Monday, November 17, 2014

The Saga of The Working Mom

photo by Tell The Birds

A year and a half ago I was about 10 months into building my company, Threads by The Shine Project. I traveled a lot (still do), I loved it. I worked a lot (still do), I loved it. It was Mike and I and our little dog and I thought that we were maxed out on life and business.
ha.
Then we got a phone called that I had been praying for almost 2 years to get, and suddenly our family doubled in size. Literally, over night. Those first few months of adjusting were crazy. They were emotional, and hard, and wonderful, and I knew I was in over my head so we were getting through by the grace of God. Growing up, I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. I think stay at home moms are wonderful, selfless, amazing and I'm SO grateful that my own mother stayed home with us my whole life. I also didn't want to be the mom who was gone all the time and had to have someone else raise her kids. I figured I'd have a while to figure it all out, but our life changed courses pretty quickly and there I was; a working mom, who owned her own business, with two little kids that weren't planned for.

Finding a good balance between work and family is a process I started when the kids entered our home, and is something I'm still trying to find.  It's very difficult, and some weeks are better than others.
This month, because of holiday season, I am gone FIFTEEN DAYS out of the month.
It has blessed our business.
It has also blessed our family.
It is hard on our family.
It is hard on me.
There's never a perfect life scenario.

I leave on Wednesday for 5 days. I'm usually not gone for more than 3 days at a time, so when it gets longer than that, I start getting anxiety about it. I am independent, but when I'm away from my family, I turn into Eeyore and am constantly worried that someone forgot to get my kids from school, or that they're not okay, or that this is too hard on them. Sometimes it is too hard on them, and they will cry over Skype telling me to come home. But most times, they'll pray over the phone with me and ask God to "help mom sell a lot of bracelets so she can help a lot of people." A couple of weeks ago I was really nervous about flying (I fly ALL of the time and it's never bothered me before) and Mike asked me, "When did you turn into such a worry wart?"

I replied, "18 months ago, when I became a mom."

I base a lot of work trips and events around my family because they are the most important thing to me. Over the summer, I took the kids on several work trips with me, and they had a blast traveling and hanging out at the beach or the hotel while I was working. At the same time, I sacrifice a lot of family time because The Shine Project is also a very important aspect of my life. I don't have all the answers, but I think the most important thing a working mom can do is to make sure her kids know that they are loved, and that they are loved more than work. They're first, and sometimes I'll have to miss a football game or a dance practice, but I will be at 95% of all of the other ones. 

Learning to have a time for work and a time for family has saved my sanity. Working hours are working hours, and family hours are family hours. It sounds simple, but it took me about a year to really figure out how to do that.  Sometimes they do have to mix, but I try to not do that as much as possible. 

People ask me a lot how I "do it" with kids. I think it's the same as any mom out there, you just do. You figure out how to work with your circumstance, and you just do it. I experience stress just like a stay at home mom with little children does. It might be caused by different elements, but it's the same. We live by my parents, and my mom is our angel and watches the kids three days a week after school, and helps when I'm out of town. We moved closer to them so that the kids would be with a family member, and it has been completely worth the move for us. I drive a lot farther for work, but my family is first, and my work is second. 

I only missed two of Shiloh's football games this year. Their team is horrible, the poor little bad news bears. It's his first year and he just turned 8, so he's learning his hand eye coordination :) I'll tell you that the only two games I have missed were the only two times he had a catch the whole season. Fancy that. After I got off the phone with him one game when I was gone, I cried a little bit. I felt so sad I missed his first football catch. Stay at home moms don't miss football catches. I started to feel like a good mom doesn't miss football catches.
But then I realized, there are a lot of stay at home moms who should be there for their kids, but aren't.
There are a lot of working moms who should be there for their kids, but aren't.
I've been there for first teeth lost, first time reading, first time touching snow and seeing fall. I've been there for first time airplane rides and swim lessons and backbends and church talks. I have been trying to not focus on the little things I miss, but to judge my performance as a mother on the overall well being and happiness of my kids. And don't we all do that? Don't stay at home moms and working moms go through the same feelings of just not being good enough?

Because that's the point. We're all the same thing. We're all moms.

Being in one category doesn't mean you're better than the other one. Our job is to teach our children, raise them, love them, be there for them, help them grow and succeed and dream. You can be with your kids all the time and still not be present enough to meet their needs on those things. Thats why the whole working mom vs. non working mom thing kills me. Its not about fitting into a certain group just so you can say that you belong in that certain group. It's like saying you believe in Jesus but never do anything to back it up and judge "all of the sinners" all of the time. My kids know I love them. I am there for them. They have a very good life and opportunities that a lot of people never have. And it's my responsibility to worry about that and make sure those needs are met and exceeded. And it's your responsibility to do the same for your children as well. That's why we're put into families, so we can keep tabs on our own people. 

So, for those of you who ask, that's how we do it.
We just do.
And sometimes we're better at it than other times, but I'm grateful for this crazy life we live.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Here.

Skirt- ℅ Shabby Apple, Jewerly- The Shine Project, Sweater- c/o Lilla P NYC

photos by Tell The Birds

I've been wanting to blog for the past two weeks, but it's been so crazy around here. Running a business during the holiday season is no joke, and I'm thankful for all of your support so we can employ inner city youth during this time. Make sure you follow me @theshineproject on Instagram because I'm always updating on there… But for now, I just wanted to let you know that I'M HERE, and I love ya, and be patient on me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How To Escape When You Feel Like You Can't

Shirt and Vest- ℅ Red 23 Clothing , Purse- ℅ Windsor

Let me paint a picture for you. Yours might be similar, but the details are just filled in with events that pertain to your particular season in life.

Reading emails to find that a large order for your company falls through, another company you worked with is trying to take advantage and pay you less than agreed on, you realize you have a couple hours to meet a really important deadline, ah, crap but you have a church event you are partially in charge of in just a couple of hours…
texts go off: is this person seriously telling me this right now? Oh my gosh I'm going to have anxiety if one more thing…
phone rings.
more emails come.
what are you feeding your kids for dinner? 
oh man, have I even eaten yet today?
My sons birthday party is in 3 days, and we're having a Halloween party the night before. WHY did I ever think that was a good idea?
more emails come in: aghhh, I forgot I'm leaving town next weekend.
and every weekend in November for work.
but we have so much to do… I'm not ready…

Okay, I just let you in on merely the past TEN MINUTES inside of my life/head.
I'm getting better at handling these types of instant life attacks, but don't always confront them with suave. I refer to them as life attacks because dang it, sometimes too much life happens way too fast and at the same time and who in the world knew that suddenly 10 things could go wrong at the drop of a hat? And in these moments, all I want to do is escape. I want to crawl under the storage space beneath my stairs or hop on a plane to Hawaii or turn everything off and pet my dog until my husband comes home with ice cream and a new outfit for me and tells me he'll fix all my problems.

But this is real life.
And a life attack is in the process of happening.
So none of those things are feasible or sane to do at the moment.
So here are a couple of the ways I escape the sanity for just a moment, until I am able to relax and continue saving everything in my little world from exploding:

1- Shut off your phone, turn everything off for a moment, and be still. There's a special thing that Buddhists do to live happy lives. They become very in touch with everything thats happening around them. They take in colors, focus on smells, listen to the airplane above or the lawn mower outside. Everything becomes a soothing experience because they use their surroundings to calmly experience life. This has been my number one go to method to escaping my stress, even if its just for a moment. Somedays, when I try extra hard to pay attention to everything around me, stressful moments will happen but I don't feel them as intensely because I've been careful to not get too distracted throughout the day. When you drive, look at the colors, letters, and cars that surround you. When you eat, soak up the colors, the smells, the action that you are doing. You might think I'm crazy, and I am in a lot of ways ;), but try this. It has helped tremendously.

2- Start a "locked away" email folder or note box. Have you just received a horrible phone call, text or email? Do you want to just tell the other person off and are so irate you don't even know what to do with yourself? I think that's my least favorite feeling…ever. Release your anger. Get everything out that you could possibly say. Write it down, allow yourself to go through the process of being upset. Address that letter to them, and then lock it in a box under your bed, never to be opened again. Sometimes you just need to unwind by expressing your most candid feelings, but a lot of times those feelings would destroy relationships if said too harshly. So, write it down, and lock it away.

3- Read an email, article, scripture, old text message, etc, that you know will brings you peace, happiness, and remind you as to why you do what you do. Read an old note from someone who you have positively impacted, go look at art your child has made at school, or focus on what you've done recently that has been of benefit to someone else. See, you're not so bad.

4- Pray. Ask God for peace. Ask Him how you can best handle your situation. Ask Him for more strength, more patience, more faith, and help. He'll give it to you.

And then, get back to doing the work that you were made to do.
You can do it.
Promise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some Thoughts About Marriage That Changed My Life.

photos by Tell The Birds

Mike is a very calm, go with the flow type of person. He gets things done, is incredibly smart, and is up for any shenanigan that I tell him we're doing. Last year the guy was a sheep for Halloween because I wanted to be Little Bo Peep so bad, so he did the walk of shame through the party for me. His love language is physical contact, and loves being right next to me. There is no sense of personal space for him.  If I was glued to him, he would love it.

I am not a calm by nature type of person. I am bossy, I have to be in charge of everything, and things stress me out. I get stuff done like a boss, but am on high octane most of the time so I have a problem with taking in my surroundings, sitting still, and just "being". I hate being touched too much. I get crowded and bothered and need my space and my own side of the bed.

We sound like the perfect match, don't we? 

I think that the reason I was drawn to Mike in the beginning was because we had the same core values, but I also loved all the ways we was different from me. I needed him to be different that me. Let's be honest, I could never be married to someone who is as stubborn and bossy as I am. It was like I found a person who was who I wanted to be, and he found someone who added a little sass to his life. The other day Mike looked at me and said, "I'm glad you're sassy, or my life would be so boring."

It breaks my heart with how high divorce rates are, how many husbands and wives feel like the other person just doesn't get them or care about their feelings, and how many fights come from a difference in opinion. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how marriage isn't 50/50, but it's 100/100. So, what I'm about to say won't work unless both partners put in their best efforts.

Marrying someone different than me has allowed my life to become more whole. His strengths make up for my weaknesses, and visa versa. There are things that each of us do that bugs the other person, and that's okay. We're different. You're goal in marriage shouldn't be to change your spouse. And, in fact, the only person you can change is yourself. If their are things they do that bother you because it's not how you do things, fix your tolerance. If you can't agree on activities or dinner or how to make the bed or what time of day the sprinklers should go on… it is okay. As much as I hate to admit this, I'm not always right. Don't tell my husband  I said that or his whole world will be turned upside down. But I'm guessing, that you're not always right either. It is okay to not always be right. I won't say the "w" word, because that just makes me uncomfortable, but allowing your significant other to help you fix your imperfections is what will help your love for them grow, bring you closer together, and build trust.

As people, we don't want to be hurt. We don't want to be vulnerable and left wide open to be exposed to someone else. But that's what marriage is, and that's what it is supposed to be. And when you find the right person, the scariness of it all turns to happiness and joy because it is reciprocated, and the two of you, together, become whole. I've met a lot of people who are afraid to be married. It's okay, I was unsure of the whole thing myself. But here's what I know:

1- Love takes work and when two people work together towards the same goal, amazing things happen. But expectations about what that goal looks like need to be very clear so that nobody is let down.
2- Imperfect people trying to perfectly love each other can be pretty messy sometimes. Forgive, communicate, say sorry, and realize that there will be bumps in the road. It's okay.
3- The parts of you that you are afraid to let anyone see, is what your partner needs to know the most about you. Going through life feeling like you have to deal with hard things on your own is lonely, scary, and pretty impossible to deal with. 
4- Life has more meaning when your focus is on someone else's happiness other than your own.
5- You are deserving of someone being absolutely, completely, head over heels in love with you.