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Balancing life is funny. I always feel like I'm not doing anything, or either I'm doing way too much. I remember praying for healthy, entertaining and active kids, and I got that, but I also remember praying for a thriving and growing business, and I got that, too. 

I was raised in the church, and we were always taught, “Have a servant's heart, be willing to serve.” But we were never honestly taught the boundaries we should set for our own personal sanity, or maybe I started pretending to rap in my head during that lesson. I always wanted to be the person to come to everyone's rescue but realized in challenging, crashing moments that I rescued everyone but myself. 

I was experiencing health problems on a larger proportion because I wrote it off saying I don't have time to deal with this. I've got too much going on. People depend on me and have this mind-frame that the world would stop spinning if I said one of the most straightforward words in the human vocabulary. In fact, it was probably the first word my children knew and understood because I taught them subconsciously: “No.” 

“No, you can't have candy for breakfast.” 

“No, your underwear does not belong on your head, especially not in public.” 

Or the one that hurts the most: “No, we can't go to the park or your friends' party because I have to work.”

Mom guilt kicked in, and I was torn on if I could be a successful business owner and mother at the same time. I felt like I had to choose one or the other. I remember nights praying, “God, I know I asked for this, but is it okay to say no to some stuff that I don't have time for? Will that stop me from being blessed? I'd like to spend time on the couch with the kids watching movies or laughing at my husband's stupid jokes.”

I ended up talking to some women who have gone before me and have burned themselves out and rebuilt their businesses over time. They considered that “failing up.” They made me realize I wasn't being ungrateful for what I was given just because I wanted to set boundaries and say no. 

I was choosing balancing family and work. Being a business owner, we don't get to clock out and leave our worries behind. We carry that even in the middle of the night, but it's OK to set boundaries not only for yourself but for your family. The business won't stop; in fact, it's just a rest stop on a beautiful adventure. 

Nakeshia Shannon is a photographer and mother of three. Visit her online at NakeshiaRenee.com

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