I am sitting in my living room with a coffee in one hand, a laptop in my lap and a pit in my stomach. Today is the day I have looked forward to and dreaded every day since I can remember. I just sent both of my angels off to school this morning. Not just any school, real school. The kind of school that leads to middle school then high school and then college. The school that makes my entire day silent and what I just know will be the beginning of years starting to flash by at the speed of light. The days are long but the years are short. And in an instant they are off. My days are no longer long so now the years will be that much shorter. I went to bed last night thinking about today’s post. Would I write about Haven or Aruba? Would I post house updates or the latest rugs I am loving? And then I got home just now and felt like doing none of the above. I just kind of felt like pouring out my heart. My thoughts and my revelations.
Over the last two months I have had a lot of revelations. Well maybe revelations sounds too fancy or important. Just thoughts and experiences and conversations that have changed my outlook and my plan. I will start by saying something kind of crazy. I was not cut out to be a stay at home mom. Yes, that sounds absolutely terrible but I just wasn’t. And I am now publicly admitting that to 250 thousand people. I have spent much of the last eight years feeling a crushing weight of guilt about that to be completely honest. Why don’t I love it? Why don’t I crave being at home all day with my girls? Anyone who knows me for a second can vouch for the fact that I am obsessed with Addison and Winter. As I sit here right now I literally have a pit in my stomach about today. I have almost picked up my phone ten times to call the school and double check that Winter made it to class from carpool drop-off. I literally just texted Mark to see if he thought she made it okay. As if he would even have a clue other than to think that once again I am crazy. My friends even call me a helicopter mom. I literally still to this day cut up every single thing Winter eats into minuscule pieces. And she is almost four. I pop into their rooms every single night before I go to bed to make sure they are asleep and still breathing. And I have probably told Mark every day for the last month that I am obsessed with my kids. They are so good and so sweet and I feel beyond blessed. Yet being a stay at home mom still is not for me.
Sunday evening I arrived home from an amazing week and weekend at a Shaw flooring convention and then the Haven conference. And for some reason I felt like those five days were the days that I finally figured myself out. Yes, I learned SO much about SEO and marketing and monetizing my blog and connecting with bloggers and with readers. Yet what I took away most came from the closing speech by Young House Love. I tried articulating my thoughts to Mark Sunday night and completely failed. I think he left our conversation more confused than where I began.
So let me try again… I finally figured out that I love connecting. When I was in the deepest depths of creating bedding for Addison’s Wonderland (the then bedding company), I was doing what I loved but still wasn’t happy. I thought I was. I was being creative and getting out of the house and making really beautiful things. I was on national television and was featured in so many amazing online publications. Yet I felt like Oz from The Wizard of Oz. This person behind the scenes doing all of this work and making zero connections. I never really had the opportunity to connect with people. Neither virtually nor face to face. But I thought I would love that. I am a self-described introvert. A social introvert to be exact. Which is literally the worst oxymoron ever. I need alone time yet I crave being social. Yet ONLY when I feel connected and comfortable. Basically, I would rather be alone than at a huge party where I barely know anyone yet I would choose being with people that I trust and feel connected to over and above all else. Confused much?!? So as much as I loved hiding behind that “curtain” just like Oz, I craved a connection. And when I dig really really deep I discover that THAT is why I started my blog. Because people were intrigued and invested and connecting to me and my family over social media. Because I started getting the opportunity to meet amazing people who were just like me. And as much as I say that I started my blog to share my passion, it all comes down to that connection. Because when I go to write a post, if it feels generic and forced, I am bored and lost once again.
So back to that closing speech at Haven… Remember why you started. I began because I love what I do AND I love to connect with all of you. It’s that combination that got me excited about this path. That made me feel alive and creative once again. Think back to what got you excited in the beginning.
Discover or even re-discover that passion. As much as I could grow my blog by doing DIY’s or projects or promotions that are “popular”, in the end they aren’t true to me. They don’t fuel the flame. As much as work is about money, it’s also about living and loving and being excited about tomorrow. My content is so much better and resinates so much more with my readers when it is true to ME. Define your purpose.
Next, have work and have a life and then have a little (key word little) gray area where they overlap. As soon as I find myself ignoring my girls to finish a post or start a project a little too much I start to resent my work and my path. For me, that means blogging my REAL life rather than creating a bloggable life. That is really hard to do in this crazy little world of ours. This world of blogging for a living. A world where the line is really blurred between life and work. Define times to shut it off. Silent your phone, close your laptop and turn your brain to family mode.
As Young House Love so beautifully stated, when you ignore that “muscle memory” of the routine and what feels comfortable, and truly define your purpose, your goals and your “plan”, you truly find happiness.
So what does that mean for me and my revelations? As I discovered at Haven, I am truly happy with a really great balance in my life. A balance of DEDICATED family time, of dedicated creative time and a chance to truly connect. To share my story, to inspire others and to sit on a hotel bed in my pj’s until 2am talking and laughing with friends who get me. Even if that means spending five days away from my family. Because when I got home, all I wanted to do was stare at them and cuddle them and pretend my virtual world didn’t exist. I wanted to truly LIVE in those moments. To be brutally honest, to live in those moments more than I ever did as a stay at home mom. Don’t get me wrong AT ALL. I have wished more than anything over the last eight years that I could be that mom. I have wished that I craved nothing more than sitting on the floor with my girls all day long playing pretend and eating goldfish. Oh and don’t worry, I DO NOT underestimate the hard work of staying at home. It is truly one of, if not THE hardest jobs of Earth. But for some reason over the last several days, the light bulb has finally gone off. I love my children and I love my job and that is okay. I will fulfill my dreams and showcase the God given talent that I have for design all while being social and meeting amazing people AND I will be a dedicated, present and GOOD mom. I will type and create and connect during the day and at 2:30pm every day (or maybe that’s 5 or 6 or 7pm for you) I will put it all aside and truly connect with my family. And as simple and easy and “dumb” as that sounds, it has taken every single bit of the last eight years to discover that. That even though I have been blessed with the opportunity to stay at home with my kids, I have chosen not to and that is OKAY.
XOXO, Brittany Hayes