As working mothers we do approximately one-thousand-fifty-two things right each and every day. From the mundane tasks such as making sure everyone in the house who has teeth has actually brushed them before walking out the door in the morning (ourselves included) to the complicated and complex like closing the deal we’ve worked on for the better part of two years or navigating the hormonal reaction of our pre-teen in a way that makes us feel like we could teach an Oprah Lifeclass. We are so kick-ass-awesome at doing our thang and keeping our family and professional lives intact and functioning that we can all get a bit spoiled. And truthfully we working mothers can get a little cocky.
Until the wheels come off the bus and everyone—ourselves included– who depend on us to execute our one-thousand-fifty-two daily activities lose their minds.
I have watched so many capable amazing friends who have experienced their husbands absolutely losing their minds when they had to take a lengthy time-out because they became physically sick due to an illness or heartsick due to a loss. We joke about our husbands being our other child but truly when we can’t be the family glue for a significant length of time it can take a toll on a marriage.
Compounding the difficulty level is our desire to keep everything “normal” for our children. I’ve accused my oldest son of being the crying police. He can’t bear it when I cry which is unfortunate since I can work up quite an impressive sob every time I see a rescue animal posting on Facebook—so basically every five minutes. When we grieve deeply or are too sick to be supermom we beat ourselves up worse than anyone. We convince ourselves that we better start contributing to our children’s future therapy fund because surely we are damaging them in some hidden and hideous way.
It’s not as if we get to check our sickness and sorrow at the front desk. When we go to work we take it with us. What is more embarrassing than a tearful meltdown in front of co-workers? It even beats out walking around the office with toilet paper stuck to our heels on the humiliation chart. And then as if to add insult to injury we start wondering if co-workers think we can handle our jobs. How can this weepy mess of a woman possibly be capable of performing what is required of her?
So when worst case scenario becomes a reality what can we do to protect our “perfect” lives? Nothing. The answer is absolutely nothing. So embrace the chaos and move through it the best way you can. And you can start by uttering my motto in time like these: “where’s your lipstick, bitch?”
The origin of this phrase can be traced back to the first half marathon I ever ran. Two of the women I ran with showed up to the event with a full face of club-going makeup. Which somehow they managed to keep intact the entire race while my other friend and I sweated, snorted, and clawed our way to the finish line. We only made it because every time either she or I would start to lose steam and want to lay down in the middle of the race course the stronger of the two at that moment would look at the other and ask: “Where’s your lipstick, bitch?” At which point we’d both bust out laughing. The phrase became part of the language of our sisterhood and carried us not just across the finish line of our first half marathon but through many of life’s worst moments. It is a reminder that no matter how crazy hard a situation seems you can always get through it with some humor, sheer grit, and determination.
I received some questionable test results last week and was told I should go for a biopsy. No reason to panic just a precaution according to my doctor. But of course once I got in my car my head started going to the bad place running through all the ways me being sick would throw my family and career into chaos. And as my mind ratcheted up the doomsday scenarios I drove by a woman out for morning run, sweating her ass off and, I kid you not, wearing bright red lipstick. So thank you universe for the reminder. And a very special thanks to the thirty-something-year-old woman running on Tatum by Desert Ridge Mall around 9:30 last Friday likely of Southeast Asian descent and most importantly rocking bright red lipstick.