I get my best ideas in the shower then forget them by the time I’m dressed. Today, for example, I had three: one was a blog post about management and motherhood, another was a strategy for enlisting support for my latest idea [at work], and the last was… yea, I’ve forgotten.
I’ve been flirting with the idea of doing a regular blog gig again, a’la Weddingbee. Unfortunately, inspiration comes infrequently and inconveniently. Truth be told, one of the side effects of taking meds for PPD is an inability to sink into the quiet place where my deepest soul lives. That place was the source of many a dark moment.. but also, where I could drown in my feelings and turn them into words. I don’t miss it unless I’m thinking about blogging. Silly, but still….
After months of brain dumping my thoughts into irregular posts, I’m lonely for the essays.
I’m 33. After years of misdirecting my motherly instincts at husbands and animals, I’ve hit my stride being somebody’s mom. Suddenly all of my quirks make sense – they are talents that until recently had no worthy focus. Grown men do not need another mother; cats can only bear so much focus. But finally (finally!) my instincts match my life and it’s glorious.
Serendipitously, the Work Me and Home Me are finally (finally!) the same me. My twenties were spent kicking ass at work and surviving a dysfunctional personal life. Soon my focus shifted to home and personal relationships; my work stagnated. Now? Magically aligned.
Who knew I’d so love my version of motherhood? Who knew I’d find middle management so gratifying? After a decade spent avoiding both, here I am.
When my son can’t sleep, I think about the inputs and outputs and how we can test changes to see if they make a difference. When a colleague is melting down at me, I consider their frustration and how I can allow them to feel what they need to feel. I talk about strict prioritization as a way to avoid guilt and make clear decisions, then use a home example to show work people what I mean.
Maybe that’s why I’m out of bloggish inspiration. Balance does not an essay make.
As I revel in my personality – and revel I do, rolling and wallowing in my quirks like a pig in mud – I struggle with insecurity. Today I found myself “joking” to a work colleague (and not a close one, either) about being found out as just the mouth fronting other people’s brains. WTF? Really? Though I’m certain I’m making the right decisions on behalf of my teams, I struggle to articulate my own value to myself without asterisks. During a late night drinking session with a new work friend, I found myself admitting my worries that I’d be found out any day now, that I’d have chosen any one of a handful of other people to stay instead of me, that all my willingness to stand my ground and make a point was fake. He, gratefully, propped me up and, as I did with him, made me promise I wouldn’t act on the crap I was spewing.
We decided a spit swear was more appropriate to our personalities than a pinkie swear.
I met a mom on the playground last night, one of those moms I once thought I could be, one who takes the title of “holistic mother” quite seriously. We went to the same birth center at the same time, were induced at the same hospital a day apart, and had our boys via c-section one day after the other. We’d never met until we happened onto the same playground with our sons at the same time. Strange how closely we’d lived our lives. And yet… not the same kind of mama. She’s pregnant again and thrilled, a SAHM and dedicated to it, and all about non-medical solutions to any problem. I work for a corporation and say things like “career trajectory”, send my kid to Montessori school and love it, and figure if we take meds to survive allergy season in the south, so should Javi have the option. My husband and I find the idea that people are purposely planning to have another child with one the same as ours equally unbelievable. We remain convinced we’re good with just the one Javi.
At work I’ve learned to be okay with being different. I’ve found my role – to build teams of people who, together, are a super person given their combined talents. I’m honest about where I am weak and find people who are complementarily strong to balance me. Today, as I cringe at how that mom must think of me, I’m trying to remember the lessons I’ve learned at work: people don’t have to be the same to work together. In fact, they most often are when they are not.
I heard in an interview on NPR today (paraphrased): “I’m a jazz musician. This is what I do. If this isn’t what other people think a jazz musician should produce, that’s really not my deal to worry about. I’m a jazz musician. This is what I do. So this must be jazz.”
I’m a mama. This is how I do it. If other people don’t think this is how a mama should be, that’s not really something I worry about. I’m a mama, so if I do it, it must be how mamas do.