Giving Yourself Grace in Business and Parenthood
We called 2017 the year of the grand experiment. We planted seeds and tubers and hoped for the best. Calling it an experiment seemed somehow less intimidating. I needed it to be less intimidating. We had just moved from North Carolina back to our home state of Missouri into a fixer-upper farmhouse and were expecting our fourth child in early April. Meanwhile, we were still adjusting to the addition of our third and oldest child through adoption just under one year before. Changes were all around us—and even though I was mostly excited, it was overwhelming.
That first growing season was fueled by the information we read in flower farming books and gleaned from Facebook groups. We jumped in and, of course, found ourselves swimming in weeds and wondering where we were going to sell these flowers if they actually survived past the adorable little seedling stage. Early April came, and that sweet baby boy was born almost two weeks early. My mind raced over all the things that were left undone to be ready for our baby to be home as well as our newly budding flower business all at the same time. Grace, I would tell myself with a big sigh, Give yourself grace.
I am a quietly contemplating most of the time, and while working in the flowers these first two seasons I would marvel at the similarities of starting this little flower farm and raising sweet babies. They both start so small and helpless, needing the most from you in the beginning. You are feeding them, protecting them, and giving them the best start you can, all while full of hope for what they will become. Then the first big hiccup comes along; your garden has cutworms, and your baby’s not gaining weight. All of that hope can so quickly turn to doubt. Doubt both in yourself and in the process in general.
The research begins, and the fight for the return to that state of hope takes over. You discover that there is life after cutworms and that some babies take a little longer to gain. Fast-forward a month or so, and that baby passes his one month check up with flying colors and your garden is covered in flowers. Then you realize it’s time to find people who will buy these beauties. You look at them in awe, just like your sweet baby, but will anyone else see the same beauty you do? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. Also, you have to figure this out with that swaddled babe in tow. In most working environments in developed countries, children are not allowed because—let’s face it—it is a whole lot more productive that way!
I had the privilege of living and working in East Africa before my momma days, and I worked mostly with women. Several of them came to work daily wearing their little ones on their backs. As they grew old enough they would roll around and play near their feet; then eventually they would run around and play throughout the building, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. These mommas knew the importance of giving themselves grace, and they gracefully completed their work with their kids right by their side. I think of them often during the times I’m frustrated because my agenda is being thwarted by my momma duties. Many times I’ve remembered those amazing women and intentionally shifted my actions to be more of how I thought they might be in my situation, and then I give myself some much-needed grace.
That grand experiment in 2017 did turn into a little flower farm in 2018. Likewise, that sweet spring baby turned into a toddler, and some things began to seem easier while others became more complicated. These days, our farm feels much the same; both easier and more complicated. Our little guy is in that season of trying new things, too, and most days I feel like a bad song on repeat with lyrics like wait, don’t, no, and stop sung over and over again. Just as I often get ahead of myself with the kids at this stage, expecting too much from them too early, I find myself doing that with the farm as well, and I can fall into that ugly place of comparison. I challenge myself to find grace again as I battle the temptation to compare to other farmer-florist operations. Then I remind myself we are only babies in this industry and there is so much still to learn, both from our mistakes and successes. It is okay if our fields are not perfectly organized and labeled with weeds everywhere, and it’s okay if we failed to grow the Sweet Peas once again. Giving myself the gift of grace can shift a bad day to a great one in just a few breaths.
Next time you look around and the state of your studio or flower garden is less than desirable, give yourself grace with thoughts of perspective:
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Make a list of small tasks and conquer things that are in disorder one little piece at a time.
If you find yourself admiring someone else’s work to the point of feeling wholly inadequate, give yourself grace by filling your mind with truth. Maybe they have been doing this work twice as long as you have; that truth can shift your doubt to hope.
When your flower order arrives and the focal flower is looking less than desirable, embrace the lovely limitations at your fingertips. There is a good chance your new design will be even better than your original plan!
I hope these thoughts on giving yourself the gift of grace will encourage you in the midst of all the not-so-perfect days, whether you are nurturing your own baby flower business or your sweet baby. That gift might just give you what you need to keep moving forward with hope for your future.
All photos by Kelyn LLC