Red light, yellow light

Jenni Gritters
7 min readNov 3, 2023

A while back, my 3-year-old son projectile vomited onto me as he was getting ready for preschool.

I had a whole workday planned. Every Sunday evening, I sit down for 20 minutes and map out the week ahead. I look at the different things I need to do and set priorities. I talk to my husband about who will handle the kids’ drop offs and pick ups, and when I might have time to exercise or walk the dog. I walk away with a pretty clear idea of what I need to accomplish and how it might happen.

And then the toddler gets sick and throws all of those plans out the window.

Frankly, I’m still learning how to handle this sudden priority shift. Rarely do I wake up and have the day that I planned to have. Caring for two small children often feels directly oppositional to capitalism, hustle and order. In fact, the only thing I can trust about taking care of an 8-month-old and 3-year-old is that nothing ever really goes according to plan.

On that day, I realized that I am getting better at practicing resiliency, or coming back to groundedness after being slammed by something outside of my control. I’ve spent 18 months of the past few years chronically ill with hyperemesis gravidarum during my pregnancies, and that condition taught me that I could never predict how I would feel — or what I would need — on any given day.

The same goes for my mental health. I have a panic disorder, which means I don’t know how my nervous system will feel when I roll out of bed each morning.

The reality of running your own business while managing a complex human life is this: You must contend with chaos every day.

The idea that we will wake up each morning and have the ability — or the desire — to enact the same routine is hyper-masculine and incredibly ableist. People who menstruate live in bodies that operate cyclically, with different feelings and energy levels on different days. Those of us with chronic health conditions experience peaks and valleys of symptoms that are completely out of our control. As human animals, we are inclined to feel different ways during different seasons; we want to hibernate during the winter months and adventure during the summer months.

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Jenni Gritters

I’m a writer and business coach for freelance creatives based in Central Oregon. I write about the psychology of small business ownership.