"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life." - Unknown
Anyone using this new year to make a fresh start? Well I am ... sort of.
As I've mentioned before, I'm not big on resolutions. What I'm learning to be big on is being intentional - intentional about where I spend my time and energy, intentional about the things I commit to, intentional about my role as a mom, wife, and business owner. Not just going through the motions and trying to do what has to be done, but recognizing the purpose behind the things that I'm doing which allows me to connect more. A perfect example of this would be when I do a craft project with my girls. The first few times were hectic and gave me some anxiety - such a big mess, paint everywhere, colorful hands trying to use my kitchen as one huge art easel. By the time I got them both into the bath, I was sweating and wondering why anyone would attempt this stuff with toddlers?! Well, obviously I needed to look beyond the mess (the kitchen, the table, the babies) and focus on why I was doing this with them - because it's supposed to be fun, entertaining, a learning experience, and most of all, a memory. I took a bunch of pictures and when I first looked at them, I thought "what an ordeal! I need a different, no muss no fuss project for next time." But now when I look at those same pictures, I think about the smiles, the way the girls really tried to stay on the little canvas with the paint, and how ridiculous I must've looked trying to get them up the stairs and into the bath without them touching the walls or ME, haha.
Motherhood is a lot of work. Scratch that - a TON of work. The snuggles, cuddles, kisses, and hugs make it all worth it and then some, but in general, it all takes time, patience, and a big dose of humility. I don't really know what I expected parenthood to be like, but I don't know if this is what I had in mind. The worrying about every little thing, thinking and stressing about scenarios that I will most likely never be faced with (because what if the only parking spot left IS the one right next to a storm drain, it has no cover, and you have to balance very carefully as you get your child out of the car?? Yes folks, this is where my mind goes far too often!), always feeling torn between being with my kids every second of every day or stepping away to work, do something for myself or spend time with my husband, the guilt (omg, the GUILT!) over every.little.thing. Did they both get enough hugs today? Did I tell them enough how much I love them? Did they have fun? Did they laugh and smile enough today? Are they miserable? Am I horrible mother? So not only are you just physically worn out when you chase/carry/wrangle two toddlers all day, but the mental exhaustion is something I never saw coming! This is for sure a part of motherhood that I did not anticipate and it has proven to be much harder than getting through those days after multiple sleepless nights (weeks? months?) or tackling the daily physical demands that come with mothering toddlers. I pictured us having BABIES ... forever. I didn't picture this part, the actual "parenting" part. And I never pictured us going through our first run with TWO, haha!
This balancing act in life is hard, friends ... and it's hard for everyone whether you have one, two, or ten. I've decided that some moms are just more vocal about it and I'm one of them. There's no shame in showing that it's not puppy dogs & ice cream all the time - I love my kids more than life itself and being a mama has been, and continues to be, the most amazing role I will ever take on. But it's also the most challenging and not always the easiest pill for me to swallow when I really want to dive into my work and can't, take a weekend away with my husband and can't, or enjoy a last minute mani/pedi and can't. Yep, this is what I signed up for and this is what I so desperately wanted - and trust me, I wouldn't trade my life for ANYTHING. But contrary to what I thought would happen, you don't just forget all about your own wants and needs the minute you have a baby. While I put the needs of my kids first, I'm still ME and there are things that I love outside of them ... I just don't get to act on them or fulfill them as often or in the same ways that I used to. This is a part of parenthood that I had kind of prepared myself for (or at least tried to), but let's be real - nothing can REALLY prepare you for such a drastic life changing event. That's why, when I listen to friends or read about another mom that's struggling or stressing, it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one that doesn't wake up singing with all the forest animals and dancing around with my children like all of our waking hours are something out of a storybook. So for all of you out there keepin it real, there are plenty of readers so grateful for your stripped down, non-sugar coated words - I'm one of them, so thank you!!
It has been a struggle to find the balance between personal & professional, family time, friend time, spouse time, ANY time outside of kids. While we loved our life before our babes came along, they have completed our family and filled our hearts in a way that neither my husband nor I could've ever imagined. And if you've read our story, you know that Addi & Livi were *very* wanted babies and loved immensely even as little embryos sitting in a freezer. But life has sure changed - and with that change has come a point where I've had to do a lot of soul searching over these past few months.
As the girls get older, they sleep less, they're much busier, and their little brains thrive on being stimulated. They're intrigued by everything and I love to watch things "click" as they learn. Aside from a couple hours (give or take) in the middle of the day, from the time they wake up to the time they close their eyes at night, these girls are on the move. And while it's amazing to watch them grow and thrive, it's extremely hard for me to see them growing up so fast. I feel like they just turned one and now they're going to be TWO in less than a few months. I blink and a week goes by, we celebrate a special occasion and suddenly I'm reflecting on it months later but it feels like just yesterday. It scares me to think of how quickly these next sixteen years will fly by - soon enough, we'll be getting our girls all settled at college and we'll be left with an empty house wondering where the time went. (and here come the tears)
I don't ask for much advice when it comes to mothering - every kid is different anyway and what works for one may not work for another. I just like to wing it. :) What I *have* asked a lot of moms though is to answer this question - What is your biggest regret when it comes to raising your kids? And the number one answer: "I wish I would've had more time with them when they were little" followed by "It just goes by SO fast" ... and it truly does. Now, I typically like to learn things the hard way - I'm not usually interested in learning from anyone else's "mistakes" and really prefer to make all my own. But this is different. There's no do-over here, no second chance for me. We're all done having babies so THIS. IS. IT.
I've struggled with the balance of being a mom and a wife while simultaneously trying to run a business and let it continue on the same upward path that it's been on - unfortunately, the amount of work that goes into traveling that road is just not something I can sustain in the same capacity as I was in the years before my kiddos came along. Yes, people do it all the time and I give major props to those that can juggle it all like a pro - I'm not one of them. My biggest fear in life is the regret I know I will face if I miss out on any opportunity for more family time and being here for everything when it comes to my littles - that *is* who I am. I personally don't feel that I can give 100% to my family when I'm also trying to give 100% to my business. The struggle, for me, in this season of our life, is REAL. When I bury myself in work, I'm sad that I'm not with my family ... when I cut back on work (or as I like to call it, "slack off"), I feel guilty that I'm not giving it my all like I used to. This has made me realize that something has to give somewhere, which has brought me to this life "edit".
I have given a lot of thought to chip&chisel and the huge place that it holds in my heart. I know for a fact that an enormous piece of me would be missing if I ever walked away from it, however I do need to take on a smaller amount of business in order to continue to connect the way that I like to and really put the love into my work that I'm used to. Yes, the finished pieces that I send out may look the exact same with or without that love, but I don't feel the same way about them and that's a very important part of my business (and something that I would appreciate as a customer as well, so I hope you do too!). While being a mom and a wife is my main focus, chip&chisel also makes up a huge piece of who I am and I have a love for it that's so deep and meaningful and you don't just abandon that. Managing two selling platforms, social media, orders, listings, etc is not a small task. I purpose to connect with my customers and the pieces that I create for them. When I feel rushed and bogged down, I tend to get in a cycle of just doing what needs to be done and not being intentional - and that, my friends, is not going to be part of 2017 for me.
What IS going to happen in this new year is that I will be scaling back on the Etsy side of the business and giving that time to my family, the chip&chisel website, and other projects in the works, friends, family, and all the other aspects of my life that could use a little more attention. If you still shop chip&chisel via Etsy, you will probably notice the shop in vacation mode from time to time. Have no fear though, chipandchisel.com is where you can still go for all of our newest designs AND our classics! So, as a whole, chip&chisel is not changing - but how I run things on Etsy is. This is just meant to give me a way to control the volume of orders a bit - this is my way of still being able to give chip&chisel what it deserves in all areas and not constantly feel like I'm stretched too thin without a way to pause for a bit when necessary. The best part of my job is doing something that I love, and part of what makes me love it so much is that it doesn't feel like "work". That's the direction I'm heading back towards.
Etsy has been very good to me over the past five years (and nearly 10k sales!!) and I'm so grateful for that. But Etsy has changed, my life has changed, and it's time to embrace that! I've added a bunch of items to the 'sale' section on Etsy in order to pare down inventory and have a smaller, more manageable selection over there. All of our new designs will continue to pretty much only be listed on the website and the most up-to-date info will be available there as well.
I am so excited for this year and the collaborations that we have lined up, the new designs coming your way, and this fresh new start in this new year that will allow me to take a deep breath and focus my attention where it needs to be and give myself the ability to PAUSE when necessary. Our time and energy is limited - where we put it should be meaningful and serve us in some way. If I'm not doing something with intention, I'm learning to recognize that I should be putting that energy towards something else that makes me feel good and fills my cup! Fill your cup with me this year - let go of anything that isn't serving a purpose in your life or is taking away from something that you would really love to give more to. Consider it a present to yourself.