It’s the time of year for annual performance reviews at my place of work. A chaotic time, in which we assess and assemble our successes and accomplishments over the last year, and craft the best set of words around each highlight. After all, most if not all of this content will be used to determine merit pay increases, promotions, or the ability to pursue other opportunities to grow within the company. I take this process quite seriously, and hope to pass along sound work values and ethics to my kids one day.
As serious as I take that process for my professional development, I can’t help but ask myself … why am I not doing the same for me, for what is the most important role of my life – the role of “mom”?
The low-hanging fruit was easy. My children are clean clothed, well-fed (less the picky eater), healthy, and are hitting their developmental milestones. They appear to be happy, well-adjusted kids.
A Year of Big Changes and Transitions
It’s been a big transition year for our family. I not only transitioned back to work after the birth of my daughter, I transitioned to a different career path altogether. Once my daughtercame along, my son transitioned to being a “big brother” and, unbeknownst to him, assumed the dual role as my “right-hand man.” Add to that, my husband created not one but two new businesses to his already existing entrepreneurial pursuits. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing that! We’ve had a lot to adjust to, and have demanded much from each other. If there was any opportunity to have this reflective self-evaluation, now was the time!
When I decided to have this internal dialogue with myself, my “mommievalution,” I did not set out with the intention of trying to write anything out, formalize a document, or quantify my performance as a mom. I was really motivated by the fact that the kids are at the age now, when they are able to verbalize their thoughts and emotions, agreements and disagreements. This is the true definition of pure, unadulterated, uncensored “feedback” and the bulk of what I was going by, to support this self-check in exercise. What better gauge!
I have discovered that the down side to doing this is that I am my own worst critic. I talk to other moms, and am comforted to know that I am not alone here. I hate beating myself up over what I could be doing better, or how I did something “oh-so wrong.” In the spirit of trying to keep this upbeat, I choose to put on my rose colored glasses, and focus on everything I am doing right. Hey, you have to start somewhere right!
As Oprah would say, here is what I know for sure:
The hidden teacher inside me is proud to share that the kids are excited about learning. I make every effort to expose them to new activities and people, to be curious and to ask questions. There is nothing more hilarious than their imagination and wonder at work. I think I’ve got this one wrapped up!
Next is what takes the bulk of my mental and physical effort. It is the commitment and conscious effort to pave a path to developing good overall life skills, such as behavior, socialization, and adaptability. This is where I humble myself and say that some days are better than others, and for those “other” days, I roll with the punches, take it moment by moment, day by day. As my friend Suzanne would say, “this too shall pass.” I still have a lot to learn here, but with the coming of each day, I am becoming more comfortable.
Finally, as these “beautiful strangers” and I sort out this thing called life, we are also forging loving and life-long relationships with each other – as mom/child and between each other as siblings. This is the evolutionary part. Under my guidance and care, my hope is to watch them grow into kind-hearted, nurturing, and caring individuals.
So … How Am I Doing?
I am so glad that I was able to engage in this self-talk! It was beneficial for me, because I really wanted to stop tormenting myself about what I could be doing better, but more importantly, focus on all of the things that I am doing right. It also provided me with some clarity, that as much as I was taking care of them, they were also taking care of me.
A few days ago, I was buckling my son into his car seat, and he asked me to reach for his bottled water. As I handed him the water,gave me a smooch on my cheek, and told me that I was “the best mama ever.” My daughter just looked over at the two of us and giggled! At the end of the day, if this is the litmus test for how well I may be filling those big shoes, I would simply reply … I’m doing pretty good. Pretty darn good. I’m starting to feel like I am getting the hang of this mom thing, and it’s been great to reflect on some of the lessons learned along the way from my own experiences, and shared experiences from others.
Someone once told me that that “being a mom will be the toughest job you will ever love”. (I actually kept the card!) To take it a step further, the “water cooler” chat long ago was that being a mom would probably never happen for me. It pleases me no end that I have been able to defy my critics. It IS in fact the toughest job, and despite the challenges, I truly love every minute of it!
So when it’s time to give yourself a “mommievaluation” please don’t forget your glasses … that is, the rose colored ones!