Losing Fuel || A story of a millennial working mom
This is one of those moments where I don’t really have time to write, but I need to. I could list to you forty things on my to-do list but what I’m about to say is not only preaching to myself, but an experience to share.
If you don’t know me, you’ll need to know that I was a wife at 18 and a mother at 19. Although these things are not said because they are downfalls or catalysts to destruction, they are facts. Proof that I know what I’m about to say isn’t only my story, but the story of millions of women.
I have felt, and still feel, a pressure to ALWAYS be on. Don’t miss an email. Don’t miss a moment. Don’t miss a THING. I’ve been shamed before. I took a DAY from answering emails because I was sick. Man, did I get a lashing for that one. I’m a ‘horrible business owner’ and ‘soooooo uNpRoFeSsIoNaL’ (I love that one!). I think all of us moms have had that moment, in the dead of winter when your kid is being a total JERK and refuses to leave his shoes on. You’ve put them on 3 times between the house and the walmart parking lot but at this point, you just need to go in and get tampons and some damn milk. But when you go into the store, you got that comment from 70-year-old Betty on her jazzy scooter…. ‘What kind of mother are you?! That baby has no shoes!’ No matter how ridiculous you remind yourself that unwanted comment was, you still thought about it before you went to sleep that night.
I’ve spent a lot of my life allowing the idea of success, money, and whatever else I think will bring me happiness actually destroy that ‘spark of joy’ I yearn for. My daughter has gotten the brute force of this. I didn’t know it until she was about four. She started to express her feelings clearly. She wanted me around more. She wanted me to put down the phone. She tried to PAY for bills once with her piggy bank because she just wanted my time. It broke me. I was working all the time. The facebook messages, text messages, emails, phone calls, meetings… it just kept coming and my daughter was in the eye of my storm. My chaos.
I feel a lot of regret for this. It wasn’t until my son was born that I took control. It was really scary. Terrifying, really. While I was pregnant, I photographed 37 weddings. I went into pre-term labor from all the stress. I developed heart palpitations during my pregnancy from all the stress. I luckily carried to term and while I was delivering, my phone was still going off. Demand after demand after demand.
The old saying goes, ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.’ The minute I saw that text during labor, I felt like I had lost my freedom. I was a slave and all my fuel to want to ignore it or think ‘it just comes with the job’ was gone. It’s not just my job either. It’s motherhood. Adulthood. Any career or profession. Damn the ones who made us feel like we needed to always be on. That’s how I felt at that moment. The fear was gone because my fuel was gone. I was burnt out.
Once we left the hospital, I talked to my husband. I looked at my bank account. The numbers weren’t adding up but I knew that I needed boundaries. I needed to turn my phone off without panic. I needed to know that I could take a day off without a heap of guilt on my mind. I needed to give myself grace.
My final thoughts on it boiled down to this: I could either work myself to death for a few extra dollars or my family wasn’t going to have a few extra dollars if I was dead. Either way, change needed to be made. We did change. We shaved down bills to no cable, less snacks, less take out and entertainment. We still do those things from time to time but we realize we enjoy time together more now even without those things. Just recently, we wanted to pay $40 a person to go tubing at a ski center. We changed our minds and got two $5 sleds and drove around looking for a hill. The time in the car searching for the hill and those $5 sleds were so much better than what tubing would have been.
I know for a fact that there are women out there who are burnt out right now. You’re scared that you’ll lose momentum if you slow down. You think that you wont have your success if you don’t push yourself to your fullest extent. But that’s far from true. Your climb to glory will be just as sweet, if not sweeter, if you just allow yourself what you need to be happy. The non material things. The things we have words for but can not see. Rest. Joy. Peace. Grace. Hope.
If you’re like me, you’re saying I’m wrong. You’re about to post to instagram with #girlboss and #cantstopwontstop but you will stop. Your body, your mind, wasn’t meant to always be going. I was stubborn too. My fear held my feet to the fire and said ‘Don’t be weak you bitch.’ and I kept going. So I write this today hoping you know that your fear, that evil voice, is wrong.
You are human
You deserve grace
You have an abundance of worth
You were created for a specific purpose
You will make mistakes
You can only take on so much
You are not perfect
You have a right to have feelings
You need rest
You are NOT a machine
YOU ARE HUMAN.
Don't let ANYONE make you feel ANY different.