Moments That Matter
by Holland-Mark | December 16, 2009
When I found out that Holland-Mark was buying a table at the MA Women’s Conference for all the girls in the office I thought, “ugh.” I mean – if I’m being honest – I didn’t want to go. But I felt funny NOT going. Because what kind of signal would that give off to my managers and co-workers if I turned down an opportunity to learn, to grow, to network? It would have looked bad. And I can’t even articulate why I didn’t want to be there other than the fact that a gigantic conference with a bunch of women and some “rah rah rah” just didn’t seem like my thing.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself at the first seminar, listening to Marcus Buckingham talking about “Finding Your Strongest Life” (my eyes were rolling like a teenage girl’s when I walked in), and out of NOWHERE I am literally choking back tears. His talk was suddenly circling around a topic that hit so close to home it felt like someone dumped a bucket of cold water on my head and then punched me in the gut.
You see, I’ve recently started working full-time again, after a 5-year stint of working more-than-part-time-but-less-than-full-time-and-all-from-home. My son Max started Kindergarten in September, and when the opportunity at H-M came my way, it was a no-brainer to jump back into the full-time work world since I already knew and respected many of the folks here.
I’ve labeled the last few months “The Adjustment Period.” There have been some rocky days as my family and I have been getting used to me being gone from the house so much more. Overall though, I’ve been really proud of myself. I typically don’t deal well with change, and can be an emotional kook, and so far I’d been like a rock through The Adjustment Period. The job is fantastic, it’s great to be doing exciting work again, surrounded by smart people.
Ironically, in the few days leading up to the conference, I was having a particularly tough week. Nothing crazy really, just the same stuff that I know every working mother has internal battles over. I was feeling stretched. And off-kilter. And like I was constantly trying to do too many things at once, yet not really doing a great job at any of them. And my commute was miserable every day, and those wasted hours in the car were haunting me. And I was missing Max and the extra time we used to have together – and he was feeling it too. The night before the conference he gave me a hug before bed and started crying. He said, “Mom, you don’t have time to play with me anymore.”
So as I sat there in this room full of women, surrounded by a few of my co-workers, listening to Marcus advise me to find the moments that matter and stop what I’m doing to pay attention to them, I thought of Max. And how I typically come home from work and I’m like a madwoman trying to get 20 piddly little things done in the last hour I have with him before he goes to bed. And how I’ve been so stressed out trying to maximize every stupid minute that I’ve lost sight of the fact that this sweet little kid of mine just wants me to play with him and stop acting like a crazy lady who is obsessed with neatness and order and checking things off her list.
I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. A tear started rolling down my cheek. Then another. Then another. And I think to myself “You dope. You’re sitting here at this conference that you were being such a crank about, and now this guy has you in tears!” And all of a sudden a tissue is being passed to me from my left. And I get a reassuring pat on my arm from my right. And I realize that it’s all out there. I can’t just ignore it and pretend to be a rock anymore. It’s hard. But at least now I know what I need to do: just pay attention – really pay attention – to those moments that matter.
So I wasn’t the best networker that day, but I sure learned a lot – not just what I took away from Marcus’ seminar, or from my co-worker friends who were quietly supportive of my little moment. But also that next time I’m offered an opportunity like this I need to keep an open mind. Listen, when I’m wrong, I admit it. And this time – I was wrong. The conference was great on a number of levels – the other seminars were informative and inspiring, and the day gave me a new perspective on some important things. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to have attended. And next time, I won’t be such a curmudgeon about something like this going in. I could be heading into a moment that matters, so I’d better be paying attention.