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Do another working mom a favor — tell her how imperfect your life is

Categories: Balancing Act, Working Women Issues


girl-whispering-to-another.jpgI 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!.)

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8 comments so far...

  • I can head that group, for sure. This week especially. Right now. And now. And probably tomorrow. But not the day after because that’s the day I’ll look best -pulled together and beautiful (cough, choke). But maybe that night.

    Seriously, this is a great insight, Nataly.

    Sorry to hear you fought with your mom. Let’s have a mom’s night out…

    Mandy  |  April 3rd, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  • People think I have it all together, when I am far from SuperMom status. I use it as a lesson for my daughter -who always seems to think that everyone has it better or is happier -(she is a teen, can you tell!) to show that you never know what is happening behind closed doors. No one’s life is as perfect as we may think it is. Everyone has their spilled soup to wade through. It is how you wade through it that matters in life!

    Thanks for a great article!

    Linney  |  April 3rd, 2008 at 10:37 pm

  • You´re right, it is nice to hear that someone else is going through the same chaos! My life is a complete disaster at the moment, but I keep getting comments like that as well, on how well I manage things. :S

    Genesis  |  April 4th, 2008 at 9:21 am

  • This was kind of nice to read- sorry, but it is nice to know other working moms are having the same kind of days that I have. One of my close friends just had a baby shower. I helped make the 100 chocolate favors, the 100 scrolls with a letter from the baby to the guests (her mom’s idea!) and showed up early to help setup. She told me in the thank you card that she hopes she will be as put together as a mom as me. IS SHE KIDDING???? She should only know that I spilled my entire cup of tea on my foot in the parking lot and set up her shower with soaking wet pants, I was up to 3am doing the scrolls and had to call in sick a few days before in order to finished the favor I promised to make. Why do I do this to myself? And how can no one see through it?

    Allison  |  April 4th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

  • I think we all, at some point or another, see other moms and think, “God, I wish I was like…” Or our children say something to the effect that so and so’s mom had time to do A or B…why can’t YOU?

    As someone said, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. I was never ever the arts/crafts mom or the cookies/tea mom. I just wasn’t. Doesn’t mean I was a bad mom, but when your kid throws it in your face, I can’t help but think… Then I step back and think, “Nope, I am who I am (thanks Popeye!), and that’s what you got, kiddo…deal with it.” It’s wonderful to know that I’m not the only one out there that’s not perfect. Those that are…well, they seriously need to get a real life, imho. Thre’s some serious mental issues there,

    Jane  |  April 4th, 2008 at 4:09 pm

  • Yes, if only I had a dollar for every time someone said “I don’t know how you do it”….. LOL

    Yet no matter how people may present themselves, we are all human, and we as mothers know how difficult our job can be. So Ladies, let’s not be so hard on ourselves!

    BlapherMJ  |  April 4th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  • We find the same thing! When we’re sitting with a group of girlfriends and someone brings up the topic of trying to get toddlers to eat a good dinner, or the last tantrum that lasted for what seemed like forever in the grocery store, the rest of the group breathes a sigh of relief as if to say “I thought I was the ONLY one!” It breaks the ice and makes everyone feel human. And THAT feels good.

    Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
    Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
    Authors of the forthcoming book “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It”

    Cali and Jody  |  April 4th, 2008 at 5:21 pm

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