Dear kindred friend,
I’m changing up this month’s end-of-month reflection blog post to be an end of maternity leave reflection post. Why? Because as a kindred friend of this company, I want you to understand Kindred & Co. is walking alongside you in your journey by inviting you into this part of mine.
My post and response is not perfect. It is still being processed. But that process might take me a year or two to work through and while I could just wait for that moment to post, I’d rather share a snipped now.
At the most simplest, it has been, and continues to be, challenging.
On physical, emotional, and mental levels that are both simultaneous and distinct in their own ways. Let me explain.
PHYSICAL– my body has been worn down by labor, delivery, and the transition to being a food source. I won’t go into the details, but the time it has taken to heal and adjust to those events has been long and draining, which in turn leaves less energy and capacity to physically engage with the business. Orders take longer to fill, because I physically can’t find time to do it and/or I’m just too tired. Posting and sharing on social media has been tiring because I physically just want to lay down and stare at the ceiling, not at my phone.
EMOTIONAL – all my emotions are caught up in this sweet little baby, and it is beautiful. But it is also leaves little emotions for anyone or anything else. Not to mention the postpartum hormonal crash brings up a whole other set of emotions that feel contradictory to the sweet emotions of holding baby girl. The blend of being emotionally tapped out (or so tapped in to baby) and the postpartum hormone crash left me with little emotional capacity to care for little else. I’ll share more about this later, but at one point, I felt emotionally unattached and uninspired by the business. Being on social media sounded so draining and connecting with others like it would come from a place of inauthenticity.
MENTAL – I had not read very much on newborn care (think: breastfeeding and sleeping rhythms) prior to baby’s arrival because a friend suggested that it’ll make more sense when you actually have a baby in your arms to understand baby habits and tendencies. Makes sense. But it also meant that when baby came along and we started having to consider how much she was eating, how many wet/dirty diapers she was having, how much she was sleeping and napping, etc. my brain went into overdrive and I felt mentally overwhelmed trying to create and learn her rhythms. Which, as you probably guessed, meant I had little brain space to consider anything else. Or even if I did start to think about other things for the business, thoughts of how she was doing, eating, sleeping, etc., would intrude my train of business thoughts and I would get derailed.
And these all intertwined and entangled themselves with one another too. If I was too tired physically to do something, then I had little emotional energy to engage. If my mental thoughts were all consumed with baby and her rhythms, then my emotional energy was spent worrying about her and also trying not to worry too much. It was a messy complicated web and it was challenging to feel like I could still be a good small business owner and mama simultaneously.
It was especially challenging on an emotional level because it felt like I was failing at living into both identities – being a small business owner and a new mama. I didn’t feel like I was thriving in either and that was hard to reconcile.
It was somewhere around this time a friend reminded me that it makes sense I would be struggling in both identities. It was a HUGE transition and not one I could have ever perfectly prepared for, therefore the adjustment would take a long time. Not my favorite words as a “get er done now” kind of person, but I could get behind it, slowly.
But perhaps more importantly, through her words, I have been able to see that the reason I did not feel like I was thriving in either identity was because I was measuring my success in both by how much I was getting done and how much I was accomplishing. Which on a tangible, quantifiable level, was pretty little. For the business, most things had slowed down significantly in both what I was putting into it and what I was seeing as output. For being a new mama, there is no “if you do a, b and c, then d will happen.” It’s more like “if you do a, b, and c, then maybe d will happen, but maybe not. You might get z instead.” There isn’t a very tangible way to measure how well baby was doing at such a young age minus counting her diapers and making sure she was gaining weight.
I was measuring success based on what I was doing, and not doing. I was wrapping my identity up in what I was doing, and not doing. As opposed to seeing what both of those identities meant for who I am and who I was becoming.
Who I am and who I am becoming are someone who is determined and persistent. I am becoming more patient and learning how to be still and present. I am learning greater what it means to become intentional and to cherish moments I’m given.
When I look at my identities through this kind of lens, then I can say that I’m learning to thrive. I’m not there fully yet, but I’m getting there. It is a much more realistic and gracious lens to look through, and far more truthful to the season of life I’m in now. Living out my identities through a lens of doing only brings feelings of guilt and shame for not doing more. There is freedom when I live out my identities through the lens of being and becoming.
So it is still challenging. I am daily having to remind myself to enjoy moments, be present, and enjoy the being aspects of a small business owner and new mama and focus less on the doing aspects. But I am slowly learning not how to perfect the rhythms (as they will daily change), but how to learn to balance both with each season.
With joy & gratitude,
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