Being Me 100%

You can only be you 100% of the time. You can't be everything all the time.

In my usual day to day life I am happy being a mother, a wife and a business owner.  But not now.  At the moment I want to be a daughter. But how do I do that when I can’t just ignore the fact that I am the other things too?  My dad is dying.  I want to be there for him, for my mum and for my brother.  But if I am trying to be a daughter 100%, then how can I be a mother, a wife and business owner at the same time?  Everyone is telling me to take time for me, take a break from the business and do what is important to me, and that is the advice that I would say to others, but it is all important to me.  If I wasn’t a business owner what would I do?  If I wasn’t a mother how would I feel? But what I am struggling with is how do I give 100% of me to all of these different parts of me?  The obvious answer is “I don’t…I can’t”.  It is unrealistic to think that I could, but that is what makes me me.  I started out in this world as a daughter and a sister. They were labels given to me that I had no choice over, they are fundamentally me.  I had a choice in becoming a wife, a mother and a business owner, but it doesn’t make any of them less or more important than the other. And just because I chose them, it doesn’t mean that I should choose to ignore them.  The biggest question is how do I keep being me, when I can’t be all aspects of me?  When I was younger it was simple.  I was a daughter and a sister.  But as I have gone through life I have added in different elements.  These all make me me, but it is a different me to the one that started out all those years ago. A richer and more interesting me. We become the stories that we live.  We become the way we interact with what is going on around us.  We don’t live in our own little bubble.  This is all part of my story.  It will shape my future and my interactions with others.  But right now, how do I keep being the me that I have become?  Do I have enough resources to keep on going?

My promise to my dad is that I will try.  He has never expected me to be perfect, and in actual fact I think that he would be disappointed if I was, as that would mean that I would stop trying. Once he has made the perfect pudding, or the perfect meal he doesn’t make it again.  The same would be true with me, if I was perfect, I wouldn’t need to try anymore. I wouldn’t need to keep evolving, keep trying new things or to see what happens if I tried an alternative. This situation is all new.  None of us know how to behave or what we should be doing, but I know that I need to try.  I can’t give 100% to everything at the same time, but I can give 100% of myself to one thing at a time. 

I will continue to work in my business. I will not give up. I may not be able to give the same amount of energy as I was previously, but I know that my drive and passion is still as strong.  I will still give 100% of me to my business, but not 100% of the time.  Kindness, reflection and time is what I need to be able to keep going.

I feel guilt and sadness that I am not able to give my children everything that I want to give them at the moment as I am just not capable.  My biggest and most important role at the moment is to be a daughter, but I know that as a result my children will learn empathy.  They will learn that their mummy cries too.  That their mummy isn’t perfect, but that she will try.  I will treat them with the dignity of being able to grieve, laugh and cry without being shut out, however hard it will be.  And when the time comes that I can again be the mummy that I truly want to be, I will know that we will have grown together, another layer of glue between us.  They will grow up, live their own lives and I will inevitably live mine, but knowing that a family works together is another step towards us being able to stay together in the future.  I can’t hold their hand the whole time.  I can’t work in my business 24/7, but I can be me 100% of the time.  The me who is human.  The me who falls apart but picks herself back up again.  The me who makes mistakes, occasionally drinks too much wine and quite often eats too much chocolate.  And the me who loves and who tries whether that is as a mum, a wife, a business owner or a daughter.  The resources are within me to live through this with grace and dignity, love and kindness, as these are all the stories that I have been part of.  I am learning that I can keep being me 100% of the time, just not all at the same time. 

Before children I was a good employee!

Before children I was a good employee.  I feel like I have changed.

Before children, I was a hard working, dedicated and loyal employee.  I enjoyed my job and thrived on the challenges it provided.  I kept my professional knowledge up to date and I actively looked for more courses that would develop my skill set.  I knew that I wanted to climb the career ladder and be important and respected within my chosen profession.  Then I had children.  I returned to work and very quickly learned that what I had previously thought about my work ethic and aspirations had to change. I felt like a nuisance employee, one who relied heavily on others as they had to pick up my workload when I had to leave early due to childcare issues, I couldn’t take on the big projects as I now worked part time and therefore I wasn’t dedicated to the company, my priorities lay elsewhere and I just wasn’t part of the team anymore. I no longer dreamt about making it to the top, if I actually ever had time to dream it was to just get through the day, week, year and survive. My view of work changed, I changed, and ultimately, I was miserable. I was cross at myself for being miserable as I had always wanted children and that having to sacrifice my career was something that happened when you had children. I just had to get through this time and then when the kids were grown up I would have my time again. 

Time did just carry on and I went on to have my second child. During my maternity leave however I got made redundant which filled me with fear and anxiety as who would take on a mother of 2 when they didn’t know me.  I used to be dedicated and reliable, full of ambition, but I was now inexperienced, flaky and incapable of learning new skills as I was permanently exhausted.  I surprised myself by managing to secure a new position but I felt respondent to the fact that I would start in my new role as the nuisance employee. When I started however the response was completely different. I felt welcomed and part of a team, I provided worth to the team and the new skills I had learnt since being a mum were valuable to my new found responsibility.  As a result, I thrived and got promoted quickly.  I learnt that I had been miserable previously, not because I had become a mum, but because I couldn’t be the working mum that I wanted to be. I was interested in what I was doing, and therefore I was enthusiastic and dedicated to my role.  All the characteristics I thought I had lost or had to change were still there.  I hadn’t changed at all, in fact, I was much more enthusiastic, I was fiercely loyal and dedicated and I learnt that it was the environment that I had been in previously that had altered my perception and I had just moulded myself into the expectations of that workplace.  Yes there were still times that I had to leave early to pick the children up, or I couldn’t come into work as they were poorly, but I more than made up the time I had lost by working in my own time, longer hours when I could and taking work home, but I also knew how to be me and be part of my family which made me a much more rounded employee as I wasn’t working myself into the ground.  I became more creative with my time as I knew that I couldn’t continue to be the 9-5 employee, I was focused on the project that I had to complete as I didn’t have time to get involved in the office politics or to have long chats over the water cooler.  I was still involved and part of the team, but the dedication that I was providing to myself to be able to work and be a mum shone through.  I managed my time to be able to be the employee and mother that I truly wanted.

The difference that the culture of a workplace made to me was huge, by working for someone who valued me, I then valued them and tried hard to succeed as this is what they expected of me.  Yes I had children who were my priority, but that didn’t need to change me and my work ethic.  My focus as a working parent intensified as I knew that I had limited time in the workplace so my efficiency improved, my assertiveness improved and my confidence improved.  Even with children, I hadn’t changed, I was still a hardworking, dedicated and loyal employee. 

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We have been looking for a new car as ours just doesn’t work for our family anymore.  As we were walking around the showroom looking at our options, it struck me at how easily I had worked out that what we had wasn’t working and that we needed to change. It took me years however to realise this in my work, and even in my attitude to certain things.  So why could I change the car so easily, but it wasn’t so easy to change other aspects of my life which would arguably have a significant impact on my life?  I had realised that the car made things really difficult for me on a day to day basis, but crucially I knew that there were other options.  What was on offer was right in front of me and I could visualise what the future could look like. I may have liked the car that we currently have, but I could see that there was something else that would work better.  The difficulty we have with lots of other changes in our lives is that we don’t know what our options are.  We assume without really exploring everything, and our expectations can be so specific that we can’t see outside of that and we often don’t realise that there is another way.  By talking and writing things down we can start to unravel our thoughts, see our other options and notice what feels right.

When you are aware that something isn’t right, take the time to really think about what is happening and explore what your options are.  The answers may not initially be obvious, but with help, support and time our options become clear and we can start to move towards a life that suits us better.