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Learning to Be Okay With Dropping the Ball Sometimes

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Hansa Bhargava, MD - Blogs
By Hansa D. Bhargava, MDBoard-certified pediatricianSeptember 18, 2018

Have you ever forgotten about a call or a meeting? Or missed an event at your child’s school because it fell off your calendar? Or showed up on the wrong date for your kid’s friend’s birthday party? As a working mom, I can tell you that I’ve dropped balls like these. In fact, it happened today.

I had a hectic morning getting my twin 12-year-olds out the door. After tennis practice last night, we were up late doing homework. So, we got a late start this morning, which cascaded into a delay getting into the car for drop-off. I was upset with my daughter for taking so long to get up and eat, so the car ride turned into a heated exchange. I was still recovering as I sat down at my desk to start my day – and then I looked at the time….and panicked. I had missed a conference call!

I was absolutely horrified. How could this happen? Was there something wrong with me? How could I be so irresponsible? The self-antagonizing questions kept surfacing. Maybe I couldn’t manage everything. Frustration, annoyance, guilt all overtook me.

I ended up calling a friend to talk about the missed meeting. She listened quietly and then confessed that she had done the same thing more than once and had felt terrible too. Somehow knowing that this happened to other, seemingly confident and capable women too made me feel a bit better. It wasn’t just me. And then I started thinking: Why do we feel we have to do all of this perfectly? And when we do stumble once in a while, why must we beat ourselves up for it?

Now I am not saying that it’s okay to miss calls or meetings. It is not. But I think that once you’ve remedied the situation, it’s important to let it go. Don’t continue to blame yourself. Accept that with so much going on, balls can sometimes drop.

As working moms, we carry a lot on our shoulders. Studies have shown that not only are kids overscheduled and stressed, but parents also feel like they are and have difficulty managing it all. Over 50% of parents that are working say that they are challenged. And this is because work is just one aspect of life. Most of us have a ‘second job’ of driving kids to activities, helping with their homework, managing home finances, juggling social schedules, and doing the everyday chores of meals and laundry.  Often, there seems to be no time to think or for ourselves.

And this is why it’s important to let go of our small mistakes. Fix them and move on. And that’s what I did. I emailed the person I was supposed to be meeting with and apologized. The meeting was rescheduled and ended up being quite productive. And it was okay.

I realized that there will be times when things will fall off my plate. And in those times, I will simply pick them back up and keep going. I will always try my best, but I’ll be okay when I stumble. Because the ability to accept yourself the way you are ultimately helps you be stronger, happier, and better at everything you do.

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About the Author
Hansa D. Bhargava, MD

Hansa Bhargava, MD, is a medical editor and WebMD's expert pediatrician. She oversees the team of medical experts responsible for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of the pediatric content on the site.

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