I'm going to preface this by saying that both of my children have read this, and they both believe that it is important for me to share it. I always make sure that they have a say when I'm sharing personal and family things. As a parent, what I do affects them and I want them to know that I understand that.
I'm pretty big on perspective. Hindsight has sucker-punched me for the past three years and it's been a hard thing for me to come to terms with. So this post is basically going to be a letter to myself, something to help me put things into perspective a little bit more for ME.
"So why not journal it and keep it to yourself Paula?"
Absolutely, that's a great question. But the answer is fairly clear for me. I know I am not the only one that has been through these circumstances. I find great solace from others experiences. Whether it's sitting across the sofa from a friend telling me of their own trials and accomplishments, reading a stranger's blog and connecting with them on a deep emotional level even though they may have no clue who I am, losing myself in a book whether fiction or nonfiction and because I relate to a character or that person's life, or even learning a lesson from a TV or movie character. It is a succor. So, I'm sharing because what I have learned and been through and am still learning could possibly help someone else. It can be scary to open up like this on this type of platform, but here we go...
Three years ago, January 4, 2013 I lost my mother. It was unexpected and heart wrenching. Mom and I had had a rocky relationship throughout middle school because let's face it, I was in middle school and I was a brat. But throughout high school we got closer, when I got to college we became even closer, then when I got married we became very close. When I had children that relationship became even tighter. Watching her love my children was one of the best examples I can give of pure unconditional love. I saw her love for me through how she loved my children. That realization made my relationships with my children even closer. Getting through the initial loss of her was like a dream state. I know what actually happened I was there, I made a lot of decisions, and then afterward I couldn't remember the majority of it for a really long time. The loss was huge!
But, 10 months later, just as I was coming out of the dream state into the real stages of grief and acceptance, I had another big blow to handle. My husband of more than eleven years left. I was a stay at home mom that had a part-time furniture refinishing/design business and took care of other people's children to make ends meet... My very first instinct was: go get a job! You do what you have to do. It's pure survival mode and you just go.
So I went out and got a job. I was good at the job, I could do all of the work, I was efficient, and I made good friends where I was. But, when I got it home wasn't as awesome. My children had been so used to me being around that for them, during this emotional time, me not being around as much was extremely difficult. I'm not gonna lie, it was also extremely difficult for me to be away from them. I tend to cling when I hurt and being away from them more than ever when I was in emotional turmoil was brutal! As a parent you try to hide things like that from your children, so that they won't be affected by your pain. They had enough of their own so I let them tell me their thoughts and their feelings and tried my hardest to keep mine out of the running. Thank the good Lord for counselors, family, and best friends! They got to see all of my sides during that time period and they loved me through it!
We all made it through and since I was working for the school district I had the summer off. I worked on soft goods, crafts, furniture, and played with my kids. I had a sale and it went well. When the school year started back up again is when we all realized that me working outside the home was just not right for us. The kids were struggling. They would say how much they missed me and wanted me around.
Believe me, if you're sitting there rolling your eyes thinking how "manipulative kids can be", I know. I promise I am aware of that capability. But, I also know they were hit with a lot too. Even though children are resilient, there are pretty obvious clues when they are hurting for real. So I had all of my family and friends in prayer for my decisions. The children and I were on our knees about it. To a lot of outsiders it may have appeared to be an impulsive decision for me to quit the school district and try my hand at my business full time. It was not. It was many thoughts, prayers, planning lists, sleepless nights, and questioning myself. Sometimes I still question myself. But, the kids are happier, I'm calm knowing that I'm here for them every afternoon after school. I'm able to go to their school events, their extra curricular events, when they're sick I'm still able to do my job as well as take care of them.
A new business is a learning curve. There is so much to think about and actually do! If I get behind ever it takes forever to catch back up. I have an older home, I'm the maintenance guy. I have two kiddos that are into a lot of things, I'm the carpool. I have to answer the calls, texts, and emails, deal with the bureaucracy of my business, cook the meals, clean the house, car maintenance, lawn maintenance, and I'm still learning. I'm figuring out where I am in my life, I'm learning what stages my children are in and how to be their parent for the now, I'm learning new techniques for my business while still trying to learn all the ins and outs of just owning one.
I could sit here and make endless lists of what I am learning at this point in my life. But, the main point is that I'm learning to forgive myself when I can't do it all. It's too much! All of that is too much for one person to handle! I have to have my "tribe". Those people who will lift you up when you're down. The people who will help you manage your schedule. The people that will just know when YOU need a little extra. The people that know when you say you're "fine" that you're not actually "fine", but that that's how you cope and try to stay positive, so they let you say "fine" and then try and help anyway. The people that seem to just sense when you need something like food or a little extra cash and send things anonymously. The people who will pay a bill for you and not talk about it because they understand you can't handle talking about that type of generosity. The people that know you well enough to know that you didn't take out a small business loan to help with your business because you're desperately trying to have your entire life be debt free because you're at your limit now and you couldn't possibly take on another payment anyway. You have to have those people. The people with the God-like hearts that just know you are bearing up under more than you can currently hold alone.
It's so incredibly hard for me to accept help. I'm a control freak and it hurts my stupid prideful heart that I can't always do stuff on my own. But, I'm doing the best I can. I'm human and I'm still learning about so much right now.
Perspective is funny that way. Showing you that when you thought it was hard, it really wasn't. Showing you that when it was actually hard, you rose to the occasion, showing you that YOU can't do it alone, revealing your faults to you so you can learn and grow. So yes, hindsight and I have gone a few rounds in the past three years, but I've always gotten back up. That stubborn determination I inherited from my family has served me well! Leaning on God, family, and friends is how I've been able to do anything at all.