parenting

Is resiliency overrated?

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At my 9-5 gig, I was discussing ways to improve the morale in our local San Francisco office with our Chief People Officer (CPO, yep, that’s a thing. So cool, right?).

For several months, employees in a different department than my own had been working crazy OT and quickly diving head first into burning out. They were getting bitter over the lack of communication, that the end was most definitely NOT in sight, and the fatigue.

With a history in the Army, I’m not surprised our CPO mentioned resiliency.

Sure, life requires resiliency. To be able to recover quickly from difficulties takes a mental and sometimes physical toughness. To persevere despite hardships and bounce back is somewhat of a learned behavior.

But I question the general assumption that everyone has a similar threshold for resilience. Like any muscle, resiliency grows through flexing it while overcoming trials. But when is it too much?

We tabled the resiliency discussion, promising to pick it up later this summer. In the meantime, we’d keep paying OT, providing dinners and breakfasts for those that stayed late or came in early, and giving a day off here and there.

Moving on, his next question to me was, “Do you feel appreciated?”

Those words cut through me and I immediately blurted out, “No!,” followed by a downpour of tears.

I did not expect to break so easily.

I may not have been experiencing the stress and long hours of my coworkers, but I was experiencing burn out as a working, single parent, trying to juggle it all well.

Sometimes being the mom is being the most underappreciated person in the room, especially when trying to do it all.

Also, as women, I don’t think we think about it until the question is asked point blank.

We do a lot – mentally and physically – and we don’t give ourselves credit. We keep forging ahead, resilient. Possibly too strong for our own good, as we carry heavy emotions, and most certainly too busy to stop and reflect, to feel and understand. We just keep trucking because we think that if we stop, all that we’ve built will crash.

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This recent article from Motherly hit home for me.

“…85% of moms said that our society does not do a good job of supporting mothers.

Eighty-five percent.

Society is asking you to nurture in an environment that does not nurture you back.

 

Through my divorce, moving, sick kids, and remote days, my 9-5 gig has accommodated many of my requests. Yet my schedule and commute keep me a slave to the corporate world.

Can you relate?

I feel this when I tell my daughters they can’t sign-up for a gymnastics class because the only times are at 3:30pm  on weekdays when their mama is working.

I feel it when they’re sick at school and I ask them to wait because I’m nearly 30 miles away, dependent on a train schedule, and I’m the only one who can pick them up.

I feel it when I’m depleted from a long day and they sound more like the Peanuts mom, than my two hungry daughters.

Despite only needing and wanting love, compassion, trust, grace and an eager ear to listen about their unicorn art work, being a parent to young kids is exhausting.

Worth it, but the job is an all encompassing, 24/7, position


Yep, I’ve written about this before, but it begs repeating.

We don’t need to hide behind phrases such as, “I’m fine!” or identities of being “strong” or “resilient.”

We’re designed to have emotions and not be ok. To feel knocked down and discombobulated on occasion is part of the human condition.

However, we don’t need to wrestle through these emotions alone.

  • We need to speak up.

  • We need to ask for help.

  • We need to have conversations with our loved ones about the imbalance we feel.

  • We need to ask for raises.

  • We need to create better boundaries at work and at home to help us feel more sane.

  • We need to say no.

  • We need to rest.

  • We need to get outside.

  • We need to go on adventures.

  • We need to step away from the grind.

Two things I’d love for you to consider and put into practice this week:

1. Give yourself credit 

We’re always evolving and growing. Recognize how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to the goal you’ve been chasing or the habits you’ve wanted to create in your life. If you haven’t listened to this interview with Michelle Obama, I highly recommend it. The whole thing is stellar but the first 5 minutes about Becoming, is priceless.
 

2. Celebrate little victories


As noted above, when we aren’t giving ourselves credit, we aren’t celebrating the little victories. If we aren’t celebrating the little victories, we’re simply grinding. Head down, and grinding, all the damn time. Life is too short to not have fun and celebrate. I promise the celebration, even if it’s a short victory dance to your favorite song in your living room, will create more space for creativity, excitement and breakthrough.

 

What can you put into practice this week?

Where do you need to speak up in your life?


I saw this quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” 

Quotes like this on failure, especially coming from a man sometimes rub me the wrong way. However, I want to dissect it for a minute,

Our struggles are our story to share and to build bridges into the worlds of others. Hardships don’t have to translate into mustering up all of our strength to fight to the very end alone and barely get by.

Sometimes not surrendering equates to asking for help so that you don’t surrender to the darkness, to the loneliness, or pain.

Surrendering can mean surrendering your tendencies to hide and instead choosing vulnerability, allowing people to step into your life, to help light up the way, and to give you a purpose again.

I’ll say it again,

Remain patient,

Give yourself grace.

Ask for help.

Write down your goals where you can see them everyday and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Baby steps, my friend! You’ve got this mama!


If you want in on this conversation on a more consistent basis – bi-monthly to be more specific - join my mailing list here.

when life gives you balls, you juggle them

Jump down to the end for the recipe....I kind of go off on a tangent!

Jump down to the end for the recipe....I kind of go off on a tangent!


Standing at the kitchen sink washing a pan, I gaze out to see Charlie maliciously wave a dirty mop in her sister's face.

That was it.

I had just told her an hour ago that there is never a reason to hit her sister. And now this.

Perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I immediately begin to mediate and tell her to go to her room. While she was at it, to clean up the earlier tornado that hit that section of the house.

Stomping off, the wailing begins.

I shout, "crying about it won't get you closer to the goal."

I can't believe I utter those words. Yet in sheer frustration, the darkness and humbling truth is usually revealed. Were those words for her or for me? 

Quite plain and simple, I'm tired. 

There's no doubt a laundry list of reasons why exhaustion burdens me. Parenting alone, however, tops the list. Cuddling, having fun, playing games, and cranking up the music for dance parties is easy. On the flip side, discipline, and understanding the bigger picture of not only my legacy, but the minds, and the legacies of these little people I was blessed with, is created in the minor moments of loving correction. This is hard. These moments continue to beat me down, and make me feel I'm doing something wrong. Like I know better but can't learn the lesson myself. 

Relationships are funny, intricate things.

And then there are moments like this - 

Yesterday at a 6-year olds birthday party, I was caught in the crossfire of a dad exchange:

With empathy one dad asks, "How long is your wife out of town?"
The tired dad replies, "She was in London last week and will be in Charlotte next week. So two weeks."
"Oh geez. You need a raise and a 'World's Best Dad shirt' for that kind of stint," the empathetic dad responds, but with a hint of disgust.
"Yes, yes I do!"
I blankly stared forward, thoughts swirling in my head.

Really? I guess I knew men felt this way when their wives went away, but I had never been caught in the middle of the banter. Seriously, how do you think your wives feel when you go away? Why is this even a discussion? Is equality still this skewed? It took both you to create these children, so buck up!

Well, that's only the beginning of my G-rated version.

Shaken from my stupor, I feel the kids racing up the stairs for cheesy pizza and cupcakes. It was time to choose my own battles with my children. To choose gluten or not.

I certainly don't stew on the following ideas, but I was reminded of them through various conversations this weekend:

  • I didn't get married to boast I had a husband who cheated on me multiple times. I don't need to share this, but some people give you the look of "why are you divorced?"
  • I didn't get married to end up a single mom. Though it's hard and not what I intended, I don't want your pity.
  • I didn't get divorced to be judged on whether or not I made the right decision to move to a different state to be closer to family. You don't know the full picture and boundaries had to be defined. Period. 
  • I didn't get divorced to feel a special kind of overwhelm. That kind of just comes with the territory when you're playing the role of both mom and dad at all hours and doing it all. Even with shared custody, the "overwhelm" doesn't go away.

So with that, that's where we land today. In the here and now. We make it work. Though I'm so very tired of doing it alone, especially at 2am when there's no one to nudge to ask to take this shift for the night, I know things won't always be this way. Apparently there's an actual Law of Rhythm that dictates this fact, establishing the seasons of life. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond tomorrow, which looks a lot like today. Yet like a pendulum, we swing to the left and back to the right - in constant motion, growing, changing, learning and evolving. Thank goodness! 

So with a deep breath, I keep moving forward, knowing anything is possible, especially when I dare to create it. With eyes in my own lane, focused on my end goal, keeping the balls in the air long enough to learn what I need to learn, and teach both myself and my little ladies. This one life is precious and I want to live it to the fullest, providing a rich and vibrant environment for all of us.

This post definitely took a different turn than I intended, but I guess I had to get some things off of my chest.

With that note, speaking about balls, how about some homemade energy balls, or bars, that are easy, quick and totally satisfying?

We made both mango and chocolate versions, but at the end of it, the girls voted their favorite was chocolate. So here it is. Email me if you want the mango version!

Double Chocolate Date dates

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted and salted macadamia nuts
  • 10 pitted dates
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 squares of dark - 70% or higher - chocolate cut up to little pieces 
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nut until they're just chopped. Any longer and it will become nut butter. Remove from food processor and place in a big bowl.
  2. Add dates into the food processor and pulse until just blended. Add coconut. Pulse again until it's a nice paste.
  3. Add to the nut mixture. Add in chocolate pieces.
  4. Form into balls with your hands or press into an 8x8 roasting dish to make bars.
  5. Roll the balls in the cacao powder for some extra chocolate love.
  6. Refrigerate and enjoy.