|Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on LinkedIn about “why mom’s quit,” based on my own story — a journey from languishing to mental wellness. |
Another mom commented, “I appreciate your raw honesty. You are right. It is uncomfortable to talk about, but it is so critical that we do.”
And so, I decided I needed to share that story and the first steps towards a solution.
In 2007, as a smart and ambitious woman, I’d hoped to use the birth of my first son to pivot careers.
“Society,” said I could do it all, so I launched into a master’s program, working part-time and being an amazing mom.
By October 2008, when my son was only 15 months old, I quit.
My son had viral-induced asthma and spent more days at home than in his daycare.
We could afford it as his dad brought home a comfortable salary and, my son’s health came first.
While this choice felt good as a mom, I felt like a failure as a smart, professional woman.
Ultimately this situation meant my physical health and my mental wellness came last, and I languished.
During the day, I’d cry for no reason other than loneliness and a loss of direction.
At night I’d lay awake sleepless, feeling guilty for not being happier.
I told myself, you SHOULD be happy, grateful, and full of joy.
My gut told me there HAD to be another way.
The society we’ve built, in which stay-at-home parents are relegated to the home to care for children alone, is not made for flourishing.
I thought about how surprised I’d been when I visited the Gambia and saw women working in the fields with huge lathes and babies tied to their back.
I thought about other places I’d traveled in which I saw a woman running a small store or selling something on the side of the road, with kids running around.
I saw a picture of a blond woman from a royal family (Lichtenstein or Luxembourg maybe) nursing in an official meeting, which made me think that we really need to normalize nursing across all economic and cultural statuses.
For eons, women worked with community support caring for children. Or had choices in regards to who cared for their children without going broke themselves.
Some of the changes that we’ve made as a society are good for preventing child labor and safety.
Still, we’ve also created this situation in which paid work is not compatible with motherhood or parenthood. Offices are for work, not for kids.
We send adults off to skyscrapers and kids off to daycares.
What can we do differently?
The society we’ve built is unnatural.
It may make you uncomfortable to read that, but I know in my bones that it’s true.
We can do better. We can do differently. And we should.
I’ve spent the last decade reading, studying, and trying to figure out what to do differently.
Along the way, I’ve had hints and tastes of the answer.
Brene Brown and the concept of Shame opened my eyes to an emotion I didn’t know I had. And then she really changed my world with the idea that “imperfection is a gift.”
Thich Nhat Hanh and the concept of “washing the dishes to do the dishes” literally turned washing the dishes into a task I enjoy. However, much of what he taught went right over my head.
Studying positive psychology helped me understand the mechanisms behind habit building, habit change, the difference between authentic self-care and “a massage.” And the need to actually work on building mental wellness.
We can build different institutions. We can change how we see childcare and working families.
We can pay teachers and childcare workers better while also giving parents the time they need with their kids.
I am confident that everyone in society will benefit in the long run, even those who choose to our who cannot have children.
I know that change takes time. And lasting change needs to be led by strong and resilient people.
To start this process of systems change, the first thing we as women need to do is start by reclaiming our mental wellness to stand and speak up for that which we value.
My Journey to Resilience
Since I first started working with the theory of Positive Intelligence or PQ in February of this year, my life experience as a working mom has changed.
I feel more love for myself and the world. Less guilt.
I can let go of the little things that used to poke me.
I can BE in the moment with my kids.
I can BE in the moment with my work.
I’ve not accepted what’s wrong with society, but I am now ready to work on changing it, one woman, one mom, at a time.
I’ve finally understood what it means to say, “I’ve arrived, I am home,” the theme to Thich Nhat Han’s 2004 Mindfulness retreat in Colorado, which I attended, but clearly didn’t integrate over the last 17 years.
I have arrived, I am home, I am right where I need to be.
And it is so peaceful.
I invite you to join me.
|Read About the 6-Week PQ Coaching Program|
My first PQ Coaching Group starts this Saturday, May 22nd, and registration is closed (full).
The next one starts the first week of June.
I’d be thrilled if you want to join me.