I know you probably don’t come to this blog to hear my sappy stories, but if you’re here and you’re up for one, I hope you’ll stick around for a second. If you do come to this blog for my sappy stories, then you’re awesome and I love you.
The other day I was having one of those mental breakdowns. You know the ones? If you’re a mom and you run a household and you try to get things done with tiny people who insist on sitting on your head while you do it, then you know the ones. I was about ready to throw my hands in the air with this business, give up my identity, and officially change my occupation to “Full-Time Servant to Toddlers and Babies.” And by full-time, of course I mean 168 hours a week with an impressive salary of $0.
First, I’ll tell you quickly about a typical day at my house. Maybe it sounds like a typical day at your house, too? I hope I’m not alone.
I wake up. If I’m lucky, I don’t have to change pee sheets or a poopy diaper before 9 am. We eat breakfast, get the kiddos dressed, and when it’s nice weather, we head outside to play for a bit. I check my email, delete 90% of the junk, for sure look into the one about the blowout sale at Nordstrom rack, and I instantly have small people crawling on me. I mentally respond to emails and texts and wish that would actually get the job done. Then, I wrangle the kids to car for whatever errands need done for the day and because we’re experiencing the terrific twos, it sometimes ends in a tantrum. By the time we’re done, the baby for sure needs fed, cuddled, rocked, swayed, fed again, and to take a nap. In my arms, because why would you lie in a bed when you can lie in your mom’s arms? I try to clean, then we have lunch and destroy all my cleaning progress. I clean up again and get the kids settled for some quiet time, and then I attempt to work. I am allotted approximately 16 seconds of solid work before someone needs me. I meet said needs, and am allowed an additional 49 seconds. My husband gets home from work and I walk him through this scenario:
Me: “Imagine, just IMAGINE for one second, trying to get all of your work done with little people crawling on you! Imagine it! Imagine if all the work you busted your butt for one day was undone the very next day and you had to start all over! Can you even imagine how difficult that is?!”
Husband: “Wow, I can’t imagine. I don’t know how you do it.” And other words of understanding, encouragement, and support. He means it, too. Trust me, I got a really good one.
Ok, are we getting the point here? I got nothing done work-wise for the day, so my work day begins at 10 pm. Disclaimer: I love my life so incredibly much. I’m getting there. Hang tight.
That same day (the one I talked about in the beginning), I listened to a Periscope by Shay Cochrane, who I’m only slightly obsessed with, and she talked about this same feeling. And do you know what she said to do when you have this feeling? She said to ask yourself this question:
Already feeling down, my kneejerk response was Whatevs, you don’t know me. I wanted a magical answer of how to beat that feeling and that surely wasn’t it.
The hubs is a good sounding board and rational thinker, so he listened really well. I told him about it and said can you believe that was the proposed solution?! And as the sentence came flying out of my mouth and I saw his reaction, I knew he would have something wise to say that would not justify my frustration.
He said, “Well….”
Why did you?
And we proceeded to take one of those cute little trips down memory lane and my whole entire perspective changed.
When I was pregnant with my first little ball of fire, we were really poor. We were living in a third floor apartment and we were both working full-time. We had no plans and no solid idea of what we’d do when that little munchkin arrived. We didn’t know that babies were up all night and that we’d be even poorer and that our world would be rocked pretty hard. We were told, but we didn’t know.
All I knew is that I was so excited to become a mother. I clung tightly to that.
I knew we couldn’t make it on just one income, so the plan was for me to continue to work. We were making arrangements for childcare in a city of a million or so people where we knew a total of zero people who could watch our baby full-time. I literally prayed every single day for an opportunity that would allow me to not have to leave my baby 40 hours a week. I begged for a solution.
We made plans and took one of those leaps off a really big cliff that you’re required to do every few years in a marriage and decided that we’d hold our breaths and make it happen. I told my boss I wasn’t coming back to work after I had the baby and that we had made the super solid, reasonable, rational decision to be dirt poor and happy.
And then one night, when I was like 34ish weeks pregnant, we took a big long walk around our neighborhood and talked about some dreams I had brewing.
It was around that same time that I really started to love design. That little flicker inside of me was turning into a great big flame and I wanted to make this happen. Thus, I recruited my first client who I charged like $50 for a ginormous project that I’d charge a lot more for today and all of a sudden I thought OMG I AM GOING TO MAKE THIS WORK! I made up my mind right then and there.
I hope I haven’t lost you yet. I’m a bit long-winded…
Long story short, we moved to a new town right before my little Pax man was born and a few cool things happened:
- We kept praying really hard for things to work out.
- I stayed home with my little love.
- We were sort of poor, but not too bad. My husband got a new job and I made like $40 in design money that year. Ha!
- I started a business that has seen a little success. So far so good.
- I stayed home with my little love. (That one’s important.)
- Things worked out.
I tell you this not because I’ve got it figured out (I don’t), and not because I think I have some wisdom to impart (I don’t), but because I want you to ask yourself the very same question that I did. It might change the way you think about things.
The reason I started my business was to stay home with my kids.
That was it.
I love design, yes. I love contributing to my household income, yes. I love the people I meet and the things I do, and the stories I hear. I love the stress of a deadline, watching a design take shape, and helping a small business come alive. I love that I get to talk to adults sometimes, if only through email, and that I have a creative outlet all to myself. I love that I have my own identity and that this business is a product of that.
But I love — and I do mean LOVE — my little boys. And with a prayer, a leap off a cliff, and thousands of hours of hustle, I realized that kissing ouchy knees during conference calls and spilled popsicles on my computer, and soft, chubby cheeks resting on my shoulder while I design weren’t so bad after all.
Why did you start?