Earlier this week, I was apologizing to one my kids. It had been one of those days when I’d gotten buried in a mountain of back-to-school paperwork, bills to pay, etc. Confession: I had pretty much ignored my kids all day, in trying to cross a few things off my list. Anyways, in an effort to be a good example, be the bigger person, yada, yada….I pulled aside my kids and said, ‘I’m really sorry I’ve been so busy and kinda MIA all day’. One unnamed cherub of a child looked at me and replied, ‘What do you mean? Today was kinda like everyday?’. OMG. Stick a dagger in my heart! Do you really think I ignore you everyday?!?!? Today has NOT been like everyday!!! Don’t you remember the coding camps and the sports camps and the ‘mommy and me’ times and the freakin’ falconry in IRELAND!?!!?!? Have you already forgotten the laundry list of priceless memories we made together this summer!?!?
So, today is redemption day. I vowed then and there to end the year on a bang by taking them to the beach!!!!! By golly, their last memory of this splendid summer, will be of the fantastic array activities and experiences we shared, including one last glorious hike to Half Moon Bay.
Ninety-six years ago, women got the right to vote. In commemoration of that, today is Women’s Equality Day. I was thinking about that this morning….that on this day we celebrate women’s suffrage and equality, I am closing out the summer with my kids, with this ‘best ever trip to the beach’; it’s as if, as one chapter closes, another begins. I sometimes joke that school starting is like my ‘grand emancipation’. This phrase is especially true this year: I’m sending my youngest off to Kindergarten. Part of me can’t believe my baby is headed to elementary school. Another part of me is practically giddy with anticipation, envisioning all that I’ll get done sans children and sans the guilt of handing them the iPad….again. So, watch out, world! We are about to put something other than ‘personal chef, chauffeur, life-coach and activities coordinator to three darling kids’ on my LinkedIn profile. (Ha Ha)
Here’s the thing… While I am so excited about life beyond cooking, cleaning and driving my kids all over the Peninsula – I don’t want to screw this up. On the one hand, I want to be an example to my daughter and sons, that women can do anything! On the other hand, I don’t want to be so completely preoccupied with saving the world, that I lose my own family.
I think the hardest part about being a woman right now is that we’re living in 2016, with all of the dreams and aspirations of the twenty-first century, yet we are stuck in a society that still often operates as if it were 1950. Newsflash: women can do anything but women can’t do IT ALL. And, this is what’s so hard. We want to cure diseases and fight racism and sit on the boards of big companies…. but, then we’re trying to serve on the PTO, run our school’s book fair, stay on top of crazy sports schedules, have a healthy (locally-sourced and organic, of course) dinner on the table when everyone comes home, find time for our own health/wellness, plan awesome beach excursions, etc.. Don’t even get me started on Pinterest. God bless you, if that’s you’re thing. But, I’ve pretty much banned myself from Pinterest when trying to plan birthday parties. #noteveryoneismarthastewart We try so hard to do it all and be it all.
Here’s the deal, ladies. It is hard and messy; truth is, our lives may never be simple. I suspect women will always have a more complicated patchwork of pieces, compared with men. But, let’s commit to cheering each other along the way. I wouldn’t be ‘here’ – if it weren’t for the people who spoke words of encouragement and empowerment into me….women who didn’t make me feel guilty for saying no – even when it was to them. I’ve learned the hard way, that another person’s project cannot become my problem. One of the biggest gifts we can give our kids is not only the example of strong women, but authentic living. Brene Brown defines authentic living this way:
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
I want my kids to see the ‘best’ and true version of me – not the ‘trying to be everything to everyone’ me. Don’t get me wrong. Love the spirit of Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes. But, Lord help me, should I try to say ‘yes’ to everything. Another smart lady, Lysa Tyrkeurst writes: “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” Wow. I sometimes say, you can’t give what you don’t have. How can we pour into the hearts and minds of our kids, if we are running on fumes?
It’s not just back to school for my kids, it’s back to school for me. I’m trying to go back and learn who I am…the me who believes my most sacred work is loving my family AND the me that’s ready to peek past the curtains of my home. I know my kids learn best – not by hearing me ‘preach’ but by seeing me ‘do’. If I want them to learn purpose and balance – I have to live it. Few meaningful acts or profound thoughts happen when you’re going 10 different directions at once.
So, whether at school or church or wherever, this is the year of me trying to be me….not me trying to be Super Woman. Our most important vote isn’t just at the ballot box – it’s the one we give to ourselves.