For the last few week’s I’ve really been feeling the challenge of what it means to be a single parent and a small business owner. The intensity has been building and building over the past few months, as Emily not only becomes more mobile, but also more emotionally demanding of me.
I’ve been catching myself in the act of comparing myself against others – against business owners without kids, business owners with partners to help with the kids, people five or 10 years ahead of me in their business journey. And it’s been overwhelming – that kind of self-induced pressure. Why don’t I have that success yet? How much harder can I possibly work to achieve my goals sooner without negatively impacting my family and burning myself out? When Emily has seen me in moments of overwhelm, I have coached myself through that moment to explain to her that sometimes, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not a sign of failure – rather – an acknowledgement of a roadblock or something so important to you that you care so much, your emotions show.
I’ve seen and know parents who only ever show their kids happiness, calm and “togetherness”. And then when the kids are in bed, they fall apart. What lesson would this teach their kids? That showing emotion or being emotional is a weakness or socially unacceptable? I’m not sure.. but I’m teaching Emily something different. And it does go against the grain sometimes. I do have to fight that voice in my head, saying, “look away so she doesn’t see you upset, wipe your tears, get yourself together, woman!”
I want to teach my little lady that being strong means owning your emotions. That when the intensity builds in your life, you don’t have to hide it. And you don’t have to take the easy road to ease your pain – because how can you grow if you take your pain away and stay in your comfort zone?
There’s so much Emily is teaching me. When she’s upset, she shows it. Angry, she tells me. Scared, hurt, in need of help – she doesn’t hide it. Why should she? What would she gain from hiding her feelings?
Just like my little girl, who keeps falling over and over and over again… sometimes faceplanting into walls and toys – but she will never stop trying to walk (even though she must know she will fall again at some stage and that some of her friends are weeks ahead of her). And this week, despite the frequent falls and trips and boo-boos, she’s doing the incredible. I will show her how to apply this mindset to every aspect of her life. And she will continue to remind me and show me how.