Breakdown... breakthrough? Or just break.

Months ago, I announced my farm dreams and plans to the world (the “world” being the social media atmosphere that entwines us all together and seems to sustain our large life-changing announcements with “likes” and comments). I felt euphoric. I announced it, it was now real. And I was going to rule this. 

The next morning, I strolled lightly down to the greenhouse, coffee in hand, sun shining, birds singing. Seriously, birds singing. Opened the barn wood door to my polycarbonate plant haven, only to find a massacre. Seed and seedling decimation. Mice had mowed down my tender sweet seedlings, and then punched me in the gut with their itty bitty paws, by digging out the seeds I had just planted the day before. All I could do was sit on the floor, put my face in my hands, take deep breaths, and then scream as many obscenities as I could muster. 

I was short of breath (probably from so many F bombs thrown down), I was shaking, I was bawling. I stumbled back up to the house and fell into Dan’s arms. It’s over. My dream is over. Mice ate my dream, and then made a cozy little disgusting nest with its remnants. Failure #1.

A quick flash forward, to a sunny day in May. And while there were maybe only two of those sunny days in the entire month, this ONE was enough to burn both my little seedlings and my soul to a crisp.

The temperature inside our gorgeous greenhouse is regulated by two intake fans and vents. It’s very cool, literally, to sit inside the greenhouse and notice the instant temperature change as the fans turn on automatically. Well, that one sunny day, I was at the community garden all day, getting caught up, and came home to a greenhouse bench full of skeletons. Seedling skeletons. Even with the fans on, the heat radiating from the glazing of the greenhouse was enough to annihilate an entire bench of my seedlings. Revisit the tears, the anger, the overwhelming use of expletive. Failure #2

On a roll, I decided to go for the triple, the triple failure. And this one haunts me still. It’s an all-consuming, soul-crushing sort of defeat, that will no doubt eat me alive every year. In no way can I compare to the demeaning struggle and tortuous hours of the residency my sweet husband endured. And I really shouldn’t complain about my situation, because well, I’m “living the dream,” right? Well, I have a certain finger that really enjoys to rear its head in moments like this. 

So, take a girl. Knead that girl into a wife, mother, job holder, and small business owner. Next, add a husband whose schedule is all-consuming, for everyone. Then add two small little girls, who are so incredibly cute that the mom wants to spend every waking moment with them. And yet the littles can be so wretchedly painful sometimes, mom will do anything to get away from them. Pour in a house and yard that needs desperate attention (I’m looking at you wallpaper), and time is already a whisper of missed opportunities and fun. Now stir in a job. A job that she is ultimately so proud of, and has given her experiences and relationships that would have taken years to accomplish on her own. Years she doesn’t have at her fingertips. But a job that was going to be a supplement, a part-time gig that soon found itself at the forefront of her life. Full time. Sprinkle on trying to start a farm business, manage a new greenhouse, and be human. Guess what ingredient gets left off the layer cake of having it all? Being human. 

I don’t know how people, specifically women, do it. How they are good wives, super moms, have fulfilling careers, and of course are model friends. I’m “doing” it all, but I’d say I’m bringing down the proverbial bar by a lot. Its more like a limbo bar, and I fall on my ass every time. I’ve been a grumpy wife and a mediocre “mean mom.” I’m working a job that is literally burying me in dirt. And my farm? There aren’t enough waking hours... And wait, excuse me, what are friends, and how would I ever have time to be a good one? Failure #3.

So, now what? Where do you go when the exaltation of joy and pride in achieving something you’ve been dreaming about for years begins to crash down in a gnarling ball of flaming despair and anxiety? I honestly don’t know.

This could be the perfect opportunity to ramble on about some profound life lesson, and how I grew and learned so much from the failures I endured (in the few short months of this journey). But I don’t know if that is what happened, or if that is what will happen with failure. Failure breaks you. It pulls at every strand of confidence and unravels the warm protective sweater of comfort and boldness needed to start something new. It is soul shaking. I cried almost everyday for two months. My children became my caregivers, squeezing me and telling me that “I would be okay.” 

And yet, here I am. Still here. Shaken, and little wobbly, but standing. There is no graspable lesson here. It’s just time. You hold your breath, and endure. And then suddenly, even if it is two months later, you breathe out. Maybe each failure just gets easier, or more tolerable. Or you just start to care less about defeat and start to love the successes more. 

As July begins, I see the light. I can take a couple breaths. I can take a day off and spend it splashing at the lake with my kiddos. I can show up to work and smile instead of feel buried in the expanding to-do list. And I can walk through the greenhouse and see the successes instead of my failures. A little perspective and a little time go a long way in this epic battle. But so do barn cats and mouse traps...