We Know We Can’t Do It All, So Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up When We Fail?

It’s inevitable: We know there’s only so much time in a day, yet we can’t seem to set our boundaries. For some reason (read: pride), we routinely set ourselves up for failure by convincing ourselves that we can and should do it all, because we are a generation of women born and bred to believe that there is nothing we can’t accomplish. When I take a step back and really examine the sentiment, the logic doesn’t seem to work. At what point in history was one member of the household expected to carry the financial, caregiver and domestic responsibilities? We bite off more than we can chew and then have a hard time forgiving ourselves when something inevitably falls through the cracks.

Whether it’s a book or a blog, just about every parenting writer has offered some version of “what no one tells you about motherhood”—and they’re all mild versions of the same (mom guilt sucks; self-care is essential; vacations with kids are not vacations, etc., etc.). But I’m going to tell you something you may not have heard yet: the hardest thing about motherhood today is…becoming a mom. As working women, we’ve spent so much time establishing our pre-baby identities, both personally and professionally, so when motherhood comes along and asks us to restructure everything we know, it can feel insurmountable. Prior to having my children, I built a decade-long career in journalism, and after the birth of my first child in 2014, I really struggled in this new chapter of my identity and how to manage it all. How could I give everything to this career that defined me, while also being the mom my daughter deserved? Simply put: It’s a dance, and it’s not often very graceful, but after some practice, we get the hang of it. Five years into working motherhood (and having built a second act focusing on that very topic), I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Leslie Anne Bruce is a five-time New York Times bestselling coauthor and an award-winning entertainment journalist, formerly of Us Weekly and the Hollywood Reporter. She is the founder of Unpacified, an online community for modern women to discuss motherhood through an unfiltered, judgment-free lens of honesty and humor. Her latest book, You Are a F#cking Awesome Mom, continues the online conversation. She lives in Laguna Beach with her husband and two children. Find her Instagram here.

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