – I was on the verge.
The magic of motherhood community is that, once you open up, everyone opens up. I spoke to some of my mom-friends and realized – I wasn’t alone. We are all messed up together and all while trying to be perfect, we’re forgetting to just be. Be happy and enjoy parenting.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that ‘working mother’ is by far a redundant term these days and that we’re all grasping for air. I couldn’t help but think to myself: Do we all really want our children growing up with mothers stretched too thin, rarely ever laughing or glowing with happiness? Of course we don’t. They deserve mothers with a focus, acting from joy, not guilt.
Action on point
At a sit down and over a few Irish coffees, with our kids at school and our self-love and dignity buried in a pile of dirty laundry, my neighboring mothers and I have agreed it’s time we changed things. We’ve decided it’s time we did something for us, individually. It was (and still is) a beautiful motherhood pack – we’ve made a list of things we’ll do for ourselves, change and alter. We’ve become each other’s support system that afternoon, you know.
Here’s what we’ve done and it’s been working since then.
Accept this new part of your identity
The first and key step to discovering who you are as a mother is accepting that, in fact, you are a mother. Most of us were thrown into the motherhood just as we were landing big clients and launching our startups. Accepting that you are a mom – with, now, changed priorities, different body, altered schedule, multitasking and balancing of a different type than the one you’ve known your whole life (you vs. YOUR PERSONAL obligations, not someone else’s) – changes everything.
Think of this transition as a new beginning. Instead of focusing on the loss of your former self, embrace this transformative experience as something that will encourage personal growth. Treat it as a project you’re doing with tremendous love. You are now a role model. Grow into becoming the kind of person you want our child to look up to.
Indulge in a passion
Stop forgetting yourself, immediately! Yes, everything is on you but you are on you, too. Find the time to indulge in your passions, even for an hour a day. It doesn’t matter how banal those passions are – from watching your favorite TV show, writing, drinking that morning cup of coffee alone, going for a run, reading, painting to DIY-ing around the house, swatting at mosquitoes – who cares! If it’s making you happy, do it. It’s your happy fuel.
Be a kid for a second
Our kids’ happiness comes from, well, them being kids. They’ll find joy in almost everything around them, so why not take their lead?
Stacey (Jerrad’s mom) went to running every day; Joyce (Scott’s mom) took up yoga again; Stella (Jenny’s mom) took up painting classes again; Susan (Mary’s mom) started Tango lessons. Me? I treated myself to a self-balancing scooter and I’m riding it like a boss! I’ve always wanted one, ever since that kid down the block bought it, but I never had the guts. Well, now I did and I love it!
Talk to adults
Perk up your social calendar this very second! Make the time to go on a date with your husband, see your best friends and have a coffee with your favorite neighbors. No, the Earth won’t go flat if you replace doing the laundry (for a day) with going for a movie with your bestie while the kids are at school. Come on.
Ask for help
No one is going to think you are a bad mom if you ask for help; after all, when did you sign up to be both a successful business woman and a successful mother?
Ask your husband to assist or hire help to come in a few days a week. It’s okay, trust me.
The way I see it, us mothers are a true force, a hurricane in its perfect power if you will. We’re entrusted with the biggest job anyone can embark on – rearing good, kind, self-respecting, ethical, responsible human beings – might as well nail it, right?