All My Women ….

They say it takes a village to raise a child. In my case, it takes the support of a harem, or so it seems.

When I was married, my husband and I bickered incessantly about whose turn it was to take care of the kids. We were in constant battle for “alone time.” Or so it seemed.

My husband was certain that if I wasn’t working, it was my time to be with the kids because he had been with them all day.

My position was, “hey, you’re the stay at home dad, that means you get them ready for bed while I respond to email.”

I imagine this battle goes on in many households with little children who have lots of needs and parents who either don’t want to spend the money for childcare, feel too guilty to have extra help, or think they should be able to do it all by themselves.

We were in all three of these categories.

I was making the money and thought (wrongly, I might add) that if hubby was staying home with the kids that meant we didn’t need childcare. It felt like I’d be paying twice and I was so unhappy at my job that I didn’t want to do anything that would increase our expenses and at the same time the pressure of the golden handcuffs.

And, I felt so much guilt being away from my kids everyday while I went to work that I couldn’t imagine putting them in a sitter’s care in the evenings or on the weekends too! Dear husband didn’t do much to alleviate that guilt at all and I regularly accused him of perpetuating it so that he could get some more “alone time” – our currency of trade in the house. Of course, his apparent disapproval was mostly a reflection of my own internal harping, but that didn’t make it any less meaningful at the time.

I felt as if I was getting constant messages that said “Alexis, you SHOULD be able to do this without anymore help. What’s wrong with you?”

Should or shouldn’t, guilt or no guilt, the truth of the matter was, I needed help! For the first several years though, I refused to get it and chose bitterness and resentment instead.

Ultimately, that festered into a divorce on one hand and a reunion on the other.

I divorced my dear husband, but I found my Truth in the doing.

That’s a big statement, I know.  Yet, it’s true.

I won’t bore you now with the details of my spiritual journey; that we’ll save for another time. Suffice it to say that I found the humility to realize I couldn’t do it all alone. I needed a whole heckuva lot of help if I was going to be the kind of mommy I wanted to be and run successful businesses.

Over the past three years, I have learned to know myself, accept myself and love myself.  Most of the time.

The Truth of the matter is that I am an entrepreneur and I love it; it’s my art. If I wasn’t doing it, I’d again become that bitter, dry, overweight woman I became when I tried to deny who and what I was.

I was in a constant battle with who I was and who I thought I should be.

When I was with my kids, I felt guilty that I wasn’t getting my work done. When I was working, I felt guilty I wasn’t with my kids. A never ending cycle, I’m sure you’re familiar with and if you aren’t ask any Stay at Work Mom. (I first heard the term “Stay at Work Mom” from my comrade in overcoming guilt, Denise Berger, a mom of 2 kids with a high powered job as the the Global Chair of the Aon Corporation’s Women’s International Network – fancy name for their work/life balance expert.)

It was a vicious, never-ending cycle and I was never good enough.

But then one day I woke up and realized I was good enough and I deserved all good in my life and that I had to accept myself to get that all good coming into my life.

Ok, truth be told, I didn’t just wake up one day and realize that, it came painfully and with many ups and downs, bumps and bruises, tears, retreats, and reading just about every spiritual book I could get my hands on.

But after all that, thanks to the hard work I did and hearing the right words at the right time, I realized I deserved help!

Today, I’ve got a harem of women helping me raise my kids (and a couple of great guys as well). Well, I always said everyone should have a wife; who knew I’d need so many?

So, what does it really take to keep my ship afloat?

My kids are with me every other week. On the week they are with me, Lourdes comes three days. I love Lourdes. She takes great care of me, even sewing my clothes when I rip the seam on something or pop a button. I tried 7 housekeepers before I found Lourdes, but she was worth the search.

I have two babysitters during the week because they are both in school and Anna, our first babysitter, wanted to work less than I needed someone. But, she and Noah have such a great bond that we both wanted her to see the kids at least one of the days when they are with me, so she goes to our parent participation Co-Op with him on my work day. She’s even going to make his graduation book for me. Stuff like that stressed me out to the max and I’m so relieved she’s taking care of it.

Chelsey comes the other 4 days and I’ve got so much trust and faith in her that during the work day I can focus just on my businesses and know the kids are well taken care of, loved, having a good time and getting where they need to go.

In 2 weeks, Jodi’s moving in and she’s going to do all the grocery shopping, organizing, cooking, and other domestic stuff that doesn’t happen with just me at home. Jodi and I met through a website called Co-Abode, where single moms looking for roommates connect. Jodi has a 9-month old baby who is cute as a button and I’ve got a huge house with an extra bedroom. Jodi loves to cook and do homemaker stuff and I love to work on my business. A wife without the sexual duties!

Why am I telling you all this? Because it all changed for me when I heard another Stay at Work Mom talk about the nearly full household staff that kept her home running and instead of feeling judgment, I felt this deep awareness that she deserved it and so did I.

If I can inspire one of you reading this to recognize that you deserve support and that it’s okay to ask for help and keep asking until you get what you need (even if other people seem to judge you for it), my disclosure was worth it.

This article was inspired by Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist, who wrote today about post partum depression so openly and it occurred to me that I had a multi-year post-partum depression and when I really stopped to think about it, I realized it wasn’t post-partum depression it was that having my children caused me so much self judgment that I had no choice but to let go of all of it and totally accept myself as I was lest I drive myself insane.

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