A few weeks ago I wrote in my email* that it was the time of the school year here in North America in which the seams were starting to show. Kids were really fatigued with schoolwork, they were starting to get sick of each other, expectations were running high, and if there were any kinds of problems or tensions they were going to come to the surface.

After that I got a lot of “I thought it was just my kids!” responses from people. It feels like everyone else is blithely pushing through while your kids are just barely holding it together. Pants that are suddenly too small, missing homework, scuffles with friends, more tears than usual.

Here’s a little reminder for you: There’s nothing that weird or unusual or scattered about you. Other people may look more together than you do in some areas, but no one’s on top of everything all the time. And no one is riding calm emotional seas all the time, either. 

I don’t think any of us are trying to deliberately deceive other people into thinking we’re doing really well when we’re presenting a calm, happy face in the middle of disarray. I think we make an effort to look calm as a way of trying to stay calm. The unintended effect is that other people are comparing their realities to our aspirations without our even trying to put that on them.

Remember in Lost when Jack said he’d give himself ten seconds to freak out and then he’d get it together? Maybe we should let other people see that ten seconds, and then rally again to stay calm. I’ll go first:

Every year I freak out that no one will come to my son’s birthday party, which is always on Mother’s Day weekend, and I just got some positive responses to the invitation and burst into tears. I think I’m carrying around more “odd kid out” baggage than I like to recognize.

Now you. (Here or on FB with your friends, or on Twitter with the hashtag #moxie10seconds or wherever.)

We can do it.

* I send an email out every few weeks, to people who subscribe over there on the right side of the page. It’s basically whatever topics I’m thinking about, and is usually a mix of finding your way as a person with children, some business nerdery (I had some deep thoughts about negotiations and value last week), and integrating work and life into something that feels like fun. I usually link to posts from my worklife blog on LinkedIn, too.

If you have a baby or toddler, there may be some question I can answer for you in the Moxietopics.

And if you have a bigger problem, this might be your sign that it’s time for a Flash Consult.


6 thoughts on “#moxie10seconds”

  1. I am beyond the ‘child freak out’ phase of my life although I had plenty of them though in years past. One thing that I HATED was that people would say "it will be OK, this too shall pass."

    It may pass (or it may not,) but RIGHT NOW it is a big deal, and you have the right to freak out. Don’t let anybody undermine that. Just because it is not a big deal to "Suzie" it still can be a big deal to you.

    Hang in there Moms; you’ve got my support!

  2. Love this; thank you! So much daily stress in our marriage — it just feels singularly unnourishing right now, as we deal with child, aging parents, etc. Also, realizing how much of my own stuff I need to deal with as I attempt to talk about race with my 5 year old — it feels so important, and so damn daunting.

  3. The pants that are suddenly too small thing!! Oh my gosh! I swear my child has not grown and her pants have not shrunk, but getting dressed every day is a herculean effort accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth and several changes of pants. Making me crazy.

  4. Even I can’t wait for school to be over already. I was searching your site for the advice you had on a ad teacher (thought one of your kids had one for kindergarten, with last effects), which we are dealing with. Teacher has a mean streak and it came to a head with a particularly nasty comment the other day. There is only a month left of school at this point, so I don’t know if we should go to the principle now or wait until school is over so the teacher doesn’t double down on my child.

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