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.
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.