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 I felt like a no-talent, out of date, old Mom (EW) and I just kept squashing my feelings of inadequacy down and down.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 1

2017 marks a big milestone for me: it’s been 10 years since I had a M-F, 8-5 job and career. This year my first baby starts junior high and my last baby starts kindergarten. I have been thinking about this year for five years! But as it is now ACTUALLY here, I’ve been all over the place in my thoughts and emotions. At first I panicked-but God has led me to some beautiful shores as a result of my questions. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to get the whole story.

In 2005, I had our first baby: my sweet little Cooper. I also had my dream job working as the Communications Coordinator for my church. I LOVED my job. It was the best thing ever and it was everything I had dreamed and desired in a job/career. I treasured it as one of the best gifts God had ever invited me to join Him in exploring. When Cooper came on the scene, my plans were to continue working. I had NEVER pictured myself as a stay at home mom nor did I know very many. My Mom and my Grandmother had all worked when their children were little.

When Cooper was born however, this thing called hormones changed everything. I still loved my job, but I was missing all the things my baby was doing. It felt like my heart would burst as I realized each day that somebody else got to see all the “firsts” in my first baby’s life. (Ok, not all but very many.) At this same time, my husband was in the midst of some big decisions himself. He had longed for many years to join the police force and had just been passed over for a position after 9 months of interviews. He was crushed and unhappy with his current job. After a lot of thought and prayer and discussion, he decided to join the Army as active duty at the spry age of 27. (That is how this blog was born too!)

Everything in our life changed with that decision. I quit my job, we sold our house, our cars and we drastically altered our path in life (at least in our view of things).

I was very excited at the chance to be a SAHM after we moved. I had thought about the natural cut off our big move made while Jeremy was away at basic training. We did the math and decided that we would try having me stay at home rather than trying to find a job and childcare all while sharing one car once we all made it to our first duty station. More of my friends had made that same decision in either a part-time or full-time capacity and I had longed for it for 18 months (even while still deeply loving my job). So when I finally got to Washington state, I was ecstatic. I did not think about the future, what I would do down the road or how I should plan for things then; I just dove head-first into what I had been longing to do.

It was a challenging transition for me going from a full-time working Mom to a stay at home mom in a whole new state, city and career (i.e. no friends). But those years were completely amazing; I cherish them deeply. Every thing that we struggled with (because we were SO POOR!) was absolutely worth it. The videos of our life and my kids’ childhoods, the traditions we began-I found myself in those years. It was a whole new me I had never met and it was horrible and amazing. It’s like I came to life and discovered things I never knew were in me.

When the time to move back to St. Louis and end our time as an active duty military family came, I was very unsure of what the future would hold. I wasn’t ready to go back to work and I wasn’t sure I was done having children. My youngest child was not yet two and I still had a year before preschool was even something to think about-and three years until kindergarten for him. So in a big moment of transition, I again chose to be a SAHM. This time though, we couldn’t swing it financially.  I tried a new thing for a little over one year; I started watching a friends’ baby girl.

More transition, more finding myself and more struggle mingled with awesomeness ensued. We had another baby, Jeremy found an amazing career path and went back to school full time while working two jobs. After we added a third child to our crew, I eventually found a different part time job cleaning a home for a family two days a week, once our daughter was old enough to attend preschool.

Family Photos 2012

I was still a SAHM. I still felt like it was the right thing for our family and for me. In the back of my head, a new thought was budding about the future as my last baby grew. It was the FIRST time since quitting my “real” job that I looked forward with uncertainty regarding what I would do. Our daughter was 3 and as I did the math for the year she would be in school full day and thought about where our other children would be, I started to realize we would have another choice to make. Decision time would be blooming in 2017.

There was a lot of wrestling that began that year (2015). I began to pray and dream and think and to talk with my closest friends about how vulnerable and even worthless I felt. I looked around at my SAHM friends who had walked that path with me and saw the mix of decisions and paths they had taken or begun to take. A new question grew in my heart and in my mind that I had not considered in a long time. I recalled Jesus in the New Testament asking this question: “What do you want?”

And I thought,….”what?”

For the first time, I didn’t know what I wanted.

(Stay tuned for the rest of the story!)