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You're Welcome (for not working)

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.

because sometimes its hat day

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.

photo by Faith Photography

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.

my kid is obviously cooler than me

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.

photo by Faith Photography

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.

Hanging out in California

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.

Easternmost point of the continental US - rainy hiking in Maine

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.

photo taken by Cassidy Kraus (soon to be Weyers)

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).

The most normal picture we can get with the grumpy old man

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.

photo taken by Hannah Thomas

Cheers, Marie


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