Being a stay-at-home mom is a wonderful thing. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, so in my mind that was always the only way to do it. I was in high school when I realized that that is what I wanted my life to look like - a life of babies and coloring books and story time and all of the other effects of child rearing. Of course I never told anyone that back then, because these days girls are supposed to want to aspire to things - success, riches, fame. So when people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always Journalist or Editor or something along those lines.
Though I always knew that I wanted to stay at home with my babies, I also was deeply passionate about art and driven to personal success in that respect. For me, Etsy has opened a really important door in allowing me to operate an art business from my home, and experience a degree of success that continues to grow.
The Etsy blog recently published a post about Etsy shop owners who are also mothers, and how they are able to balance the act of mothering with their business (read article here). I absolutely loved reading this, because too often I am met with rather discouraging comments when it comes to being a business owner with a small child. When I was pregnant I heard "Oh, you're not going to have time for that when the baby comes" more often than I care to admit, and now that my baby has arrived and I'm still doing the "Etsy thing", I've heard other variations of the same thing ("Oh, just wait until he can walk!" "Wait until you have another one. Then you definitely won't have time.") Every time I hear these types of comments I just purse my lips into a forced smile and nod, while thinking to myself "I'm not the only one who is doing this, right?!"
I know I am not. Being an artist/business owner and a good mom are not mutually exclusive. In fact, giving up that part of me because I have to change diapers and tend to a crying one would be a serious detriment to my character. I am who I am because I am an artist; I am also who I am because I am a mother. I don't believe that becoming a mother means erasing all other aspects of your life, even if you choose to stay at home.
Of course it's not easy. Sacrifices must be made, and that's okay.
There are many mornings when I wake up before 5 am just to get a head start on business before the babe wakes up. I am a morning person, so I prefer this to staying up really late, but one way or the other I have to sacrifice a little sleep, and I'm totally okay with that because the rewards are great.
Sometimes I have to strap Abe onto me in the ergo carrier in order to get any work done. He'll snooze as I walk to the post office to get my orders out on time or as I get some sewing done (careful not to store pins in my mouth because that's a little too risky for my taste). Some of the time he watches me, wide-eyed, as I get my work done, and it's nice to have a companion, even if my back starts to ache eventually.
And then there are times when he simply wants my attention, 100% of it, and I am forced to set aside my work and slow down. These moments (the moments I worried most about when the baby was a hypothetical situation rather than a reality) are actually the moments I cherish the most, because I realize how precious time with my son is - and how fleeting the little moments are.
A lot of the time Abraham is content to play on the floor with his toys or in his jumperoo as I paint, and for that I am grateful. He is an easy baby, which makes working and watching him a little less challenging than other mothers may find. Nevertheless, work with a baby is difficult, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I am getting everything I wanted out of life right now, and sometimes when I think about it I just can't believe how lucky I truly am. I get to watch my boy grow up; I get to be there for each tumble and blown raspberry, and all the while making and selling art - doing what I love.
When I was in high school dreaming of my future, it looked a lot like this - full of art and cuddles and a loving family. It is totally possible and totally attainable, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.