This summer was quite different from the previous ten summers. It was filled with all-nighters, canceled vacations, teenagers, airports, graduations, God winks, new friends, business versus personal travel, tears, dehydration and humidity, traffic, love, disappointment, laughing, social media, joy, acknowledging the process, Happy Hours, 7:30am weekly meetings and screaming in my pillow to maintain my sanity. All this happened over 12 weeks not because business was overwhelming although we were growing and blowing with my all millennial team, but instead it was because I also had to do all that while being a parent and setting the example of balance, marriage and mentor.
In other words this summer kicked my ass.
Back in the day, when my kids were younger, I had the luxury of setting up great playdates, even better summer camps or the best 6-weeks one-on-one in Chicago with grandma. The time my kids spent with my family each summer always freed up my feelings of guilt of working while the kids wanted to play. Better yet they were getting all the wisdom, personal development and adolescent skills from being raised by grandma, who was an expert at parenting.
I am the one who decided to move 1000 miles away from home, without having anyone to watch the kids for a few hours, babysit for free or simply give me a break. This summer I felt the pain of moving to Houston over 15 years ago to raise my two children alone with my husband without the social structure of the big family of 20 aunts and uncles and millions of cousins (so it seemed), that I grew up with. And for that reason, since my son was an infant, every year I made sure he knew his family and sent him back home for 6-weeks to be loved and raised by a mom who had raised the five of us and prior to that her seven younger siblings. So in other words, my kids were in the best of care during their enriching summer experiences.
So this summer, hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was trying to perform as a parent, instead of just being a parent and the reality had set in that their summer experience was all up to me.
I am still overwhelmed by the thought of it, but now that my kids are back in school, I’ve had a little time to reflect on why this emotional blockage caused my body shut down Labor Day weekend. After waking up from a 15 hour nap, my head was clear so my analytical mind tried to make sense of the how the parenting process works, especially without prior skill or expertise.
What I determined was in my role as a mom trying “to do it right” I also face external factors that I could not control. Like being the parent of teenagers who want to be entertained and are used to being actively engaged. My attempt to work from home for the purpose of spending more time with them, actually collided with my passion for running a growing business, speaking, and coaching leaders. And since I didn’t choose one or the other, I of course tried to operate both in excellence... all summer long.
And for 12 weeks straight while suppressing my nurturing, emotional, mommy side, in order to be a business woman in the same exact space, at the same exact times, almost caused spontaneous human combustion inside of me.
I had one day when I block time start with my To Do list, write out ABC priorities and scratch off tasks on “real paper.” One day to work from home finishing projects, taking minimal calls or appointments and efficiently cranking out work. Unlike most people, I looked forward to Monday’s because it was the day that gave me a head start on a productive week. I actually love Mondays so much that I would end most texts and emails that I sent that day with salutations for the recipient to also have a productive day or week.
For twelve Monday’s of this summer however went from moments of efficiency to days of chaos from my kids who slept in, waking up to greet me happily in anticipation of continuing where the weekend festivities left off. This involved me signaling for them to brush their teeth or grab cereal while I mute my phone to switch from my motherly voice back to my corporate voice. It was both was mentally taxing and an emotional roller coaster, to be quite honest.
This summer, I experienced it without being able to enjoy it. All my travel was for business. All my weekends were made for preparing to be productive on Monday. All my quiet moments were a spare hurrying to get work done before the children woke up. Part of me compartmentalizing my waking hours was to avoid the feeling of being a nurturing, engaged mother and feeling those emotions while in the same moments that I thought that I had to be a poised, formidable CEO.
What I now know is what made my mother so amazing is that all my life, I saw how she was a mother, a business owner, a business partner, a homemaker, PTO president, a sister, an aunt, a matriarch, and a boss. This summer I put that all on me to measure up and perform like I could be a good mom without having grieved from losing my own.