1. Who are you?
At 16 years old I asked my high school sweetheart of a short three months to marry me. We got married two months after my high school graduation when I was 18 and he was 20. We will have been married for 25 years this July.
I have spent the majority of my adult life not being a mom. We were married for 18 years before we adopted our amazing daughter Lily-an from China in 2009. We spent our first 6 years married choosing not to have children only to then realize that we would never be able to have our own and then spending the next 12 years finding our way to Lily. She is our one and only child and will be turning 9 years old this summer.
By trade I am a professional seamstress having studied costume design for theater. Art/theater/sewing/fashion have always been my hobbies, career, and passions in one form or another. In the last few years leading up to our adoption of Lily my husband and I also both found a passion for emergency medicine (he was already a volunteer firefighter) and we both obtained our EMT Basic certification and run with our local EMS. We had no way of knowing at the time that our training was preparing us to care for our daughter’s unique needs.
I spent 11 years running my own custom sewing and alterations business specializing in custom bridal and bridal alterations. When our daughter came along it quickly became obvious to me that my 70-80 hour work week and demanding bridal schedules wasn’t going to work with a medically fragile child. I closed the business and took a couple of years to regroup. Now I am two years into my revamped custom sewing business. I still have my brick and mortar shop where I now showcase vintage clothing and accessories that I also list and sell on Etsy.
When it works for my schedule I create custom order, vintage inspired clothing and I am a self trained corset maker. Basically, I sew what I want, when I want now and let the retail portion of the business carry the everyday expenses. My brick and mortar shop is open when I can work it into our schedule and I love that my Etsy shop is open and available 24/7 365 days a year. I have made my life work for me, I don’t work for my life.
2. When is your favorite time of day?
When you adopt a child you become acutely aware of all of the things that traditional families take for granted. Tucking my daughter into bed and praying her to sleep is a sacred time for me because I know there was no one there doing that for her/with her for those first 16 months of her life. I can’t erase the trauma she has endured but I can give her new, love filled and positive experiences that can hopefully, over time, become stronger memories for her than her early abandonment.
3. When is your most chaotic time of day?
Trying to get us out the door every morning for school. While Lily is an early bird, she is just like every other kid in the slow poke department. Going to the bathroom, eating, taking her medicine all go at a turtle’s pace and leave us rushing out the door every morning.
4. What is your mom chaos confession?
My mantra for life is “lower your expectations”. Meaning that so often our expectations of the way things should be are what get us into the most trouble. I have made that my mantra because I need to hear it more than anyone else. I get these ideas in my head of how things should be, how they should get done, when they should get done and I just “expect” they should happen the way I envision it in my head. I find that the majority of those times that I am biting my husband’s head off for something, it involves an expectation that hasn’t been met. Half of the time those expectations are utterly ridiculous when I stop and think about what I am actually expecting. The other half of the time I have never bothered to verbalize what those expectations are, relying on his very poor ability to read my mind.
**Let me be clear that expectations and standards are two different things.**
So my Mom Chaos Confession is that I often have unreasonable, unverbalized expectations of my loved ones and I often react badly when those expectations aren’t met.
5. What is your best tip for managing the chaos?
I can be like a freight train without a braking system when I get my mind set on the way things should be. I have to be very aware of how my own emotions and try to check myself when I feel my agitation level creeping up. Usually it involves asking myself if my expectations are (1) realistic for the situation, (2) whether or not there is anything that can actually be done about the situation, (3) is it the end of the world if my expectations aren’t met?
This has meant a huge shift in my type A, progress driven, perfectionistic, punctual personality and I still have a long ways to go, but I am starting to enjoy the detours of life a tiny bit more and I can see a lot of my stressors getting sidelined as I am opting to embrace what is actually in front of me rather than being disappointed when what is in front of me doesn’t match my unrealistic expectation.
6. What does a typical day in your chaos look like?
3:00-5:30 a.m. – My girl wakes up for the anywhere within this time frame. She is a hard core early bird.
5:30-6:30 a.m. – Because my daughter doesn’t walk on her own and is still working on potty training we have a set morning potty/brush teeth routine that I help her through. I try to squeeze in a shower before the 6:30 mark, after that it isn’t going to happen especially if it is a school day.
6:30-7:45 – Downstairs to get my daughter occupied with her favorite Veggietales or Lottie Dottie Chicken episode while I get her medication, my medication (coffee), and breakfast started. I’ll steal a few minutes to check FB and my Etsy shop for messages and orders and then it’s finishing breakfast, getting the girl dressed, and the daily hair brushing battle.
7:50 – Drop the girl off at school and RUN! She absolutely loves school as much as I love my alone time so it’s good for both of us.
7:55-9:00 – This is my mental health time. After I drop my daughter off I head over to the local coffee shop for some caffeine and some time in God’s word. I journal my prayers for the day and it helps me keep things in perspective as well as strengthen me for the day.
9:00-2:30 – Work, work, work. As much as I can squeeze in. Of course I rarely get a full week of days where I can just work while Lily is in school. Doctor’s appointments, therapy, appointments, errands, grocery shopping, bank runs and who knows what else all manage to squeeze into my few precious hours.
2:45-5:00 p.m. – Usually we just head home after school. My daughter needs the time to unwind and I need to start supper so we just hang out, snack and snuggle until supper time.
5:00-7:30 p.m.– Most nights we eat between 5:30 and 6:00 but it really depends on any evening activities or meetings that may be going on. My husband is an EMT/fire fighter and I am an EMT. Our meetings/trainings are usually in the evenings so on those nights it is an eat and run. No matter what, though, Lily is usually sound asleep by 7:30. At least she isn’t a night owl AND an early bird!
7:50-10:00 p.m. – Zone out time with the hubby. Also finish the dishes/laundry or whatever other household chore needs completing. This is also when I try to get listing done for my Etsy shop if I haven’t been able to to that at any other point during the day. Catch up on FB, do some social media promoting. Usually listening to whatever show we are binge watching on Netflix.
10:15 p.m. – fall into bed and hope that the girl sleeps until the alarm goes off (6:15) at the very least.
That is what our typical/ideal day looks like. Throw in doctor’s appointments (planned and unplanned), therapy appointments (planned and unplanned), dentist visits, school events/meetings, and fire and EMS events/calls and you can see that there really is no such thing as a typical day in our life. We thank God and call it a good day if there are no unexpected medical emergencies, Lily is happy, and if all of us mostly slept through the entire night.
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