We are tired. We’re so tired we can’t be bothered to compete over who’s more tired, and as the most competitive couple out there, that’s saying something.
We have also made it through our first month in business! We are elated and proud of ourselves and something inside keeps pushing us along even though we may drag our feet a little, rubbing our weary eyes.
Although I’m feeling quite positive about things as I write this, last week was probably my lowest point: I’d had a terrible night of sleep with baby waking every hour until I got up at 4am for work, sneaking out of bed to get my mum who snuck back in, both of us very wary that if he woke we’d have trouble. I started work at 6am and worked through the morning and into the day. I came home, expressed milk for nearly an hour for the next day, and began the evening wind-down with baby. I got a total of 40 minutes to rest that day, and when its the end of the longest day, even the rest is just a hassle. Clearly, the days of relaxing after a long day of work are history (for now)!
The following morning I woke up at the same time again to do the deliveries to the shop then come back to the factory to ice 1350 cupcakes we had for an order. Icing cupcakes sounds like fun, but alas when you do so many of them the fun subsides, your fingers get sore from the fine motor skills required and your eyes get blurry. They looked beautiful though, and despite our argument (to follow), we did a good job.
I’ll tell you what though – anxiety really makes life hard doesn’t it? I felt so anxious (probably from lack of sleep) about the order, and my perfectionists tendencies had me worrying about the colour tone of the sprinkles and the size of the cupcake above the patty cake, amongst other things. It was a big order, with an appropriately large price tag, and so that left me feeling worried too – I wanted to ensure the customer felt their expectations were at the least met, but ideally surpassed. Worry and anxiety, although they are old friends, are difficult to deal with when you just have to get it done, and so my morning was quite tense.
Just before delivering I had a melt down that the crates the cupcakes were being delivered in weren’t clean enough, and in response James laughed with another baker about ‘women in the bakery’ and of course this exhausted feminist was incredibly unimpressed and we didn’t speak for a few hours. After I cleaned all 16 crates before packing the cupcakes and driving off, the anger subsided and we became excited that the long day was almost over. Rain started pouring and we had to figure out how we’d deliver without the coloured sprinkles bleeding into the icing. Catering sized Glad wrap saved the day and we completed the task (feeling elated that it was them, not us, who had to pack each individual cupcake in a box and wrap with a ribbon).
On the way home I received a few messages about staff unable to do shifts, realised that I would have to do them myself and burst into tears at the thought of being away from my baby boy even more. As an aside, my mum minds Louis-James while I’m at work, and sometimes I get home he looks at me and says “who are you?”. This is a good thing, he’s so wrapped up in loving his Grandma he doesn’t notice I’m gone, but I worry that he doesn’t get the naps he needs without me to put him down, and that he’s not getting enough milk, because I have never pumped enough in storage. Plus, it just feels strange being away from your infant child when they still rely on your body to survive. My instinct gets confused.
So I cried. I cried alot. James dropped me at my car and I put on my favourite crying music and cried the whole way home. Gosh it felt good to do that. I cried for my baby, I cried for myself, I cried because I felt like I was in a situation that I had no choice in, and because I felt like I was going against my values (my values as a mother as well as values around career – I was in the middle of my Psychology Honours year when we took over the business and it fell to the wayside, and as a yoga teacher and personal trainer who’s always had an interest in health, I never imagined myself running a bakery). But here we are! I cried because I feel torn – constantly – between ambition and motherhood, finding the place where they coexist is not particularly easy – I miss one when with the other, and never get enough time for either.
The punches keep coming but we are more able to roll with them. James started training a delivery driver but he quit as he had too much on his plate, so my poor love has woken up at 3am every night for a month to go to work and his chance at a reprieve has been snatched away. We have staff away, we’ve had one resignation (she was offered a permanent role at her Christmas casual job- it wasn’t personal I swear!), I’ve forgotten to or mistakenly rostered on too few staff many times and the other day I thought we hadn’t done a milk order so bought 40L of milk from IGA as a back up only to realise one of the staff had ordered and so we had milk coming out our ears once the 70 or so L that she ordered were delivered.
I got home and of course all was fine, I felt better after my cry.
But we have the most amazing team of staff. They are committed and supportive and hard-working and really I feel so lucky to have adopted them as our team. And we’ve had many compliments on the changes we’ve made in the shop too. The other day I served a couple out on a tea date – each having a pot of the beautiful organic teas I have recently stocked – and upon leaving they exclaimed how lovely the tea was. Tea makes me warm, and soothes my soul and sharing lovely tea is really one of life’s greatest pleasures – so I was very happy to see them drinking their pots of tea and loving it. And at 6.10pm upon closing the other night an older couple were enjoying some coffee and cakes when the woman told me she doesn’t know what they’d do without our bakery, and how much it means to them to be able to come up and share pastries over coffee, and my heart melted.
Through experiences like these and my daily meditation practice I’ve come to realise that having a purposeful career doesn’t have to be in the psychology or social support realm, our bakery contributes significantly to community welfare, and every interaction I have with a customer warms my heart and can spread feelings of joy. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference, and so although we both take large, dark eye circles with us into this second month in business, we take light, happy hearts. We’re on the right track and we know where we’re going – what else can we ask for?