I was intimidated to declare my intentions for a break—it felt risky because MamaBorn had great momentum and work was very steady—but I knew it was what I needed, and it felt like good practice to listen to that inner voice of knowing. It felt even better (in hindsight, at least) to reply YES.
Yes, take a break. Yes, your work and everything else will benefit. Yes, you will figure it out.
Ah, sweet relief.
Not counting two maternity leaves, I've never taken a full break from paid work. At first I felt naked with a clear calendar. It was hard NOT to think about MamaBorn, or some variation of MamaBorn. I found it a challenge to circumvent the natural spontaneous brainstorming that had become my routine. It was hard to stop from dreaming up new projects for MamaBorn, new approaches to marketing, new services, and new formats for delivering birth education to expectant parents. I had to force myself to adopt the savasana mentality—a challenging yoga pose of total relaxation—and resist the urge to think or make or do anything in particular.
|This card hangs in my office as a reminder. Credit: Colette Paperie.|
I spent January cheerfully but reluctantly settling in. I talked a lot—to anyone who would listen—and brain dumped my nervous energy into my journal to try to clear my head and regain clarity on what my next steps would be. (An iterative process that always brought me back to my intention to master Savasana.)
February was devoted to catching up on a long list of accumulated to-dos that had created a life of their own while I was enraptured with work and family. My office was a disaster and the changing season called me to clear our home space to make room for whatever was to come. So I cleaned, and purged, and organized everything under our little roof.
Writers block had also been pressing hard for months so I enrolled in a creative writing class to try to get out from under it. Timed writing exercises and mandatory read alouds tenderly pushed me beyond my comfort zone. It was terrifying and inspiring. I realized that ordinary life—theirs and even mine—offers universal narratives that are interesting and so worth the writing and telling. I found a new perspective for the censors that live in my head and gladly re-claimed my writers voice.
In March we declared our commitment to homeschooling, and here is where I acknowledge the ways in which the choices that Andy and I make for our family life directly impact my ability to devote energy and time to my paid work. Our priorities have shifted yet again, and I'm just sitting with the uncertainty of all of it and holding space for the possibilities. It is an uncomfortable place for me but I'm getting better at riding out these known unknowns. (I think I accepted the likely ebb and flow trajectory of my career within the the first few months of new motherhood.)
Here it is the end of April and for now, due to Summer travels that begin next month, my Sabbatical continues indefinitely. It feels impossible to know how much energy I will have to pursue MamaBorn in its current incarnation, or even the possibility of another baby, until we begin our homeschooling journey and I can see it unfold in real-time,
How do you mentally juggle career and family? How do you live in the present? Does Savasana come easy for you?