Pushing Pause

I keep seeing all these posts pop up about giving ourselves permission to eat pie, consume what we want, stop when we are full, and many other rights that relate to intuitive eating over the holidays.

Why is it then that it’s so hard to give ourselves permission to push pause? Be it over the holidays or in life after a little one comes along, it seems so hard to give ourselves permission to push pause.

As moms, I think part of it is the guilt game is strong. If we aren’t failing our kids, we often feel we are failing our careers or vice versa. If we push pause somewhere, that inevitably means we aren’t giving or being enough elsewhere.

We feel this need to do it all, be it all, and prove we can manage it all. Even when deep down, sometimes we just want to say, “No, this is enough.”

 
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“Enough”


That’s what maternity leave is for isn’t it?

A time when our lives are reduced down to the most simple and pure state of what is deemed “enough.” To settle into a season with a new little human (and possibly addition) in our families. To create space to heal and to grow, to allow margin from other demands, and to protect a small window of passing time when whatever we can give to the lives within the walls of our home is enough.

To say: My newborn snuggles are enough. My attempt at special time with each older kid is enough. My spit up covered shirt and less-than-cute nursing bra underneath is enough. My exclusive use of curbside pickup for groceries is enough. My reheated coffee (x3) today is enough. My sub-par freezer meals for dinner are enough. My one shared story before bedtime instead of two total is enough. What I am giving is enough.

The internal struggle though to truly accept “enough” in these early days of caring for a new life is real.

After our first, I was a full-time stay at home mom. I soaked up every second in the early days and had no other competing interest other than caring for her. My husband worked almost 80 hour weeks, so it was just she and I most the time. I knew I was her everything in that season and boy, I embraced it. But eventually, it got so lonely and “just” staying home didn’t feel like enough anymore. I didn’t have friends (yet) with kids and I began to want “something else.” What had been enough initially led me into a season of wanting more. I started being interested in food photography, the world of blogging, and how I could continue dabbling in my career from the comfort of my own home. In the Fall before our second child was born, I started a website sharing it only with my mom, best friend, and a few others.

After our second, my husband and I struggled. We wanted to love and bond with our new baby, but the endless crying nearly consumed us. We had prepared to help our oldest in the transition, but we were not ready for how hard some infants could be ourselves. The week we began to research hiring a night nanny, our daughter was almost three months old. She finally turned a corner and things began to get better in our home, but our life as a whole otherwise got turned upside down. After an intervention on my dad and ultimately his passing when our second was eight months old, everything with my business ambitions and professional aims were on pause. I was mom of two and next of kin with no mental or emotional energy to invest elsewhere.

Eventually I got back into finding a balance between work and home life and allotted any spare time I could create into building Veggies & Virtue. I had almost a solid year of twice weekly preschool days to invest in something that truly has become such a dream come true before we found out we were expecting our third child.

That’s what brings us to now.

We had our third child in August, and he couldn’t be any sweeter of a baby. We have been able to reclaim the joys of newborns that were honestly lost last time and own the desire to hog the baby versus hand him or her off. However with a family that is now full and a business that has grown, the very things that are all such a gift, a true blessing, and a humble reminder of all we have been given, are also a lot.

Compared to when I started out searching for and seeking “something else” as a new mom of one, life is different now. My baby is different, my marriage is different, and the needs of my older kids are different.

When there isn’t “enough of me to go around,” I have to be mature and mindful enough as a mom, as well as a health professional, to know when to push pause and prioritize what is in fact, enough.

Pushing Pause

I spent the summer months trying hard to get ahead for an intended maternity leave. I thought that by creating enough content for a projected six weeks of such “leave,” it would lend me some “time off” to care for the little people in my life.

The reality is though, in the now 12+ weeks since Owen was born, I barely feel as though I have worked less. My email autoresponder saying I was “unavailable” didn’t actually stop me from replying to many emails nor did it redirect any of my work elsewhere. My social media use has indeed been less and forced me to make a few modifications to be able to manage it, but it remains something that literally never sleeps nor stops. My blog has continued to post and my newsletters continue to be published. I launched a beta e-series for Love it, Like it, Learning it, which started only weeks after Owen was born.

I pretended I was “still here” with all the automation tools available and all it did was indeed, keep me mentally here, there, and seemingly everywhere… except the one place I so wanted to be: snuggled up with the sole job of loving on my three littles.

Being able to work for myself is a blessing. I have tremendous flexibility to allow for family life, which I am so thankful for. With this, I also have constant temptation though. I never leave the office nor have accounted hours for work or to be with family. Between newborn nights and two preschoolers (neither of which who nap), my work days never go uninterrupted nor as planned. Sometimes my only dedicated time to sit at a computer only lasts for the twenty minutes it takes our little guy to nurse from both sides. I have no one to direct work towards when I’m away nor an organization that keeps operating in my absence while “on leave.” Even if someday a VA would be uh-mazing, I’m not there yet. So me, myself, and I have to be enough.

And right now, there is just not enough of me to go around.

What I know from this time last year is that my kid’s littleness won’t wait for me. The memories I want to be fully present in will pass whether I’m 100% there or not. The gifts I want to give others of my time and service aren’t those seen on social media. The needs most pulling on my heart strings aren’t those penciled on my planner. The “enough” I may never feel I have achieved professionally is actually rather obvious at home… when I am willing to push pause and choose that it is indeed enough for me.

That’s why for the remainder of 2018, I am giving myself permission to not post any new content on my site. I will still have plenty of work to do to get ready for the New Year, but in terms of blog posts, I am pushing pause.

I need to be there for my family. I also need to know that in a world of endless demands and competition, I’m not one more person to pull you away from your family with a few more posts. Since there never seems to be enough of us to go around, let’s instead be moms together that show our children how to push pause. To be present over posted. To value progress over perfection when we realize our plan didn’t pan out how we thought it would. To say, “this is enough and it is well with my soul.”

By making a post out of this announcement (and probably sharing TMI, I know), I am attempting to keep myself accountable to this commitment. I am also hoping that in sharing this piece of my heart, I might encourage another mom out there who needs such permission to push pause too.

I know in each of our jobs (be it at home or in an office), this type of “break” might not be possible around the holidays. But for those of us who might have the only thing holding us back being ourselves and our never-ending “yes” nature, my hope is that we recognize how sometimes saying “no” helps us see what is actually enough. Often when we step away from some of the to do’s that can wait and ambitions that are intended for another day, we can better enjoy the small, the simple, and the sweet moments we too often miss when we are so spread thin.

I am going to do this, and I hope to whatever extent you are able to, you do too.

Happy Holidays, mama. You are enough.

See you in 2019,

Ashley


Scripture that has really spoken to me in this season:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:24-26



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