Balance is a Myth: Kick Mommy Guilt to the CURB!

Like the rest of the 80 billion people(exaggeration?) who watched the season finale of This is Us last night, this morning I am waking up a little sleep deprived and very sad that I will be waiting months to check in with the Pearson clan.

But in true coach fashion, my reflection on the episode this morning was about more than the complex story lines. This morning I found myself thinking about the challenges of being a mom while not giving up your dreams to care for your family.

For weeks, as I watched the show, this Rebecca band thing seemed like a midlife crisis, but as she shouted about how she didn’t even know why her husband still loved her, I couldn’t help but think about the thousands of women sitting there experiencing the same thing. Not loving themselves, reeling from the pain of losing yourself in motherhood, having outgrown the girl you used to be, while being underwhelmed and overwhelmed by the woman you’ve become and unsure about where or how to make a change.

Not even the unshakable love of Jack Pearson is enough to rescue Rebecca from the tornado of fear and regret which has taken over her life. But as I prepare to start a spring round of my Get Your WHOLE Life Challenge, I’m inclined to share some of the ways I’ve made conscious movements toward the work/life integration that has made all the difference for me.

While I’ve never felt regret over a lost singing career, like many moms I have had my moments of feeling out of balance or unfulfilled. Moments when I swear diagonally slicing one more peanut butter sandwich could send me screaming through the streets. But there have also been plenty of moments when I’ve felt guilty for missing an event or leaving my sleeping babies at home to be cared for by someone else, while I went to care for other peoples’ children. And of course, as a work at home mom, who’s taped podcasts in the closet (literally), I also know how Professor Kelly felt when his BBC interview was interrupted by a bouncing baby girl. Embarrassed that you might somehow appear less than to those around you if you show your parenting side.

The truth is, the ever-elusive work/life balance that most moms strive for really is a myth. The concept that there is one perfect way to have it all ruins the chance for happiness that most of us could have it we got real about what we wanted and what we’re willing to do and NOT do to get it.

What I’ve learned from other mom bosses, is that you have to show up in your most whole, authentic version of yourself in every area of your life to be successful. That means good boundaries, honest reflection and being ready and willing to say no, so you can say your best yes. That way, you don’t waste any energy feeling guilty about the choices you’re making or the parts of yourself that you’re denying.

At a recent networking event, where I heard marketer, Tiffany Sauder speak about her big life lessons, my thoughts were reinforced. As moms, especially those with career aspirations, we have to be extra clear about how the choices we make set us up for a life we may not want to live. Being intentional with choices that are clearly linked to the vision we set for our lives and not what we “should” be doing helps kick the dreaded mommy guilt to the curb, but it also puts us in a position to use all of who we are to parent our children and show up in our careers, which is the best case scenario across the board.

But it’s so easy to wake up one day and realize you’re spending too much time in yoga pants without actually going to a yoga class or that you’re kids are spending more time with the nanny than they are you, so it helps to have the support of like minded mommas who will tell you when you’re losing yourself to the process. And if you play your cards right you won’t need to run off and sing in a bar to find the you, that you left behind.

You have to love yourself enough to get honest about why you’re struggling and what really got you where you are. Are you secretly insecure about your value as a mom or worried you won’t be good enough? Be honest. No blame, no shame. That first step, both the easiest and the hardest, allowed me to own that I had defined my success by being an overachiever. If I said no, I felt like it was a weakness versus a decision. When I got rid of those thoughts, I could finally stop being a human “doing” and just be.

As moms, we often convince ourselves that sacrificing for our kids somehow makes us better parents, when in all actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Our kids need us to love ourselves and be proud of our choices so that they can learn to do the same. But that means trusting yourself enough to be honest about what you really want and letting any fear fuel you rather than repel you from your goals.

As a coach, my goal is to help my clients be clear about how the expectations in their lives, both self-imposed and societal, keep us trapped. Helping my clients make choices that create a life that they actually want to live brings me joy without having to live in busy-land.

If you’re ready to kick mommy guilt to the curb, pop over to the Get Your WHOLE Life Facebook group and start making the decisions that will make you proud today.

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