Recently a friend recommended a movie to me called Where'd You Go, Bernadette. It had some star power with Cate Blanchett as the lead. The movie starts out with a family scene where the middle school aged daughter is begging her parents to take her to Antarctica to see penguins that she just prepared a report about for a class assignment. Now, most of us would not really entertain such a request, but these parents actually agree to the trip. This sets off a series of concerns to the mom, Bernadette, as she imagines a difficult sea voyage that will result in terminal sea sickness.
As the days unfold leading up to the trip, we see Bernadette get excited and concerned, and we also get a glimpse into just how much she loves her daughter. We also start to realize that her methods of dealing with life in general seem a little off. She spends hours dictating into her phone to her virtual assistant. She has to dress almost in disguise as she goes out in public. As Bernadette gets more and more "out of control" we learn that she had been one of the elite architects of the world and that she was one of just a few women with that title.
What Can We Learn?
I won't spoil the story for you because I do encourage you to watch it. However, here are a few of the takeaways for me. We can have a career where we excel and yet, being a parent is all consuming and we are willing to give ourselves up, little by little to ensure the welfare of our children. For many of us, we allow those boundaries to disappear to the point where we lose touch with ourselves completely. Take the time to really consider what makes you happy as a person and ensure that you find time for that every day. I call it Sacred Space; you may have a different word. For me it's been gardening and most recently art, sketching, and painting.
I noticed in the movie that Bernadette was not really friends with other moms in her daughter's school or in their neighborhood. She focused all her attention on her daughter and, while the young girl seemed charming and to excel in school, they were each other's best friends. I felt sad for Bernadette as she had no one to turn to. Her only aid was her virtual assistant in another country. This mom was a woman of means as we learn throughout the story, yet she was struggling and alone except for her husband, daughter, and a friend from the past. Luckily this old friend helps her to see a way forward. This made me wonder how many of us suffer in silence? We don’t ask for help. We're Supermom and should be able to do it all ourselves, right?
How Can We Find Ourselves?
The biggest opportunity I see for moms is to find a network of support, and there are two steps to do this. First, find three people you can call if you have a personal issue come up. Someone who can give you a break, or give you another perspective, or tell you to get out and do something fun to connect with yourself again. The one rule is that they can't be in your immediate family - no husband or daughter, mother or father. Those people don't always see your struggles. Also, if there is some type of emergency, they will be tied up in helping too.
Then, if you own a business or even if you're an employee, find three people that can help you with work. When you have an issue, who can you turn to for advice? This person should not be "entangled" with your work. In that way, they can see more clearly and advise more objectively.
These two steps are really all it takes to start to get better connected with yourself so you can be the best person and best mom. Step 1 is creating your support network. Step 2 is using your support network to give you enough of a break that you can find yourself again.
Don't wait for the crisis point in your movie to get started. If you feel like you need a good crisis, then watch the movie and learn and then take action. If you start today, you can avoid the crisis all together.