I am in a new season of my life now.
You know, over the past few years (before I became an official homeschooling, stay at home mom, work at home entrepreneur- what have you), I have done an awful lot of searching for my identity.
Most women in their 20's and early 30's go through this phase. Sometimes I think my identity search was a little extreme, while at the same time I recognize that I'm not alone.
Whereas I started off my college career in search of a business degree in Management Information Systems, I finished with my bachelors in Child Development. I've always loved kids and it was a perfect fit for me, the degree...but in my world of understanding I didn't get far with that. After college I bounced back and forth between jobs working in day cares and restaurants, and finally a job as a library assistant which I held down for four years while throwing myself into full time pursuit of what I really wanted to do with my life. I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Again, I had a soft spot for kids but just didn't see a career in the day care centers as a reasonable option. The pay was minimum wage and working my way up to assistant director for only $2 more per hour just wasn't going to cut it for me.
Deep down I had this love for tinkering with gadgets and technology and though blogging wasn't really a known thing yet, I had this habit of keeping a diary daily since I was about 11 years old. Writing as therapy was my thing, and I wouldn't have minded keeping some type of online diary of my (safe) thoughts and feelings to share with an online community. Again, blogging wasn't in yet. But I liked the idea of creating a website with the purpose of sharing and creating community. Then...I got married to my wonderful guy who happened to be a web designer. I caught the web design bug and started along that journey, quit my job to go to grad school and become a stay at home mommy to my first daughter, and the rest of the story is evolved from there.
I've been creating community sites for years- mainly mommy sites, community sites for Christian women, and technology-based projects...and again, the same pattern of finding and shifting identities has followed me throughout all of this.
I started three businesses- web design and online marketing, natural homemade soaps and skin care, and home education info sites.
I tell you all of this not to talk about me, me, me...but to give you a clear picture of what I mean by seeking identity. Some people experience mid-life crisis...but many of us experience an early onset life crisis! At any point, I know what it feels like to be a stay at home mom who aspires to entrepreneurial ideas, projects, and plans...but then life happens. It's a struggle and a true conflict...because on the one hand I totally LOVE being at home with my kids and I think it's a God-thing that I can do this. Not everyone can or wants to, and that's okay, but this is my calling - for now. And I love it without a doubt. On the other hand, I totally love being in the mix with clients or customers, helping others, building community, solving problems, contributing to my community and to my family monetarily-- and that can be a hard thing to come by when I devoted my time and energy to what I've chosen to do.
But I have chosen to do this. To be at home with my kids, to home educate them, to teach them about life and be with them throughout the day on a one-to-one basis.
And you know what? I don't regret it for one moment.
I even have to stop to smile for a moment.
Yes, I've made some sacrifices...who hasn't? Any stay at home mama (or dad), any homeschooling parent, will tell you that there are some sacrifices to be made when you choose this path of life. Some folks I know have chosen to downgrade, sell their big homes and move into smaller ones, live on less, eat out less, buy less, and enjoy life more. (Interesting paradox).
I don't know what God is doing in my life right now, and I'm not sure where He's leading me, where He's taking me to.
I just have to trust Him.
Only recently I restarted my web consulting business, helping women entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into online profits, and I was and still am quite passionate about that topic. But I feel that I have a hook around my waist with a yellow caution light flashing for just a moment...and until I feel the release of God's green light, "my" business is, once again, on hold.
Business-wise, that doesn't make any sense. Especially when you have money tied into something, deals have been made, plans have been settled on...
But I'll never be the same. Never, ever, ever.
I don't know where God is leading me, but I am open.
Yes, I am unsure of a lot right now. Like any other family in the U.S., we've felt the struggle of the economy and the pressure to cut corners anywhere we can. My plans were to contribute in a way that combined my passions and skills with a nice, assumed income through a small business. Being the entrepreneurial type, I just thought it would go smooth sailing, I would move out here, I would homeschool, unpack my things, and pick up where I left on the business.
Suddenly the quake hit Japan, and I was in a different zone- just in shock from the grief that so many endured only the distance of the Pacific Ocean away from my home. The after shock sent tidal waves in a stir near our coastlines. My father-in-law passed and my husband traveled to France and back within one week.
I tried to unpack, but with too much to think about, it was a mess. I let it go for another week. The kids missed their friends, the house was a wreck, and I had to keep life moving for everyone- no time to be an entrepreneur, no time to mope around the house. Face forward I had to keep moving. Get the kids out of the house, get out in nature to the beach, take walks, go to the library, go to church, go to play groups. Pray. It was all I could to stay afloat. What was business at this point?
In my heart, I am still an entrepreneur- will be forever I think. But what to do next? I dunno. How about enjoy my kids for now and get used to my new neighbors and find my way around the community? How about unpack that very last box sitting in the corner of my living room? How about getting back into some normalcy of a homeschooling routine, which is for now kind of left hanging up in the balance? I think I have enough to think about for now.
I also feel that I am growing past that mode of self-discovery from my 20's. Now almost in my mid 30's, I am beginning to understand more than ever who I am and that life is full of seasons. These seasonal changes can shift any which way, from one moment to the next. This year's experiences doesn't necessarily dictate next year's. I also understand that my identity is not founded upon which "career choices" I make. I am who I am, the way God made me, and that's it. A job is a job, a career is a career. But a calling. Now...that's something entirely different. And I think I've waken up to the fact that although I've dabbled into quite a few "careers" so to speak (child care worker, cashier/waitress, library assistant, web designer, soapmaker, online marketing consultant, freelance writer)...none of these labels can place an exclusive Label (with a capital "L") on me. I am God's alone. Yeah, sure, if I wanted to study photography I could probably become a pretty decent photographer within a year or two, if not sooner. I totally believe in myself that way...and it's not bragging, I just know that I could if I tried. BUT, here's the thing. Unless it's a true calling, it's just another job or career. And another career doesn't answer the one underlying question that every stay at home mama wants to know: WHO AM I?
That question can only be answered by discovering God's CALLING. How did He create me? For what purpose? What am I supposed to be doing on this earth?
Those are the questions I seek to answer this year.
And answering these questions mean I must give up my pursuit of a career (outside of the home) for a season and really listen to the Lord.
I am not taking one more step forward in that direction until I hear from Him.
So what if that means putting a few of my sites on the shelf for a season. It will be so worth it for the peace of mind I will have in the upcoming months when I finally realize which direction to go in.
For now, I just need to be still, settle in, and hear from Him.