Finding Presence As A Work-At-Home Mother

When I got pregnant over 6 years ago, I knew I wanted to try for the best of both worlds. I wanted to work, and I wanted to be the primary caregiver for my daughter. I figured I could do this by starting my own business and working from home. I was wrong.

While I may have been home, I was not always there. I had tea to mix and invoices to bill. I had marketing to do. I had a website to manage. I tried to run the business alongside raising my kids. Literally. Which meant I did neither at full speed and I always felt spent.

Possibly my greatest regret as a mother so far is that I have not always been present for my children.

But, there's a light and a shadow side to everything. I was able to breastfeed my daughter on demand through her toddler years. We spent copious amounts of time together. We still do. She received plenty of unstructured undirected play time. Now, she has a wild imagination and she can play "pretend" like no body's business.

I had high hopes for working at home. I thought my daughter could learn a strong work ethic by seeing me work. I planned to automate most of the business so I could make money and still be at home with her AND have time (and money) to write. I thought Timothy Ferris' book, "The Four Hour Work Week," offered the perfect blueprint. I just needed to fill in the blanks. Reality proved far more complex.

When my second daughter was born, my attention became divided once again. My older one came up against a brick wall of jealousy, and I struggled to carry her over it. I could not physically care for everything and everyone. Running the tea business became a burden that ceased to pull its weight. I learned the lesson we all learn sooner or later, sometimes more than once: I needed to do what I loved most. I couldn't divide my attention into so many pieces. I needed to edit and discard.

I continue to grapple with presence. I carry around books and notebooks, hungry to read and write at every opportunity. Though the books mostly remain unopened, I like to have them close by. They bring comfort. As I mentioned in my post about winning, you never know when a thought may strike or the children may become so absorbed in their play that I can read a few lines.

Modern humans have a billion different things to do and watch and read and be. Meanwhile, a bit of undivided attention goes a long way, whether it's applied to a child or a website or a novel or a movement. When faced with a gamut of opportunity, how do we prioritize? Ideally, we do it according to love. Not prestige. Not expired ideals. Not outside expectations. Not habits. Not other people's passion. But our love and our passion.

When my daughter erupts with emotion, what she needs is my full and honest presence, with a side of snuggles. In those tender moments, I see how motherhood can be simple. But this simplicity requires, without exception, presence.

This is day 11 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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The Fear of Being Seen

Perhaps you want something, but when it comes down to actually making this thing happen, you fear what you want. This fear disallows it from happening. Sometimes consciously, mostly unconsciously. When I owned Herbal Philosophy Teas, a home-based business in which I mixed locally-sourced organic herbs into medicinal teas, I grew to dread big orders. Though I was excited each time I added a new spa to my client list, I accepted the order with a certain unease. More hours spent in the office, away from my husband, away from my children, away from my blog, away from my manuscript in process. The money was nice, but most of the dollars would go back into the business.

Looking back on this discreet form of self-sabotage, I wonder how I lasted as long as I did under that business model. Hindsight is 20/20, no? I should have hired a co-packer from the beginning to mix the teas, no matter the investment. Alas, my first business proved a tremendous learning experience, not only as an entrepreneur, but as an herbalist and a human trying to sell something. It turns out you don't have to only believe in what you're selling, you have to believe in your credibility to sell it, you have to be willing to charge money for it, and you have to focus on it.

Since I started this blog, it has never been a significant focus. I have called it a hobby, a creative outlet, a labor of love, but never a business. I am not sure what the future holds for this blog. But I do know that I want to grow the readership, and in order to do this, I have to let go of a deep-seated fear of sharing my heart and being seen in all my wounded glory.

I heal by writing my way through struggle. Perhaps my struggles are somehow related to your struggles and we can work through them together. I feel intense pain in the world, I see so much brokenness. Rampant racism and sexism and materialism and depression and anxiety and dis-ease and the list goes on. And on. But change happens on an individual level before it becomes systemic. By changing ourselves, we change the world.

My greatest motivator is the notion that what I write here can help other people. In order to help other people, I must be honest. I must share what's on my heart in order to tap into the collective consciousness.

Naturally, we have inhibitions that protect us from over sharing. I fear being seen, I value my privacy. I have written a number of blogs I have never published and I have drafted many Facebook posts I have never posted. But let's be real here. Growing this blog readership will not turn me into a celebrity. I choose exactly how much I want to reveal. I am in control. I am learning how to love myself enough to see the value in my imperfections.

I struggle like everybody, but I am also lucky, and I am obliged to effect change using this platform because I feel called to do so. Even my marriage is a privilege. As good partnerships tend to do, it grants me support of my goals and strengthens my weak spots: if my husband, who knows my foibles better than anybody, loves me and respects me in spite of these fatal flaws, then maybe you can, too.

This is day 1 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I'm glad you're coming along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feed burner.

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