Spring was busy. There were new career opportunities like doubling down on corporate workshops, exciting partnerships, and coaching to support causes that are important to me. Then there was a babysitter turnover that forced us to bring on our organizational A games. When your kid asks, "Who’s picking us up from school today?" and your response is to check the whiteboard, you know you’re in one day at a time working parent mode, using it as an opportunity to foster your child’s independence. Or when you’re standing in the park at your 7-year-olds birthday party holding a goodie bag for one of her close friends and you realize this kid never received an invite, you know you’re nailing this "ditch perfectionism" approach you talk about with your clients.
In the busyness and the excitement and revolving door of babysitters, I let a few important days roll right by without much acknowledgement. The one-year mark of the passing of my Aunt Marilyn who raised me, the 32nd anniversary of my parents’ accident, and two days later, the two-year anniversary of my friend Dave’s passing from ALS. It’s become a three-week container that is either the emotional perfect storm or not. I never know which it’s going to be. And I do my best not to judge myself for either outcome.
As things were beginning to slow down at the end of June, I found myself with a rare child-free Saturday (made possible by the most engaged and adoring grandparents my kids—and I—could ask for!). I did not work, clean, or organize the house, which were all things I could have done. I knew I needed time for me. Time to slow down. Time to connect with some of the losses I barely tended to in the past months. Time to address some of the thoughts and feelings that were bumping up against the walls of busyness I was putting up out of what seemed like necessity at the time.
I exercised, had lunch with a close friend, and met up with a group of working moms who’ve also lost their mothers. They’ve been on my radar for a while, but I was always—you guessed it—too busy to connect with them. But on that day, wow, I found my people. To be able to talk about loss and grief as freely as you would about the kind of cereal your kid eats without having to worry if you’re freaking the fuck out of the person on the other end of the conversation was true freedom. It felt like I was finally able to speak my mother tongue after years of unsuccessful attempts.
While I’m not in a crisis in dealing with all of my losses, it was critical to remind myself that tending to this part of me—my past and how it will impact my future is part of my self-care—as much or more than exercise, clean eating, or getting enough sleep. I must talk about this and hear others’ stories to connect on this deep hurt that for years made me feel like the weird one. Now as we say in my house, I know I’m "weird in a good way" and that I don’t need to go there with everyone. But when I can flow between healing and revealing my deepest broken-ness, laughing and crying with total strangers—shining optimism and still dropping my dark humor bombs that could only have been born of loss—I feel the most me.