Don’t Quit Your Day Job-Part 3

Welcome! This is my final post in a series about how I decided to become a stay at home mom (SAHM) and the new adventure I’m on as I wrestle with school-age children 10 years after quitting my day job. Join me in my new adventure by reading Part 1  and Part 2 of my story and then follow along as my path is uncovered and discovered in future posts in 2017.

I used to hate the question that inevitably follows whenever I share that my youngest child is starting Kindergarten this fall; “What are you going to do Tiffany?”

Initially, I hated the question because I felt tremendous pressure from myself to go out and get a job. I felt like that is what I was expected to do. The pressure I felt wasn’t even need generated. Our family had made it for 10 years on one income plus whatever little extra I could pull in on the side. But the idea of a societal expectation and my perception that I was unprepared to meet it; That idea made me feel completely inadequate and worthless. Who would have me?!

I have wrestled with overwhelming feelings of worthlessness since my third child had been born. Do I matter? What do I even do? Do I have relevant skills for the world we live in? It produced in me all sorts of bashfulness and even shame. My major was communications and I have a bachelor’s degree, sure. But I haven’t mingled in the world of technology for 10 years. When I first started my dream job, I was using PageMaker by Adobe! I had just convinced the church to move towards Adobe’s new suite and utilize InDesign when I quit. Can we talk about how much has changed in 10 years?!

Time and again as I pondered my questions, my answers truly frightened me. I felt like a no-talent, out of date, old Mom (EW) and I just kept squashing my feelings of inadequacy down and down.

But that growing whisper wouldn’t be silenced. My heart kept hearing a call, “What do you want?”

Last summer, my dear friend and fellow writer Kayla Smith asked me to read a book with her. I mentioned it in Part 2 of this post. Dan Allendar’s book, To Be Told introduced me to a scandalous invitation and helped me hear better the voice in my heart. What if God is inviting me to co-author the story of my life? How would that change the decisions I make today as this new opportunity looms? It certainly helped me pay attention to that growing whisper I couldn’t silence anymore.

So at the close of last summer, as I sent my kids back to school, I said to myself, “Fine. What DO I want?” and I gave myself full permission to explore an answer.

That is where God met me, and He invited me to wait. He invited me to a mystery. (That’s so something He would do, isn’t it?)

The waiting He invited me to is not the waiting that is boring or painful though; it is beautiful, hopeful and mysterious. It’s like waiting for a baby to be born and having your arms ache to hold and snuggle the squirming child. It’s like waiting for a delicious meal to be served and smelling all the mouth-watering smells as it is prepared and your stomach growls with anticipation.

He whispered to me that I CAN do whatever I want. He told me that the pressure I feel is not pressure I must succumb to because it is not from Him. As I talked with my amazing and sweet husband, he told me too that I can do whatever I want. Suddenly there was all this freedom surrounding me and all sorts of invitations to taste and see what the Lord is up to in this little life of mine. I learned that I can explore my options. I learned that I don’t have to have a definitive answer. He told me I can stand on His promise to be blessed and be a blessing and it changed everything for me.

I know in my heart that I’m not quitting my day job. Just like the Moms who have career paths and work 8-5 and just like Moms who are SAHMs, we will always be committed to the children God has given us. It’s our calling and our position and our love. I will always be called to their needs and I will have to lay my life down in new ways all the time-and I will do so joyfully (though maybe I will complain a bit sometimes).

In the mean time, if you ask me that previously dreaded question, my answer is the same but totally different. I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I am delighted to confidently wait on God to show me what opportunities I CAN do with all the talents and skills He has given me. I am challenged to pray in new ways about the time that is coming. I am challenged to dream up new things and I feel tremendous freedom to explore what that looks like. In some ways I feel like my years-long writers block I have wrestled with is dissipating. The fog is still there but I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.

I’ll just be a Mom and something else….

In the mean time, I have decided I am going to soak up every moment of the present as the gift that it is to me and our family. I haven’t read Present Over Perfect yet, but I love the idea of it that Shauna Niequist has introduced to Christians. I want to take in what is today and be willing to wait on a good God to show me the invitations He has for me. His timing in my story past has always been right, though it has not been mine. It will be right in this new season too.

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Thanks for listening and joining me in my 10 year milestone. I can’t wait to see what God does next!

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Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Part 2

Welcome! I’m in the middle of a series about how I decided to become a stay at home mom (SAHM) and the new adventure I’m on as I wrestle with school-age children 10 years after quitting my day job. Join me in my new adventure by reading Part 1 of my story and then follow along as my path is uncovered and discovered.

It’s very strange to be asked what you do in your spare time when you are a SAHM. If you ask me that question, you’ll receive a stuttering, stammering reply. I don’t have “spare” time. I just have time. I learned many years ago that I can spend time like a rich girl spends money; whenever and however I want! Ok, that’s not totally true.

I used to do a really bad job putting boundaries on my day. I realized much too late that I should allow my day to end after the kids are in bed so that I can enjoy my husband and what “spare time” I am offered. I used to have bad boundaries and work constantly. It’s so true that there is always more work to do. Each day is full to the brim and I can’t do and be everything that needs to be done or everything others need me to be. It was freeing when I learned some healthy limitations. It was freeing and super scary when I started asking what I heard Jesus whispering to me, “what do you want?”.

I take my role as a SAHM seriously. I desire to be present and available to my family and the needs of my children because that’s what I do and that’s where I am needed. I made that my job. I consider it a monumental privlige. I have all sorts of personal identity-good and healthy, bad and not healthy- wrapped up in that choice. Detangling them from me has been a process.

As my children grow more independent, I know that they still need me very much. However, their needs are not as pressing as those of the small children I once exhausted my body, heart and mind to raise and nurture. My sleepless nights nursing a child, soothing a bad dream, teaching a child to sleep at all even-they’ve been exchanged for nights of delicious and exhausted sleep.

I’m exhausted because each day holds SO MUCH running around. I’m in the thick of picking people up, dropping people off for before and after school activities, coordinating play dates and special field trips and school party arrangements. I help my SAHM friends in tight spots and my working momma friends in tight spots. (Solidarity ladies-no matter what your day job looks like.)

Life right now looks like a juggler! It’s gloriously fast. I love to go fast.

As my time has opened up in one way, it’s closed down in others. Summer as a SAHM is my pride and joy. It’s my Momma-time-to-shine! But it’s overwhelming having all my people around with their different desires and schedules to satisfy and to try to encourage them to get along with one another all day, every day. I feel like four different people are pulling me in four different directions. Will it always be that way? I know it won’t, and I know I’ll miss our time together.

I have 8 months left of this time in my life before everything changes. This month I register our son for junior high. He came home this week after the middle school representatives came and explained how school works and how to register for classes-and he was beaming. “Mom, at lunch you can get seconds!” and my heart just melted over how adorable he is about food. He’s a big kid and life is just now opening up for him. I get to be here at home to hear all about his day. I get to greet him and talk with him and think through things with him each day. What a job!

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Later in this month we will go to our elementary school and register our daughter for full day kindergarten. Right now we have her in 1/2 day preschool-a decision I wrought my heart over. “Should she go full day, or should she go half day?” I have three hours apart from her three days a week and we both love it. It has been exciting and new and full of possibilities for her and for me. As I’ve looked for all my necessary paperwork I will need to submit on her behalf for Kindergarten I hear that growing whisper in the background, “and what will you do Tiffany?”.

UGH. How I hate that question.

I used to hate that question.

After two-ish years of praying, thinking, asking questions, talking and watching other women, God brought me to a freeing idea through a book I read over the summer by Dan Allendar. It’s called To Be Told. In it Allendar offers a scandalous thought to Christians; What if God is inviting us to co-author the story of our life?

What if Jesus is holding out his hand to me with mischief twinkling in his eyes and asking me what I want? Me?

I don’t know what I want.

What a question. What a scandalous thought.

I quit my dream job and gave up all thoughts of jobs or a career path to pour into my kids. I wanted to see everything they did and know everything about them. I wanted to be in every moment. I wanted my life to be used for them. I wanted to cherish and relish and explore and discover them and myself; and I wanted to do it together.

(Join me for Part 3 of my story later this week!)