IIplanned on doing my best blog entry yet! On the top of my ten page ‘to do’ list it says in capital letters BLOG FOR MAY 12TH – RELFECTIONS ON 16 YEARS MOTHERHOOD. Well it’s May 11th and I am just sitting down to do this. What got in my way of accomplishing this important goal? Motherhood. I have been too busy this past week trying to be a great mother to find the time to write thoughtfully on motherhood. So this is not what I hoped it would be, but maybe that is a good thing. Learning to just do what you can do, and letting that be enough, is perhaps the most important lesson any us mothers can learn.
This has been a particularly challenging 5 weeks and one where if I were to look back and give myself a mommy grade, it would not be pretty. It started with a surgery that knocked me out for a bit which meant I did little around the house or for the kids. When I did recover I had to travel to New York City for yet another important meeting for Women Moving Millions, and to receive an award from the Global Fund for Women. I was thrilled and honored but at the same time there was a dose of guilt for being away, again. Then it was back to Park City for a quick turnaround. I had to leave the next day for a one-week trip to Europe with my just turning 16 year old son. I landed from New York sicker than I had been in a while. My planned for evening of bonding with my husband and daughter turned in to me going to bed early with a box of Kleenex. After a quick trip to the doctor the next morning where I begged for medication it was off to the airport and a red-eye to Paris, a layover, and on to Berlin. We landed around 5 pm the next day and I had plugged ears, a dripping nose and a sore throat. Let the fun begin!
Though the first few days were tough because I was so sick the trip was really wonderful. I had never been to Berlin before and to be there with my son was truly special. Paris is well, Paris. What’s not to like? I ate about 50 croissants. The plane time home was spent catching up on hundreds of answered emails, prepping for a Women Moving Millions board meeting, and oh yes, trying to write two entirely different keynote speeches I had to deliver the next week. I had tried to forget how much I had to do and it all came flooding back to me on the plane. I landed on Saturday exhausted, stressed, and jet lagged.
I did my best to push all of that aside and have a quality day with the family before facing what lied ahead for the week. Monday was the four-hour board meeting, Tuesday was the key-note to a group in Salt Lake City, then the next on Friday morning to over 500 amazing women in Boston. I rushed from there to catch a flight to New York for another important meeting and a long time planned film weekend with my husband. We almost never go away together so this was special. I had considered us cancelling it as I had been away so much, but we decided we really needed the time to just be together. On the way to meet me my husband got some news about one of our kids that almost led him to turn right around and head home. Together we decided, no everything would be fine, and we ended up having a great weekend to return home on Sunday last. And it was.
Aside from the week I took away for quality one on one time with my son, which by the way was a piece of advice I got early, it was a month where taking care of me, and working took priority. So when I got back last Sunday I promised myself that I would work no more than I had to, try to exercise, and spend as much time as possible with the kids.
It started Sunday with a nice family dinner. Monday it was a meeting with my son’s teacher followed by a 2 hour drive, each way, for my daughters soccer game. Tuesday it was driving to and from a bass lesson for my son and a home cooked meal. Wednesday was a truly special day, my son’s 16th birthday, though the celebration is waiting until after his AP tests are over which are happening next week. Thursday it was International Night at my daughter’s school, which meant preparing a dish from our ethnic heritage for 20-30, being at the school by 5, and staying until 8:30. Friday it was driving my son to and from his music lesson and entertaining distant relatives that were paying us a visit for the first time. Today? Mommy/daughter time – garage sales, pedicures and now a soon to start soccer game that is ONLY a 50 minutes drive away. Mommy score for this week? An A. Work score for the week, a C. That said I did manage to have 20+ hours of calls on this, that an every other thing. The balls stayed in the air.
Before I had kids I truly did not get it. I had no idea how much of a commitment it would be and I am so grateful, beyond grateful, that I have a spouse, a partner, who is truly a GREAT dad. In terms of time spent with children, things done for the kids, he often runs circles around me. It took a while for me to accept that my husband may indeed be a better parent to our children than I am, but I have come to the realization that parenting cannot be a competition. That is a recipe for disaster. You each do your best and if that best does not equal 50/50 all the time, so be it.
Same is true for motherhood in general. When my son was young and I was working full-time at Goldman trying to keep up with stay-at-home mothers brought my to tears on more that one occasion. I specifically remember going with him to a birthday party where the theme was PIRATES. The mother had made a cake that truly looked like a pirate ship. The house was themed out and her son’s costume? Home made and exquisite. My son could not stop talking about it and I spent about an hour huddled up in a ball questioning whether it was at all possible to have a career and a family.
Do I think I am a good mother? Yes I do. Do I, at times, still beat myself up about the choices I have made and continue to make? Yes I do. Do I wonder if my kids might be somehow better, whatever the heck that means, if I had spent even more time with them? Yes I do. But I also know that one of the most important things I can teach my children is that while prioritizing their needs is incredibly important, it is also important to serve others to the best of your ability. It is also important to honor who you are as a person, what gives you joy and contentment, and not be so busy doing for others that you start resenting your choices. I try to live by the adage that “to those to which much has been given, much is expected.” The challenge is, as it will always be, balancing it all.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! My wish for all of us is that we take the time, today, to just be. To put the to do list away and spend time doing something that gives us joy, whatever that may be. For me it will be spending time with my kids, my husband, my friends, and of course, my dogs! It is going to be one big love fest.