Bad days-we all have them. Days where all you want to do is curl up into a little ball and be by yourself. Mom calling? Best friend texting? A colleague has some advice and your neighbor is offering coffee? Nope. You are shutting off from the world until you can figure out how to get through this pain and be strong again. Right? Turns out, not always. As moms, we are used to being the ones to hold it together and make things happen for ourselves and for our families. Yet, I’d guess that most of us have heard that frequently used and possibly cliché phrase of ‘it takes a village,’ when people talk about raising kids or achieving goals…so what about during these tough times?
Bad days and tough times-yeah, I’ve had a whole lot of that recently. About two weeks ago, the position I’d held for almost five years- an Operations Manager with a Fortune 500 Company and a salary that made me the family breadwinner-was unexpectedly abolished and, in the absence of any other applicable positions for me to be placed-my employment was terminated. In a matter of minutes, a standard Friday transformed into what felt like a nightmare of shattered reality. Engulfed in shock, I moved through my office on autopilot, quietly and quickly packing a box and loading my car with barely a single goodbye.
With the exception of a meltdown-mode call to my husband, while driving home and brief communication to advise my immediate family of the news, the rest of the day was spent in isolation. I was the ball in the bed, unable to move, think, eat, sleep, or otherwise function- nonetheless engage in any type of communication. Saturday was similar. I canceled the usual Saturday morning run with a friend, rescinded my ‘going’ response to my nine-month-old daughter’s 1st and 3rd Saturdays playdate, and skipped out on Saturday evening church service. Having some time to hone in on my own feelings and put spend quality time my family was important, but the job loss felt like an invisible dark cloud hanging above my husband and me as I boxed him and I in and the rest of the world out.
Despite my propensity for seclusion, my three-year-old daughter was adamant about our family attendance at the neighborhood Super Bowl Party (any opportunity to play with the bigger neighborhood kids and that girl is all in…) After much deliberation, I agreed that we should not only still go the party, but also to not be afraid to let our neighbors know what had happened (I mean, they were going to find out anyway, right?)
As could be expected, responding to the first “so, how are things going – work still keeping you pretty busy?” felt painful, awkward, and embarrassing. Yet, stumbling over my words and struggling to maintain my composure, I was met with hugs, kind and supportive words, and sincere offers for assistance and guidance. For the first time in days, I felt myself smile without a strained force. Even if small, a semblance of the strength that I’d been searching for, began to form anew, by letting my village in.
Empowered by the support, I allowed myself to open up to not only my close friends and family but also to other mom friends, neighbors, business contacts, and the women in my volunteer league.
Scary? Heck yes! Even though I’d gotten over the initial fear of admission, putting yourself out there and being vulnerable is never easy. But, worth it? Absolutely. In the coming days and weeks, there were notes of encouragement, check-in calls and texts, continued condolences, job leads, strength-building gifts, and offers to watch the girls. Bottles of wine were opened, meals and snacks were shared, shoulders were cried on, and hugs were frequently given. It was the actions, big, small or somewhere in between, of each and every one of these people in my and my family’s life that taught me that while it is ultimately up to me to regain control of my strength and push forward-sometimes you need to let your walls down and sometimes it’s ok to accept help. Sometimes when you’re going through bad days and tough times, you will see that there are so many people standing behind-your personal ‘village’ ready to help in any way you need, if you just let them in. Sometimes, all it took was just a quick “we’ve got you and your family” text or a little gift of sunny flowers and free caffeine to pick me up when I needed it most.
While time for self-reflection is essential and everyone heals in their own way, we are not alone in this world.
We all have trials and tribulations in this life, and it is just as important to recognize that ‘it takes a village’ during the bad days and tough times as it does when working to achieve accomplishments and objectives. Maybe you’re in a place to be part of that healing for someone else, or maybe (for whatever reason) it’s you who needs it. So, if you’re going through a bad day/tough times like myself, please don’t stay closed forever, because it just might be that mom/best friend/colleague/neighbor or someone else in your ‘village’ whose support and help pave your way to finding your strength again.