Sometimes, I feel like I'm spinning. I LOSE MY BALANCE. I fall down. And last week, I fell down.
When I step back and look at the big picture, I can see that this crash wasn't due to a bad day or a particularly stressful week. (And certainly not because I had a I've-Got-Nothing-to-Wear day!) It was much more insidious than that. Something that's been slowly brewing over the last couple of years. Sort of like the frog boiling to death in a pot of water before he even realizes YOWZERS - this water is getting HOT!
This post isn't going to be about style or fashion or thrifting or beauty - well at least not beauty in its traditional sense. Sometimes, like this week, my life is too BIG and doesn't allow much space for creativity or pretty things. Sometimes, it's just plain ole ordinary life. And it's hard.
Let me give you a little back-story.
My daughter, Raisa, was born with "special needs". The first three to four years of her life were filled with doctors, therapists, specialists, nurses, sleep studies, swallow studies, blood draws and surgeries. She seldom had less than 4 appointments a week. Many of which were at Children's Hospital Boston, a good 2.5 hour drive from our home.
I devoted my entire life to her wellness. I did nothing - NOTHING - but care for her. I stretched her tight muscles. I massaged her camptodactylic fingers. I packed her surgical wounds. I restrained her for blood draws and nightly nasal rinses. And I cried. I cried a lot. Like when she was five years old and we had to get her fitted for her new C-PAP machine mask and she said, with tears streaming from her eyes, WHY ME MAMA, WHY ME? She told me she didn't want to wear the mask because it was "a barrier to love". Our bedtime routine for years ended with snuggles and stories and lips kisses. And now, it wasn't going to end with lips kisses anymore, but with me putting on her big clunky uncomfortable mask. She couldn't understand why, no matter how many times I explained (and it's still a battle, to this day.)
I always did my best to fill her with so much love that she wouldn't have room in her soul for anything else. And I did a good job. And mostly it worked. Even her doctors marveled at how well she and I handled the toughest most dreadful situations. Me and Raisa… we stuck together like peanut butter and honey, and everybody knew it.
And then things changed. Shortly before her 6th birthday, Baby Z was born. My life no longer revolved solely around her, and she struggled. She REALLY REALLY struggled.
And then a year later, around January 2014, I started Thrift Me Pretty. It had been an idea in my head for quite some time and on a whim, I decided to go for it. I needed to. I needed to do something for me. So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and jumped in with both feet.
It didn't take long for me to realize that starting a business is no joke. Especially when you don't know the first thing about running a service based business on a social media platform. It. Takes. Time.
And courage. And guts. And stamina. And persistence. And vulnerability. And many many many late nights.
All of which leave me feeling kind of empty. Exhausted. And perpetually behind.
And slowly, over time, Raisa turned into a pest.
She was craving my attention. Needing mama's love. Desperately trying to bring things back to the way they were "before". But I didn't see any of that. I only saw a pest.
Until Friday, when I was nursing Baby Z and she looked at me and said with an empty voice and hollow eyes… Mama, I don't think you love me anymore. Not like you used to. I lost my breath. She turned, head hanging low and walked away… feeling completely and totally dejected.
In that moment, my world fell apart. Was I turning into a Cats In the Cradle parent? Did I put my business above my relationship with my daughter?
Clarity happened. Instantly.
Have you ever tried so desperately to be seen or heard by someone, that you found yourself acting out of character just so you would be noticed? I've done it before. And when I'm in it, I can't see what's happening. But when I step away, it becomes clear. And I say… eewww, that was ugly.
Desperation is NEVER pretty.
Raisa is not a pest. She's desperately tying to get my attention in any way she knows how. The more "pesty" she became, the more I demanded she pull it together - in time out. Alone.
I collapsed. I cried. I wallowed in mama-guilt. But I then realized that this thing that happened makes perfect sense. I was tired. I was tired of being SUPER MOM. Parenting a special needs kid takes an insane amount of strength. Because you're not just a parent. You're an advocate, whether it suits your personality or not. You become a medical expert, reading journal articles and forcing surgeons to draw you diagrams so you can understand EVERYTHING that's going in your sweet baby's body. You hold your shit together when really… all you want to do is fall apart. You put your entire life aside and devote every ounce of your soul to your child.
But it's not sustainable.
I went from one extreme to the other. And now, I need to find BALANCE.
Since Friday, I've been thinking about ways I can create a new kind of balance in my life. And this is what I came up with...
[lightbox title="LightboxTitle" url="PageURL" width="900" height="500"]MY TOP 5 (TOTALLY DOABLE) WAYS I CAN CREATE BALANCE IN MY LIFE[/lightbox]
1. PUT DOWN MY DAMN I-PHONE. I don't know about you, but I'm addicted to my phone. Every time I publish a picture on my Instagram feed, send out a newsletter, write a blog post or post to my Thrift Me Pretty Facebook page, I check my phone every 30 seconds to see how things are being received. I'm consumed. And in those moments, I'm reeling with self-criticism and judgment. Oh no, people aren't opening the newsletter. Eek - it's been 3 minutes and nobody has liked my picture yet. And so on and so forth. I need to break this addiction to external validation, and just post what feels good to me (like this post). End of story.
2. GO ON MORE DATES/TAKE MORE BREAKS. With myself. With my husband. With my kids. With my friends. I need to have more dance parties in the kitchen. I need to jump in the sprinkler more.
3. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. This is a big one for me. Don't react. Breathe.
4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP. This is another big one for me. I always feel like I have MORE MORE MORE to do, so I stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning every night working on the biz. I can't do it anymore because when I'm a crazy cranky mess, it affects the whole family. I'm a stay-at-home mom with two kids home on summer vacation and I can't get as much done as the entrepreneur who's got no kids. End of Story.
5. PRIORITIZE. I stink at this, because I happen to think that everything ranks in the #1 priority spot. My friend Cyndie (who's also a small business consultant) broke it down for me the other night. I was telling her about all the stuff I needed to get done and she said, "Mama, take that shit right off your to-do list right now because it's not a priority." And she was right. I need to prioritize, and spend what precious time I have working on my priorities.
Oh I could go on and on, but if I give myself too many action steps, I won't do any of them, so I'll start with these five.
How about YOU? Have you ever gotten so far off kilter that you fell down? How did you get back up? Was it easy? Hard? Are you still working on it? Head on over to the blog and tell me your tips, tricks and secrets of how you've created balance in your life. In this day and age, there can never be too many tools in our toolbox.
In just a moment, I'm going to press SEND and this will whoosh into your inbox. And I solemnly swear I will not stay on my phone for the next 5 hours monitoring the open rate. I'm going to bed! Tips 1 and 4 going into immediate practice!!
To Beauty + Balance! xo Stasia