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  • Writer's pictureLisa Liberatore

Juggling a Baby with Burritos

I wanted to share an exerpt from my book, which is available for sale NOW. I chose this chapter to share because it is still something that I feel like I struggle with- the balance of work and motherhood. Although I'm not worried about diaper blowouts anymore, I still feel anxious when Dorian is at work with me that he'll be too loud playing toys while I try to write this blog or scream, "let's do this" and run as fast as he can around the office disrupting other people who are trying to be productive. Time goes on but the battle is still raging!

“Take the time to come home to yourself every day.” -Robin Casarjean

Dorian Maxwell was born on a Taco Tuesday at 4 am. I was 39 weeks pregnant. The day before, at what would be my last prenatal appointment, my doctor asked me if I had any questions. As usual, I replied “no.”

Then she looked me straight in the eye and said, “You know, you’re having this baby soon, and your life will completely change. You haven’t asked a single question in 8 months! Are you sure you don’t have any questions?”

“It’s ok,” I said. “I’m going to wear my baby while I work; I’ll figure it all out as it comes. I’ve got this! My attention needs to be focused on my restaurant and making sure it’s going to be ok without me for a few days.”

“You can’t bring a newborn to work!” she incredulously replied.

I finally had a question! “Well, how soon can I bring him to work?

“Three weeks,” she said.

But being a small business owner, I knew there was no way I could stay away from my business that long.

On day 3, we went home from the hospital. I nursed Dorian, left my husband Ian in charge, and drove down to LLB to check on things. I knew everything was okay. I’d been in communication with my staff while I was laying in a hospital bed. I was a sore, exhausted, hormonal mess whose boobs had bled while breastfeeding, but I missed being at work! I’d been a mom for three days now. I wanted to return to my comfort zone and desperately needed to experience “normal.” For me, that was being at LLB.

Every day, before or after hours, I’d leave Dorian with Ian for a short time and go in to take care of the bookkeeping. I made runs to the local grocery store to pick up miscellaneous items, did the ordering, and processed payroll. I wasn’t there for very long, maybe 30-60 minutes. It felt so good to be in control of something again.

My employees and the other downtown merchants told me I was crazy for being at work and that I needed to get back to my son. They followed their comments with the question, “Why didn’t you bring your brown-eyed baby with you?”

My internal struggle between wanting to be a full-time mom and a business owner was an ongoing battle.

As soon as three weeks came around, Dorian and I were in the restaurant together. It was only a few hours at a time, and I was mostly taking orders and chatting with customers. It fed my soul to be back and part of the LLB team. But every time I worked, I felt a rise of anxiety and an impending sense of dread. I prayed it wouldn’t be crazy busy while I was there. “How I was going to handle it?” I worried Dorian would cry, or worse yet, have one of his diaper blowouts that required an immediate bath and outfit change. Then suddenly, my business brain would kick in, reminding me that LLB needed to be busy to stay open. I’d figure things out.

If you think you’re doing it all, you’re fooling yourself.

One of the bonuses of being transparent with people was that many of my customers felt like friends. When the restaurant was swamped, and I needed to jump in and help fill orders, I would ask someone waiting if they wanted to hold Dorian. It was incredible how quickly people said yes. I would run behind the counter, make their food, and then exchange a burrito for a baby.

I also made friends with the ladies at the GirlTrend Shop, a consignment boutique next door to LLB. Sarah, one of the owners, even kept toys on hand for Dorian. If he got too cranky next door, Sarah would bring him back and say, “Sorry, I tried.” I’d thank her, take a deep breath, and choke back the tears. In those moments, I felt like I had failed both my staff and my baby. I’d apologize to the whole restaurant as I took a seat in the dining room to assess if Dorian just needed mommy cuddles or if we needed to head home for a few hours.

Being 100%, in every aspect of your life is impossible. Give yourself permission to neglect some of the things some of the time.

I wanted so badly to do everything at once without anything being out of balance. That wasn’t reality. I had a baby. I now understood that he would always trump everything else. What I was doing was the very definition of juggling! With a baby in tow, moms never know what the day - or hour - will bring. You have to hold on and adjust on the fly. I magnified my stress because I chose to spend our days at the restaurant, where we lacked a back office escape. As soon as we got to the restaurant, we were “on.” My staff was beyond accommodating. There were times they would tell me to go home, reassuring me that they could handle everything.

As soon as I accepted the fact that the life I had pre-Dorian wasn’t going to return, I needed to make some significant changes, including asking for help.

I missed my independence and would often ask one of the staff if they would take Dorian so I could take orders and make food. Yes, I asked my employees to NOT do the job I’d hired them to do because I wanted so desperately to be FREE, but I didn’t want my son too far from me. I chose a difficult path. My vision of being a full-time mom and a full-time business owner involved a lot of help from other people. I guess you could say I had a whole network of “nannies” that helped me raise him.

Takeaway: Flexibility is essential. When help is offered, take it.

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