Managing organized chaos is kind of my thing. It has always topped my resume as one of my most valuable qualities next to multi-tasking. When I decided to have Hayden, I think I underestimated the juggle, pull and craziness that would ensue in my new world. Don’t get me wrong, I knew there would be extra pressure and a higher demand on me and my time, but I think my ignorant bliss somewhat blinded me on how hard my career responsibilities and being a new mom would be.
On top of the demand, we live in a world where mothers are expected to make things look like they are perfect at all times. Men get praised for any level of participation when parenting a child and women, unfortunately, are shamed often, criticized, judged and questioned for every move they make on their journey of being a mom. The Instagram and Pinterest mom have become the benchmark of all things acceptable and nothing less than perfection is allowed or so people make it seem.
I think it’s important that we start educating people on how hard it is to be a mom (especially a working mom) and more importantly setting a precedent that it’s okay to ask for help. All too often, we are afraid to admit that we might be struggling because we want to maintain the illusion that we got this.
I can speak from experience that I viewed asking for help as a weakness. My ego, coupled with fear of judgement, kept me repeating the same pattern and cycle of taking on too much and over extending myself. I wasn’t suffering from postpartum depression, so I felt like I had no excuse. I constantly was being hypercritical of myself and the fact that I was feeling overwhelmed. It wasn’t until I got to my breaking point where I had to take a hard look in the mirror and tell myself that I needed to open up about my feelings and what I was going through. I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t handle everything that was on my plate; but I was at the point where I felt like I was drinking water from a firehose and something had to change.
When I started to open up to those around me, I think it caught many people by surprise including my husband. I thought it was blatantly obvious that myself inflicted pressure was eating me alive. The lack of sleep (not from my baby) but from juggling exclusively breastfeeding, plus the pressure of a fast-paced, extremely stressful, work environment and trying to be the perfect mom left me feeling like I was spinning way too many plates. I felt like Freddy Prince Jr. during the hacky sack scene in She’s All That.. “Everyone’s counting on you…Don’t let it drop….Don’t ever let it drop.” I often found myself wondering when I would hit the point of diminishing return.
My husband has always been extremely supportive and my biggest fan professionally. When I became a mom, it was no different. I will never forget his reaction when I broke down to him and told him that I felt like I was failing and that I wanted and needed to go talk to someone. He looked at me with surprise all over his face. He explained that he thought I was killing it and not only was I rocking being a mom, but I was doing it without skipping a beat at work. It was in that moment that I realized that I’m good at keeping up the illusion and that my go-getter attitude might be hurting me. Even my husband couldn’t see that I was wearing myself down and taking on way too much. He was so use to me living at level 10 that he didn’t think that I had hit my lid.
I will say there is hope and a way to get out of this spiral and frustration. The biggest takeaway I can give you and the most important thing I want you to know is that YOU ARE NORMAL! We all go through this! (The fake Instagram moms do too!)
Start talking, opening up and allowing the help. Delegate some tasks at work. Ask your friends and family for a little help with the baby to give you some time for some self-care. You will be surprised at how many people in your “village” and/or mommy gang want to help out and see you succeed. Your partner, friends, family, therapist or life coach can really help you navigate your new normal. If you don’t have some type of support system, don’t be afraid to take steps in creating and finding yours.
For a type A, high functioning person like me, the concept of help is foreign and uncomfortable. It is not until you allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone that you really see what you truly are capable of. You do not need to navigate this new normal alone. Be open, willing and honest with yourself and those around you. This level of vulnerability will allow you to flourish in all aspects of your life and be a more effective mom both professionally and personally.