The Return of the Working Mom

First of all, this blog title is an obvious misnomer. For all of my motherhood career, I have been a “working mom.” For the first seven years of parenting I worked full-time out of the home. But for the last five years, I have vacillated between working part-time for another company, freelancing, and building my own business. During those years, I also spent much of my time at home taking care of my kids. I was the primary parent, volunteering at school and with the PTA, serving as a kid-taxi to practices and events, and leading the charge for every doctor’s appointment, parent-teacher conference or kid-centered meeting. I loved it.

A few months ago, I started thinking about when I wanted to go back to work full-time. I always knew that I would go back eventually, I was just never sure what exactly that would look like for our family. I could take a full-time position with another company. I could invest in my own business and take it full-time. I could continue freelancing. I could cobble together a combo of several different options. While I loved the flexibility I had with my own business, I found myself exhausted by the grind of it all. I loved photography, working with clients and creating fun projects, but I wasn’t a huge fan of accounting, taxes, and the day-to-day of running a business. The part-time aspect was a struggle as well. I had enough work to take my business full-time, but not enough childcare to give myself the hours to get it all done. I was constantly working in bursts, having to take frequent breaks for my parenting duties, and I found that really difficult.

Also, as I learned soon after I left my last full-time job, a lot of my self-worth and confidence were tied to being a “working mom.” I found it challenging to be home more, especially as my kids got older and the duties shifted to a more “housewife” type role instead of a caretaking role. For me, it wasn’t fulfilling, and I found myself bored, tired and unmotivated. I have a strong pull to be financially independent, and knowing if something happened to my husband’s income, I couldn’t support the family, really stressed me out.

So a few months ago I started tentatively putting my name out into the universe when I’d see jobs that might be a good fit. Very soon after, the perfect job sort of just….appeared. I know that sounds incredibly annoying, especially if you’ve been in search of the perfect job for a long time. But keep in mind, I’ve been on a journey to find a job that fits with my life for years. It’s part of why I left my last full-time position and why I’ve spent the last few years happy, but still feeling like something was missing. In the words of a wise friend, “Isn’t it wonderful that you found a job that’s the best fit for your life RIGHT NOW?”

There have been some surprises since I began my new career adventure (I’m coordinating social media and website content for the cancer center that saved my dad’s life when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer), and oddly, most of them have been positive. I was prepared to be overwhelmed, anxious, and constantly searching for the elusive “working mom balance” that highlighted the years in my former career. However, so far, I’ve been incredibly fulfilled and I’m so happy going into work every day. I thought I would really miss not being able to be as flexible with the kids and not getting to hang at the pool during the summer. Instead, it’s been such a gift to be supported by other people in my life who have stepped up to help out. The kids are really happy too, and I think they are enjoying their newfound independence and time with their super-fun babysitter and family. I thought the commute would be a bummer, but I actually like having that buffer time between work and home, something that was sorely missed when I was working for myself. I would work right up to the minute the kids got into the car at school pickup, and I struggled a lot to turn off my work stress in front of them. Now, by the time I get home, I’ve usually had enough time to decompress and jump into parenting with a good attitude. I also have been really focusing on having as much quality time with my kids as possible, where as before I certainly felt like I was never fully in one place or another.

Granted, I am only six weeks into this new adventure, and I may TOTALLY eat my words once school starts for the kids and my busy season begins at work in the fall, but for now, I’m enjoying the change. It’s so important that we all give ourselves permission to change as our lives change. While a few years ago I never could have imagined wanting to work for anyone other than myself, I am finding it was the best choice for me right now. I’m sure things will continue to evolve, but for today, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

13-Years-Old

Dear Lucy,

Today you turned 13-years-old. Yes. THIRTEEN. As in teenager! What in the holy heck is happening? How can I have a teenage daughter? I don’t understand this at all, but it is apparently real life, so I suppose I’d better get used to it.

I have high hopes your teenage years, especially your younger teenage years, will be a bit easier than mine. Because, sweet girl, being a female teenager is hard. Thirteen is the first time I remember really having the realization that as a girl, I not only had very different experiences than my boy counterparts, but that I had to be constantly vigilant against threats. I think it’s something we all go through as women, but that doesn’t mean I wish I could remove it for you. When I was thirteen, I first noticed older men creepily staring at me in public spaces or at the pool, experienced boys snapping my bra, and other girls turning against me in cruel ways. I had prayed we would be a more evolved species by the time you got to this point, and I suppose we are, but I also know you will have to combat some of these same things. And it sucks. It really does. I’m so sorry we haven’t been able to fix this crap yet, but we will keep working on it, I promise.

Luckily, so far, you seem much stronger than I was at thirteen. You have absolutely no time for sexism, and you rage against other injustices, such as homophobia, xenophobia and racism. You are extremely outspoken and I couldn’t be prouder of you. You are definitely not Little Red Riding Hood…you are the Wolf! I have zero doubt you will change the world in magnificent ways, and I’m grateful to have a front-row seat to the show.

When you entered middle school this past fall, I worried so much about how it would all shake out for you, but so far, it has been mostly positive. While you’ve stayed close with a few friends from elementary school, especially through your participation in the middle school musical (where many of them had a role), you’ve also started to form a new tribe. Your new friends are eclectic, artistic, and creative. It can be so difficult as a parent to know your child now has friends and a life that have absolutely nothing to do with you, and that has certainly been true for me. Middle school was our first foray into independence, and I had to let go and trust that we’d done enough in those formative years to send you out into the world (and on to the school bus) with love.

Your story has officially transitioned. It is very little of mine, and 100% yours. You will continue to grow and learn and have experiences that don’t include me at all. This sort of breaks my heart. But it also excites me. Because you surprise me every day with your empathy, care, joy for life, openness to learn and stubbornness, and I know many of these characteristics are growing in you when I’m not there. I can’t even imagine how amazing you will be in a year, two years, five years…

I’m grateful to have been your mother and caretaker for the past thirteen years. I’m will always be a soft spot where you can land when things get to be too much. I love you more every day. My Lucinda Light…

Love,

Mama

One Second Every Day

A Note on Documenting Life

When I started this blog a billion years ago (okay, only 15 years ago…but whoa that’s a very long time), it was to share bits and pieces of my life as I traveled around the world. I never imagined a time when we’d share so much of our lives on the internet, but here we are, Instagramming our coffee on the daily. While there are certainly aspects of this that aren’t appealing, one part I do love is finding new and interesting ways to document the life of my little family.

Sometimes, when we are laying in bed, my 8-year-old will beg me to get out my phone and pull up old blog posts with videos from his babyhood. They always make us laugh and I’m constantly reminded how much I wish I was really documenting the little, in-between moments. It’s almost like now that I have a video recorder at my fingertips every second of the day (hello, iPhone), I forget to use it unless I’m being intentional. Almost as if now we know it’s a GIVEN that so much of our lives will be documented online, so we forget to capture those moments that won’t gain us Facebook likes or retweets.

Last year, in an effort to record and remember the mundane and beautiful moments that happen when social media isn’t watching, I made a goal to complete one full year using the One Second Everyday app. One Second Every Day is an app where you can record one second of video for each day, and then it will mash the clips together in a video supercut. In years past, I’ve attempted to utilize One Second Everyday, but I usually burned out after a month or two. However, 2018 was MY YEAR to make it finally happen…and I did!

But then I never shared the final product on the blog. I mean, points for effort, right?!

Well, better late than never, so I’m super excited to share the video with you today. Some of the clips are of huge moments like lobbying for foreign aid in Washington DC or the kids jumping off cliffs at Tablerock Lake, while others are what could be considered mundane (yes, there are a lot of clips of our animals…). Regardless, I love how the entire video turned out, and it was incredibly fun to watch this back with my family and remember what an incredible year we all had together.

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