When Your Best Isn't Good Enough, And Other Thoughts On Struggling As A Working Mom
Can I be honest for a moment? I'm really sucking at this working mom/side-hustler/work-life balance seeker thing. Really sucking.
Watching this week's episode of Being Mary Jane and its focus on Kara - a driven TV producer, divorcee, and mother - was like a huge exhale for my soul. The episode shone a spotlight on how work, motherhood, and love all collide in her world, and there were a number of times that Kara said something that left me like
One of those things was when she told her friend and co-worker, Mary Jane, that "I just feel like I've been an A-student all my life, and I'm just a freaking C-student in everything in my life right now and I just hate it." Actress Lisa Vidal's delivery in that whole scene - the whole episode to be exact - had me on the flo'. I felt it. I feel it. I get it.
I'm trying to be a good mother and be good at my job. I'm trying to grow as a good writer and develop my side hustles and be a good wife. I'm trying to be a good friend/sister/daughter, and I'm trying to find time for myself through it all. I can't give any of this up. My job pays my bills. My family is my heart. My writing and passion projects are part of me. I can't give any of this up and I want to do it all well, but I feel like I'm not doing a good job with any of it.
Maybe it's not that I'm not doing a good job. I'm doing the best I can, but do you know how frustrating it is when your best isn't good enough for you? Whether it's getting to work by the skin of my teeth, skipping out on reading a book to Little Magician before bed to save time, neglecting laundry that needed to be done yesterday, or staying up late to finish writing (which will undoubtedly make the next morning hellacious), I more often than not finish my day just hoping that I'll do better the next.
I want to be an A-student again. I want to feel like I'm doing a good job in all the roles and identities I carry. I know that I can't have it all, and I know that "balance" is more of a fluid equilibrium than a perfectly weighted scale. The lesson life is giving me right now is to figure out what MY all is, and how to make it work in a way that leaves me feeling happy, capable, and whole.
Constantly feeling guilty, dissatisfied, and inadequate isn't healthy - so what am I doing to fix this?
I'm in the midst of a self-imposed break, being very careful with my time and saying "No" more than "Yes."
I'm using my time to map out life and to figure out what I want it to look like.
I'm getting better at asking for help when and where I need it.
I'm celebrating my wins where I get them.
I'm promising to be kinder to myself.
That last point is probably the most important. When your best isn't good enough for you, it can be all too easy to employ abusive self-talk that you'd never utter to anyone else. Before I can make anything better, I have to promise to be kinder to myself throughout the process.
Here's to being kind to myself and honest about life. Here's to getting back to A-student status sooner rather than later. Here's to hope and faith and the belief that things can and will get better.