Lessons from Puke Skywalker

Originally published via LinkedIn Jan 26, 2016

I started writing this blog in my head during the 30-minute rest intervals of my youngest son’s recent barfathon. His name is Luke and he had caught the dreaded stomach bug.  He wasn’t named after Luke Skywalker (a cool cat nonetheless!), although my husband said, “Luke, I am your father” at least 1,000 times a day for the first year of his life.

I’ve learned many lessons being a working mother, and sitting on the bathroom floor at 3:00 AM comforting a miserably sick child was no exception.

I’m a Just-in-Time Mom and I’m OK with that: I had been gone nearly all week at my company’s 2016 kickoff event. I returned Thursday, picked up my boys around 4:00 PM and by that evening, was holding Luke’s head above the commode. I had missed Boy Scouts, four days of school, a park outing, ice cream with Grandpa, and soccer practice. But Luke didn’t need me at those times. He needed me when he was tossing his cookies and I was grateful (mostly) to have been there. I’ve learned to toss my “mom guilt” in my toilet along with those cookies. We cannot always be at every partner event or every work meeting or every activity our family is involved in (preferably the non-barfing ones), but if we are there when it really counts, that’s what matters most.

Sometimes you have to deal with shit: Remember in the movie Jerry McGuire when the late great Dickie Fox says “Roll with the punches. Tomorrow is a new day”? It’s one of my favorite parts of that movie because it’s so true. Sometimes life is literally a handful of poop (sorry!), but if we fell to pieces at those times, we’d get nowhere. I’m not the most patient person in the world. I’m not the strongest either. It got down to a staggering 41 degrees here in Florida and I couldn’t find enough sweaters to put on as I frantically prepared for the imminent apocalypse. I have talked myself off a ledge more times than I can count.  I’m truly inspired by people who roll with the punches, who overcome obstacles, who get fired, get divorced, fight for their life and come out on top.

For others to succeed, you may have to be uncomfortable: Laying on towels on a cold bathroom floor with a shivering five-year-old’s puke breath hot on my neck is not my ideal sleeping position. But my options were limited. The goal was his comfort, not mine. I try hard to be a mentor to others, help good friends with a job search, and share my ideas with my counterparts. Sometimes discouraging thoughts creep in the back of my mind. What if they’re better than me? What if they succeed first? What if they get credit for something I thought of? What if I bust my ass only for some yahoo who hardly knows how to send out an Outlook invite to get the promotion I wanted? What if……I won Marketing Manager MVP of the year because I helped my team succeed? That last one actually happened last week. Giving my time and ideas and support to others was sometimes hard, but totally worth it. When your team wins, you win.

Be prepared to make the call: When Luke was in the thresholds of that miserable stage of the stomach flu when nothing you do makes you feel better, I had to make the decisions on what we were going to do next.  Sit down. Kneel. Go back to bed. Try to drink some Gatorade. All hoping whatever choice I made was the right one. Because God knows choosing to kneel when you should sit down is the worst decision in the history of decisions. Sometimes the hardest part about anyone’s job is having to make the choices. What events should we attend? What messaging will have the most impact? Which partners should we invest in? Where will we find net new customers? Should I really use this #annoying hashtag? Every day we’re asked to make a choice about something. Sometimes we choose poorly, most of the time I think the majority of us do alright. Because in the end the fact that you stepped up and made the call counts more than anything.

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