The last couple of years, I have started to "hit the stride" of my life. You know, the point in your life when you feel you have a handle on things. A point in your life, when everything just seems to fall in place. A point where you exhale a lot more and finally feel that famous C-word...CONTROL .
From the outside looking in, it may appear as though I'm incredibly independent. My Mom (who due to her role in my life has always been my number one cheerleader), always says to me "I don't know how YOU do it Mandi, YOU do it all". I think this is the typical working Mom stereotype. I fall into it too...I'll see a working Mom, who seems to balance everything perfectly, and I'll think, Wow she's superwoman... SHE can do it all.
But I learned a huge lesson recently...things are NEVER exactly what they seem.
This past month, my bad luck assistant streak continued and I found myself once again starting with a new assistant. My former assistant gave me her notice and told me she was leaving the area, and like an old familiar song, I was back to the drawing board attempting to find another assistant.
My new assistant started. I sat her down and explained to her that I am a super organized person, I like my files organized, and due to my insane schedule of work commitments and personal commitments I need her to step in and diary our files, remind me of deadlines, etc. I basically gave her my typical "Welcome to the craziness" speech.
As she started I assumed it would be a smooth transition. After all, there never seemed to be any problems with my last assistant, and things seemed to be taken care of. I wasn't far behind on work and in fact because my case had settled my October was wide open to allow for a smooth transition. I was confident that all would be just fine.
So much to my surprise one day while I was in a deposition, I checked my iPhone and found a message from our office manager that she needed to talk to me about something. I walked into my firm and to my surprise, another assistant and my assistant looked very frazzled. I walked passed them into our office manager's office. "Things are bad, did you realize what was waiting there for your assistant?".
I hate to admit it, for it makes me sound absolutely clueless, but I had no idea what she was talking about. I mean come on...my world is organized, controlled...right? I headed back over to my assistant's desk to find it completely destroyed...files everywhere, stacks of papers galore. It seriously looked like a scene straight out of Hoarders.
My assistant explained that as she was making herself at home in her new cubicle, and every time she moved something she found more and more stacks of paper. Filing from earlier in the year, to-do emails that she didn't know if they had been done, etc. etc. Looking around the mess, I suddenly felt like someone ripped me out of a deep sleep and thrust me into reality. What the hell was happening here? How could all of this stuff be here and I never knew?
It's hard to put in words how I felt those next weeks, but it was a mixture of feeling like I had been duped and sheer panic. Emails upon emails of "Do this please" or "Follow up please" that were never done. I started to literally get sick to my stomach each time my new assistant walked in with another "Here's another pile we have to go through". I felt completely out of control, overwhelmed, and incredibly stressed.
Luckily I have a lot of great friends at my firm that agreed to step in and help clean up the mess. The dust settled and my new assistant got everything taken care of. Suddenly my world started to balance itself again.
Going through this experience reminded me that although my life may seem to be in control, I live in a house of cards. The fact is I rely so heavily upon people, that they support me and make my life appear to be what it is. And because I am so busy, I don't have time to micromanage each of my cards and so my life depends on whether are not they are holding up their end of the bargain. That's a scary position to be in, but one I think a lot of working Moms deal with. I, like so many other working Moms, rely on people more than I even realize. And if one of these people fail me, my whole world has a risk of collapsing from underneath me.
So next time you see a "SuperMom" and you wonder how she is able to do it all, remember that there is so much more going on behind the scenes.She isn't doing it on her own...she has support all around her, support she relies on to keep her world in harmony. Support that unfortunately could let her down. And if you are the one trying to be the SuperMom, remember from time to time to thank your "cards" for supporting your world and helping you fool the world that YOU can do it all.