Last month I had a career highlight moment when I trained new candidates (mostly women!) running for public office on executive presence and personal leadership at an event in Pennsylvania. My husband and I decided to make a Philly family weekend out of it. While I worried how the unpredictability of 7 and 10 year olds would throw me off my game, my gut told me it was the right thing to do.
So, after a fun Saturday at the Franklin Institute, as well as exploring some of Philly’s cute neighborhoods and kid-friendly eats, we set off to the Sunday event where I would be one of several speakers. During the car ride that morning, the kids were belting out Hamilton lyrics as they often do on longer rides and I could feel my heart pound double time as it does before I take the stage. I went quiet—and because I’m the mom who usually sings along (or stumbles along if we’re referring to Hamilton), my silence did not go unnoticed. The girls began firing questions at me and poking and prodding—anything to figure out where I was at that moment.
I felt my resistance assume fighting stance.
My urge to hide my imperfection, my vulnerability and my fear was palpable.
I wanted to be their cool, unshakeable, runs her own business, changing the world mom. Instead, I was afraid to stand in someone’s living room to share material I live and breathe every day with total strangers.
"I’m ner-cited." I said quoting Jane, my ten-year old’s sentiments before her 4th grade chorus recital earlier this year. At the time I was blown away that at 10, she already knew nervous and excited feel exactly the same. It took me 40+ years to get there and I’m still reminding myself daily. With my admission came instant relief—for all of us. "Oh, ok Mom." Then without missing a beat, "I am not throwing away my shot!"
In order to be their runs her own business, making the world a better place for them mom—I must show them that I’m often afraid to be that person—but I do it anyway. I go out there and I do it imperfectly because I’m a flawed human. Watching my humanity gives them the opportunity to be vulnerable and imperfect as they do the things in life that they simultaneously crave and fear. Though my aspiration is often to show them that model of perfection so they’re proud of me and our family—I know when I go beyond my ego and I let them catch me being who I truly am, I’m showing them it’s possible to be all of who they are.
Later in that inspiring day, I stood in front of the room to connect with and support my audience. My 7-year-old, Roxanne, sat on a bar stool, legs dangling, quietly staring at me command a room of rapt learners. And Jane ran across the "stage" a couple of times mid-talk in only a bathing suit to grab sunscreen from her dad. Not ideal—but I worked it into a laugh or two. It was real. For the candidates, I was the coach who is also a mom that wanted her daughters to see what it looks like when women run for office. For my daughters, it was a peak into what mommy does all day and what’s possible when you’re doing something you love. And for me, the opportunity to feel the full support of the people I love while being a part of something core to my mission—even in those messy moments, especially in those messy moments—was true freedom.