Sunday, July 31, 2016

7 of 2eLLLve. Learning to be a Bad Mom.

Like many women, I rushed to the movie theatre the other night with my girlfriends, eager to see the highly anticipated “Bad Moms.”  While it wasn’t the next great Oscar contender, it sure resonated with all of us.  Why?  Whether you are a mom or not, it’s relatable.

The premise of the movie is to suggest that hard as we try, none of us are perfect.  When we have those moments of imperfection, we are often judged and considered “bad” at that which we set out to do.  Striving to do our best is different than attempting to achieve an unrealistic standard in our lives unilaterally.  I've dumbed it down to two things to overcome this:  prioritization and confidence.  I spent this past month trying to learn how do exactly this.  

Whether you are a mom, a dad, a pet owner or just have a life outside of work, so many of our existences are filled with things we have to do, as well as the things we want to do.  When you partner all of those things with a drive to give your very best at everything, you’re looking at mental and physical burnout. 

I've learned the trick is to determine what truly matters to me.  I've learned if I give my best efforts to those things, everything else needs to take a lower priority.  For example, I’m a single working mom.  I quickly learned after my divorce that if I wanted to be home at night to make dinner for my daughters and spend some quality time catching up with them in the evening, I had to prioritize the choice to hit the office at the crack of dawn so I could use that quiet block as a “get my work done” time.  Not going to lie; it’s not fun when the alarm goes off early and I’m at my desk by 6:30 am.  However, the prioritized time I get on the back end to achieve my mission of spending that time with my kids is invaluable.

This past month, I connected with other people trying to do this as well, to see how they make it work.  Those with balance appear to edit their schedules to prioritize to what works for them.  Some trade their lunch break for the gym, as health is important to them.  Some listen to podcasts during their commute so they can fuel their brains with new things.  The point is, we are all individuals, with things that are important to each us.

Last year, I thought I was going to enter 2016 by being in a totally different place career wise.  I decided to stay in my current role for a variety of reasons.  However, the one big caveat was that I had to do it a little differently so I could approach my work and life with a new lens, and accomplish some of the other things on my "list" that were important to me.   And then I had to have the confidence and energy to go make it happen.  

I started by figuring out what my want to do and need to do priorities were.  Then I looked to prune them, prioritize them, and outsource as necessary.  My kids joke about "our staff", but having a reliable sitter who can shuttle the kids to their activities, a cleaning person who saves me hours I can reallocate and a dog walker who can ensure my dog gets a great long walk in every day aren't just time savers - they are part of a grand plan to ensure my life is in sync and I'm getting to accomplish "the important stuff" to the best of my ability.  

This month, I took a good hard look at how the first half of the year has gone.  I reviewed my calendar, and took a pulse check on what was going well, and what I needed to tweak to ensure I was achieving - and what I wasn't.  With the help of a little prioritization, I have taken the pressure off of some of the items; they just aren't that critical to ace.  However, I've put more attention on some of the things I realized were bigger priorities, and am now spending a little extra energy on those things. 

Whether you are a parent, a recent college grad, or anyone in between, we all have jam packed lives and often do our very best to live them to the best of our abilities.  However, when we can prioritize and determine what’s truly important – and then create alternatives to how to take a little pressure off those that don’t require our very best effort - we make our lives significantly more manageable.  If that’s truly what we call being a “bad mom,”  I’m working on perfecting being the worst. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

6 of 2eLLLve. One More Pea in our Pod.

Much of the first half of this year, I tackled taking on work related topics each month, in hopes of building a little more skill with each focus area.  Last month, I switched gears and spent the month focused on editing my house to feel more like a "home," and learning to embrace the fact that it's perfect for now - and not feeling complacent for making the best of a place even if it's not my "dream home."

The month of June was again spent focusing on building a little stability in our lives; we made the decision to adopt a rescue puppy.  Her name is Charlie, and she came home to live with us today.

This wasn't a decision made lightly.  We said goodbye to our family dog Miles several years ago when E and I split up.  The dog went to live with him in Connecticut, and though I know in my heart living with E was a better choice for him at that point, it felt like just one more piece of my former life to say goodbye to.

My kids and I love animals.  When Miles left our house, Gianna supplemented with two guinea pigs.  They are actually pretty good little pets, but clearly don't offer the same kind of companionship a dog does.   After about a year of discussion, we decided to look into adopting a new friend.

Dogs are fun, for sure.  They are also a lot of work.  So what pushed me over the edge?  I have been hit hard lately of the reality I am facing in five years.

Five years from now, my kids will be gone from our home.  It will just be me.  While it is exciting to think of the infinite possibilities that reality offers, it's also really sad.  So by building a relationship with a new little friend, we all get to enjoy her now...and I have a buddy left when my children are no longer here.

My life has been so chaotic for so long, the thought of taking on anything offering permanence has been immediately rejected by me during the last few years.  I'm sure a psychologist could have a field day with that behavior.  Ultimately, if I don't place any value on committing to anything, I can't get hurt.  Well, ok.  That's a stupid way to live one's life, right?  I've been bold enough to fall in love again, and yes, I got hurt.  I'm also a fighter; I'll be damned if I give up on that or anything else.  When I recognize I'm making dumb decisions to protect myself, I look hard in the mirror and try to attack it.   I'm also savvy enough to know life is about taking risks and finding value in the payoff; no matter how fleeting it might be.

So for now, I'm going to enjoy our newly redecorated home.  And I'm going to love this new little furry friend.  I love that she's a rescue pup - her mom was beaten when she was pregnant, and we get to help by providing a safe and loving home for her.  She's a weird mix of chihuahua and some kind of terrier, and she's small and scrappy.  Kind of like me.

I have a sneaking suspicion we are going to be good for each other.