Below is a republication of a newsletter email sent out on 5/15/16.
The image above is the underside of the New River Gorge bridge in West Virginia - when you drive across the bridge, you'll notice it's nicely paved, pretty straight and unassuming. In essence, its a normal, run-of-the-mill bridge. However, my husband and I had the privilege of walking underneath it - down here, there are thousands of steel bolts, rods, trusses and pillars holding the magnificent structure up. Aside from that, the wind blows at an astonishing 40-50 mph making it nearly impossible to maintain your balance - I felt like I was going to fly off several times. And to top it all off, there is a 600 ft drop to the bottom of the gorge. Above the bridge, I barely batted an eye about what was underneath me. But being face-to-face with everything responsible for making that bridge stand was humbling. And understanding that even the slightest compromise in the integrity of the connections below the bridge would result in the bridges collapse was the most humbling of all.
In that vein, I wanted to give you a glimpse underneath the bridge I've been attempting to build this year...
For a few months now, you've been receiving emails from me about the launch of ROKI, a network dedicated to connecting and empowering professional moms. I've gotten lots of love in the process, but I have to be honest with you - I AM STRUGGLING TOO. I left my corporate job 4 years ago, and while I have held several other professional positions since (consultant, marketing lead, CEO) I continue to struggle, and will probably do so for a long time.
I struggle not because I can't find the right balance, but because being a mom has ALWAYS been a struggle for me. There - I said it. Somehow, working in a corporate, office environment always came very easy for me - I am a hard worker with a good work ethic. I am an enthusiastic extrovert; someone who has always been able to make friends with anyone in any situation - it's a unique skill I possess. I have been able to diplomatically diffuse difficult situations and present to rooms full of high level, influential executives. Yet somehow, for the life of me, I cannot seem to keep my cool when my 5 and 2 year old are screaming at each other - somehow I always end up breaking down and screaming too. And it usually ends in me sobbing in the bathroom.
I am not sending this out to paint myself as a weak, emotionally unstable person - but quite the contrary. I'm sending this out to prove that even an educated, intelligent, hard working individual can be broken by something as trivial as a glass cup shattering into a million pieces on the ground while your two year old chuckles about throwing it in the first place. It doesn't make you any less of a mother, a wife, a woman, a person if you react negatively to it - it makes you human.
Women are so hard on ourselves to try and BALANCE everything - well, I am starting to learn that there really isn't such a thing as balance. But there is such a thing as managing expectations. And over the years I've learned that it's nearly impossible for me to set those expectations for myself - I almost always end up leaning on friends, family, my husband or my coworkers to help me out. Over the years, as I've talked to more and more women who feel the same way I do, I've realized that not everyone has the same support system to help them set and manage their expectations - a realization that all but devastated me. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have the support I do in my life from my friends and family. And that was the driving force behind the creation ofROKI.
This is in no way meant to be a sales pitch, and I apologize if this has come off as being salesy, but I wanted this to come from the heart. I want this to reach the mom who may not have that support system, who is struggling to set those expectations for herself and feels as though she's drowning for the sake of BALANCE. I want you to know you don't have to do it by yourself. In fact you can't do it by yourself.
If you've gotten to the end of this email, first I commend you! And second, I want to hear from you - I don't want this to be a one-sided conversation. Email me back, or better yet, email this to someone you think needs to read it. We all need to help lift one another up, not isolate one another. We need to work together, like every bolt, steel rod and truss under that bridge, to hold each other up, no matter what.
I am still trying to figure out how to navigate this difficult terrain that is motherhood x work. Its a battle every day, and while there are lots of resources for those who have figured out their next step, ROKI is meant to serve as that every day support system, for those moms out there, like me, who struggle on a daily basis to cross the bridge.