Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Field Trip Lessons

On Monday morning, I worked from home. I held some conference calls, sent out a contract, prepped for a client visit, and basically tried to cram a day's worth of work into a couple hours. And in the afternoon, I was a field trip mom. I picked pumpkins, pet animals, patched up a boo-boo and had an all-around blast with my preschooler. 

If you saw me that day, you'd probably think I was killing it at this working mom thing. And maybe that day I actually was. I mean...look at the pictures...she (and we) had a blast, and for bonus adorable points- she did it in her little red boots. 
But one day, and these pictures, aren't the whole story. It's part of it...and a beautiful part...but not the whole. Every day I'm a working mom, but most days it's not split quite so cleanly- I don't get the morning to be one thing and the afternoon to be the other. I'm both...all the time. And with both, comes overlap, comes pressure, comes stress, comes...mess. 

This working parent thing is messy, and only half of the story is visible at any given time. 

If you see me during a meeting, you might think I've got it all together. I've got a full time job and three little kids. I'm busy! I'm important! I'm doing it all! But if you're on my team, you've also witnessed me stroll in, half-disheveled, apologizing for the cluster that is my morning routine (and the dry-shampoo situation that is my hair). So...yeah. Maybe I'm not doing it all.

If you see me with my kids, you may think I have it all. Three adorable little people, plus a career I'm passionate about. I'm working, and making it work! But if you're around enough, you've also seen me arrive home frantic, apologizing about the day getting away from me. You've witnessed me shushing the kids during a conference call, stepping away from dinner to finish one more email, opting for "movie night" because I can't muster the energy for anything more. So...yeah. Maybe I don't have it all.

I rock presentations....and I hold back tears during airport FaceTime conversations with my kids. 

I say yes to every extra hug at daycare drop off...and I arrive late to my 9:30 meeting (again). 

I surprise my kids with an after school trip to the park...and I catch up on email until the midnight hour. 

I succeed, and fail; I am put together and never enough. 
I work incredibly hard at my job, just as I work incredibly hard at raising my kids. And in the end, I am marvelously imperfect at it all.

If you've witnessed me, a working mom, in either capacity, then you have no doubt already seen me screw up, lose my patience, drop the ball, and at times just appear to be an all-around mess. But I hope that you'll stick around long enough to see the other half of the story: the part where I try my absolute hardest to serve well, to perform well, to love well. 
I'm pretty sure that someday, this little girl will look back on things and know that her mom did not have it all together. She'll remember that I sometimes packed the wrong thing for lunch (though she'll learn that when you have a preschooler, pretty much every lunch item can be deemed "wrong" for a variety of specific and maddening reasons). She'll remember that I wasn't always (ever) the first parent at pickup. 

But I really hope that she'll know about the other side. I hope she'll remember the pumpkin patch days. The boots, the hayrides, and the kisses on skinned up knees. I hope she'll know that I worked, and prayed, and tried, and tried some more to be my best, and show her my best; to model some sort of imperfect path of self-fulfillment, humility and fun. I hope she knows that through it all, I never wanted anything more than to somehow demonstrate to her how immeasurably she is loved. 

On Monday I worked and I mom-ed. And it was a very good day. 

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