I feel like I’ve only been home for a few days since my trip to Barcelona with Reebok. In fact, after looking at the calendar I have been home for just a few days. This morning I finally got around to unpacking my suitcase only to repack it, and locate my passport once again. As I was getting everything and everyone organized to the best of my ability (which, as I sit here on the plane I am remembering that I forgot to let the teachers know that I would not be picking up my boys today and had arranged another pickup…) Now, Im wondering If they will even be able to leave the school since I will not be available to reach at least an hour after the school bell rings. Most people around me, who work with me on a weekly or daily basis have a pretty good understanding of how my life is right now. There are days, that I HAVE to step back take a deep breath and reflect on why I started all of this. Not too long ago, I was living off of nothing. Trying to support my two little boys, pay rent, put food on the table, move after move. I believe within all of that, my boys became so resilient to so many adversities that life put in our way. Together, we overcame so much and I promised them that their mommy was going to make a GREAT life for them and be the BEST I could be for them. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I can’t help but to feel extremely sad that I won’t be home with my boys for this special day, like many of the holidays, birthdays and special school events that I’ve missed because of work. Work that I wanted, that I needed for us, which makes it hard to complain. Two questions that I get asked almost at EVERY Q&A is, “Ashley, Do you every feel guilty when you’re working or when you’re working out and having your family,” and the answer is YES!! Every fucking time, YES! I feel guilty. I feel guilty when I’m traveling for work, missing my boys and I feel guilty when I am at home with my boys not being present or simply addressing work related issues.
I’ll never forget last year at a parent teacher conference my son’s teacher from across the table slid (in a very sloppy way) at me 9 school event calendars… and proceeded with saying, “Here are some calendars that you can give EVERYONE that you have to have help you.” What she didn’t know, is that I got on an earlier flight only to run out the terminal, throw my bags in my car and speed all the way to the conference, to walk in and to make it right on time. I think at that moment, I realized that some people will never fully understand what it means to be a full-time working mother who travels often. I wake up every morning acting like I have my shit together and in all reality I don’t. I’m okay with that, because I know I’m doing the best I possibly can. It took everything in that moment for me to not break down and completely lose myself during that parent teacher conference. I cried all the way home, I remember that. Not just little tears kinda crying. Like trying to catch my breath and needed to pull the car over kinda crying. Ever since, I just don’t go to parent teacher conferences.
I’ve learned that although there is no getting away from that guilty feeling, I feel guilty because I love both. If I didn’t feel guilty, that would mean my heart isn’t in the other. I love my boys and my family with my entire soul. I love the work I do, because I once begged for work while staring at an empty plate. I know that with what I’m doing, I’ve had the opportunity to reach more lives than I ever thought imaginable.
So, to all those mothers out there who can relate to this… go ahead and feel torn, just remind yourself it’s all out of love. You must take care of yourself if you want to be a good steward for your family, and a role model to your children. I like to think that I do both well. I work like crazy and take advantage of any opportunity I get when it comes to my businesses. In the same sense, when I’m home, I love on my boys like crazy, unconditionally. And when my two worlds get mixed together and both are present at the same time, it’s the best feeling a mom can have.
The second question I get asked often is how do I balance everything? I want you to think of what the word balance actually means. There is no way I could balance a soccer ball on my head for very long. Or balance on one leg before having to adjust and move to the other leg, or start reaching for something or someone around me for support. This is exactly how balance should be in your life – where there is no true set balance. There is no equation, no formula. It must be a constant give and take. When I’m working on a business deal, so much more of my time and energy is focused on JUST that. If one of my boys is sick and home from school, of course my balance changes and I’m focused on my sick guy. Maybe I’m training for a competition of some sort, so again my balance changes. It’s always changing and If I could remind every mom out there of one thing, it would be that we are NOT perfect, so stop being so hard on yourself. 99.8% of us as females are constantly allowing other people’s opinions get in the way of our true happiness. Loosen your grip just a little and truly enjoy every moment of the journey. -Ashley