When I feel like a failure as a working mom, here is what I remember

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Some days I feel like I have it all together.  And some days – as a working mom – I feel like I’m a failure as an employee, as a mom and as a person.

I debated for a while whether to post today – I let a few things really get to me, and because of that, it was not one of my best days – but I think it’s important to be honest, so here I am.

I had a sick kid today and a full day of work that I needed to get done and limited time off to spare.  My solution was to take my sick kid into work – not the best for the kid, my co-workers or myself.  But when you’re trying to make it all work, sometimes you come up with crazy solutions (that maybe don’t always make sense!).  The end result ended up being fine and I was able to best help my kid and get my daily work done, but it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been left up to my own solution (which, let me repeat, was not a good solution).

You can’t do it all by yourself.  Believe me, I’ve tried again and again.  And I’ve failed again and again.  I can do a lot of things.  I’m proud of my successes and confident in my ability.  And I know that as I continue to learn, I continue to grow.  Here’s the important lessons I was reminded of today:

Remember, you have others to help you. Let them be kind.

I never ask for help.  I hate asking for help.  I want to be able to do all things and do all things perfectly.  And I know that isn’t realistically possible for any human to accomplish – much less to try to maintain on a regular basis.  But I still want those things, badly.  So when I need help – really need it – I have to mentally psych myself up to ask someone to help me.

And guess what, when I ask others for help it’s usually no big deal to that person and I’m better off for having involved them, letting them help me, and building a new part of our relationship.  Ask for help when you need it.  Ask for help more often.

And if you’re having a hard time asking for help (like me), accept the help when it is freely given to you.  In an important conversation today, I was offered help.  And even with the 1000 things running through my mind – my response was, “Thank you for helping me, I appreciate it.”

Figure out what works for your energy or emotional release. And do that thing.

When I’m starting to feel my stress build to the point that I’m not sure I can take it, I try to find something to help exhaust me.  Now, I’m not talking about mental exhaustion – I’m usually already there by this point! I’ve found what helps me calm down is something that can take my mind off of my stress, release all of the extra (stress) energy that I’m internalizing, and something that is good for me.  I usually will exercise – and it seems to work.  Today, I went to the gym after work and focused on the workout. About 15 minutes in, I decided to add some extra weights during my weightlifting class and by the end of the routine – I was exhausted and REFRESHED – because I was thinking about the exercise and not my stress.

Keeping the stress with you is only going to do damage to you.  Get it out in a healthy way that actually eliminates the exhaustion – it could be talking to someone, it could be running, it could be getting enough sleep.  Find what works for you and make it a priority to make it happen.

Tackle things in small pieces. Remember small progress is still progress.

I often wake up in the middle of the night when I’m stressed and think about all of the problems of the world. I need to fix everything and I’m too sleepy and disoriented for anything to make sense, so I spin my wheels and make no progress.  I’ve started forcing myself to write down the real things that I’ve developed and send them to myself in email.  Then I do something else until I can go back to sleep (so I don’t think about everything that has ever existed in the world that I need to fix).

When I wake up and I’m thinking clearly, I look at my email and am able to write down my “real” tasks so I can make progress today.  Then I focus only on what I can accomplish today or what I planning I need to accomplish so I can make tiny progress tomorrow.   When I think about the here-and-now, I realize that I’m making progress and it’s making a big difference over time.

There are many times where I have to tell my kids “No” because of something related to work or not take a work-related opportunity because of what it means for my kids.  I realize it’s the balance that will always exist in my life and I’m comfortable with my decisions and my progress. I know they’ll be good days, challenging days and important days in the future.  I’m working to make sure that my days are purposeful and that I make a difference with what I can do.

I’ve learned is purposeful positive thinking makes an enormous difference in my life, and I think it will benefit you as well.  When I’m feeling like a failure as a working mom, I remind myself of the power of purposeful positive thinking, because it works. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do it all,” I remember,  “I’m doing the best I can and my best is enough.”  Switching my thinking is a valuable reminder that gives me strength in challenging situations and makes me continue to do the best I can – to be the best mom, the best employee and the best person. 

I think that’s all I can ever really hope for.  And I’m happy with that. Because my best is enough.

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