Yes, I have left my family at home and I am hiding out. In my own city. Let me back up.
Every year, my busy season is August to December. (Knock on wood), I know it's coming. I plan for it with additional childcare, additional dates with my husband, additional 1:1 time with my kiddos. This year, I cut out Sundays to avoid burnout...I have the studio where I can work peacefully...I have a magical man named Razaur who helps me with aspects of editing. The gist is - I had a plan.
And yet, I am hiding out in a hotel room.
Last Wednesday, I was at my friend Shari's for our weekly "Wine Wednesday" (playdate for the kiddos, playdate for us mommies). I warned her that I may cry. You know when you feel it building inside, and you just don't know what exactly will set it off? Yep, I was there. I typically cry about twice a year. Seriously - not a cryer. My college roommates would joke that I had the heart of steel because I wouldn't crack even when we watched tearjerkers. Anyways, I know that my trigger is stress. And with 30 galleries all due (ahem, overdue), my son's 5th birthday and birthday party, my sister and family arriving on Friday and Thanksgiving next week, I had hit my stress limit. I held in those tears until Sunday when I laid down out of sheer exhaustion but instead of sleeping, I started sobbing. And sobbing. And sobbing. I went upstairs to my friend Erin (who has seen me in this state before and knows how to "handle" me!) and she just held me, let me babble every one of my stresses to her, and let me cry (and cry).
Once I semi-composed myself, she asked - if we were in a fantasy world where anything is possible, what would make this situation better? I shook my head. I didn't want any of her hippy-dippy-whatif-scenarios. I wanted a solution. I sarcastically responded that having 5 days kid-free by myself would resolve this situation (which is equivalent to saying you'd like to have lunch on the moon in my world). Five days where I could just edit uninterrupted, in my PJs, in the quiet. THEN, I would be healed.
And then it was silent. She nodded her head in an understanding manner, and just let me soak it up for a few moments. After a pause, she simply suggested we explore it. I rolled my eyes. She asked what it would take, logistically, for this to come true...even if it's a variation (1 night away...2 nights away...etc). I started pouring out the reasons it wouldn't work (I have 3 shoots Monday and Tuesday...I have responsibility to the kids...my mom is in town).
And then, the most magical thing happened. She created solutions.
We walked through the week and filled in the holes. She would take the kids in the evenings. My mom would fill in during the days. Erin would take Cal to swim lessons. I already have childcare for the other days.
I took a breath. And for the first time in hours...days...perhaps weeks...there was light at the end of the tunnel. THIS COULD WORK!
So I packed my bags on Sunday night, and left for a hotel on Monday morning. Since arriving, I have rarely gotten out of my PJs and I couldn't be happier.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Not for pity - we all feel overwhelmed with various aspects of our lives at various times. Mine is always during busy season. In fact, after I finished doing the "ugly cry" with Erin, she smiled and said, "Hey! Look at the bright side - you made it to NOVEMBER this year before melting down...I'd call this progress!"
I am sharing this because I see my mama clients when they are overwhelmed. I see them when they are about to hit their breaking point. I see their crestfallen faces when their toddler completely melts down and we haven't even started shooting yet. I see you, mamas. And I get it. I am sharing this to remind us to take a deep breath...to remember that when we plan something (whether it be the perfect work-life-plan or the perfect family photograph), the final result may be better than our plan ever could have been, if we will just let go enough to let it unfold.
I am typing this from Hotel Rex in downtown San Francisco. I am in my PJs, listening to music and editing my heart out. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am happy. Those tears ultimately led me to improving my business for next year.
I will cut off family sessions on October 31st so families are not racing against holiday card deadlines.
I will plan for a 5 day workcation the first week of November.
I will allocate the time to enjoy the holidays with my friends, family and clients, so I can attend events rather than hide out editing late into the night.
I realized the tears didn't set me off...the tears set me free.