“I can’t take any more. She hasn’t slept for more than 10 or 15 minutes all night long. I. Need. Sleep.”
Or at least that’s what I think he said. His words were not all that intelligible in the wee hours of morning as the sun began to peek through our blinds.
He happens to be on the baby night shift, something I am more than a little grateful for since it allows me to get actual sleep between feedings, while he handles diaper changes, burping, & rocking the baby back to sleep. Although that night, she didn’t seem to be interested in the going back to sleep part.
Given all the times I’d been able to stay in bed until 9am, I quite happily started my shift early that day so my weary partner could get a little shut eye.
Later that night as I took my 30-minute walk, some daily “me time” to clear my head & help heal my body from the c-section I ended up having, I was listening to a podcast called “Earn Your Happy” with Lori Harder that had me thinking about my own happiness, both in my pre-baby career as a facilitator & in my new role as a mother.
**Sidenote: If you’re into positivity, podcasts, growth, or being generally awesome...you should definitely check it out on iTunes or at www.loriharder.com.**
The thing about putting yourself out there & doing whatever it is you’re trying to master is that when you start out, you might do it in a not so masterful way. There’s any number of reasons something may not go well...but mostly it’s just the law of averages. No one gets it right 100% of the time, especially not right out of the gate.
As a facilitator, I have gotten it wrong plenty of times. Occasionally getting it wrong meant we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do. But mostly it just meant the ride was a little bumpier than planned.
Like the time the printed materials never made it to the client site & we had to improvise for the first day while FedEx printed up new (very expensive) replacement materials.
Or the time the room we got was a computer lab instead of a classroom & participants had to crane their necks up, over, & around ginormous computer screens to see the flip charts & talk to their groupmates for exercises.
Or the time I put the event in my calendar on the wrong date & had to pay out of pocket for a very expensive last minute airfare change.
Or the time the client asked for a partial refund because they weren’t happy that I didn’t use every single printed material that my sales rep had shipped (despite participants being wildly happy during the event).
Or the time the class was promised & sold at 50% over capacity in a classroom that was WAY too small and I literally had to give up bathroom breaks + lunch to complete all the video recorded final facilitation exercises on the last day (my pee-pee dance moves were strong that day!).
Or the time I accidentally forgot to give one student a card with his “your dysfunctional meeting behavior to act out during the final session is…” assignment. He believed I’d done it intentionally because I thought that his being gay was dysfunctional enough. Not coincidentally, this was also the day I broke down in tears in front of a class full students when he said that outloud during our closing circle. At least I got to tell him what really happened--I had simply not seen his name on the sign up sheet because it was blocked from view in the place where I sat to write out the assignments.
Or the time a man walked up to me on a break during a public offering of my facilitation course as I was preparing flip charts for the next exercise & said, “I need to get my shit together.”
Me (assuming he was being a little hard on himself): “Okay, how can I help you?”
“I just found out my son died,” he replied.
Suddenly the flipcharts (and the entire class) became a MUCH lower priority.
I can see how you might come to that conclusion! But the truth is, this list only tells part of the story. It doesn’t include the hundreds of successful sessions I’ve lead. Also, none of these things happened TO me. They happened FOR me. It is through these events that I learned how to deal with people in a much deeper capacity than course materials or a meeting agenda could have lead to.
What I learned along the way is that as a facilitator I either had a “good day” (i.e. the session was a home run) OR I had a “good story” (which meant the session may have been a little bumpy...but damn was that a juicy experience I could draw from to teach future classes).
In the beginning of any endeavor where we hope to master a new skill, we usually have more “good stories” (or hellish nightmares as they sometimes feel like) than we’d probably like. But as we learn, grow, & master the skills needed to succeed, we find ourselves having more “good days.”
But I think there’s an even better phase beyond that.
When I really hit my stride as a facilitator, I found that even during events that gave me some of those “good stories” I knew I’d be sharing with future classes, I was able to experience those moments as “good days” too. It’s like the line between what made a good & bad experience had been erased and all that was left was living whatever experience was in front of me. In fact, I came to see the crazy moments that had previously been unwanted (and quite honestly, avoided at all costs) as some of my most treasured memories. Were they easy to navigate? No. But what valuable things in life really are?
It’s easy for me to see a good story when I am outside of it. Now the trick is learning how to see them when they are happening to me as a mom, just like I did when I was a facilitator.
Like when I was fresh out of the hospital & had to tuck into the fetal position to sneeze so I wouldn’t bust open my c-section scar.
Or the first time I used the carseat/stroller combo on my own & had to ask a stranger to help me figure out how to get the carseat out of the stroller...and then couldn’t fold the stroller up, so threw it in my car as is just to get my poor baby out of the hot sun.
Or the several times in just 5 weeks that I can’t remember the last time I showered. Had it been days? Weeks?
Or when the baby poops all over the changing table before I can swap out diapers.
Not my best days...but perhaps my best stories someday.
I don’t want to be in such a rush to win a “mom of the year” award that I hurry through the “good story” moments like I did at the beginning of my facilitation career. This time I don’t have anything to prove to anyone (truth be told, I didn’t really then either...I just thought I did). All I need to do is enjoy the ride. Bumps and all.
Now if you’ll excuse me...my nose is telling me I probably didn’t shower yesterday. Or the day before. Don’t judge! I’m making a "good story!" ;-)
This post brought to you by a 42-year old first time mom who's loving the journey. Although I am not "officially" back to work until the fall, I do have a few coaching spots open if you could use a dose of this outlook in your life. Nothing makes me happier than helping people find & write their best stories!