You Can't Please Everyone

On top of mothering two kids, I'm a photographer. I run a business. I'm licensed, insured, and registered with my state. So basically, I'm never not doing something.

I've mentioned before that running a business is pretty much like taking care of a kid. The constant stress, the emotional rollercoasters, the heady mixture of pride and shame you feel on the daily...the only difference between the two really is that your business won't remove its diaper and paint your walls with crap. Well, not literally; if you're a fan of metaphors, then that'll happen at some point, too. 

In caring for kids and running a business, I've realized that there are a number of lessons to be learned and applied to both. And seeing as I feel like no one told me half this stuff before I started either life journey, I'm hoping this can be helpful to any of you. And if it isn't helpful, at least it'll make you laugh. And if it doesn't do that, I'm not sure why you're even here. Is your internet loading slowly? Were you hoping for a recipe for boozy fruit snacks (that would be here)? Either way, sorry to disappoint. To the rest of you, I submit the following for your approval: 

My daughter is afraid of elevators. You read that right. I don't even know what to say to that, really. My lazy ass loves elevators. Even though they kill about 30 people a year apparently,  I will take one to go up one level if I can do it without being glared at. So this isn't something I can even really fathom. 

I found this out suddenly when I took the kids with me to a bookstore at the mall. Upon realizing that my hands were full of books and I couldn't guide either of my children up the escalator, I decided to just ride the elevator up. The moment we'd stepped in and let the doors close, I felt as if someone had allowed a rabid weasel in with us. My daughter was clawing at my legs and crying and screaming uncontrollably, begging me to pick her up. I kept my voice calm and pointed out that her brother and I were fine, so that meant she'd be fine, too. In her panic, this meant nothing. She sobbed, she screeched, and she wailed until the elevator came to a stop. Then she refused to step off until I hooked her with my foot and pulled her off. 

People were staring. At this point in my time as a mother, I pretty much just responded with a smile and a wave and went on my way. 

We looked at more books for a while, and then we had to take the elevator down. This time, there was more of the same, to the point where even my son was looking at his little sister like he was pretty sure she'd lost her mind. The only difference this time was that she booked it off the elevator the moment it stopped, and I had to snatch up my son in one arm, balance books in another, and sprint to catch up with her. 

As someone who hates exercise with a passion, I'm not sure what I did to deserve that. Anyway. 

When it finally came time to leave the mall, we were back on the second floor. My arms were laden with a bag each, and I honestly didn't feel like being climbed like a pole again. I toyed with the idea of going through it one more time since my hands were full, but I also could still feel where my daughter's tiny nails dug into my flesh the first couple of times. Last minute, I decided we were ready to try the escalator. 

As we approached the contraption, I made sure I explained how it worked. I told them that it would be moving, so we'd have to all hold hands. We'd have to all step at the same time, and they couldn't let go of me, because then we'd lose each other. They nodded, and each clasped one of my hands. 

I started to step onto the escalator, and that's when everything went sideways. I mean, I went sideways. One leg traveled downward, but my other leg strangely stayed behind me. My daughter traveled down, and I stumbled, but I caught myself and put my hand on the railing to get steady. My empty hand. That my son had been holding. 

I immediately whipped around to see my son standing at the top of the escalator looking horrified. You know that look you get when you realize you just called someone you've only met once by the wrong name? That was the look on his face. And I was still holding my daughter's hand, so I couldn't step up to grab him. 

"STAY THERE!" I said. "I'm coming back for you. Stay right there!" 

He was terrified, his eyes were four times the size of his head, and he was definitely not going to stay right there. He was clearly thinking of trying to come down himself, and as he is as klutzy as I am on a good day (read: that's VERY VERY klutzy), that was a terrible idea. 

As I was about to try to hurry back up the escalator, a young girl no older than 14 rushed forward and took my son's hand. She'd clearly seen the whole thing and immediately came off the opposite escalator to help him down. Which then made me want to cry for two reasons. 

They rode down together, and my son immediately ran to my side. I thanked the girl so many times I'm pretty sure she decided I was unhinged. She smiled shyly at me and then hurried away. Then I very quickly rushed us all outside so that I could squeeze my child and scold him and bawl in peace. 

Here's the thing about all this: my gut told me to take the damned elevator in the first place. I knew it would be uncomfortable for my daughter, and for me, but as my arms were fairly full and they weren't used to escalators, it would've been comparatively easier for us. Rather than go with what worked best for us and our strengths, I chose instead to try to do something else in order to make it easier for someone who really wouldn't have cared but for those few seconds of discomfort. And doing so could've ended in a disaster. It didn't, but it could've. 

So let's pretend you haven't read the title -- that way I can restate the importance of this. To all who read this, be you parents or business owners or both: YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE. Don't overburden yourself or change a process that works just to please other people. If it works for you, if it's your truth, then keep doing it. We're so afraid these days of being judged or making others unhappy that we're often hurting ourselves to keep that from happening. 

Give your kids those cookies. Price yourself to live.

Their discomfort will end. Stand strong, or yours won't.