I had coffee the other day with a friend of a friend. Since we moved my friends have been really kind introducing me to their friends in the area and I always jump at the opportunity. We had a really nice talk and after I got home there was an email from the friend who introduced us, saying how much this woman liked me and how together she said I seemed.
I literally almost spit up the water I was drinking when I read that because I was having one of those days you really want to forget. My daughter was sick and I’d spent the morning attempting, without much success, to get a bit of work done while taking care of her. I’d forgotten a really important call. My mom and I managed to get in a fight on the phone. I’d spilled the soup I was making all over the stove that was cleaned the day before and I was consuming every bad-for-me sugary carbohydrate I could get my hands on to try and eat some of the stress away. (Verdict — that definitely doesn’t work,)
Me, put together? She had to be kidding, I wrote to my friend who’d introduced us, as I wrote to her about my horrible day.
About an hour later I get an email from the woman I’d had coffee with. Turns out my friend forwarded my horrible day description to her and she happened to be having as much trouble juggling work, kids, and, in her case, a car that had broken down on her way home. She wrote that knowing that someone who seems as put together as I did can have days like that made her feel a lot better about her own mess.
In my next life I might be an actor because I can definitely put on an act. Most people who meet me, regardless of how good or bad that particular day is for me, see me as someone very much together and on her game. (If I ever had time to go to a shrink I am sure I’d get a really good explanation for why I do this.) This put together image has served me well in my career, but in my personal life I’ve had to learn that eventually, it’s really nice to let my guard down, especially when talking to other working moms. We’re all a bit of a mess at times and knowing this helps us keep going. (I’ll confess that reading about Mir’s business trip guilt made me feel better about my own.)
So do another stressed working mom a favor — let her know that your life isn’t all put together and well-balanced. Chances are, she’s in the same boat. (Maybe we should even add an I’m a mess because… group here on Work It, Mom!.)