Part 1, 2022: I walked slowly from our friends’ main house to the pool house, where my family was already tucked in. The bigger girls sharing a small bed on the floor, Edie cozied up in blankets on my bed. It was July, a warm night, the sky magnificently clear. The country sky always bigger and brighter than I remember. Each night I’m mesmerized by the scale of it. A black blanket stitched with silver thread. I stopped along the side of the pool, hearing only the quiet lapping of the water through the filter and the breeze ruffling the branches of the lilac bushes, their blossoms now dormant in midsummer. I gazed up and asked for a shooting star to grace my vision. And I waited, but nothing. I quietly let myself into the pool house and got into bed beside Edie. Huge windows facing westward over a field and beyond that the pond. The quilt of stars framed perfectly. I dozily gazed out, my eyelids heavy. Suddenly, just as I was to step off the precipice into sleep a shooting star caught my eye, streaking across the window-scape. At the moment I saw it, a bursting feeling of gratitude filled my heart and a message clear as day entered my mind:
I had only recently returned home myself, or wait, I wasn’t quite ‘home’ was I? I was in the middle of four months of staying with family and friends after six months of travelling through Costa Rica. And my feeling of missing home was much older and familiar than even that. I had felt displaced for some time and had only recently started piecing together what it all meant to me.
While I travelled with my family through a tropical paradise, I felt adrift almost all of the time. It was unsettling moving from place to place even though we were doing it on purpose, a quest for a new location including friends, school and community always just a little elusive. It wasn’t just that being in a foreign country was challenging, it was that something bigger was happening in the background. Something I just couldn’t shake and also couldn’t name aloud.
I had always been a little bit unconventional, my ideals, my values and my opinions haven’t always lined up with the ‘norm’. I was ok with that, I have always felt very comfortable being myself. But even more unpopular than my ideas around making money, birthing babies, holistic healthcare, marriage, spiritual connection and our role here on earth was my true feelings around the role of woman and motherhood.
For years I’ve run in circles of women who are high achieving, laser focused, brilliant and fearless when it came to entrepreneurship and career. I was confident in my ability to be the breadwinner for my family, enough so that Steve could leave behind his growing construction business when he started to get burnt out. I was a part of the generation of women who were told we could “have it all”, we could outsource whatever menial tasks came up in our lives so that we could keep dominating the working world, even as wives and mothers.
I used to give a business presentation every month and I had a slide in it that said “are you willing to live 5 years the way most people won’t to live the rest of your life the way most people can’t”. In my line of work at the time, a female dominated industry, we would regale each other with stories of women who had to do the tough thing and sacrifice at home so that they could live a life later that was lush with time and connection.
Except that later never comes for most women.
Every time I would share that last slide of my presentation I would also reflect on my babies. At the time I started working for myself in earnest I had two at the time, one three and half years old and one was 20 months. I also worked part time managing a wellness centre. I was enthralled and passionate and so happy to be doing it all, I loved all facets of my work. I was also wracked often with guilt, feeling off centre and incongruent to my own values. Soon I was travelling frequently, I was away many evenings and weekends and when I was at home I was so distracted.
I remember getting so frustrated with the small beings in my life — if one couldn’t go to school or daycare and I had to schlep them around with me, or when they would constantly ask me for snacks, to listen to them, to play with them while I was obviously busy with work. I realized early on that the ‘work from home momma’ gig was bogus. There was no working at home harmoniously while my kids were there and needing me. Thankfully, to save my own sanity, I started to make work hours for myself and turn my phone off while I was home with the girls. But then my work spilled into my evenings and my time to myself, or with my husband, became nil. The reality was that I was pulled in so many directions at once, my head and heart living in different realms, I was thoroughly distracted.
Still l didn’t really mind. I truly was in love with my work and the women I was meeting. All of it was meeting a need of feeling purposeful, fulfilled and needed to others outside my family. But I also felt like I was giving all the pieces of me away and not leaving any left for myself.
Everything changed when Edie was born. First it was a slow unravelling, the week I got pregnant with Edie I hosted an event for 300 people. I left the next day for Mexico where I travelled for a week, ran trainings and spent time with a friend I adore. Over the next 8 weeks I became incredibly ill from an undiagnosed bacterial infection in my gut but continued to still travel for work - to Georgia, then Toronto and then New Mexico. When Christmas came and I finally shared the news of my pregnancy I was beyond exhausted.
Shortly after that is when we bought and renovated the RV and travelled for three months. This could have been overkill on top of the preceding months but it was actually the catalyst I most needed. Though I kept up weekly zoom classes and Facebook lives for my work, I started to really feel the unwinding. And more so than that, I heard it. While sitting in a quiet trailer park one day, the girls and Steve exploring a beautiful river, I closed my eyes and asked what I needed to do next in my work.
The answer was “you already did it”. I knew then that I was already moving on from the bustling business I had created for myself but it wasn’t until Edie was born in July of that year that the door started to close. What was a slow unravelling became an avalanche of knowingness that try as I might to deny it, was echoing so clearly in my heart.
I wasn’t going to work in the way I had been the previous years, I just didn’t know what it would look like.
There is more to the story that isn’t relevant to what I’m sharing here today. About how painful it actually is to unwind yourself from a business, especially one you love, one that has people you love in it. What’s important is that I suddenly knew that my calling was actually central to being at home with my girls. And the timing was, of course, perfect. Within a handful of months the entire world had shut down and I was home with all three of my babies.
I fought this for a time, I was slow at seeing the gift I was receiving. I had thought I was meant to be working more, having two girls in school full time and having finally found a full-time nanny, I felt like I was actually about to leave the nest. I was busy working on the details of my coaching business and new offerings. But at the same time I was terrified, I knew I was pushing a rock up a hill when I thought about the different ways I could diversify, expand or recreate my business model. All I really needed to do was stop resisting what was happening, and as soon as I did I felt a new sense of ease.
Do you feel at ease? Do you think you’re meant to? Goodness the world we live in is noisy, saturated with loud opinions that you simply must accept as being right for you. As women we’re taught that to be our most empowered is to do it all, to become the best version of yourself, to find more moments in your day that you can become better. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Lord knows how many times I’ve said those things before, I’ve coached my clients about it. I’ve read the books, listened to the podcasts, did the workbooks.
All the while denying something primal inside me. Of being the domestic goddess I desire to be. Of feeling like ‘enough’ simply for being the primary care giver for my kids, for being a homemaker.
A homemaker. Does anyone aspire to be that anymore? It doesn’t even feel ok to suggest that someone aspire towards that now.
Stay tuned for part 2…