August, a.k.a. Hell Month

August is supposed to be part of the lazy, hazy days of summer. It’s sure hot enough in most places.

But for me, it’s actually a different (but still rhyming) word: crazy.

School starts for us Aug. 21 but our district is late compared to our surrounding neighbors. When does it start for you? Let me know in the comments when you have to head back.

I learned the hard way that I can’t do anything “extra” in August. This is not the month to add a networking coffee or lunch date to my schedule. If anything, I need to work through lunches this month so I can leave early for the Back-to-School Ice Cream Social, the Meet the Teacher Night, the Kindergarten Play Date, the final doctor’s and dentists appointments, etc.

When I stopped taking on extra things in August, it got better.

How do you protect your time? Let me know what your tips are, and let’s make this easier for everyone by sharing!

Between the Rock and the Hard Place

I want to tell you every detail of that torturous moment.

I want to set the stage for you, to share the context of why I felt torn in two on a sunny Friday afternoon, sitting in my own living room.

I want to describe, in painstaking detail, the stakes of the conference call blaring from the speakerphone in my hand, combined with the stakes involved in talking to my daughter, who was melting down with a plaintive whisper of, “Mommy, I just miss you.”

But the specifics don’t matter. The moment is all-too-familiar, and all-too-frequent in thousands of permutations and scenarios across any given week.

Work needs me. The kids need me. They are both important. But the rules of engagement are so different across each.

At work, it’s not actually ok (at least not very often) to excuse yourself from a conference call and say “I’m going to call back in in 10 minutes when my child is no longer crying.” And, it’s not cool to tell your kid “I will talk to you in an hour, so please hold your overwhelming emotions and hurt until then.”

And so I tried to do both. I tried to keep the call going on speaker phone and sit next to my daughter, with my arm around her shoulders and my mind completely elsewhere.

Inside I felt panic rising.

And that’s really the point—the rising panic made me temporarily lose my mind.

That particular call, with those particular colleagues, could probably have managed without me for several minutes, and they might even have been able to listen to the real reason with empathy (I don’t think I would have had to lie, although it crossed my mind.)

And, my daughter may have been able to steady herself if I could have said, with any presence of mind, “I see and hear your hurt, and I want to know more when I’m off this call.”

That’s what I wish my prenatal and birth classes and parent nights at the school would teach me—how to hold my own presence of mind when I feel as if I’m being torn in two pieces. How to breathe into that feeling long enough to express it, or let it pass me by, whatever is better for the moment.

Do you know this feeling? Do you handle it with ease or do you mess it up on both sides? Do you think about what you could do differently or better next time, and do you count yourself a learner in those moments? Tell me in the comments what it feels like for you.

This feeling is one I explore in detail in my new book, coming out in September. Sign up for my emails, and you’ll be the first to get a copy!

Hey Mama, We Need to Chat

Do you ever get the sense that your friends only know the “mom” side of your life, and your girlfriends at work have no idea about your life outside the office? Is it hard to find a friend or mentor who understands the entire “you”?

I’ve been there.

That’s why I’m so excited to be launching a 1:1 Coaching offering to help working moms navigate with both of their “selves” intact. I want you to show up at work as your whole and authentic self, and also to arrive home in that same state of mind.

Everyone benefits when you are able to operate in this way. Your teams, your company, your kids, your partner. And especially, you.

This coaching is designed to help you tell your personal story, outline and clarify your own goals at work and at home, and then find and eliminate as many barriers as possible.

It probably won’t be easy. It may make you question a lot of what you’re assuming has to be true in your life. Not to mention, you’ll learn some facts about motherhood in this country that will probably prompt some profanity.

But, instead of grabbing another glass of wine to take the edge off, why not invest in a free discovery session to see if this coaching could help?

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Behold, the Humble Apostrophe

When I turned my attention from being a working mom to helping working moms everywhere, I searched high and low for the right name for my work.

The conversations I was having with working moms were eye-opening and heartbreaking. When I conducted focus groups in workplaces, I quickly learned the working moms weren’t having these conversations with each other. It was clear to me how very unclear the problem remained.

To me, the needs of working mothers must be spelled out, they must be brought to the forefront so they are apparent to everyone. No workplace can thrive without its female employees—many of them working mothers—thriving and ascending toward leadership. No family can thrive when its mother is burned out or breaking down.

The tough conversations about this must come out of the hallways and book clubs and happy hour discussions, and become part of our corporate and public policy discussions.

The conversation about working motherhood must take center stage.

So, the name itself was apparent to me from the beginning.

Putting the apostrophe into a’parently was the idea of my brilliant design partner, Jenn. Jenn’s treatment is the perfect way to recognize the tenuous pressure working moms feel very day. It’s right there, a tiny bit of punctuation that says so much. We working moms bear the responsibility of holding together two things, while attempting to replace something that’s missing.

We’re holding together two selves, two vitally important crews of people who need us, and we’re attempting to replace the role of someone to care for the home while we earn the money and raise the kids.

The name of the company is actually just the beginning. There is so much more to the story, and I’m working to distill it into my book, which will be released this fall.

Sign up to receive a’parently emails to be informed about the book’s launch date, events, and more!