Confessions of a Single Mom With Cancer Entry #18

About a week before surgery, a friend of mine said to me, “You haven’t posted anything in a while. I miss your confessions. What’s going on?” So I thought about why I hadn’t written anything in almost a month and I had to confess this to her:

#18. I can’t do it all.

I know the world would like women to believe that they can. I’ve even tried to convince myself of it for many years. But the truth is, there are times when we really need to focus on something and other things suffer. For me, I’ve been really focused on my health and not just treatments and meds and procedures, but my health – I finally got my act together in regards to healthy eating, working out, reducing stress and while doing it I discovered why so many of us don’t. We don’t have time and if we make time, something else loses. For me, it was my quiet writing time.

At the end of the day, after I’ve come home from work, cooked dinner, done homework, spent some time with the girls, cleaned up at least one of the rooms in the house and put them to bed, I pretty much have one hour before I can no longer keep my eyes open. In the past several months that had been my confession time. But as I prepared for my surgery, it became very important for me to get more physically active to improve my recovery. It was necessary for me to lose some of the weight I had gained during treatments but more importantly to get moving again so that my joints weren’t as sore and achy (side effect of the maintenance drugs). So that hour was spent on the treadmill and juicing for the next day.

And it was worth it. I had a little guilt at first about not writing, but I started seeing the benefits of my new focus and frankly, just stopped beating myself up. I knew I could pick up and start writing again at anytime, but our health will not always be there. I think about all those times I made excuses to not work out or to eat things I shouldn’t and on top of feeling bad about my choices, the little voice in my head would start in on me, making me feel even worse.

But I realize now, something has to suffer. There are only 24 hours in a day and that’s not changing anytime soon. So it goes back to choices. Most women I know who workout to the point of being triathletes don’t work or don’t have kids or aren’t married. There’s only so much one person can do. Before I was willing to admit that, when I was trying to do it all, MORE than one thing was suffering. I was stressed, so I’d yell at the kids more, I’d make unhealthy eating choices, I’d go to work events that weren’t necessary, and I’d feel guilty about all of it.

This trying to do it all, ‘my life is so busy’ stuff is for the birds. So many of us wear it like a badge. Busy is not the answer to How are you! Good, happy, tired, excited, sad, anxious, peaceful, even stressed – those are answers to how you are. Busy is a description that people use 1)because they are, 2)because they want to seem important, or 3) because it’s what everyone else is saying. Once being busy becomes how I actually FEEL, I think it’s reaching a tipping point and not in the good, Malcolm Gladwell way!

I saw a sign the other day that said, “Do more of what you love.” At first I thought, yes, that would be nice. But then, I thought, wait, what will I NOT do? If I could, not work and do more of what I love or if I could, not work out and do more of what I love, then I’d have to suffer the consequences of not doing those other things.

Then I realized, I came in on the middle of the conversation. Do more of what you love is preceded by doing a lot of other things first, so that I can do more of what I love. I work out and sacrifice other things so that I can BE HERE with my children because I love being with them and want to see them grow up. I work so that we can go on vacations, share experiences, and create memories because I love doing that with them. I do a lot of things so that I can do more of what I love and that’s what I balance. I don’t do it all. I can’t do it all, not all at once. But my life is filled with give and take.

I’m working on NOT beating myself up when I make a choice not to do something or let a certain area of my life lapse. I’m trying to make those choices consciously, recognizing and accepting the downstream effects of it. I know this is going to be very difficult for me. Doing it ALL has been a way of life for me for so long, but it wasn’t a good, healthy life, and that’s what I want – MORE than anything.

Force a Moment!

I had some moments with my girls today. Rare moments cause they were in the late afternoon, early evening, which is a time I don’t typically get to share with them. But I worked from home today, so I had some flexibility to pick them up earlier than usual. Our babysitter’s birthday is this week, so we decided to bake cupcakes for her. I can’t remember the last time all three of us were in the kitchen taking turns with the blender. It was nice. Little to no fighting, homework got done and mom even made a home cooked meal for once! I think we all felt more relaxed at the end of night.

It made me start thinking about people who work for me. Things seem to be so busy at work, that I barely have time to spend with people on my team. If we aren’t talking about a specific project, it’s a quick hello, how are you and that’s about it for the day. Yesterday, I finally got to spend some time with one of my direct reports because she kindly offered to take me to get my car that was in the shop.

Frankly, I think she realized this was her chance to get a moment with me. My undivided attention, for once.

We talked about things that had probably been brewing for weeks and connected on things that reminded us that we actually like working with each other. And we shared a moment, where we laughed, hard and realized we’re both just people, both moms trying to do our very best.

I think you have to force a moment sometimes. Not the actual moment. But I think you need to create the environment to let moments happen. The truth is, they don’t take much, maybe just us slowing down a bit.

So, think about someone you’ve been trying to connect with or have felt disconnected from. It may be a co-worker, your kids, a friend, your mom. I don’t know but I know that I’m not the only busy one and I’m not the only feeling like some days I’m missing out on the moments. Just slow down long enough in the presence of that person to create a space where connecting is easy. Trust me. That moment will be worth whatever else you think you’re missing.

Now, that’s how single mom’s lean in!

Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Don’t eat lunch in your office!

I know it’s tempting cause you have a lot to do, but lunch can be an important connection time. And don’t just wait for someone to ask you. Take the initiative and ask one of your peers. It will show you’re interested in them and open to do more than just come to work. You’re leaning in, building relationships and showcasing all that you bring to the table.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!