Episode 5: [Candid Conversations] The Unexpected Hardships of Being a Mom & CEO

Filed in All Episodes, Business Strategy, Emotional Intelligence — October 21, 2021

Episode Summary:

Hello friends, today I’m introducing a special segment of the podcast, Candid Conversations. These podcasts are bits of inspiration that I will try to record in the moment, thoughts, and experiences that will help you feel seen as a woman and CEO. First up, we’re talking about the unexpected hardships that can arise day to day as a mom and CEO and how to move through them.

Topics Discussed:

  • What exactly Candid Conversations are within The Shamelessly Ambitious Podcast
  • What’s happening in Ash’s luteal phase and how she’s feeling
  • The unexpected hardship of being a mom and CEO
  • Remembering what shame is and how we can help each other through it
  • How to move through the un-planned stress and anxiety in your life

Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

Ash McDonald (00:00):

Hey friend today, I am recording my first ever candid conversation. Essentially these will be episodes spattered throughout all other episodes that didn’t really have a plan. I wanted to create space within developing this podcast where I could come to you and just have some real candid conversations about the hard stuff that some of us don’t say out loud, or maybe only say parts of it out loud today. I’m coming to you from my luteal phase, which has felt a little harder this time around. If I’m being honest in our luteal phase, we have a hormone called progesterone that surges through our body and tends to cause some PMs symptoms, some irritability, just a little bit of struggle bus if I’m being honest. And sometimes when I am eating really well and nurturing my hormones and taking great care of myself, I don’t feel it as heavy.

Ash McDonald (01:03):

And sometimes my circumstances are boss. If we’re being honest here, right? Because sometimes you can take care of yourself. So dang well, and life still happens. And it’s still hard. Sometimes I get a little frustrated over people who say like, if you just had a perfect self-care routine or a perfect morning routine or a, you know, really great nutrition system or whatever the case may be, then you’ll always feel great. Well, no, can we just say new? That’s not true because we’re human and life happens. And life outside of our circumstances happen and things can feel hard and stress can happen just simply because stress is happening. So I am luteal I today I’m grateful for fall weather and a change of scenery. It feels really good to watch the colors change and to have some alteration in what you see. I am a big lover of change.

Ash McDonald (02:09):

So season changes really, really inspire me. That being said, I am here today to talk to you about the unexpected, the unexpected hardship, being a mom and a CEO has absolutely tested some of my greatest limits. I love, love, love, love being an ambitious woman. I’m good at it. I’m good at taking care of business, if you will. I’m really good at that. And sometimes when motherhood throws me the greatest curve balls, I become suffocated. And for a really long time, I really felt that that meant that I wasn’t good at being a mom, that there was something wrong with me

Ash McDonald (02:59):

And how I mom did that. There was something wrong with me that sometimes it felt like it might be easier to work. Yes. I said it, it honestly can sometimes feel a heck of a lot easier to just work than it is to face the struggle of motherhood. My kiddos are three, four and seven. And so we live, we live in a world of tantrums, unexpected tantrums struggles over w putting shoes on, not putting shoes on being independent, not being independent, not wanting to take naps, not wanting the food, wanting the food. I mean, I know that you’re listening to this and you’re like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Right. Motherhood is just that. Like, you could plan the perfect give you example, pumpkin patch fall day, and it can all blow up on you without any expectations at all. Like it just blows up.

Ash McDonald (04:00):

Now, I want to tell you the truth is I’m not actually coming here today because I personally had some horrible experience. Although I will admit that the past couple of weeks have been really hard in our household because almost all of our children have been sick for a while now. So there has been just a lot of struggle, but I’m actually coming because I was inspired by a situation that happened at a pumpkin patch today. I took my kiddos with my husband, two of them going patch. And we had already probably had like three or four tantrums. Although I still felt like we were, we were doing good. Everybody was covered in chocolate. It was already a hot mess. However things felt okay. And then I saw this mom and she had an older daughter, I would say probably at like 12 or 13 with special needs.

Ash McDonald (04:48):

And then she had a younger daughter, probably like six or seven. Now her older daughter was sort of wailing on her physically in words. And like everything you could imagine, and this woman was holding onto her daughter. Just like basically pleading, please. Let’s just go, please. Let’s just get out of here. And then her younger daughter was crying hysterically. Now I’m not sharing the story because I want any accolades whatsoever, but it didn’t take me, but a split second to run to her and basically put my hand on her back and say, how can I support you? And not because I felt for her, but because I felt with her ’cause man, oh man, I, I know what it feels like to have your kids losing it. Now I don’t have a child with bonafide special needs. However, my middle son struggles a lot with what I believe is a traumatic brain injury that he got when he was 18 months old and something we have been fighting to uncover and discover for.

Ash McDonald (05:58):

And he really struggles. And sometimes he gets violent and sometimes he just doesn’t seem to understand anything that I am saying. Sometimes he has full blown anxiety attacks and panic attacks because he forgets things that I don’t believe he should be forgetting. And we do a lot of appointments, which is really, really hard for him as we’re trying to figure this all out. And so in that moment, when I saw her, I just, I fell for her. She looked over at me, her eyes full of tears. And she said, I’m just so embarrassed right now. Oh, I just hugged her. And I whispered in her ear that she was a really good mom and she responded, I just thought this was going to be so different. And I thought it was going to be, you know, less busy. It was actually really chaotically busy at the time that we were there and their dad was camping.

Ash McDonald (06:51):

And I usually wouldn’t do this on my own, but I just, I had this like spring of courage. And I know you have felt that I have felt that that moment where like, yeah, it makes total sense to take all three of my children to a grocery story. Now it’s going to be great halfway through. You’re like, what in the world was I thinking? So I look at her and I tell her, gosh, we can never predict any of this. You just have to remember how dang good you’re doing right now. And so we basically chatted for a second. Obviously her daughters were losing it. And so I had said what typically helps your daughter, her older daughter. So we exchanged names of her kiddos. And I got down, I level with her girls and we helped her. We helped her get out of the pumpkin patch. Cause that’s all she really wanted to do was get to this car, but her daughter was panicking.

Ash McDonald (07:43):

Why am I sharing this with you? I’m sharing this with you because no matter what circumstance that you have, whether you’ve got super, super easy kids, which I don’t think anybody has them, right. Or whatever your circumstances, I think it’s important that we have these conversations. That just how dang hard it can feel. And remember the definition of shame is to feel as though you don’t belong. And in that moment, when I saw that mom, I knew in my heart that that’s what she felt that she did not belong here. And I felt like my only purpose in that moment was to make sure that she knew that she did.

Ash McDonald (08:34):

Isn’t that the greatest gift that we can give others is to simply say me too, or thank you for sharing with me, or it feels heavy for me too. That is the greatest gift we can give. I’ve called it, the me too effect, right? We don’t necessarily need solutions, but we need somebody to say me too. And the whole premise of this podcast is to create a rippling effect of me too, whether it’s in your ambition or in your dreams or in your motherhood or in your marital experience, the relationships that you carry. I want you to know that you are not alone and that life is hard for all of us at different times. And I know that we live in a world where everybody is screaming from the top of their lungs, that we must focus on the positive. And yes, my friend, yes, we must do that.

Ash McDonald (09:39):

But we must also feel what we feel and give space for it today. It wasn’t, my kids tomorrow might be today. I got to be that gift to hold another mom, to let another mom know that she was not alone. And tomorrow I might need someone to be that gift for me, it’s been really hard here lately. My kids have been sick. They haven’t been in childcare. A lot of the work stuff I wanted to do fell behind. And I say that with a little bit of shame, if I’m being honest, because I’m constantly preaching that you got to stay in the moments that matter most right. And there were certainly moments that I was right there and I enjoyed it. And I was grateful for extra snuggles and extra time. But there was also a lot of moments where I felt like I’m not going to make it through this. This is too hard.

Ash McDonald (10:44):

This is also one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to become a holistic business coach. If you will, is after years of being a therapist and building my own businesses and looking around and never being able to find a coach out there that could truly understand what I went through. I knew I needed to fill a gap. And this isn’t to say that coaches that aren’t moms are not good. They’re incredible. They’re amazing. But I, I personally deeply require empathy. I E somebody being able to truly stand in my shoes. Now I’ve had a lot of incredible coaches that are not moms. So please hear me in this, all that I’m simply saying is that I wasn’t seeing a lot out there like me, a mom, who’s willing to say I had this launch plan and it was going to be amazing. And then three of my kids got sick and now it’s just not a thing.

Ash McDonald (11:37):

And I’m pivoting and I’m finding new ways and it kind of sucks, but there’s probably a reason for it. And I’m going to find the positive, but first I’m going to cry. Right? So I wanted to come in here. I wanted to share that story, if nothing else, than to maybe, maybe gift you the me too effect as well. But then I also wanted to give you a couple tips and tricks that I do carry up my sleeve in order to sort of move through the unexpected kid stuff, right? That tantrum, that sick kiddo, the unexpected diagnosis, the fight with your head, even if it’s not kids done the fight with your spouse, the, you know, the launch that didn’t go well, the most important thing that you can do when you feel just that, that stress, that is anxiety ridden, one is to breathe, which I know is super annoying, but it’s true is to breathe.

Ash McDonald (12:32):

Literally make your inhales and your exhales match, whether that’s counting to five and then counting to five or 10. And then 10, I personally like to go all the way to 10 and move myself from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 all the way down. So basically breathing in to the count of 10, breathing out to the count of 10, breathing in to the count of nine, breathing out to the count of nine. And once I do this, I do a body scan. So I basically go from the top of my head down to my toes, just feeling for any areas that are very, very tense. And I energetically move the tension away. This is the first way that I start to kind of get back into my body. And then I ground myself. So whether that’s going outside and kind of putting my feet in the ground, this act in and of itself, the breathing and the body scan are grounding.

Ash McDonald (13:28):

But I like to sort of solidify the practice. So it’s a three-step practice that I put into play. Whenever stress seems to just unexpectedly take over my body. And I know that I have subsequently literally removed myself from my body, like the fight or flight, and I need to get back in it. And then when it comes to being an ambitious woman, I am very mindful about the fact that something that happens for me when stress takes over particularly the, an unexpected kid stuff that impacts my work as I start to feel like I’m falling behind and I’ll never catch up. And you know, I’m a pretty scheduled woman. And so my days are pretty like set in stone and when they go great, they go great. And when they don’t, they just don’t and it’s real bad. And so one of my favorite things to do is to sit and write my, to done list, basically to recenter myself on what I have completed.

Ash McDonald (14:25):

Whether it’s I finished this load of laundry, I fed three children. I wash these dishes. I engaged with my audience. I posted this post. I answered this email. Like, even if they’re smaller things, there’s always things that we accomplish. Right. In fact, I just recently did this. When planning for Q4, I was feeling just not where I want it to be. And I laugh at this because I was so in my head of just like I anticipated this and this is where I am, so I am failing. Oh my gosh, do you ever do that? Like just what? No, no. Anyway, before I went on to plan Q4, I sat and just did a massive brain dump of all the things that I accomplished so far from like the being lists. So the things I did with my family, the way that I was present, the five-hour workdays that I’ve cultivated this year, all those sort of things, as well as the doing so the accomplishments that I’ve had.

Ash McDonald (15:20):

And when I looked at that list, I was like, dang. Even if that was it, I have so much to celebrate. And the truth is I feel that even on the day to day, because, oh man, us women, I mean, come on the amount of things I do before seven o’clock in the morning, without even knowing it. Like, even if my list included, brushed my teeth, philosophy, teeth, wash my face, got in the shower, like all the things that I like, oh my gosh. Right? So I was like to start with it, to then list. And then I like to think of just one priority. If there’s one thing that I can get done today, that’s going to make me feel like I moved the needle forward in my business. I moved the needle forward in my goals. What does that one thing? And then I look at my day and figure out ways to batch that in whether yes, it’s at night when the kids go to sleep or it’s during a nap time, or it’s asking my husband, if he can come up and take over for 45 minutes, so I can accomplish this, or it’s calling a grandma or a friend or whatever the case may be.

Ash McDonald (16:17):

Because if I’m looking at the whole picture, there’s no way I’m going to do it. And then I just become paralyzed in the spot. But if I just focus on the one thing, my goal being that I go to sleep very, very conscious and cognizant of how I feel of feeling like I moved forward, even if just a nudge. And it, knowing that I did my due diligence to take care of myself, because my friend, we just don’t need the me too effect from others. We need it from ourselves.

Ash McDonald (16:49):

I’ve used this phrase for many years. But it is to mom yourself. And I’m going to leave you on this note. But I think it’s really important when I think of the ways, sometime that I talked to myself, right? Maybe if I put myself in the situation, I remember my middle guy had this Wolf, this fit in, I think we were going to target a couple months back and he was the rashing and throwing himself on the ground and knocking things over and screaming, horrible, embarrassing things. That mean, oh, and in my head, you know, what happens instantly is this is happening because you’re not a good enough mom and people are staring at you and people are judging you and you should know how to deal with this. And just all of these things. Now I have to really be in my own head to truly hear them, but subconsciously they’re happening. And I remember because I just taught a lesson on how to control and rewire your brain. So it’s helpful that I teach this, but I remember really hearing it. And I remember what I

Ash McDonald (17:49):

Tell my clients, if you wouldn’t let somebody talk to your child like that, never let yourself talk to yourself like that. Right. And so when I say the phrase, mom, yourself, it essentially means what would you do? So I always think of like my daughter, for instance, if I heard my daughter, let’s say she’s older. And I hear my daughter say, I am just a horrible mom, that I have no idea what I’m doing. How would I respond to her? Oh, friend. I mean, I could just cry thinking about this. I would hold her so close and I would tell her she’s the best mother I’ve ever seen. And then nobody knows what they’re doing. And that her love her endless love for kids is all that they will ever need. My friend today, right now in this moment, you are doing incredible. You are incredible. And you were loved and you were seen and you are not alone. You are not alone.


Building a business without restraint because big bold moves equals big bold results

Get The free audio course

I am the definition of duality—I swear like a sailor and break rules like it’s my job, but I also hold incredible space for my clients and work my ass off to help them achieve the success they’re after (but faster).

My background in counseling and my experience founding three multi-6-figure businesses gives me a unique perspective on what it means to show up and serve as an ethical and successful CEO. Leaning on my experiences, along with the experiences of the hundreds of women I’ve been honored to work with, I offer founders a psych-backed and human-first approach to scaling their legacies—both in and out of the office. 

I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to anything, but especially business. Because at the foundation of any profitable, sustainable, ethically sound business is one thing: humans being humans. And to do anything without first considering the human behind the action (i.e., with intention and vulnerability) is to remove our most powerful predictor of success—ourselves.

Around here, you’ll find a personalized and multidimensional client experience paired with a few tastefully dropped fucks. You’ll also find a new way of being in business that’s sustainable, ethical, and built around your life (not the other way around).

Meet Ash

Let's get really fucking personal

Join The Email List