Let's face reality: I am a business owner, a teacher, a single mom (at least until next June) who does yoga, has a social life, loves her dog, is working to maintain a healthy relationship, tries to get in shape...I could go on. We all could these days.
My son Charlie is obviously a huge part of my life. Anyone with kids understands how all-encompassing parenthood is. However, I have always refused to make being a mom my number one descriptor. There are so many ways to lose your identity as a woman. I do not want everything I do to be about my kid. I do not want to lose me.
While I will always be a mom, someday Charlie will leave the house and spread his proverbial wings. And I want him to. I want so bad for him to go out and explore the world and spread his kindness and joy to everyone.
One of my biggest struggles is a work/life balance. This is partially because my parents raised myself and my brothers to work hard - like really hard - to make our way in life. It is also partially because I love what I do (most of the time - we all have those days).
I find myself working constantly. Technology just makes it worse.
This imbalance came to light about two months ago when Charlie, in his endless wisdom, delivered this heart-crusher:
"Mom, do you like your jobs more than me?"
Hold on. I have to get my breath back.
He quickly followed it up with, "do you think we can just sit next to each other while you work so I feel close to you?"
And then, I died. Not just a little. Not in a funny way. My soul actually just left my body, bitch slapped me, and promptly returned to wallow in inner turmoil.
Sure, we go on crazy adventures and I unplug. We spend 2-3 weeks straight together, in a car, in a tent. It is not like I never spend time with him. It is just that 90% of the time, our time is spent in the house, doing the mundane, monotonous parts of life - separately.
After that day, I made a promise to Charlie that we would spend an hour of uninterrupted time every night when he is at our house. The reality is that I only see my son 50% of the time. He has a loving father and step-mom and sister the other 50% of the time, which is amazing. However, I often look at my friends who have their kids all the time and get jealous. But that is not my lot in this life.
We started our 1-hour pact the next day and I realized something: I use work to avoid having a personal life.
Maybe it is because it has been so distorted, but my personal relationships are always difficult. My ex-husband asked for a divorce three weeks after our son was born. I dated one guy who secretly used so many drugs that one night one left a 10-inch bruise on me. The next guy shoved me out of a car and sped off, leaving me with road burn at 3am in a literal gutter. The guy after that...well...let's just say that was a year and a half of horrible emotional, mental, and physical abuse.
Those were all romantic relationships, though.
So why was my relationship with my son suffering?
Why did I still pull away from my fiance, who treats me well and loves me completely?
Well, the answer is easy: mental health is a cold, hard bitch when left unattended and wild.
It was with those innocent questions and first hour of uninterrupted time that I finally started to prioritize my life. I started seeing a therapist again. I am dealing with the physical manifestations of all those bad experiences. I take time to play board games with Charlie. I don't (usually) edit when he is home and awake. I schedule "me" nights to get facials (Beatitude Skincare and Wellness) and massages (Here + Now Massage).
The toughest thing I have done, which happened just last week, was start doing yoga again. The last bad relationship I mentioned before was with a guy who gaslighted me to no end. He used yoga (which I love so much) and spirituality to create a world where I was always wrong. I was too fat (this was 20 lbs lighter than I am now), I was too materialistic, I was too focused on monogamy...and he was too focused on living with me, for free, and lying and cheating.
For two years, getting on a yoga mat brought back wild, painful, sometimes physically agonizing flashbacks to that horrible time. I can barely write all of this without almost crying and wanting to yell.
Last week, though, I said, "fuck you" to that, and got back to one of the things I love by taking an actual yoga class (Soleil Lune).
So I know last year's growth in my business was due to always being available and stretching my time and losing sleep. I appreciate every second of it. However, 2018 is different. I am so dedicated to being happier and healthier that I even am dropping down to teaching part time (which is simultaneously terrifying and exciting).
This year, I will be blocking off time for my family first.
You're welcome for being happy.
This year, I will answer your email eventually.
You're welcome for delayed gratification.
This year, I will build up other women and encourage them to put themselves first.
You're welcome for improving mental health.
This year, I will edit your photos quickly, but not at the expense of my child's precious time with me.
You're welcome for being a parent.
We all live in a world where we are pulled in so many different directions with so many opportunities for distraction. I am choosing to be present in my life.
You're welcome for not working.