Monday, April 13, 2015

Pulling The Mom Card

Working with teenagers most of my career, I hear excuses as often as I breathe. That might feel excessive, but most teens, and eventual adults, only speak in excuses and don't even realize it. If we're lucky, one day we realize this about ourselves and evolve. Truth be told, it's quite empowering to drop all the excuses.

This past weekend I was sitting in a career fair with a woman who said the best advice a mentor ever gave her was "never apologize, never explain." Sounds pretty brash, but here's the logic...

How many times do we start an email with: "sorry - I didn't do ABC, because of XYZ." You get my drift, right? We've all been there. We suddenly spew direct or indirect defensiveness and give excuses and apologies more than we should. Doing this is actually completely unnecessary. We can and should leave out all the I'm sorries and lame excuses that follow. 

When I became aware of this, I suddenly realized how often I did apologize or throw out some excuse for simply being me. I began curbing the habit and before I knew it I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself for keeping the useless usage of overly apologizing and using excuses in check.

This doesn't mean I am completely immune.

If there's any area where parenting adults apologize and use excuses too often it's in parenthood. Whether we're back outing, being late, or just simply living an over-consumed parent life, we often gladly use our children to throw under the bus to justify some disappointing short-coming. Shame on us for doing that intentionally. Now, this isn't to say we don't ever get to do that. In fact, sometimes pulling the mom card is the only thing that makes sense. 

I very recently pulled a huge mom card with work.  I was going to be late because it was one crazy morning. My 8-year old pooped his pants (he'd been fighting a stomach bug for over a week, so bowel controls were unpredictable), my 3-year old accidentally peed all over my bed and less than 30 mins. later my 4-year old was barfing on it. This is so good you couldn't make it up. So what did I do? I pulled the mom card, but here's the thing... I did it out of humor. I was late to work, no doubt about that. I said I'd be late and that was that. Then I simply followed up with the mom card to share a little reality of my day with staff, not to use it as an excuse or to rationalize tardiness, but to share life happens, and on this day I'd be late because of it.

Yes, I pulled the "mom card" and I wonder: how often other parents do too? Share your best "mom or dad card moments." Comment with yours below! 

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