My name means “industrious, striving.”
I’m good with the first part; it’s the latter that I’m rethinking.
For as long as I can remember my Mom has said, “Go slow, Em”, which is fitting as I spent much of my life early on literally “running” from thing to thing. A few more credits here, a couple of extra extracurricular activities there, and an additional job or two. I believe in my namesake, and yes, this “active lifestyle” likely laid the groundwork for much of my development of self.
But while I was running, this thing started to happen along the way. My brain began creating rules and conditions like…
[Doing = Being/Affirmation/Worth]
Most days that mental track went something like this: Now remember, if you’re not doing, you’re not being, and then you don’t feel so good and you’re not so sure about yourself. So, keep on keepin’ on. It’d be several years before I’d fully understand it. Like, 10 years, the time during which I married my best friend (seriously), we came “home” to Milwaukee, started our business, and moved into our first home on the southside just three short blocks from Lake Michigan.
Clearly, life was good. (But also, on repeat: Do more, push harder, keep running.)
Then came our daughter, Anya. During our hospital stay, the polar vortex of the 2013-2014 winter season finally broke. With Anya came that first feeling of warm air, a cheery birds’ song, and budding trees. The streets of our neighborhood glistened and our home felt more filled-up and complete than ever. With all this wonder of love for our little girl, we snuggled in bonding for months until I donned the superhero cape and went back to work.
[Insert: Really good stuff + more of Emily’s Rules.]
Two years later, I hit a wall. I woke up and realized how very tired I felt. It wasn’t just the past few years; I felt exhausted from the way I’d’ been doing life for so long.
Which brings us to my family’s most recent season, a time where I drastically slowed down, took a good long look in the mirror, and started testing all my self-imposed limits.
With Craig’s incredible support, I came home to be with Anya. Initially, I granted myself the permission to pause but quickly went back to “pushing” mode. After the first few months, I realized this SAHM life was so drastically different and what I needed was a new approach. So I switched gears, busted up those old “rules,” threw out expectation, and focused on simply showing up each day. My goal: go slow enough to remain present (for me), and to relatively stay in that place as much as possible for my family’s sake.
Each day was my chance, my gift to only do the things that mattered most.
I let the list go, accepted most any of Anya’s invites to play, and started laughing at Craig’s jokes again, too. We sat on the porch with popsicles to watch the planes fly by, went on walks along the lake, and held dance parties in the living room after dinner. Sometimes we cried, but we did a lot of hugging, too.
Anya’s got her sights on preschool so I’m excitedly taking on adventures (YAY, MKE Moms Blog!), trying to settle in a bit more softly this time around, and continually working to loosen my grip and allow life to unfold as I am able.