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Blurred Lines

This past weekend I attended the Haven blog Conference for DIY home decor bloggers in Atlanta, Georgia. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re probably thinking, “she went to ANOTHER blog conference?!? Why on earth?” Well,  yes, I’ve thought the same thing…and I’ll explain later why I went to another one.

sifting through blurred lines

Two days before I left, I went to dinner with a few neighbor friends. When I said I was leaving town, my one (sweet/kind/could never hurt a fly) friend laughed and suggested I needed a personal assistant. When I told her I actually have a few assistants who help me with my blog, she said said, “No, an assistant for your LIFE!” Because I know her heart, I know she didn’t mean it how I took it.

I function best on overdrive, and lots of friends are similar, and lots of friends are overwhelmed just watching me and all that I take on.  Sometimes….just sometimes….I overwhelm myself. Most of the time, I love it. It’s how I thrive.

That same night, another friend told me that she’s never left her kids for a night, because she doesn’t want to miss one second of their lives. Never a weekend away with her husband in 8 years. I recounted the 12 days I’ve been gone from my kids this year–at a blog conference–and it all came swooping in:  GUILT. GUILT. GUILT.

Most of the time, I’m able to push that feeling away. I work dang hard to be an intentional mother. I’m all about quality AND quantity. It’s not everyday that I get them both, but I aim for it–daily.  I truly feel that this blogging gig has helped me organize my (self diagnosed) ADD brain to be more of an intentional mother. I map out my days, with purpose.

I’ve decided that all moms/women feel guilt for some reason or another.

You see, this blog has turned into a business that I never expected. I never planned to “work” and I still won’t say that I do. My “job”  is my family.  I don’t want to offend anyone out there who works from home or out of the home, but just to say, it’s not what I wanted…or want. Even with photography, it was always “on the side” or “occasionally” but my blogging is every day.

I can’t figure out what it is that drives me to want to share something every day on this blog (because it isn’t the $$$, I don’t make that much for how much I do).  I have to actually FORCE myself to not  post on days that I’m just tired or an unexpected activity comes my way.  Maybe it stems from my journal keeping–I wrote every single day from middle school through college and nearly weekly after having kids– purging my thoughts keeps me sane!

So though I recognize that people will judge me one way or another for how I do things, I have to be happy with myself and my choices. And that’s where it gets hazy for me….

Blurred Lines.

I think most of us agree that it’s ok to “take a trip” to “have something for ourselves” to “have a passion/hobby” and only we can decide those dividing lines of when they cross over to “too much.” We are accountable to our own personal ideals, that that changes from person to person.  Though I may judge my friend who has never been away from her kids, it’s what makes her happy and she’s fine with it, so it’s not my business or need to convince her.

I had only PLANNED to travel to one conference this year. The one in April in Utah. Then, I found out there was a foodie conference in. my. town.  in June, and I thought….”I have to do that!” I was going to stay at home, then realized I’d be home to sleep after my kids went to bed and before they woke up and I got an offer for a free hotel room, so why bother? THEN the March conference was in Dallas–no flights needed. I randomly applied in November to be a “community leader” and (got a free ticket) when I found out in January, I thought, “well, I only have to pay for a partial  hotel room, so it’s practically free….why not?” I didn’t calculate the time spent away from my family as a major form of payment.

You see, nothing crazy happened while I was gone, all went smoothly, each time they played with friends or family and had a grand ole time. It was a LOT of being gone, and I was DONE!
mom and kids

Then, at the end of June, out of the blue I got an email from the staff of a conference I had been wanting to go to, but it didn’t seem logistical at all to go with all of the above. BUT–they were asking ME to come SPEAK at their conference–what an honor!  I told myself I was done though…but how could I say no? In the few days that I had to decide, I emailed a few friends that I knew were going to see if they needed a roommate this late in the game. My one good friend said, she was bringing her husband as her roommate. Then I thought….”now there’s an idea…”

{insert cute pic of Mr. Duke and I that is not to be found on my new computer}

I’ve long wanted my husband to understand this blog world I’ve experienced. For him to better “get” why I love it, and the people I share it with–my bloggy friends, to go to a few classes and see what it’s really all about, and this was the perfect conference for him. It focused on building and woodworking and such. I also thought that if I went with him, it was different than me going alone. It made ME feel better (and possibly those judging me that I pretend not to care about).

I told myself that if I could get a sponsor for us to both go, then we’d do it. The stars aligned, he agreed, and the trip was covered by our fabulous sponsor, Ryobi.

I’m glad I went to each conference that I went to this year. Each one, I had some really great experiences, and heard remarkable stories, meeting people who are great friends now. I don’t regret them, but I probably could have done without them. I need more clarity in those blurred lines. There are many good choices out there, but what are the BEST for me?

For now, I’ll continue on with my intentional mothering, focus better on giving my husband my undivided attention when we talk, write blog posts from 9pm-midnight, check emails while my kids have their afternoon electronic time, aim to start my day with some form of exercise, forge ahead with projects, try to keep the house in order, nourish my spirit daily, pray for clarity, and move forward trying to figure it out as I go.
my kids


Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. Don’t feel guilty! It’s important as a mother to have some “me-time” – to focus on yourself and regain energy. And you appreciate the things that you have more when you’ve been away from it for a day or two.

    I know that as a mormon, you have a very “family first” and “stay at home-mom” attitude, which is great. But please realize that this is not the norm of the day: my best friend has a 10-month old. She’s a great mom to him, but she’s also finishing up her degree, which means she only sees him awake for 3-4 hours (max!) every day during the weekday. But to see him light up and hang onto her is a delight, and it’s obvious that he knows fully well who his mom is. He adores her! What I’m trying to say is this: being away from your kids does not make them resent you. They know how dedicated you are and how much you love him. If anything, it’ll only make them not take you for granted!

    So go work on yourself, enjoy your blogging experience. Your kids won’t remember you as “the mom who was always away on blogging business” – far from! :)

  2. This is something all mothers struggle with, working or not. Thank you so much for posting this! You are an inspiration and your blog is helping so many others, as are your books.
    Leslie Moore recently posted..Weekly Menu {8/5-8/11}My Profile

  3. Jacqueline says:

    No, it’s not always easy figuring this stuff out, that’s for sure. I’m single and have no kids, and it’s still hard to know where to draw the lines sometimes. Wishing you wisdom and clarity as you keep praying and searching! P.S. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Most of the time when I read your blog I think: goodness she can pack a lot of stuff into her day! I’m totally not like that… I get easily overwhelmed with many tasks and I hate having a to-do list because that means I haven’t finished something, and that stresses me out. I need at least 8 hours of sleep to function and I do best when I know when something will start and finish, and I get it done in that time frame with as little new projects as possible. Kinda slow and boring, I know :)

    That being said, I think we are who we are and there is beauty, greatness and something to be learned in the differences. Guilt is a nasty by-product from the comparison trap, and we all feel it at times, but I don’t believe God created us to all be the same. He’s way too wonderful and creative for that. But I do think that trying to be someone you’re not or trying to mother your children or be a wife in a way that is not true to who you are would be harmful to all of you… while being the family you are, with the way you do things is what makes your little 6 person unit perfect for the 6 of you.

    I could certainly not do that many conferences in a year… I just can’t manage meeting that many people and actually trying to stay in touch! :) Your last paragraph almost put me in the comparison trap because that’s a lot! But I’m going to firmly stay out of the trap at least for this post!

    I love the last picture!
    Have a great rest of the week! :)
    Aline recently posted..Baked Polenta Fries {Recipe}My Profile

    • Did it come across that I admire your ability to do all you do with grace and 4 (four!!!) smiling kids in pictures? If not… that was the intention! :)
      Aline recently posted..Baked Polenta Fries {Recipe}My Profile

      • Kristen Duke says:

        Oh, girl, I’ve heard from you enough to know your intention, and it came across that way anyway;) The comparison trap is a vicious one, for sure! I actually get sad when I hear friends comparing (often from reading by blog) because sometimes I wish for a slower pace for myself….;)

  5. Michelle says:

    Anyone who reads your blog regularly can see how important your family is to you! It is not bad for you to do something you enjoy and you make it mesh with your family very well. I bet your doing something you love makes you a better mom and I know it sets a great example for your children, especially your girls. I know a lot of moms struggle with this issue. I did myself. When I stayed home with my son I loved it. I remember being in a store and the clerk told me about a special they were running and I said no thanks. She said, why not you work don’t you and I said no, I stay home with my son. She then said oh never mind then. When I went back to work I felt so guilty for leaving my baby but my husband told me that I was a happier, calmer mom and wife when I was working. We are all so hard on ourselves and each other. I hope some day we can let that go and understand that everyone makes the choices that work for them and just be happy with what we have and quit criticizing others for choosing something different. I LOVE your blog and you inspire me and teach me something every time I read it! Keep up the awesome work!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Michelle, you are so sweet, thank you for sharing your thoughts and that story, too. I’m kinda shocked about the store clerk and her assumptions, too! I do believe in taking time for myself for sure–just don’t want to be TOO selfish. It’s a tough call, for sure. I’m SO happy to hear that my words inspire you;)

  6. I for one think you’re doing a fabulous job. You are in inspiration to me and your other readers, a great role model for your children and I bet your kids and husband are very proud of you. My children are grown now but when they were little I too was away from them a few times a year. They thought of those times as sort of a “summer camp” experience. They stayed with friends or relatives and got to do things that I may not have done with them and eat things I may not have fed them. It actually wasn’t until after they had children of their own that I find out what exactly they were doing with my parents and in-laws while I was away! cringe! They look back with fond memories – so don’t feel guilt – your kids are probably having a great time and in the end they know how much you really love them.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Oh yes, they were so excited for WEEKS to go to their cousins house, and they had SO much fun! So that is a good reminder, for sure, that it’s ok. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate hearing other perspectives.

  7. You have such a way with words girlie!! It’s true… mom-guilt penetrates every facet of life! But I function best in overdrive too. If you’re doing what you love AND your family is happy, what else could you want? I looooooved meeting you and your man-child at Haven. And I know Nick loved having a little testosterone around in the sea of estrogen. :)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thanks, girl, it was SO SO fun, indeed! And yes, I think that guilt creeps in from time to time, we just need to keep on evaluating and do our best!

  8. you’ve done such an admirable job of prioritizing your roles in life, be they spiritually, motherly, friendly, wife, blogging…everything.
    if you could only know and understand how many people in the world you have mentored.
    way to go!

  9. As a mother who works full-time outside of the home, I can tell you that the comments I get from some people are just mean sometimes. It seems to me like you have a balance. 12 days being gone…. hmm taking into account that kids are awake for roughly 12-14 hours/day, that really equals a total of 7 days being gone from them (since they slept the rest). Looking at my workweek including commute time, it’s the equivalent of you working a full month outside of the house full-time. I’d say you have a great balance.

    I am grateful that you share what you do on your blog. I was drawn in initially from your beautiful photography (and decorating with portraits series), but love the other things you share. You seem very personaable. It feels like this is a creative outlet for you. Almost like you just whipping up an email to share with a friend. I like that about your blog.

    Good for you for taking your hubby to a conference with you. It’s a way to get fun-time in with your work time, and all wives need time with their husbands without kids once in a while :)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Nicole, thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts, your comment made my eyes sting;) It does feel like I am whipping up an email to a friend, and hearing your comments are the reply that help me keep going! I also LOVE the math (including sleeping time) ha! That makes it sound much better! I’m sad to hear that you get mean comments from people To each his own, I say. I have a few friends that say they are a better mother because they work full time, and I think it’s wonderful that they know that about themselves. We should all be less judgemental and more loving.

  10. Jana Weaver says:

    Wow! What an honor to speak at a blog conference and so fun that it worked out for your husband to join you.

  11. That picture is precious!!! I’m totally in love with it. I appreciate your honesty and also feel as women and mothers that we have to support each other, not tear each other apart! Life is hard enough and we all do the best we can with what we have. I love reading about your experiences and find strength in your motivation and example. Thanks for putting yourself out there, I know it’s not easy.

  12. I love this post. I haven’t actually written a new post in weeks and I still feel overwhelmed with it all. I’ve always thought you were very admirable :)
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  13. You nourished my spirit today. Beautifully said.