Friday, October 11, 2013

I made the Right Choice

   I have been in a place of gratitude lately. It has been so nice to wind down from the busy summer, at least emotionally and spiritually, to let go a little.
   As I sit here in my newly minted office/playroom/nursery on the back of the studio in a rare quiet moment with no husband, baby or customers, the theme I have been reflecting upon for the past week or so keeps coming up. "I made the right choice." This has become my mantra.
    On Facebook this morning, a friend of mine from high school posted an article,
and was expressing some sadness over the judgement she feels for making the choice to stay home with her
 daughter - she also started her own photography business when she left her "job." It brought to the surface what I have been thinking about a lot lately, that we judge each other so harshly, especially women, when we should be happy when someone we know is strong enough to make bold choices that she feels are best for herself and her family.  It is heartbreaking when someone you think of as a loved one or friend shows a lack of respect for your choices.
my loves the first day of production after we rearranged
      It has taken some therapy and a lot of time, but I have decided that I am not going to apologize for my own choices anymore. When I met Mike, my life changed significantly. I never had someone to love and protect before, not the way I love him. I gained this big sense of responsibility, and took our relationship very seriously from the very beginning. Once we were married and  started preparing to open our lives to the possibility of a baby, that sense of responsibility grew. We changed our diet, I started on a spiritual journey that has become more clear now that I am a Mom,my work week became shorter and more concentrated, we changed our lifestyle, Mike came to work with me, some people have left the circle. Things have changed so much for us over the past 3 years, not all of it has been easy, but it all has been for the better.
my new desk
    My blessing is my family. I do, every day, what I have to do to love, protect, nourish, feed and house my boys. I have made sacrifices. I have made mistakes. I have, at times, suffered. My husband, myself and my child are healthy. We have a clean, simple and extremely busy lifestyle that grows richer with each day.
       I don't get much time to myself or to have a social life, being "Mom, Wife, Boss" leaves little else if I want to do at least 2 out of 3 well each day. I don't have time to make apologies any more. I am confident now that I have made the right choices - to take care of what is important. If you don't like it....... well, I feel sorry for you.  Our lifestyle may be different, or maybe you can't grasp the concepts of change and growth, or respect that I want to do what is best for myself and my family. I hope one day, you can find a more open place in your heart.
The nursery coming together
   I am so thankful that I can work to provide for my family while being with them all day. The new room  is going to see us through for many years to come and help us function better as a business and as a family. It is already giving me some much needed reflective time over coffee in the mornings, watching over my baby that is free to roam in a safe place to play, a dark quiet place for all of us to take naps and express ourselves privately.  Mike and I have been finding joy at work again, rearranging and collaborating, finding more of what works and getting rid of what doesn't. It feels good to make choices, and even better to know they are the right ones.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Facing the Inevitable

My heart times 2.
   Here I sit. Its 9 p.m., I just got home from a 13 hour day, I am hooked to the dreaded breast pump, eating dinner and facing what I have put off for as long as I can. No matter how hard I try, I will not be able to be home every night to put Caleb to bed.
   As the sweetness of his first few months of life come to a close, and he is a little more self sufficient, I am becoming buried with work. We just got two huge jobs, totalling about 900 pieces, which is great, it really is, but it means that for the next 4 months, there will be many, many nights like tonight.
   I am so blessed to have this life, I can have him at work, stop to take a walk or read a story any time I want,  plop him down in his chair next to me while I make work. I have an amazing husband to help all day, every day. But there is nothing- nothing- that could prepare me for what I am feeling now. This conflict, this heartbreak, it's something I thought I could somehow escape.
    How could I know how heavy the burden of being financially responsible for my family would be once Caleb arrived. How huge the responsibility would feel on top of my typical Type A drive once the babies started coming. We need health insurance and bigger cars, and vacations so we can just be together as a family, nutritious food, a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, money for the future. On top of the financial pressure, I want to be there for my baby, to be the very best, most present mom I can be. I don't know if I can be both simultaneously. I want to be there for every second, change every dirty diaper, wipe away every tear, tuck him into every nap, give him every bath, be there for every little laugh.
   How do I reconcile this role of provider with my role as a mother? I must sit in that studio and make 900 tiles and keep the business going and growing, there is no choice there. When you are providing for your family and someone offers you a paycheck for 4 months, you have to take it. 
   We are taking 12 days off together as a family, a much needed break, and one I anticipated while Caleb was still in my belly. It has been a long 4 months. I had almost no maternity leave (less than 4 weeks), and the first 2 months were such a giant adjustment for us as a couple and as business partners. I fulfilled my lifelong dream of becoming a mother and discovered that even though it is by far the most challenging thing I have ever done, I can't wait to do it again. I finally found the meaning of this insane journey - it gave me a way to have and support my family.
   Off I go, to slip into bed, nurse my little one and toss and turn all night with worry. To start again tomorrow, dreaming of our little vacation, when for almost two weeks, I get to finally feel what its like to just be a mom and wife- away from the studio, away from the studio stroll, away from the dirty house the dogs, the need for a new car, the hospital bills, the taxes, the garden we have yet to plant . I am going to hang onto every second like its my last. I can't f**king wait.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Typical Day

Nap time at work
 I thought it might be interesting for me to share how a typical day goes for us now that Caleb is an integral part of the routine at work. Specific times fluctuate a bit day to day, as we have what I would call, a "structured routine" more than an exact schedule. The babe does better when he knows what to expect and in what order, and so do we. We have a happy baby and a very busy life - 4 businesses, 6 days a week!
    I would  like to point out that we practice baby wearing. Caleb rides along for a few hours each day, sometimes we use it to salvage nap time if he has trouble getting to sleep, but we also just do it because of all of the great benefits.  Carried babies sleep better, cry 50% less, experience more, get a head start on language and social skills, securely bond with their caregivers and it helps us get things accomplished during the day.
babywearing at home
I am looking forward to delivery of a carrier that will help me to wear him on my back, as he is getting so big he slows me down a bit being on the front and having to reach around him. I wear him to do all sorts of things, we go out to eat, to the grocery store, walk the dogs, art openings, the kid gets around, and I can keep living! I have become a bit of a fanatic and am beginning to hoard carriers, but I guess I can think of worse things.
The beginnings of the work nursery
                     We also set up Caleb's area more like a real nursery this week. Our backs were killing us from bending over the pack & play, and he wasn't sleeping as well now that he is getting a little older. I ordered a crib and a mobile, and put curtains on the screens so that people would stop barging in on his naps.  So far its working beautifully. 
                                                           A Typical Day
   6:00 -Up with Babe, I start the coffee and get him dressed
   6:40 - Nap Time! Mike and I split off - he goes downstairs to the studio, and I either head upstairs to my office or run out the door to the studio. (Morning nap time is our most productive time of day and we get some much needed alone time too - BONUS!)
  9:30 - Babe is up! Give him a bottle and hop over to the studio. (with Mike, me, or both of us)
  10:15 - a little story time , and then its off to sleep again for Caleb - usually whoever brings him to work gets this one.
  10:30 Race to get as much done as possible! If I have an assistant that day, she will roll slabs while I make bowls, or maybe load kilns and wedge clay while I sit at my table working on textures, or help me with a photo shoot. Mike generally does shipping and computer work during this time.
  12:30 Lunch! Nurse Caleb, eat a snack, sing songs and play. We may strap him into a carrier and walk to the coffee shop.
  1:30 Caleb is back down for another nap - and I race to get more accomplished! tiles, tiles, more tiles! Mike runs errands, assistants finishes up their day.
  3:30 - 4:00 Caleb is up! On days that I come in early, I sometimes opt to take him home after he eats. We go on a walk and play before bed time, which is amazing and wonderful, and my favorite time with him. Other days, we may play and stay for one more nap cycle so that I can get more work done if I need to.
   4:30 Nap time!
6:30 Nurse and run on home.

A sweet moment at work

    As Caleb gets bigger, obviously his needs change as far as wake and nap times and activities, but so far we are doing well. I am really blessed to be able to bring him to work and have Mike there every day to help. I am not going to say that this is easy, but its worth it.  This schedule is actually a few weeks old and we are currently in the midst of going from a 3 to 4 hour cycle, so he is awake more and more, but he is now sleeping through the night!
      We work as a team and try to find ways to adapt so that all of our individual needs are met.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The New Era

  I have finally found that balance I have been searching for since starting this adventure 6 years ago. Funny that it took becoming a mother in order to find it.
The babe staring out the window on a cold, grey day

    I told a good friend the other day, "Motherhood is a great job for a workaholic." - as long as the new "work" becomes the baby, I guess. I love being a Mommy, even more than I have loved being a professional artist for the past 5 years. I find myself loving getting up at the crack of dawn and making the coffee with one hand, and I love reading novels to my baby to put him to bed at 7:30, when I used to be still at the work table chugging another cup of coffee getting ready for a long night. Changing diapers, being held prisoner for 6 hours a day breastfeeding, getting peed on. I am loving every minute.
      My workdays thus far have been 7-8 hours  (technically my planned Maternity leave ended when he turned 6 weeks two weeks ago, but I actually returned to the studio part time at 3 1/2 weeks postpartum  ). Which is amazing, and only happened for the first time during the last week or two of my pregnancy, when I was getting too tired and it was too difficult to plan any further into the future than a few hours.
Taking a little time out for a snuggle

    I am so thankful that my business is stable enough to allow me the time with my son. The workday now consists of sprints in between feedings, running to replace the binky, the occasional story time break and wearing him while I work, and must end in time to go home and get him ready for bed. We set up a pack & play, and have some baskets for now filled with blankets and burp cloths, story books and rattles, which will hold toys and other baby things soon enough. I have a feeling he will have a full on nursery outfitted in the studio soon! We are blessed with a full service building and bathrooms big enough to hold the changing table, and a kitchen fit to cook up a grilled cheese when he becomes a toddler. I think i am definitely making some tourists uncomfortable when they come in to the studio and I am breastfeeding on the couch, but, hey, they weren't there to buy anything anyways.....right?
Spending a little time with Dad
    Another exciting thing is that  I have hired a studio helper. I am hoping to maximize the time that I do have in the studio so that we can increase production and shorten lead times for our galleries and wholesale clients. It is my dream to have a studio exploding with work, gain the flexibility I need to make more new work and of course, have more family time. So far it has been great. Its a little frustrating training someone, but Mike is there, as always, to help lighten the load a little. ( I cannot put into words how amazing he is, as a business partner, father and husband. I seriously hit the man jackpot. I call him a unicorn!) She is able to do a little more independently than he can on the studio side, so now I have even more hands doing the work that doesn't necessarily require my own. There is a learning curve for me, scheduling my days in such a way that really takes advantage of every second, figuring out everything that I can delegate without compromise, and really grasping the concept of time management, but so far, its going well, if a lot slower than before baby. I think it will only get better as we go on.
    On a side note, we really don't spend all day snuggling the baby on the couch, but the pictures sure make it look that way!  We have posted some babywearing shots on the facebook page if you don;t believe me!