Finding a Village at the Office
I wrote this one year ago, and it’s one of the reasons why “Best for the Moment” is my working mom mantra.
There I was, standing in the back of a conference room, coffee cup in hand, holding back tears while listening to the leaders of my company speak about how hard it is to be a new parent.
I had made a special trip up to our headquarters, away from my 6-month-old, and felt like the exact message that I needed to hear in that moment had been crafted just for me.
My naivety thinking this particular business trip was merely a matter of logistics — fly up after bed time, have my husband do daycare drop off and grandma pick up — was coming back to bite me.
That first night away, I expected my son to go happily to sleep while I whizzed off in an Uber to the airport. But there were tears of protest about the interruption in our well-oiled routine. The next day he was all smiles on Facetime, but his tummy and teething bothered him later on.
My son didn’t need super mom, he just wanted his mom.
Where did this new working mama overdrive come from? Going back to work in the beginning of the year was refreshing. I cherished the early days of just me and my son spending time together, but I was ready to get back into the swing of things.
The hardest parts of returning to work were the adjustment to our new morning routine, when I frequently underestimated how long it would take to get two of us out the door, and pumping on trains, planes, in airports and hotels.
Otherwise, my first few weeks were mentally exhilarating. I felt sharp and focused, even while struggling to get a full night’s sleep during my son’s 4-month sleep regression.
That’s when I got cocky. Amidst my adrenaline rush returning to the job I love, I had fallen into the self-inflicted trap of trying to have it all.
I smoothed out the morning daycare drop offs with podcasts and lattes, and channeled my determination and focus into inspiring my team to make the most of every minute in and out of the office. I became a fan of recipe delivery boxes and experimented with subscriptions to personalized stylist picks. I double-counted gym trips as quality couple time.
I’ve always jumped at opportunities to improve myself, my health, and my career. But trying to do so while taking care of another human being is where I started to bumping into walls.
No one asked me to master every facet of my life, so why did I put so much pressure on myself?
Women Helping Women Succeed
As a new mom, it can be hard to find your compass. Where do those of us who are crazy enough to think we can have it all go to confess and commiserate?
Plenty of moms ban together around things like breastfeeding, baby-wearing or school admissions.
But for me, it’s at the office. And that’s been the biggest surprise. The same place that drives me is full of a community of moms who’ve been through the very same challenges.
So I’m learning to be more open about my struggles — even in the workplace — and I’m getting reassuring messages in return. The common theme is that no working mama can do it alone. “It takes a village” frequently rolls off the tongue, and everyone agrees that it’s trial and error until you figure out a system that works for you.
Admitting that I’m struggling at work too, is a first for me. This is incredibly humbling for someone who has never wanted to show weakness and said yes to every opportunity.
Even outside of work, I’m now trying to focus on the simple things that bring joy to me and our little family. Like making dinner and snuggling in bed on the weekends. If I can carve out time for those two favorite past times, I will consider it a huge accomplishment.
Most of all, I’m learning that to admit you can’t do it all, isn’t weak, it’s human.
Not super human. Just human.