There are 748 songs on my iPod. About half of them have traveled with me from my freshman year in college (thank you, Limewire) to today and another 80-100 consist of “Mandarin for Dummies,” but 748, nonetheless. So, when I plugged my iPod into my car today and began to drive, I thought – 748 opportunities to wash the last year off and begin to focus on 2018.
The morning was super gloomy, and I’ve got a sore throat, thanks to an adorable 9 month old, so I didn’t really feel like singing. But somewhere between Steele and Gadsden, I watched the trees become more bare and let go of everything I’d been hanging on to. I sang (rather hoarsely) at the top of my lungs and allowed the shuffle to sort through Lucy Pearl, Sugarland, Kanye and Sister Hazel (because that’s what happens when you get married – your iPod becomes a mix of Indigo Girls and “Big Bootie Hoes”).
And, as I began to wind my way through the foothills of the Appalachians, I began to feel like myself again. I haven’t felt ME in a long time, and I had forgotten what it felt like to be free. To be myself. To sing, to think, to drive slowly (without rush). To plan, dream, and breathe.
Two days ago, I casually mentioned to my mother and grandmother that I planned to take a few days to drive to Tennessee and recharge. I thought nothing of it at the time. Surely they’d understand. My grandmother called me yesterday to express her concern. I was so caught off guard by the phone call, that I laughed afterwards, not sure what to think. Then I realized… People are baffled when you go against the grain. I’m supposed to want to be at home all the time, with my beautiful daughter, not missing the me that existed before baby. I’m supposed to be ok with my life and be focused on putting “the old me” to rest. Why would I need to get away???
I get that perspective and I love my family. But here’s the thing. I firmly believe that I can be every inch of who I am (and was) and still be a mother too.
This year I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, unsure of whether my baby would survive, and then another 7 weeks after that waiting in anticipation for her to be released from the NICU. Two days after I was released from the hospital (a day earlier than doctors wanted, but I refused to stay any longer), I attended my baby shower… with no bump, and no baby at home. The Monday after my hospital release, I went to work like it was any other Monday. And I’ve worked ever since. I didn’t get the maternity leave that I should have gotten. When Teagan came home, I worked from home for 2 weeks while I adjusted to having a baby. That was it. There was no glorified time period from which I emerged this beautiful woman who had bonded with her baby alone at home. No, we bonded by bringing her bassinet to work and both her father and I did what anyone who runs their own business does. We powered through.
Aside from that, and in the middle of adjusting to Teagan’s NICU stay, there was and always will be work drama that makes you feel so insignificant that you can’t breathe. The world doesn’t understand your need for quiet. For peace. For comfort. It only knows that it lacks you and more importantly, you at your best. Sooo, you adapt, and you force yourself to be physically present even though you mentally aren’t. I wrote a post about the shock of being told I “might” have postpartum depression…. but looking back… OF COURSE I WAS DEPRESSED! Anyone would be!
I love my life and how far we’ve come this year. Business is the best it’s ever been and that’s shocking, considering everything else we dealt with this year. I’m feeling like I won a long, drawn out, war. I won! I should ride the hills on the back of a horse with a trumpet in hand. Only, I’m allergic to horse dander, and I don’t play the trumpet.
I’ve had no time to myself. And, luckily, I have this amazing man in my life who pushes me to take care of ME when I refuse to. So, when he saw that I was beginning to unravel, he suggested that I take a week to get myself back. To prep myself for a new year and to let go of everything that I’d clung to – the work drama; the clients who behaved badly this year, or the situations I couldn’t fix – the expectations set by others who have no concept of what it’s like to run a successful business and raise a baby – the worries and concerns that come along with having a child with hearing impairment. I needed to let all of that go. Because at the end of the day, this control freak can’t control any of it.
So, as I watched the trees embrace the cold today, allowing their leaves to drift away, I realized that I needed to do the same.
And that’s what this quick break is. I’m grateful for a husband who is willing to support my mental health. I don’t say it enough, but I married a superhero.
One of my favorite cities in the world is Chattanooga. Pretty sure it ranks in the top 5, after Galway & Westport, but before Fairhope, Charleston, Carmel & Sedona. Added bonus that it’s just 2 hours away from Birmingham! I stumbled upon the most darling hotel with themed rooms and that’s where you’ll find me this week. Breathing, nursing the sore throat, letting go of 2017, and drinking wine (all while missing 2 very important people). Fixing me.
I promise to emerge next week with newfound energy, ready to dance circles around everyone and everything.
Just a few pics below, but I want this post to serve as a reminder to take care of YOU. Know your limits mentally and emotionally, and know when you need a break. Know when you need to let go of things that do nothing but weigh you down. I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately, and I love the idea of life having seasons. When the leaves fall and the world lets go of the year’s foliage, we should do the same – making way for the new growth that’s to come.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Oh, and go see the Wayne White retrospective exhibit at the Hunter Museum this month. Those cardboard sculptures are ginormous and will rock your socks off!