Where Kittens Follow – Part Two

From the onset, I was observing business choices that were not mine; neither of us agreed regarding which fork of the road to take toward a financially sound future.  But I was young and didn’t trust my gut sense, so rationalized that a self-employed marriage worked like this.  Mom and Daddy had made it, hadn’t they? Hadn’t Daddy been the first man Mom ever dated?  The continuing parallels droned on inside my brain, encouraging me that this too shall pass and hoping for a better day the next morn.  Besides, I was too serious. At least, that’s what everyone always said.  Lighten up!

So, I challenged myself to be the best I could be and find the beauty in the days and weeks ahead.   I could perform super woman multi-tasking, but never allowed myself any diversions like embroidery or needlecraft; I couldn’t justify sitting any more than I already was.  Habits were deep; to keep moving and busy meant one was working per Mom’s standards in our home on Rubberneck.  Now, in this young married phase, any creative opportunities I chose were in the form of cooking, choosing new paint for the walls or squeezing in some new decorating projects when the home budget allowed it; I could rationalize those choices without much explanation.

This seemed to feed my creative needs and, when we welcomed our beautiful baby girl, my initial rationale of “hanging in there” seemed to be working! We could now also rationalize staying home on holidays…trips down to the Bay Area needn’t be a  have-to but a when-we-want-to….we were FINALLY a family, including our cockapoo Sammy Dog whom I jokingly referred to as our “first born”.  I was a young mother whose daily routine was filled with customers, new family, new friends, and the incessant prioritizing that came with the financial realities of new parental responsibilities within the confines of small business ownership.

Despite the organized shelves and neat spreadsheets, the routine and ever-present business pressures took their toll on this perfectionist Type A.  Even after all my organizing and adapting, I was making a few minor mistakes (I bounced my first check in my first three months as a mother). So, in my nothing-but-perfection standards, I wasn’t making the cut.  The pressures were crowding out the happier moments and I was unhappy and homesick, often too exhausted at day’s end, and feeling very overwhelmed… I could not enjoy my baby’s first months as other young mothers seemed to be enjoying their infants’ growth…why was I not joyous and loving every minute?  Was every magazine’s mantra, “you can do it all” for real????

Events were quickly going to put me over the edge; the medical community hadn’t yet identified post-partum depression…to this day, I am still not sure that any particular diagnosis would have changed anything.  In hindsight, I was plainly and deeply depressed; and once again, I didn’t trust my gut or my own experiences.  Don’t ask me where I came up with this belief system, but I convinced myself that I hadn’t suffered enough to stop the merry-go-round and yell, “I want to get off”.  Repeatedly, I questioned my judgment, thinking that I must be missing some important detail…my mind’s eye replayed the same comparisons again and again, in a frail attempt to diminish their ugly heads with another plan or a renewed effort;  perhaps just a little more tweaking here and there… didn’t a cat have nine lives?

But this was nowhere near the life I had expected. Mom and Dad had worked together and seemingly managed to draw closer; they were partners in business and at home. In my eyes,  the handwriting was on the wall; I believed that the business was testing not only our intellects but our stamina. Partners we were not; the business expended most of our shared time each week; the “little goldmine” we purchased was not offering the same security that the previous owners had gleaned.

Compounding my anxieties further was our accountant’s wisdom (which was of little comfort) when he likened our repair business investment to a “buggy whip business”.  His analogy caught my attention; Mom and Dad had pursued when necessity was the mother of invention, building a floor covering business from very humble beginnings and lots of hard work, but EVEN THEY WERE YOUNGER than buggy whips…