It’s 10pm on a Thursday night. I just reached for a cold, 5-day old pancake that was in our fridge. And proceeded to eat it. (If you know me, it just isn’t my M.O. to eat weird foods at weird hours.) It’s been one of THOSE weeks. You know the kind. Where you just want to push the fast forward button. Or perhaps rewind and do-over.
The week started with barf. Literally. Monday morning, we were all clean, dressed, and ready to go our respective ways for the day, when my youngest threw up all over his car seat immediately after being buckled in. And it was downhill from there. On Wednesday I encountered a challenge at work that stretched my problem-solving skills to their limit. Then Wednesday night, we had more barf, lots of coughing, and no sleep.
It was a night that left me far from the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed version of myself I hoped to be for calls and meetings at work on Thursday. And way too close to the cranky grouch version of myself that I hate being at home. Horrible self-talk about being a bad employee and a bad mom taunted me in spades.
As working mamas (strike that – as living humans!) we all have days and weeks when nothing seems to go right. One thing after another trips us up, and, sleep-deprived, we have trouble climbing up out of that well of desperation. But none of that means we are bad at our jobs. Lack intelligence. Or that we’re bad parents.
Now that it’s Friday morning (yep, started this last night and didn’t get very far), I’ve started to come out of the bad-week funk and have been thinking with a lot of curiosity about the tools I use to move myself out of dark places. Here are some of the things that helped me this week:
- Zooming Out: Even in those moments of mentally beating myself up, I was trying to challenge the voice that said “you’re a disaster” and counter it with a voice that acknowledged all the parts of myself (i.e. the good ones too). I also reminded myself that in the grand scheme of life, none of these challenges would really matter.
- Letting Myself Feel: As I choked back tears at one point, I knew it was critical to just let them flow. Get the anger out. The sadness out. So it can move on. For me, at least, the unpleasant feelings leave sooner if I just let them happen. As my friend Pleasance (check out her awesome blog, lil omm life) likes to say, #feelallthefeels.
- Mantras: I used “Om Namaha” a lot this week – it’s a way of saying “I give up. I’m letting all of this go.” And I repeated to myself what a great mentor of mine once said: “when it all comes crashing down, remember me telling you that’s when you’re the most strong.”
- Having a NOT-overbooked weekend to look forward to: In our family, we work hard not to over-schedule our weekends. Knowing I had space for myself – to go to yoga this morning and to BE with my family this weekend helped me see a light at the end of the week’s tunnel.
- Taking in the Words of My Supporters: A number of people were really there to support me this week. To tell me I do know what I’m doing and that they love me. I took the time to let those words really sink in. NOT just gloss over them but say them slowly in my mind and repeat them to myself.
And the final thing that brought me out of this week’s funk was my son. This morning, I was sitting on the kitchen floor in the dark, thinking about my week, when he came over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Mommy, if you don’t mind,” he said, “would you come watch Mighty Machines with me before breakfast?” So I sat with him and learned how on earth one digs a trench under a river for a steel pipeline. One of those great mysteries of the world I’d always wondered about but never bothered to explore.
I can always count on the little ones in my life to make everything seem okay again.
If you’re a new working mama, consider getting support here as you head back to work from maternity leave. Join other amazing mamas from all over in the Mindful Return E-Course (next session starts soon).