Last week, I rather publicly dropped a ball. Under the weight of nearly two years of pandemic parenting, I cried uncle from all the places I have a microphone. My weekly Saturday Secrets newsletter, LinkedIn, Facebook, at home…you name it. It was a public declaration of surrender.
If you missed it, here’s a copy of what I wrote (and here’s the Linkedin post where I wrote it):
On Saturday mornings, I always share with you the newest Mindful Return blog post. But there is no new Mindful Return blog post today. It’s all just too much right now. With Omicron, and school closures, and snow days, and work projects, and caregiving, and ageing parents, and health concerns, and and and…
Today, I’m writing to you only to model dropping some balls. I wanted to write you a blog post this week. But I didn’t even have the energy to write the blog post I wanted to write about having no energy. We are not bionic robots. We are humans. Who need to breathe and rest.
So today, I’m crying uncle (while appropriately listening to some music from the Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band). I’ll be back with a new post next week. (Probably.)
In the meantime, please practice setting some things down. Drop a few balls. Cry uncle a few times this week. And release the guilt, knowing that none of this is our fault. We are all just doing the best we can.
Intellectually, I knew no great ill would befall anyone if I failed to produce my weekly blog post. And yet, I found admitting that I “dropped a ball” was challenging. It’s not my normal M.O. to “fall short” on what I perceive to be my commitments.
What Actually Happened When I Dropped a Ball?
What exactly happened, you might ask, when I dropped this ball last week?
As I suspected, nothing evil came crashing down on me. In fact, nothing bad happened at all.
What I didn’t suspect, though, was the tidal wave of support, love and empathy that would come crashing into me as a result of my “non-post post” as a friend called it – all in a good way.
Friends I hadn’t heard from in months literally picked up their phones and called just to check in. Members of my village wrote e-mails and direct messages of support and solidarity. “This was more helpful than any blog post you could have written,” someone told me. Another said it gave her courage to put a few things down.
A colleague reached out and said “I know you’re carrying this one particular ball right now, may I take it from you?” And a coach shared my post and said “this is what inspiration looks like in 2022.”
In short, posting that raw and real reflection left me feeling humbled and more connected than ever to my community. So very many of us working parents are struggling right now, and there is a lot of power to be had in the feeling of “oh my gosh, me too.”
Lessons My Village Taught Me
Another of the beauties I discovered in publicly dropping a ball was the lessons others shared with me about reframes that are better than the guilt-inducing image of ball dropping.
I’d heard in the past about the analogy of life being made up of rubber or plastic, versus glass balls, and the need to drop the rubber ones (which will bounce right back up to you!).
But I hadn’t previously heard the following pearls of wisdom:
- Replace “I dropped the ball” with “what’s meant to be will be when it’s meant to be.” (Thank you, Kate Liebelt and Priya Bathija for this reassuring mantra.)
- The reality is that some days things flow, and other days are a struggle. May this week bring more days where things flow and fewer days where things are overwhelming. (Thank you, Suzanne Brown for this helpful perspective.)
- “If you are juggling too many things and you drop one it will break you will have fewer things to juggle.” (Thank you M.L. Ellen Percival and @calgaryschild. This is brilliant.)
Gosh, I love these images of allowing what’s meant to be, to happen in its own time. And the idea of simply juggling fewer things.
Key Takeaway about Myself?
“Wow,” I marveled. “If this is the support I get for not writing a blog post, perhaps I should quit blogging!” Haha.
That idea was short-lived. I love having a place to write about topics that matter to working moms and working dads, and I have been reassured over the years that this blog has been a helpful resource for so many working parents. So it’s not going away.
I did discover two things, though: (1) I need not be so rigid about posting every week. If I need a week off, I’ll take it. No hard feelings. And (2) contrary to the story I was telling myself, I actually didn’t drop the ball on a commitment or a strongly-held value.
It turns out, I’m realizing, that one of my deep-seeded values is authenticity. By writing that post and sharing a tiny piece of the beautiful imperfection that resides in all of us, I was actually honoring one of my deepest commitments. Not relinquishing it.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll be daring enough to cry uncle with me today. Set down a ball. Or two or three. And let things happen when they are meant to.
You are carrying a lot right now, working parents – too much. And when the load is too heavy, we should encourage one another not to muscle through. Instead, we must must must rest.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave