This letter is coming to you from your future self. I know you love surprises, so I’ll try to refrain from needing to warn of any spoiler alerts (you’ll know what that means in about 10 years). But, I did want to take a minute to tell you – loosen up & let go, it’s going to be ok. And maybe, as I write this letter it will serve as a good reminder to myself that the next 15 years are going to be ok too, that I’m good enough and that my integrity is my greatest strength.
You are a new mom to a beautiful son, Jimmy, congratulations! This is the start of a crazy/fun journey that will lead to more children, zone defense and some pretty significant role changes between you and Tom. The nightmares you have about leaving Jimmy in the grocery store, gas station and Target will stop and I promise, you’ll never “forget” and leave him somewhere by accident. I will suggest that you rethink throwing “What to Expect the 1st Year” at Tom during your 4am fight when Jimmy wouldn’t go to sleep all while yelling… “They don’t cover this in the instruction book!” Not your proudest moment and honestly, he will go to sleep (& learn to walk & talk & go potty on the potty & ride a bike & drive ….), eventually. They all do.
Speaking of Tom, I know you think you know him at his core right now. And you do, you’ve just been through the most amazingly frustrating journey to parenthood together! But, again, I’m here to tell you, you don’t know the 1/2 of it. You have married the most complex, funny, adaptable and patient person on the planet. He will surprise you with his insight and accountability both to being your partner but also in how he parents the kids. He will step up, step in and, while it might not get done “your” way, it will get done. He is on a mission to make sure your kids have a great childhood. Honor this mission and try and to stay out of his way.
Speaking of staying out of the way. Get out of your own way at work. Really. The next 15 years are going to bring career opportunities you can’t even imagine right now. Say “yes”. Always. Even (especially) when its uncomfortable, scary and new. You have the skills, ability and temperament to do what’s in front of you. One thing to let go of though … ambition and ego. They really just get in your way and piss off the people around you. Once you stop worrying about “making it” or the next promotion or if you’ll make a mistake or keeping up with your peer group, the whole world will open up to you. Literally. And it’s the most amazing feeling to KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt, that you can/will make good decisions, build great teams and make a difference regardless of the personal gain you will/won’t receive. Thats when it’s really going to get fun. I promise.
A great example of letting go of ambition and ego is the recent very bad experience with your boss. He was engaged in behavior that went against every moral, value, belief and sense of integrity you have and … while he didn’t ask you to participate in this behavior, he did ask that you be complicit to his behavior. Don’t do it. You can (and will!) cry, fight, rage and protest against his actions, you go girl, stand up for what you believe is right! If it’s bothering you, I promise you it’s bothering others. Be the one to shine a light on the fact that we can be strong women leaders WITHOUT compromising our integrity. As difficult as this time was for you, it’s going to serve you well as you move through the next 15 years because ….
There are going to be some really hard times; family issues, sickness (soon you’ll loose a whole week of your life to dengue fever, go to Costa Rica anyway!), financial loss and heartbreak. Good. These are times that will uncover and reinforce your values (remember the lessons from your boss). Pay attention and know that the situations are temporary. Things will get better, you’ll learn and they’ll become the foundation for better decisions going forward.
Even in the hard times, there will be moments/periods of pure happiness and bliss. Write it all down, take more pictures (take pictures with YOU in them, you aren’t good at this), pause, absorb, remember, enjoy. It’s all going to go by in a 15 yr blink of an eye and you’ll wonder why your sweet, chubby, friendly 9 month old baby boy now has his learners permit and 1st official girl friend.
And, my one spoiler alert … you are good enough. You’ll have an amazing conversation with a close friend about not feeling like you are doing anything well. Work, parenting, as a wife, as a friend …you name it. You’ll feel like you are only operating at 85% in any aspect of your life and you’ll desperately want to be really, really good at all of it. Let it go. Its not healthy for you, Tom, the kids, your friends or your teams at work. You will run across a blog* that will reinforce this approach to life and it will resonate with you … “If we accept our own limitations, we are better able to accept those of our children and of life itself”.
Thats not to say you should settle. No! Goal to be ‘good enough’. Good enough that your kids know you love them but that your mission is to raise them to be good adults. Good enough that Tom knows you rely on him as a parent and don’t need to interfere with how he parents. Good enough that your team at work knows you trust them to make decisions/mistakes and that you don’t need/want the credit. Good enough that your friends know they can call you ANYTIME and you’ll be there, but you also don’t need them to feel obligated to keep in touch on a daily/weekly/monthly basis (they are crazy busy too trying to be good at everything!). This will come as a slow dawning over time and I wish for you that is comes more quickly than it did for me.
And, if you ever DO decide to get at tattoo (in the next 30 years?), consider this – Good Enough.
Your biggest fan & critic,
*not the exact blog, but one that’s really close …