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mom life

I Should Be Sleeping

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I Should Be Sleeping

Song to Match: "Lately" by Memoryhouse

I should be sleeping, because I’m so tired. The day has been hot and long. I had many important conversations about things that change lives. My daughters used up every ounce of patience I had left in my thirsting body, the one that deals with a chronic pain illness every day, the one that grew them and birthed them and fed them. The one that is passionate and purposeful, gentle and full of all kinds of mystery. The one that’s for sure PMSing.

I should be sleeping, because I’m touched out. The same body mentioned above is aching to lay down with no more than a sheet covering my skin, for comfort reasons more than anything else. Certainly not for warmth. My room is 85 degrees and doesn’t seem to be cooling. When the bodies of my children touched mine today, I inched away because everything intensified. Energies intensified, body temperatures intensified and my perception of the progress of the day intensified. So I told Lorelei to move her small feet away from my legs. I was simply burning. But I felt bad doing this. I should treasure every moment, right?

I should be sleeping, because I’m a badass boss mom who works hard to accomplish her goals and make life better for others. My blog posts are sometimes really long and my work ethic is sometimes unreal, meaning I am undeniably persistent and focused. But this is all good I am told. This will make money. Sleep will not. Sleep is for the weak, right? But I know that I’m strong no matter what, and sleep only makes me stronger, better, funnier, kinder and more efficient. If only my children understood. If only I understood, myself. Then they, and I, would provide my body with rest as soon as it became an option.

I would go to bed at 8:30 p.m.

I would be a morning person.

I would get more done and the mornings would be much smoother.

My body wouldn’t hurt so much.

We’d always be on time to preschool.

I would be patient.

But I, like every woman, have a dark side. A shadow side, if you will. It’s a side of me that prefers the evening and the alone time it brings. It is self destructive in such a way that requires me to persevere against my own desire to defy authority, me being the authority in this situation.

For so long I have guarded myself from all that tries to limit me and apply frivolous rules to all that I do. In giving myself an evening routine, no matter how much I will benefit from it, I feel that I am punishing myself. I should be sleeping, but I should also do whatever I feel like doing. I’m a mother. I’m allowed this time in the evening, when my children are asleep and I am at peace to explore my innermost thoughts and cave in to the slothy couch lover that I sometimes crave to be.

So rather than go to bed at a decent hour that would have an amazingly positive impact on my mood overall, I stay up late reading, taking notes, watching HBO (currently Insecure), watching the news, scheduling various business tasks, responding to emails, responding to texts, sharing uplifting shit with my mom and husband, reminiscing about what I used to do at 10 p.m. on Saturdays, making outlines for my first novel, writing children’s books, eating lots of pistachios, fighting baby fever, shaking my head at another traumatic birth story that’s made the news, or at a Facebook post where hundreds of moms are talking shit to each other.

Sometimes I just do yoga and dance by myself to what Lorelei calls “Buddha Music” (Paul Avgerinos is my fave Pandora station to soothe my fascia to).

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I call a friend. Sometimes, if it’s a significant moon phase, I set intentions or release that which holds me back.

Then, my husband gets home from his late evening at work (which is the only reason I have this kind of indulgent alone time in the first place), and we crawl into bed, wishing we both could have done so earlier.

But, I suppose I could have. The issue is that I don’t let myself.

I can’t decide if this is something I need to change. It’s a battle I’ve fought and lost for years, and it’s also a character trait of mine that doesn’t always seem to serve me well. But does it only seem that way because I am fighting my shadow side, a part of me that I need to nurture in order to fully function as my truest self? Probably. I hope so, because if that’s the case, even if I should be sleeping, it’s totally okay that I’m not. Who doesn’t love an excuse to keep things just the way they are?

But at the same time, I really, really like challenges and coming up with creative ways to get what I want while also doing what’s best from a logical standpoint.

And so, I intend to learn how to satisfy my shadow side during the dark hours of the morning instead of the dark hours of the night. In going to bed earlier and waking up before the sun rises, I will allow myself the darkness my soul needs in order to feel whole. I will use the extra morning hours to welcome the day and set intentions for all that will be accomplished, with love and understanding at the forefront of all I do.

Instead of allowing hungry children to be my incessant morning alarm noise, a digital chime will stir me up and out of my dreams, which I always remember, by the way. I can ease into my wakeful state slowly and purposefully, and then I can read, take notes, watch HBO, watch the news, schedule various business tasks, respond to emails, etc. All will be the same, yet my mind and body will feel heard, respected, loved and cared for.

I also believe that my shadow side will feel inspired and invigorated by this change because, for me, the early hours of the morning remind me of Disneyland. They remind me of waking up early for road trips and weekend plans. They remind me of excitement and happiness. They inspire me in a way that my Self is afraid of.

But really, I should be sleeping, and so I will. At this point, it seems like the rebellious and clever thing to do, and my shadow side never could turn down an adventure. Yes, for me, flipping my routine will be an adventure of the most intimate kind - an adventure of will power, self care and lifestyle changes.

What morning routines make you feel empowered and on task? Any and all advice is welcome. It makes no sense to journey without a map.

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Rootedness//Blooms

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Rootedness//Blooms

"From rootedness, I can grow."

Have you heard this before? I hadn’t, but it completely relates to all that I experienced this past week, a week that came about after months of hardship and worry.

My summer was not what one might expect a beautiful, warm, California summer to be. I worked myself to the bone. I stressed myself to the deep end of the pool. I yelled myself to perceived insanity. I cried myself to confusion and doubt. I simply {felt like I} lost it.

When you’re a wife, mother and business owner you have to be 100% strong for your husband, 100% strong for your children and 100% strong for your business. Did you know that’s totally impossible? There is no feasible way to give everything to everyone and everything that relies on you for peace, happiness and survival, no matter how badly you want that to happen.

Thanks to the internet and its answers and remedies and checklists and e-books and free webinars and Pinterest boards full of wisdom regarding the “best” or “right” or “easiest” thing to do to be a perfect wife, mom and business owner, I began to feel like a fully-informed but incapable failure. My list of things that would improve every aspect of my life grew too long to even read in one sitting.

The ideas in my head were taking up too much room and begging to be set free, put on paper, uploaded onto my computer, edited and disseminated to anyone who cared to know of their existence. My fridge begged for healthier, more delicious homemade food. So many business tasks were put in motion, but nothing was getting completed because my time is little, and my energy is even tinier.

My heart was breaking under the unbearable weight of fear that rested heavily on my chest. Would my business fail? Would my children become depressed? Would our bodies crumble as a result of the non-organic food I’m forced to buy due to finances, or lack thereof? In other simpler terms, I was severely overwhelmed, and the only thing being set free from the confines of my mind was anger, the recipients of which were, sadly, my husband and children.

That’s not to say I was horrible all of the time, but I do take full responsibility for my insufferable mood swings that came about because of the crazy-high expectations I’ve set for myself. I was far from rooted, and I know I’m not alone. We all do this as women. Everyone tells us how to be perfect, but we can only do so much. We are human, after all, and we love to be needed by our families and loved ones. So much so that we are willing to sacrifice everything to try and do what’s best for them 100% of the time.  

I personally get a lot of joy out of being useful and helpful and creative and motivational and...you know, everything, to those that need me to be everything. But, did you notice I forgot something up there in that list of people and entities that I need to be 100% strong for. Yep, I forgot myself. I forgot myself for the last 60 days or so, and, let me tell you, doing so is simply begging for chaos. And that’s what I felt like I received as a result of the way I set myself up this summer - pure chaos.

Just the other night, I burst into tears on the couch while my husband and I were watching TV. I told him I know I could be a better mom and that I need to change things. I expressed that I can feel that I’m going about all of this all wrong, and we are running out of money as I work so, so hard to start a business to help other women on their motherhood journey. The irony of it all was palpable. I felt like a hypocrite, and suggested that I just quit and dedicate my heart and soul to just my family because they are so important, and my babies are only babies for so long. As much as I want to create a sustainable business that will bring light into the lives others, maybe my purpose is to focus on bringing light only into the lives of my children. And I can live with that if that truly is my sole life purpose. I love my daughters. I love my husband. I love the family I am a part of, and I hate feeling pressured by society and money and all of those stupid “how to be perfect” articles to fix my life on their terms. Their advice wasn’t working; rather, it was suffocating me.

As my husband began to comfort me and tell me I’m a great mom and am doing good work etcetera etcetera,  I told him to stop. I didn’t need to be comforted. I needed to dwell in this and figure out the answer on my own. I wasn’t crying because I was sad and needed a hug - I was crying because I was so fucking frustrated. I wanted to slow down, and so I opened myself up emotionally and mentally to whatever the Fates had planned for me. I went to bed with every intention to change my perspective the following day. I planned to do a little work here and there, but to focus primarily on exercising patience with my children and doing fun things with them. Simplicity was key. My mental well being depended on it, and I was prepared to postpone my business ventures if that meant my daughters would be more joyful and I could revel fully in motherhood.

The Fates heard me loud and clear.

Signs of Purpose

That following day, I decided to look for a job in a birth-related environment that would offer regular paychecks, you know, do the 9-5 thing again maybe if that is my calling as a provider for my family. My mom took Lorelei out to play during Isla’s nap so I could write a cover letter for a position I knew I wasn’t qualified for, but it was the only one nearby that was related to my passion for birth and postpartum care for local families, and I love the organization that I would be able to work for if I were to get the job. Upon finishing, my phone rang.

The call was from someone who came across my website and needs a postpartum doula this fall. This was the first call I have received from a potential client since I put myself out there this summer as a working postpartum doula. I was quite pleased, and the timing was extraordinary. I smiled a bit and felt a little more relaxed. Maybe I am meant to do this work right now after all.

Then I received another call. It was from the local business I had sent my cover letter and resume to just a few hours prior. They liked my background and, though I wasn’t qualified for that particular position, they wanted me to begin to develop a relationship with them for any future opportunities by taking sweet Isla to one of their baby classes and becoming familiar with the services they provide to local families. Wow. Timing is everything, and this timing was, again, extraordinary. Creating fundamental relationships like this is key to success as an entrepreneur, especially locally as a birth worker, and my heart was bursting with gratitude for the opportunity.

Wanna know what happened next? I scheduled two interviews with women who asked me to talk about my work on their radio shows. So cool.

As I told my husband about these uncanny occurrences, I received my first five-star review on Etsy for the wall hangings I make as a means of raising scholarship funds to provide free postpartum services to mamas in need. Seriously? Five signs in one day? But it didn’t stop there.

Over the next few days a friend asked me to contribute women’s postpartum wellness posts to the blog she manages for the company she works for, and I then received a very kind and heart-warming email from an email list subscriber thanking me for my emails and telling me how much she enjoyed them. She told me my passion shone through my website and writing. That meant a lot to me.

I also officially submitted my packet for postpartum doula certification, an accomplishment that took two years of a lot of effort to meet. I remind myself that I accomplished that goal in spite of a painful pregnancy, giving birth, raising a toddler and a baby and dealing with a chronic headache. I consider this a big deal, and I allow myself to be proud.

After all of this, I don’t think the Fates could have made their message any clearer. I am absolutely meant to do this work right now, and it is possible to do so without sacrificing the needs of my family. I simply needed to give myself space to breathe and acknowledge that I am not a failure. I am capable and motivated. I WILL accomplish my goals, but I need to allow myself to live a regular life at the same time, and give all of the seeds I sow enough time and space to grow.

As all of this excitement was going on, I discovered that my efforts to be more patient were working. I didn’t yell at my girls once. Rather, I took them out to swim lessons and playdates without feeling guilty about not working. I read books about postpartum wellness instead of articles about ways to improve myself and my business. I spoke to friends on the phone {yeah, with voices!}. I helped my mom take her dog to the vet because I was glad to help her {I owe her big time, after all}. I took the girls to surprise their dad at his work {at Lorelei’s adorable request} even though it was past their bedtime when we left, a time of day I’m usually very strict about so that I can get to work again as soon as their eyes close and their sleep breathing begins. Living in the moment in this way felt SO much better than staring at my laptop, alone and stressed, wishing my husband was at home with me instead of at work.

My takeaway from this experience is that being honest with myself about the crazy way I was living {for no good reason at that}, and giving myself space and permission to release a bit of control is what brought forth this revolutionary week, a week that soothed me, brought me joy and brought to the surface my true purpose in the birth worker world. I will never be perfect, and I will always have to work hard, but I’m allowed to be human. Most importantly, I’m capable of being a good mom if I let myself be a good mom because I am strong, and forever rooted in the love of my family.

The Rooted Tree

I now know that I am so strong that my strength is comparable to that of a tree, and my family is the foundation within which my roots thrive. Sadly, the stress and pressure of outside forces was pulling me much too hard. My roots were straining to remain where they were, where they belong, and by allowing myself to get wrapped up in a million to-dos and should-dos and will-dos and might-dos and need-to-dos, I inadvertently stopped pulling back. Doing so would have further rooted myself in the depths of the greatest source of nourishment for my soul {my family}, but the pull was so strong, and I was losing the little strength I had left as force after force pulled me into the belief-state that the amount of things I need to do to succeed in every aspect of my life was impossible, and I would fail.

As my roots began to snap one-by-one, reality grabbed a hold of me, and the pull stopped. Reality held me steady, reminding me that I don’t need to do all of those things and that I am capable of doing the things that actually are required of me, and I regained my strength. I allowed myself to take deep breaths that brought much-needed oxygen all the way down to my suffering roots. As reality helped pull me back against those forces, my roots began to embed themselves once more within their rich foundation {my family}, and as they regained their strength, I began to grow, and opportunities bloomed one by one until I could no longer deny the evidence right in front of my wild eyes.

By staying rooted and giving myself space to breathe, I would continue to grow and bloom and eventually become a source of comfort for others, providing shade and a backrest when needed. The petals of my blossoms would flutter and swirl like a spring snowstorm as they made room for the next phase of seasonal change, and passersby would revel in the enchanting moment of nature taking its course, remembering there is more to life than the never-ending expectations we have placed upon ourselves.

And so, in spite of change, I will stay rooted. In spite of outside forces attempting their strong pull once more, as I’m sure will happen in the many years to come, I will stay rooted. My family is far too sustaining to ever let my roots loose again. I vow to be always rooted, and thus be always blooming.

As I write this, I can’t help but notice that so much of what is advised when it comes to embracing life fully is closely related to the advice we give laboring mothers and new mothers going through their fourth trimester with their newborn baby. Taking deep breaths, releasing control and allowing life to unfurl as it was meant to is quite often the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and our dreams. I personally feel that over a decade of private school turned me into a perfectionist control freak {one with a great education at least}, but these years post-school where I have been fully enveloped in the natural world of motherhood, both personally and in my chosen career path, are proving to be more and more transformative, allowing me to be the woman I’ve been suppressing for way too long.

The other night, as my husband talked and I talked, I reveled in the gratitude and peace I felt, and suddenly, an idea literally popped into my head and rolled off my tongue before I even fully knew what I was saying. It shook me and inspired me more than any idea I’ve had thus far. It’s an idea that was just waiting to be revealed, but would never have been shown to me if I had stayed in that negative place of doubt and drudgery and allowed myself to be completely uprooted. It’s an idea that I will share as soon as I have constructed its foundation and am prepared to take on clients. I truly can’t wait to transform it into a reality, but I have learned my lesson. I will maintain this slow pace. I will continue giving myself space. I will remain calm and steady and rooted, as a doula should remain. Everything will work out exactly the way it’s supposed to - and I don’t always need to be the one at the helm. The Fates quite often do just fine on their own.

 

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