Another great show yesterday at the Om Pregnancy Holiday Handmade Fair! Thank you to everyone who came out, especially my J. Laurel fans, and my mother who took wonderful care of my darling boy!
Shows require tremendous preparation as well as extra support from family and friends, who cheer me on while I run my typical week-long pre-show marathon. After several late nights of last minute preparations and sewing until my brain is numb, I rise in plenty of time the morning of the show to get ready before Jude wakes.Then, I spend time with him getting breakfast or cuddling before I leave. And if Sam isn’t home that day, I have created two lists – one with final show “to do’s” and one I leave with instructions for Jude – meals, naptimes, little things I want Mimi or Grandma to know.
I make a bank stop to get cash, then a coffee stop to make change. I arrive at my show in a whirlwind, unloading my tables and chairs and rolling suitcases…like a champ, I might add.
Set-up is brutal. I try not to break a sweat, though it is hard to remain ladylike when you are fiddling with table locks that require the weight of your entire body and at least four hands. (sigh – why God gave women two arms and Octopus eight, I will never know) Finally, I run to the bathroom (who knows when I will get the chance to go again). I do a last-minute primping session – the one where I slap on some lip gloss, smooth my hair, and check for mascara smudges, eye boogies or anything else that is distracting or just plain embarrassing. (My standards are much lower than they used to be!)
Yesterday, as I finally sank into the chair behind my table, I breathed a sigh of relief when I overheard one of the other vendors admit she had forgotten to pack a sandwich for lunch. (So had I.) Sometimes, I don’t have time to interact with fellow vendors (or they aren’t particularly chatty). But at this show, we sat in close proximity. Another woman said, “Yeh, I just told my husband I’m gonna’ be reeeeaally hungry when he comes to pick me up.” I like these ladies already, I thought. They’re honest.
Between customers, we discussed the challenges of generating enough inventory for each show, filling orders, filing taxes, working during nap-time and bedtime, finding time for promoting and social networking…and we shared tips and ideas. There they sat all around me, women with incredible talent and entrepreneurial spirits, who were…in one word…exhausted..and often left wondering, just like me, “Is it worth it?”
Weeks like this one have me straddled between two worlds, each so precariously reliant on the other. I am spinning the plates – my family, my work, my house, my plans, my dreams, my obligations, my unexpected disasters. I remind myself that I can’t drop the plates. Must use them to serve dinner. Then must wash them and put them away.
My work as a writer, seamstress, marketer and business owner takes a distinct backseat to my efforts as wife, mom, housekeeper, personal assistant, social coordinator, cook, nurse, resident artist and the like. It all requires time, boundless energy, valuable and invaluable resources. The business grows a little. My to-do list grows a lot. And my toddler, well, he grows far too quickly.
One time (of many) I lamented to my mother, “How did you do this, Mom? How did you raise (four!!) children and work part-time jobs at night to make ends meet?” My mother’s simple, no frills response, “You just do.” Then, I asked for advice on how to find more time for my work. Really, her answer could be summed up in two words, “Work more. Work later.”
That’s my mom – the warrior. Am I made of the same mettle?
In truth, none of us know what we are made of until we test ourselves or what we can do until we try. There is no instruction booklet. No dog-eared recipe. No mathematical equation. “You just do.” You make it work. And when you feel like giving up, you bite your lip, lean in and push through it.
I am thankful for the tough women in my life – my mother, for one. But also the women I meet at shows who, for a brief afternoon of shared experience, express and honor the same feelings, questions and challenges. Who push themselves anyway. Women who “just do.”
At the end of a show, my body aches with tiredness. “Is it worth it?”
Well, if I make a little extra money for my family, exercise a part of myself and my skill set that I don’t readily use at home and share my passion and enthusiasm with other women who can feel encouraged too – then I think it is. When I come home to a spirited toddler and hold him close and feel tremendous satisfaction that I gave of myself to him and to others to the point I might break, but I don’t – then I think it is. I want him to know his mother as a strong woman who gives her best to everything in her life and doesn’t let a little tiredness or a lot of fear get in the way of making an impact, however small.
I want to show him what it means to live a life full of passion and purpose in EVERYTHING I do. So, my answer to “Is it worth it?” – Sure, it is, Jessica. Stop doubting yourself and just do it.