Dear God, what have I done to my son, the poor kid is worried about me because I can’t keep it together in front of him long enough to smile, kiss, and hug him goodbye in the foyer of my in-laws house during a routine dropoff. I tried so hard to keep my voice steady and clear, my eyes from spilling tears, and my mouth in some sort of format of a smile, and my body betrayed me as I leaned in for a hug and felt his littleness wrap around me. My voice shook, my chest heaved, my smile twisted into an ugly cry frown, my eyes spilled tears, and sobbing, choking wails broke out. My son pulled away from me and asked “What’s wrong Mommy? Why are you sad?” I answered, “Mommy misses you very much everyday and I wish that today I could spend the whole day with you, but Mommy has to work today and I don’t want to, I just want my baby boy, my heart hurts.” I started to uncontrollably weep again, fighting the lump in my throat, trying so hard to force it away and keep this flood of tears at bay until I was in the safety of my car, alone.
It was like fighting the tide, it just couldn’t be done.
“Mommy, hold on, I’ll go get ice for you. I’ll make you better.” He took off into the kitchen and I heard drawers banging and the freezer drawer slide open and he bounced down the few steps to the landing and handed me a ziplock bag of ice cubes and held them to my chest. “Mommy, here, this ice will help your heart hurt less, I’m sorry Mama, see? I made you all better.” His little voice so full of assurance, certainty, and kindness reached into my chest and grabbed onto my heart more tightly than I had ever felt. I held onto the bag of ice against my heart silently praying for it to actually freeze my heart, freeze the sadness, the guilt, the shame, the regret, and the pure and raw hurt that I carry with me all day, everyday for not being everything I wanted to be for this little person that I promised the world to upon his arrival.
Just another day in this life I chose, the struggle is real, but I keep on keeping on. And, I pat myself on the back for raising such an emotionally intelligent and available little boy. I must be doing something right. And so are all of you working moms out there. If anyone asks me what the biggest struggle is regarding my business, the answer is always how I am riddled with guilt, sadness, and frustration over how it takes me away from my son, my husband, and my family, and that I am always desperately trying to find a balance between work and home, and that I often fail at that. I knew that being a working mother is not an easy feat, but I had no idea how truly difficult it would be when I dove in head first into developing a brand and becoming an entrepreneur. I never dreamt my son would be trying to heal my broken heart at age 4, ziplock and all. I feel that by sharing my personal struggle so open and without apology, that it will help bring healing, comfort, and hope to all the other women out there fighting the same battle bravely, silently, and fiercely with everything they’ve got. I know you’re out there, I see you trying like I do. Every. Single. Day.
This is who we are. This is us.
We wake up every day ready to hit the ground running, minds racing with the to-do list, but being mindful to not bound out of bed straight to our email, but to stop and kiss our littles good morning before we pick up our phones. Sometimes we slip up, and the guilt catches us by the throat, and we spend an extra five minutes sitting with them curled up on the couch watching Paw Patrol and putting the lego man’s arm back on that fell off while they were sleeping with it in bed. They are happy and grateful, we just fixed everything wrong in their world, and that feeling fixes ours for a brief moment.
We make sacrifices that are grave to our health, mental well being, and general wellness and that has just become routine. We don’t complain too much about it, we put on the brave face and wear the guise of phrases like “I can sleep when I’m dead” and “No guts, no glory” and “Time to put the big girl panties on” and “Work hard now so I can play later” and just keep plowing forward fueled by the belief that all of our hard work and sacrifices will pay off. And they will, if we follow our plans. We are sure of this, and are relentless in the pursuit of our dreams. We cry a lot. Like a whole lot, and sometimes in moments where we would rather do anything but cry, but dammit, this is what happens when there’s so much passion and love involved in our work, or when our heart is aching, just longing to put the madness of the world on pause so we can have a day with our children. And we can’t, so much is at stake, we just landed a partnership with a brand we have lusted over for years, or have a deadline looming for our biggest contract yet.
We are resilient, creative, and are always trying to find ways to have more balance between work and home, and sometimes the two worlds collide. When this happens, you can sometimes hear our children in the background of a conference call screeching, or popping into the studio when trying to film and we have to do 50 retakes. We apologize profusely, but deep down know most people understand, and for those that don’t, oh well. We are mothers before bosses at the end of the day. We are tough as nails, and we work harder than ever, and our children see us always being industrious and getting things done. This gives them hopefully a strong work ethic, and that’s what we tell ourselves when we feel guilty for how much we work. We believe that when they grow up they will remember what strong mothers they had and that it will inspire them to want to be the same way. We chose this life. No one forced it upon us, and we are entirely aware of that fact.
We are also aware of how going back to corporate or other alternatives seem nearly impossible after we have tasted the sweetness of being your own boss, and the freedom it brings us in certain areas. We can be as vibrant, bold, and creative as we want to be, there is no limit to what we can do. Our children are proud of us, and think that we are Goddesses and that we can do whatever we set out to do. And we can. We are painfully aware of the sacrifices that we impose on our children and our families, ones that they didn’t bargain to make. Sending that text to our significant others saying “Omw, love you, see you soon” and taking an extra 45 minutes to get home because a last minute client walked into our store happens often and dinner is now an hour behind and we lost our reservation. Not being able to chaperone our little one’s school trip, time after time because one of our employees called out, or because we had a meeting we HAD to take, and our child is left feeling sad and dejected because they were so excited and proud to have us there with them. The list could go on and on. They didn’t bargain for this or ask for it, but they show us grace usually and understanding, and sometimes we feel like we don’t deserve them. And then we cry. In the shower, in the car, sometimes silently into our pillows at night. We are a rare breed, and our breed is growing rapidly. Nearly 1,800 businesses are founded daily by women, meaning that we will soon be the majority of what makes up entrepreneurs in this country within the next 5 years according to sources at Business News Daily. There is no reason that we should continue to keep our struggle stories quiet, as there is so much unharnessed power in authenticity and reality. According to these stats, we are by no means alone in our journey, and I thoroughly encourage each and every mother in business to live in their truth: loud, vulnerable, and bold. We are here, listening for your voice, supporting you, and ready to embrace you waiting with a ziplock baggie of ice in hand.