I am drowning in negativity lately. I’ve been blessed with the wonderful ability to internalize every single bad vibe that floats my way, or anywhere even near me. I am always reading between the lines and analyzing facial expressions and actions, hurt by things that may have been – or more likely were not – intentional, and harboring that hurt pretty much forever. I am overly sensitive to any conflict aimed at me or others I am close to. Injustice, duplicitous conversations, and unreliability can set me off in an instantaneous rage, at least internally, and it eats me alive. Basically, I’m a real fun person to know!
There has been so much going on in the last few weeks that has constantly fed into all the bad thoughts and feelings that I no longer feel like I can get away from. A lot of it doesn’t directly affect me, but I’m still absorbing the blows like they do. I’ve also been dealing with a lot of personal attacks as well. People have been making me feel worthless and less than and inferior and it isn’t fair. I’ve also just been in CONSTANT battles with Shepard and his strong-willed personality that has increased tenfold since his eighth birthday. The fact that these battles are over the stupidest things makes it even worse. Bit by bit all of it is just chipping away at me and leaving me either empty or flat out crazed depending on the situation.
I was planning to write all about these situations, though in abstract form to retain some semblance of anonymity, but realized nobody really wants to read that, right?! So instead I’m going to dig deep and try and find some positive things about myself and my life right now that can help me focus on the good, let go of the bad, breathe, and smile.
I know who I am.
I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve always kept an identity all of my own. There are so many women that have kids and suddenly lose themselves. Or they set aside their lives, placing all of their hopes and dreams on hold for eighteen plus years, with the assumption they’ll have time for the things they want to do later. What if they don’t?? There are definitely seasons of sacrifice and those baby and toddler and preschool years are always going to be tough when kids need you for their very survival. Don’t get me wrong – if motherhood is what you WANT to identify most strongly with, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But you don’t need to sacrifice who you are in the process. I like the fact that even when Caden was a baby and literally breastfed round the clock for about twelve hours a day for over an entire year, I never stopped thinking about and doing the things that made me ME. Those unique hopes and dreams for myself have only clarified and multiplied in the years since.
I work really dang hard.
It may mostly be in my head. But there have definitely been many, many occasions over the last ten years where I felt belittled or shamed for being a stay at home mom. There are even years where I’ve felt that way about myself. I was really, really smart in high school and college. My entire identity was wrapped in my grades and my accomplishments. And then I gave it all up to stay at home with my kids – a job I’m still not entirely sure I was right for. But it’s the choice we made and the choice we’re sticking with and I don’t regret it. I may not have taken the career path I originally saw for myself, but I work HARD, you guys. I give just about everything I do my best effort. Why else would I be constantly writing these blog posts about my goals and evaluating how I did at them? Sure, it may sometimes come across that I’m living the life of leisure, going out for lunch or coffee dates, taking a break every afternoon to read and nap. What you don’t see are the days like today when I was awake and working for three full hours before anybody else was even up. Or all the time I spend organizing and planning to make sure our schedules and family life run smoothly. Raising kids is no easy task! Heck, raising PETS is no easy task! Sometimes I think taking care of all of Annie’s needs is more overwhelming than the boys’. Or it’s at least a lot more inconvenient! Anyway, I may not have a typical 9-5 professional career that would surely bring me a lot of pride. But I DO work all the time. I am actively trying to be my best self every waking minute. And that’s not something to be ashamed of.
I am a successful business owner.
I’m not sure why I always downplay this. I often don’t even bring it up with new people because “I make dolls” is not usually something strangers respond very enthusiastically to. I mean, it’s kind of weird. If you’re not already immersed in a community of makers through social media or an avid craft fair/vintage shopper, this is an avenue of work that most people don’t understand. Should I say I’m an artist? A designer? Sometimes I say that I sew, but then people assume I’m a seamstress, which I want NOTHING to do with. When I do try to explain exactly what I do, most people comment on how that’s a nice little hobby and I agree and say it’ll never pay the bills, but it’s allowed me to stay home with my kids and for that I’m thankful. But…it’s more than that and I think I need to start owning that. I’ve now run Heartstring Annie for just about six years. It’s a business I kind of started on a whim, just to bring in a little extra fun money for myself, but also to give me a bit more of an identity outside of my family role. It’s grown into what I do consider my full time job, even if I don’t always put 40 hours a week into it (at least not in the last year or two when I’ve actively tried to stop letting it overtake my entire life). No, I don’t usually make enough money to even cover our mortgage, if it came down to that. But it brings in enough money for me to take solo vacations multiple times a year, buy clothes from sources beyond what I can find the cheapest, and it allows me to splurge on special gifts for people throughout the year. Last year, I made 224 sales, selling 297 dolls. That’s almost a doll a day. Business is absolutely thriving. I can’t keep up. This is so much more than a hobby, and even if people think it’s weird, that doesn’t discredit what it is and what I’ve built. Also, I think I’m pretty great at it.
I have an awesome family.
I have a seriously awesome husband. Greg has been nothing but 110% supportive of anything I have ever wanted to do. He has been an incredible dad from day one – I can honestly and truly say, there is NOTHING I would have ever changed or wished for more of in his role as co-parent. He works so hard for us, providing a stable and substantial enough income that I have the freedom to do whatever I want to do – for the past ten years, but also for all the years to come. He never makes me feel bad about who I am, he never belittles me for anything, he never shrugs off my sometimes crazy emotions. He’s been a steady and stable force in my life for the last nineteen years and I know I can count on him for anything.
I also have some pretty great kids. Yes, Shepard has been fraying my last frazzled nerve these last few weeks with his ridiculous arguments over EVERYTHING. But he has bloomed so much in the last few years and I’m so incredibly proud of him. In preschool and 4K and even many days of kindergarten, I had to literally carry him kicking and screaming into school because he didn’t want to leave me and the comfort of home. Now? He is fiercely independent. He knows who is he and he’s not going to back down from that. He is friends with everyone and the most popular guy around. His silliness and laughter can light up a room and even though I think it’s going to be getting him into more and more trouble as he gets older, I am proud to call him my own.
There’s something very strange that happens when one of your kids is suddenly less than a head shorter than you. I feel like Caden has grown up so much in the last year. Whereas Shepard is always a wildcard, Caden is completely responsible and reliable. He definitely has a strong-willed personality as well, but I think he is growing into a person that can be counted on. He is so smart and we’re told by his teachers every year how he’s the most helpful kid in the class. I believe he’s going to go far in life and I can’t wait to watch it happen.
I also have an awesome set of in-laws and mom who provide a great support system to the four of us. I’m so glad that we live near each other and get to experience life together. It’s invaluable to our kids.
I’m not going to be hot this summer!
I loathe summer. It’s my least favorite season – because of the weather, because of the lack of structure, because I have zero time to myself. It’s been especially difficult since we moved into our house because it’s SO HOT that I can’t even function. We added a window air conditioner to the kitchen last year that at least helped when I was in there, but did little to cool any other room in the house. But this week we decided to invest in a REAL air conditioner! It’s still going to only cool the lower half of the house (with two window units upstairs), but I’m confident we’re all going to be so much more comfortable this year. Trust me, I will be a much happier person if I’m not sweating and breathing in muggy air 24/7.
I’m going on vacation!
In less than three weeks Greg and I will be off on our 13 year anniversary Colorado vacation! I’ve been doing a lot of research and we at least now have a solid thirty or so awesome restaurant options (lol). I have quite a list of things to see and do too. I think it’s exactly the break from regular life that we need. Our schedule these last months of the school year are crazy town. It’s going to be wonderful to get a reprieve and spend some solid time together. Something that has been pretty sparse lately.
If all else fails – books.
Always reliable and always the best form of escape. And at least in my case – always abundant! I think I need to spend more time actively avoiding the internet related things that are stressing me out. Read more. That should always be the answer.
Okay, this concludes my personal pep talk. I guess it sort of became a defense of who I am and justification for why it’s okay to be me. But – it IS okay, and I’d do well to remember that!