One of the weirdest things that has plagued me since becoming a mother is figuring out my label. I’m not even into labels, but it seems like every time I meet a new person or start chatting with another mom at the park, this question inevitably comes up:
So, do you stay home or…..?
Shortly after Everett was born, and my steady contract gig ended, I got into the habit of saying I was a stay-at-home mom. I don’t know why I started saying that, since I was also running a photography business on the side, but it just seemed like an easy thing to say. After all, I was staying at home most of the time (see: wearing yoga pants covered in spit-up and eating cheetos like a boss).
Fast forward two years and I find myself still struggling with that question and those ridiculous labels. Stay-at-home mom. Work-at-home mom. Working mom. Part-time-working mom.
Two months ago, I started Coffee + Crumbs with high hopes and low expectations. I hoped it would be well received and that it would grow steadily into the place I dreamed it would be: an online community built on storytelling and me too’s. I had tiny numbers in my head, small goals for us to reach by Christmastime.
And then we reached all of them in the first six weeks.
So I celebrated! I danced in my kitchen! I clinked my glass of iced tea to Everett’s sippy cup in the backyard, saying “cheers” half a dozen times.
And then, being the hormonal pregnant mess that I am, I cried. Sobbed. Had a nervous breakdown. Had a second nervous breakdown. I scared Brett with all the crying, all the Freaking Out, all the incessant worrying.
While all of our numbers and goals were being met and surpassed, I started receiving an overwhelming amount of validation. E-mails. Texts. In-real-life conversations. Everyone was generous and forthcoming with compliments and feedback, affirming the idea and concept and all of the hard work behind the scenes.
I reveled in that validation for exactly five minutes before the panic set in.
That panic turned into fear and that fear turned into anxiety and that anxiety turned into a two hour cry-fest on my couch.
I was struggling. Drowning in e-mails and submissions and to-do lists that were never finished. I couldn’t keep up with everything and felt like I was failing everyone. The higher our numbers climbed, the more pressure I felt to make it perfect. I was losing myself in perfectionism, and it wasn’t pretty.
Something had to change, something had to give, and there weren’t any easy answers. It’s easy to talk about things like boundaries and delegating, but actually doing them is a whole other story.
Smack in the middle of my nervous breakdown on the couch, I realized something.
My dreams for Coffee + Crumbs were only getting bigger.
The fear wasn’t paralyzing me; in a way, it was fueling me.
An online shop.
A beautiful hardcover book filled with our stories.
I can see all of it.
And while I have no idea where to start or how to get there, I know one thing for sure: I love what I see.
So I guess you can label me whatever you want. Right now I’m home with a toddler and another baby on the way, working my ass off during naptime and during twenty minute spurts while Curious George plays in the background. Nothing is easy; guilt follows me around like a puppy dog all day long. There’s never enough time, nothing is ever finished, but nervous breakdowns aside…..I’m starting to believe this is right where I am supposed to be. Taking care of a toddler, bringing another sweet baby boy into the world, and attempting to create something meaningful for other mothers in the process.
In this season of life, this place of in-between and All The Big Dreams, motherhood fuels the content of my work, and the content of my work fuels the mother I am becoming. The lines are often blurred and while that feels impossibly hard on most days, I’m grateful I don’t have to choose one or the other. I love being a mom, and I love the work that I’m doing. I’m making it all up as I go along, creating a dream job in between poopy diapers and cracker bribes.
To hell with the labels; there is no label adequate for that.
It will not be easy, but this is only the beginning.
Cheers to leaning in.