Over the last 6 years I’ve taught hundreds of people to paint beautiful scarves. Many have told me, “You’ve got a million-dollar idea here.” Dozens of guests have asked, “When are you bringing Paint a Scarf to my town? It would really take off there!”
So a couple of years ago my husband and I decided to take Paint a Scarf national. Coast-to-coast. Our first stop would be Phoenix, where we care for my aging father every winter.
We launched in October. We were mobbed at the Women’s show. Two TV stations covered our grand opening. Everything looked like Paint a Scarf was going to boom.
Then disaster struck.
Dad took a turn for the worse. He fell. He had a stroke. He now requires constant care. His dementia is getting worse fast. He can’t remember what you told him 30 seconds ago. He thinks he’s alone in the house and cries out for help every 2 minutes if you leave the room.
We have to prompt him to do every single thing each day. We dress him, bathe him, cook for him, and answer hundreds of questions repeatedly. The hardest part is he can’t sit still. He’s up, down, around, moving constantly day and night. When you ask, “Where are you going?” he looks baffled and says, “I don’t know…”
We have all sorts of help in place—respite caregivers, daycare, home nurses—but he still requires about 10 hours of care just to get through the day (and I sleep fitfully in case he needs me in the night).
And what has suffered most is Paint A Scarf. I have not had time to make my sales calls, do my marketing tasks or attend networking events. I can feel us losing momentum.
Over the past month I faced the decision so many female entrepreneurs face – what to put first, my family or my business? Which takes me back my original question: when do you walk away from a million dollars?
The answer: when your family needs you more.
You cannot have it all, so you have to choose the best over the good, mourn the loss, remember the moments.
David and I decided this morning to stop the national expansion of Paint a Scarf. Our last pub event in Phoenix will be December 20. After that we’re available for private parties in Phoenix until April.
We’ll keep our Alaska operation going, thanks to our terrific employees. We’ll be there painting by the creek this summer just as we have since 2013.
I can’t have it all, but I can have what’s most important. I can help my dad die comfortably. I can be present for my children and grandchildren.
I’m both sad and relieved. I’ve really enjoyed being an entrepreneur and business woman. But at the end of my life when I look back, I’ll remember the relief in my dad’s eyes when he sees me walk through the door. “It’s alright,” he says to the caregiver, “My daughter’s here. She’ll know what to do.”