For the last few months, our family has been running on adrenalin. Starting a new business (Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital), constructing, hiring, and hitting the ground running… The entire process is exhausting, and precludes any other true focus in life. I’ve found myself taking a week to get back to Africa Sleeps customers’ emails (sorry!!) and barely seeing my friends (double sorry!!) Thank goodness Vulnerable Children has a team of people to keep it chugging along, because I totally neglected my charity for a couple of months.
I liken starting a family business to running with blinders on… Knowing chaos is happening around you, but still focussed on just getting across the finish line, hopefully intact. It’s been about six months of running like this, gasping for air, and knowing that the harder we work, the better off we will be in the long run.
You may be wondering where the kids have been in all this. Well, I’m actually very proud of Jason and I in the parenting department. We may have been subsisting on subpar nutrition, but our kids have not in any other way been worse for wear. (I, on the other hand, have put on fifteen pound and aged five years….) We’ve spent every minute that we aren’t working with the girls, and even homeschooled them during three months of the teachers strike. They are proud of the clinic, and love being with us there. They are good.
One other activity we’ve been thankful for in the last two months has been Jason and I’s tango lessons. For one hour a week, we don’t talk about work or the kids… In fact, we don’t talk at all. We just look into each other’s eyes, and I surrender to being led around the dance floor. It’s been key on keeping a connection during a time of great stress.
If I truly take a birds eye view, however, this actually was the sprinted end of a marathon. We hung a billboard three and a half years ago, at what was going to be our clinic location, and Jason’s veterinary contract wasn’t renewed. So he started loccuming and working far away from home. I was waiting and waiting for the clinic to open, so I could wind up my career at the college, and slow down our pace. We were in this holding pattern of working too much, bridging the time until the clinic opened, for three years. We never intended it that way! The building we were going into had stall after stall, and finally went bankrupt. So then we waited another year for our current location to be built. What was meant to be a short-term inconvenience for our family stretched to a couple of years… All towards the goal of living and working within a couple of city blocks, in our own business, run our own way.
Now, two months into opening… This is it. We are here. The building is built, the staff are great and working well, the word is getting out. I quit my professor job this spring (in a torrential way that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t at the end of q marathon…) and am now totally self employed. The kids go to school three blocks from the house. Jason walks everywhere, including the five minutes to come home at lunch. My Africa Sleeps business is doing well, despite my shared focus, and my marketing efforts are paying off at the clinic and store.
It’s finally time to stop running.
In the world of adoption, we talk about the “new normal.” This is when, after turbulent months, the family recalibrates and becomes, well, a functioning family again.
What does this new normal look like for our family? I’m still building the family business, and the attention I give it and Africa Sleeps determine their success. But running full stream isn’t appropriate, nor sustainable any more. So how much do I work? It’s been seven days a week… So is the new normal seven with some afternoons off? Or five?
What about blogging? What about meeting up with friends? How about that garden that was planted in the spring but left unattended for the latter half of the summer? Where and when I am going to travel? What amount of time can I reasonably set aside for Vulnerable Children, the work that brings me the most gratification, but no income? Shall I bake bread, or buy it? How much time should I spend saving money by cooking etc vs making money? Should I be spending energy and focus on losing the weight I gained in the last few months, or will that fade off as the stress subsides? What should my day look like? Should it be multitasking or setting one day aside for one business/charity?
In any case, it’s a time of change. And what that new normal looks like… Well, maybe I’ll have to blog about it in a month or two.