Blogging is an emotional job. My career is centered around me being vulnerable to the world on an regular basis. I measure the success of my career based on constant feedback from strangers on the internet and occasionally in person. Sometimes you know you are really hitting a nerve when you receive some controversial feedback. It’s part of the job.
I am an open book by nature, always willing to share. I have learned over time that I am a very strong person, and aside from the occasional comment that stings, I am able to let any negative energy that comes my way, bead off of me like droplets of rain.
I take in the positive energy and continue to pour it all out, in hopes that I can reach that mom that is struggling, and longing for a connection, so they feel a little less alone, and a little more normal.
Heading into my second Mom 2.0 Summit, I made the conscious decision to have a few small goals: make one perfectly fitting brand connection, meet a few of my heroes, and foster friendships while building others up. I completed my list. But the biggest goal was to walk in open. Open to feedback, open to learning and open to friendships, but especially, I would be open to being inspired and find my direction for the next phase of my career.
On day one I think I was so exhausted from travelling from Toronto to California that I was emotionally numb. I went through the motions and hopped into bed that evening ready to recharge and prepare myself to be inspired and take it all in.
That’s when it began. That morning sparked a theme that stood out to me for the next two days and ended in a (positive) emotional breakdown on the final day.
The first story that really impacted me was listening to Lauren Bayne, the founder of Offspring Advertising Agency interview Alli Webb, the founder of Drybar. The entire discussion was masterfully conducted by Lauren Bayne, including the surprise interview she had secretly recorded of Alli Webb’s boys discussing her success and how they view her. Yes, I was a blubbering mess.
But listening to Alli Webb describe her humble beginnings, how Drybar took off, and balancing a busy career and motherhood really impacted me. Her unapologetic success left me feeling so much more secure in the success that I have already experienced, and the path that lays ahead of me.
Later that day, I soaked up every word from a panel of powerhouse women comprised of Catherine Coleman, Christine Lu, Shannon Marby-Rotenburg, Yifat Oren and Jennifer Prince. Go ahead, click on those links, I dare you. Your mind may explode from how accomplished they are. Hint: one is an astronaut.
Listening to these motivating women talk about how they both run their incredibly demanding, but rewarding careers while still being mothers, was so important for me to hear. Some days they find the balance and other days they want to cry. But it always takes a village, lists and support from their spouse, or close friends. They have messy closets that they can never find the time to clean, and they often struggle with re-entry when they arrive back home after work.
Each agrees that their career makes them feel happy and satisfied, and ultimately a happier mom. Everything they said resonated so much with me, and I walked away realizing I am doing a pretty damn good job of balancing my career and motherhood. Even if there are days that are a little rockier than others.
The truth is, the week leading up to leaving for California, I was struggling with a lot of guilt. I not only try to live a guilt-free motherhood, I preach it. I experienced so much mom-guilt when I had my first child and promised myself that I would let it go and be secure within my parenting experience.
But I was embarrassed, and frustrated with how much guilt I had been feeling. It finally dawned on me after listening to all of these other successful mothers. Maybe a bit of mom guilt isn’t such a bad thing.
I had lived in a state of survival for years. From the days that our son struggled with a language delay. To our second (surprise) baby, to the ultimate surprise… twins.
This constant scramble and barely keeping my head above water, left me at times, feeling robotic, always wanting to escape for a break. Yes I loved my children, and they have always been my world. But I was always craving me-time so badly, that whenever I was away from them, I was emotionless. I didn’t miss them.
Part of me was hiding this lack of emotion from everyone else. Was I a monster? No, I was a burnt out mother.
Now, having found our stride, being done having kids and finally moving out of survival mode has unlocked that part of my brain and my heart I was so carefully protecting.
So, this time when I went out the door, with my feelings of guilt fighting with my feelings of freedom, left me confused and uncertain.
It finally dawned on me that that feeling of guilt, was a good thing. I had re-emerged from the murky waters of survival mode, and could actually feel again. I was missing my children and longing for my husband while also enjoying the independence of travel and being with my tribe.
On the final day, many of the layers on the onion had been peeled back. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I was feeling many emotions, something that was fairly new to me.
I decided to walk into a panel about work/life balance, thinking it would be the perfect fit. This panel was moderated by Jessica Shyba and it included Ryan Hamilton, Christina Brown, Danielle Walker and Roo Ciambriello. Again, click links = mind blown.
Then each, again described their triumphs and failures while trying to create some kind of balance in their parenting/career journey, all with incredible stories to tell.
But then they said a few things that hit home so hard, it was like a hot spear had been shot into my chest. “Look at everything you are working on. If there is something there that is not making you feel happy, then it’s not the right fit.” Also, “learn how to say no,” and “no,” can be a complete sentence. “Don’t apologize and never use the word just.”
Well, let me start by saying that the apologetic Canadian that I am really needed to hear that.
As the panel concluded, and they opened the room up for questions, I immediately shot my hand up. They asked me to head up to the front and hold the mic. Oh shit. Here we go.
I could feel my cheeks getting hot and my voice shake. Damn these new emotions.
I started by adding what I have learned the hard way. When success started to put my husband and I on separate pages, we started dating again. Going on a date every week has been huge for us and has created a safe-guard for our marriage.
Then, I launched into some more difficult areas of the business that I have sometimes found hard to navigate. Each of them were so kind and quick to give me practical advice that I really needed to hear.
I was told later, by one of that panelists, that I almost had all of them crying.
After this session finished, the tears came. By the time I got back to my room and watched the video my husband had sent me of my son getting his yellow belt in tae-kwon-do, I was sobbing. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld; “What is this salty discharge? Oh my God, I care.”
I finally regrouped, but it took so long that I missed the red carpet for the Iris awards, so this quick selfie in the elevator will have to do.
I left California changed. Okay with my parenting and career decisions, embracing my mom guilt and having a clear focus for my blogging future.
Sometimes you can be so in it, so in your bubble that you loose all perspective and become numb. It is so important to step away for a bit and soul search. Let your guard down and be ready to be inspired, motivated, encouraged and pushed… even if it causes you to shed a few tears.
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