Some varmint ate my tomatoes.
I went on a diet and gained more weight.
I keep testing negative instead of positive.
My card got declined when I tried to buy a chicken parm grinder.
Cause you see, I'm on a losing streak.
This morning I wrote an email to the kind and supportive folks who recently brought me and my little fledgling business, Make It Good Apothecary, on board at a local farmer's market here in Austin. The email was more of a white flag than anything else. It was my formal surrender to the reality of life with a small child, not nearly enough money, and already far too much work.
To tell you the truth, joining the farmer's market had been sort of a Hail Mary move. It was a last desperate attempt at getting something off of the ground so that I could at least pretend that my career was moving forward financially instead of backward.
You see, writing isn't a terribly lucrative career - at least it hasn't been for me. My husband and I struggle to make ends meet and I often feel heavy with the weight of knowing that we do so because I make so little. It's not like he makes oodles more than me - but my income has been pretty much static for over a decade.
I've kept the same day-job all these years for its flexibility despite the low pay and lack of raises in hopes that one day my career as a writer or a small business owner would finally take off. And it's not like I haven't worked my ass off. I got a book deal! I got a SECOND book deal! I'm a legit author, but still we struggle. Still we sink. And there are times when I can't help but feel like it's all my fault.
This latest venture, like so many others, started with a leap of faith. I invested the meager sum that I've managed to acquire through book sales, classes, and sponsored blog posts into sign-up fees, banners, product stock, and business expenses.
As of last month, Make It Good Apothecary was a real thing! I spent weeks working around the clock to try and keep up with everything I needed to do. There were no more days off - barely even hours off, but I felt this sense of urgency pushing me along. This has to work. This has to work. THIS HAS TO WORK BECAUSE I AM SO VERY TIRED.
And it did work - at least a little. People liked the idea and we even had some repeat customers! It just didn't work quite quickly enough. Before it could sustain itself life decided to up the stakes and sink the ship. To be honest, I went into the whole thing with a serious lack of resources, hoping against hope that the booth at the market or the shop online would at least produce enough revenue to keep it's weekly expenses covered. Instead, I ended up running out of money, running out of babysitters, and running out of steam within a month. A MONTH!
How did that happen? How did I fail so efficiently at something that seemed almost simple compared to other things I've done? I hate to say this, but it's because I'm somebody's mother. It's because I have to be that person before I can be a business owner, or a marketer, a maker, or a salesman.
I'm Mama first because at the end of the day CC is what REALLY matters to me. I want a career. I want a business. I want financial stability, but I NEED to be his mom. It's disrupted the only strategy I've ever had for success (which is just to keep working and hustling and going for it all day and night.)
Of all the changes I've had to adjust to as a mother this continues to be the hardest. There is never ever enough time for me to work. I feel like I'm constantly drowning and falling behind and failing in every aspect because there is just no time! Even with over 70% of my income (yup, 70%!) going toward childcare I'm only able to get about 6 hours a day of coverage - then it's full-on mom time until bed. If I'm lucky enough to escape before passing out myself I am usually in NO shape to write coherently.
So that's about 30 hours a week (plus whatever I can get when Scott's schedule lines up nicely with mine but minus the inevitable absences due to illness, school breaks, and random acts of God) to do everything I've got to do. I'll never understand how anyone does it - least of all me.
We had already planned to visit family back in Connecticut this past week so away we went. I decided to spend the time off trying to figure out whether or not continuing at the farmer's market was realistic. It didn't take long for me to see that it was NOT. Usually when I make a decision to let go of something that isn't working I am rewarded by a sense of relief - of lightness and freedom. It's like somewhere, somehow I know there is another door opening where the last one closed.
This one isn't like that at all. When I think of the email I had to write this morning, admitting defeat, I don't feel light. I don't feel relieved. I feel sad. I feel ashamed and embarrassed. I feel anxiety pressing on my chest like a cold, hard anvil. There's a voice whispering in my ear saying that I'll never escape - that I'm trapped.
Sufficed to say, I'm bummed. But the important thing that I need to remember is that while I may be bummed, I am not licked.
I am not done.
It is not over.
Make It Good Apothecary is still a real thing. We have classes scheduled for the next three months, which is actually pretty awesome. And I have a line of products that I still think are really cool. I just need to rethink my strategy for how to get them out into the world.
I probably definitely also need to rethink my strategy for having a career in general. Ugh.
In the meantime, I need a win. Or a hug. Maybe both.