Note to Self: There is no manual.
I remember the excitement of being a new mom and bringing home my oldest son from the hospital – I had been waiting to dive in and be the “perfect mom” for nine long months. Finally, my chance was here. My mother had come to stay with us for the first two weeks post-partum. I remember looking at my then-husband when she left, bursting into tears, saying, “I have no idea how to do this!” Twelve years later and two kids in, I’m still saying it… but now, instead of panicking as those words come out, I’ve added laughter, confidence, and a true assurance that nobody knows how to parent perfectly (because the “perfect parent” doesn’t exist!).
The truth is, a lot of us feel this way – wanting so badly to be “perfect” and also feeling like we have no
idea where to begin. Parenting is tough. There are good days and bad, simple moments and complicated
As parents, we walk the fine line between wanting children to create their own journeys and sharing the
wisdom we wish we had when we were their age… because let’s face it, the art of raising children is not
a one size fits all.
Honest conversation, connection, and every child’s ability to be seen, heard, and valued creates a
foundation to build success and fulfillment. As a mom of four boys, I often feel like a waitress trying to
“Order Up” the perfect conversation, the best response, and balancing when it’s time to share the
perfect life lesson.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you?
The next time you start feeling overwhelmed as a parent, remember:
1. We don’t have to be everything to everyone. As we navigate and negotiate time, the power of
“I’ll get back to you,” “let me think about that,” or just the “no” response that is so hard to hear
(and say). We have all taken on so much, and at some point, the boat begins to tip. If you feel
yourself compromising your well-being for the rest of the world around you, give yourself
permission to not be everything to everyone.
2. No two people are going through this experiencing the same thing. While it’s wonderful to say
that “We’re all in this together,” the reality is we are all living through different situations with
very different dynamics involved. Remember that you’ve not walked in anyone else’s shoes and
they have not walked in yours. Creating a space that’s a “judgment-free zone” helps us give
people the kindness they need. You might just be the bright spot in someone’s day - or perhaps
they can be that bright spot in yours.
3. It’s ok to get it wrong. In a world where so much feels like it changes from day to day, we need
to give ourselves permission to get it wrong. Each day brings a new dynamic, so remember that
we might need to pivot from time to time and try it again… and that’s completely ok. At the
beginning of the pandemic, it took me 5 weeks to finally get the virtual school/working mom gig
down. We just kept trying new ways until we finally figured out a workable plan. Even then, we
hit bumps in the road and had to re-boot every now and again.
4. Mindfulness allows you to be in the “here and now.” The gift of learning how to focus on
today is life-changing. When we are anxious or stressed, we tend to focus on what has been
lost, what will be lost, and miss the opportunity to enjoy where we are right now. Teaching this
skill to ourselves and our children can be invaluable. Teaching our children to stay in a mindful
space of calm can help reset their day.
5. Even grown-ups need to put themselves in time out once in a while. If you feel yourself not
showing us as your ‘best self,” take a break, and walk away for 5 minutes. As we move through
the stresses that have been added to our plates, and as children are learning how to navigate
the changes, we may have some days when we were are not at our best. In my house, I have given
my children permission to put me in time-out – and it’s been so helpful to remind me that
sometimes I need a break too! It provides us a common language and helps me model that we
all make mistakes in how we show up each day. (And my kids think it’s super funny to put their
mom in time out!)
6. Sometimes it’s just ok to say, “This stinks!” As adults, we often try to make everything better
for children, but consider that it can be helpful to a child for a loved one to model that it’s ok to
just “call a duck a duck.” We don’t want to get stuck for too long in that space, but it is ok to
just simply say, “You’re right. This does stink.”
7. Remember to find some time for you. Carving out even 5 minutes of your day to take care of
you can be so wonderful. (Even if it’s hiding with a cup of tea in the bathroom!). We have
typically been a society that has saved our “me time” for the weekends when the workdays are
over. During this time where we now find ourselves, working from home and with all roads
crossing over one another, the balance of 5 minutes a day for you can provide just the pause
8. Ask for help! We can all remember a time when someone has said, “Let me know if you need
anything.” Start to take people up on their offer. Allowing others to help you when you need it
brings them just as much joy as it brings you relief – and your children will learn the gift of
9. Lead with grace and understanding. Leading with grace and understanding in every
conversation helps us approach conversations with questions like, “Help me understanding
what happening?” vs. “What’s wrong with you?!” This brings people to learn that we don’t all
have to agree on everything, but we can learn a great deal from one another by listening.
Today, I say to you, “You’re doing a great job.” My hope is that as you’ve read this article, you’ve found
some time for you – some time to reimagine the way your days have been unfolding.
Beth Anne Dorman (Langrell) is a seasoned executive with demonstrated expertise in person-first
leadership, nonprofit standards of excellence, organizational sustainability and agility, and mental health
administration. Dorman is also a highly sought-after trainer certified to train audiences in topics related
to mental health and wellness, sexual assault, community resilience, and leadership skills.
Beth Anne’s current role is President/CEO of For All Seasons, a behavioral health agency and rape crisis
center that is a critical lifeline for over 200,000 rural Marylanders. As the chief executive since 2014,
Dorman has been instrumental in ensuring the For All Seasons’ sustainability, including growing the
agency’s operating budget from $1.4M annually to $9.3M in just nine years. During her tenure, she has
also established For All Seasons as one of the region’s largest employers, growing from 24 to nearly 100
For All Seasons, Inc. is a trauma center of excellence, providing the highest quality mental health and
victim services to children, adults, and families across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Services are offered in
both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy, 24-hour crisis hotlines,
outreach, and community education.
For All Seasons’ Center for Learning is a regional training academy that advances the expertise of mental
health providers and focuses on preventive mental health education and outreach. For All Seasons’
Center for Learning equips communities with coping skills, tools for resilience, and strategies for
wellness throughout the region and the state of Maryland.
As the Center for Learning Faculty Co-Chair and President & CEO of For All Seasons, Beth Anne
Dorman (Langrell) is available for community presentations, keynote remarks, and educational
To inquire about booking Beth Anne for your event, organization, or community group, please contact:
Lauren Kay Weber, VP of Philanthropy and Education, at email@example.com or (410) 822-