Mar 5, 2017
I tend to have a lot of feelings about working as a mom. Growing up I had this notion that the best possible thing for my future children would be for me to be a full-time mom, always at home, always available to them. But this was contradictory to the fact that, even though my own mom was that way for several years, by the time I was in kindergarten she had gone back to school to earn a degree and most of what I remember in my childhood was that she taught full time in the local schools (and still does) and is beloved by all her students. Sure, I had to spend the occasional sick day on the couch in the back of her classroom, but on the whole I always felt more proud of my mom for loving and being so good at what she did outside of her role as a mother than maimed by her additional duties. I’m not trying to make her out to be the hero. It was real life and not some fantasy childhood. But if there were parts I wouldn’t want to repeat for my own kids, they had nothing to do with my mother’s career.
And then there’s that thing we say to each other as moms. That “it’s good for kids to see their moms doing something they love!” Which is true, but it’s one of those things that somehow it only ever feels true about other people. It’s one of those things that I’ve said to my friends in one form or another over the years and meant it every time, but when they say it back to me later all I can think about is all of the bad trades I made to make career choices happen. It’s like, here they are genuinely supporting me and trying to say, “it’s a good thing, this thing you’re doing” but the whole time they’re saying it in the back of my mind there’s this b-roll of Felix sitting on our bed watching Daniel Tiger on repeat for an hour while I’m turned around with my back toward him working on a sewing project. Or Olivia trying to tell me something and I’m distracted trying to add up costs in a spreadsheet on the computer. Somehow all of my better moments seem to elude me as soon as someone starts saying I’m setting a good example by doing what I love.
I’ve felt this in the extremes before when I ran a small business that took over in so many ways. It’s true that Olivia really was so proud of me and she’ll still even talk about that time and say she misses me running that business. But when I look back on it all I can see is me spending hours alone in the basement while Bryan washed the dishes and played outside with the kids so I could get things done. There were parts of it I loved and parts of it I never want to go back to.
Now as I’m starting to work on producing patterns and kits for these quiet pages, there’s this path of if-then falling in place before me that has me wondering if I’m doing the right thing for my family. Basically the steps toward being able to sell look something like this.
- Finalize page designs
- Make sure all parts and pieces are compliant for children’s products in the US
- Make and photograph sample pages
- Design patterns and instructions
- Hire lawyer to help me organize the business
- Finalize packaging and warning labels
- Order prints of patterns, business cards, etc
- Place bulk orders for quiet page materials
- Compile kits
- Start selling patterns and kits in my Etsy shop
Realistically and financially this could end up meaning I don’t have any products available for a year or more. Or maybe I’ll be ready in a month. It just depends on a lot of things. But I’ve been taking advantage of small business lessons I’ve learned in the past and making sure I have all my ducks in a row before I actually post an item for sale, which I just keep having to remind myself is worth it.
I’m proud of myself for doing all this prep work and using my non-existent spreadsheet skills to estimate profit and costs and calling companies to make sure their buttons don’t contain lead and can I please have this very specific letter stating just that for me to keep on file so I don’t get sued and for asking Bryan to ask his boss for a recommendation for a good small business lawyer and for comparing different materials and weighing all of the things.
But the flip side is that most days when Olivia got home from school this past week I was on the phone with companies and other places trying to get all this stuff figured out. And in the mornings Felix puttered around my bedroom/sewing room with me while I sewed up samples even though when I asked him what he wanted to do all he said was, “Mommy, you wanna do preschool stuff with me?” and then I didn’t.
But even with all that, with all the inadequacies, I can’t deny that I’m a happier, healthier person when I have something real to do and think about and work on other than just deciding if we’re going to go to the park that day. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the park with friends, but it’s just not the only thing I want to do in my life. I have ideas I want to share and goals I want to pursue and I miss that feeling of being personally fulfilled by going after something I enjoy.
It’s all been on my mind lately. And then this morning when I was reading scriptures I happened upon 2 Nephi 5:12-17, where Nephi is talking about how he and his people had just split off from his older brothers who had tried to kill him more times that I can remember and now that he and his people are safe, what do they do? They start building their lives. Nephi, who I can only guess had to have been an extremely skilled craftsman, teaches his people to build buildings and work in metals and the women weave and there’s this whole culture and ethic of industry. I’ve read these verses countless times before and every time I’m struck by the same truth, that Heavenly Father wants us to grow our talents and use them. That he wants us to work in a good way. That he never intended me for park outings alone.
So I’m working on it. I’m not saying no to my personal ambitions, but I’m also trying not to plow forward in a way that will leave us all worse for the wear. I’m trying to learn how to be all the things I know the Lord wants me to be–mother, wife, creative, ambitious–without letting one thing stamp out all the others. I’m trying to be my whole self. Sometimes that means balancing things simultaneously and sometimes that just means doing things one step at a time. It’s not easy. But I do believe it’s worth it.