I was ‘assigned’, by the team to write a post about balancing family and business. I am asked frequently about this by others. If I am not directly asked, I can usually sense others may be thinking it. ;) This question, along with so many things connected to motherhood, touches on many areas close to our hearts as woman and mothers. Today I am going to share a little of my journey with you.
(Photos from a Colorado trip in October with the family)
Six years ago I jumped into this business. Little did I know exactly what I was jumping into! Yep, pretty clueless. At that time, I was mother of two, married seven years, loved decorating our home, and growing a big garden. I was happy and loved life. Being a mother was all I ever thought I would be and even considered. My husband and I never had the conversation of…will I be a full time mother? It was a given. And I was good with that. When I look back to how I became a photographer, I always use the word stumbled. I stumbled into it. I was not looking for it. When I did stumble across it, I was gripped with an intense passion to learn this skill and to do it well. It opened up a whole new world to me. I learned, dreamed, worked hard, met many people, and well,….began a life changing journey.
And let me tell you, it has been a journey. God has used this business as a tool requiring me to look in the face some of my deep fears and core beliefs. Fears such as insecurity, failure, rejection, and the need to please others. Core beliefs such as my identity, my abilities, and my role in life. Meshing motherhood and business began one of my most intense emotional struggles. Suddenly I had to make choices that required me to ask questions such as why I lived the way I live. What truly defines a good mother? What does being a mother and a woman look like for me? What is God’s plan for our family? No longer could I just coast through life, not having to think outside of what I was comfortable with. I wrestled. Fought for clarity. Prayed for wisdom. Searched. Eventually, I came the place where I felt God put his hand on my forehead and said, “Girlfriend…this journey, this next year, this business, your life. It is not about you. It is not up to you. It is not for you. It is mine. Step aside and let me. It might be a ride…but I got it.”
When I first began the business, I did my best to hang onto what I knew and in a sense, do it all. It seemed to me, being a full time mother and having a photography business would mesh great. Because, hey I can work on the weekends, edit when little ones nap, and shoot in the late afternoon when my husband is home. But I quickly realized it was not as easy as it sounded. The boundaries became blurred. I began to feel like I was trying to be a mom AND trying to work constantly, both at the same time; not allowing me to do either well. Today when I am asked how I do it all, my answer is simple. I DON’T. I no longer believe I can or try. I have learned what I can handle. What my family needs. What I as a woman and mother need to feel settled and peaceful. I have learned the beauty of schedules, having help, and sleeping. :)
Here is what I have learned along the way….
First of all, I believe. God is my foundation. I have to know that I am living in His will. To the point, if I did differently, I would be disobeying. I do my best to no longer base my decisions on fear, insecurity, confusion, or other people’s expectations. I need to know clearly and see His hand in it…then I will move forward.
Second of all, I need to be surrounded by a core circle of people that believe in me, will fight for me, and speak truth to me even if it hurts. My husband has to be right there by my side when making decisions. I may have the vision, the passion, and the determination. But I need to know that he has peace about it and can 100% support me. It is a team effort. I have a circle of girlfriends that have been INVALUABLE to me. Over fries and wine, we have processed life, cried, inspired, encouraged, and held each others hand through the tough times. And my family…they provide the solid foundation for who I am today.
The third one is big. I need to take care of myself. Sound selfish? I always thought so too. But slowly I began to understand; if I am taking care of myself …I can better serve my family and others. I will have more life to go to them. Let me tell you about my sister. She has been a God sent. What does she do for me? SO much. Amber is in college, but we have been able to work our schedules together. She stays with my boys on the days I am working. She gets groceries, cooks dinner, does laundry, takes the boys to the library, plays games with them, and genuinely loves on them. She is kind, patient and such a server. I come home after working all day and the house is picked up, dishes done, dinner waiting, laundry folded, and things are peaceful. Let me tell you, amazing. All of a sudden I did not feel like I was running 100 MPH and never caught up. In the business, a team of beautiful people surrounds me. Today I no longer edit, design products, create invoices, place orders, package orders, schedule shoots, organize events or team blog posts, plan when the studio gets cleaned, and keep supplies stocked. And most valuable of all, these women are a source of support, inspiration, and creativity. The strength of being surrounded by others all working together is humbling and beautiful.
Fourth, we are all on a journey. Motherhood is part of our identity as woman. We tend to compare. Feel less than. More than. Wrestle with guilt. We mess up and can’t forgive ourselves. Do I ever feel guilt? Yep, but I have come to recognize that guilt creeps in when I compare myself to others or when I am making choices I do not feel settled with. The first, comparing, is never good. The second? I know better and I know the solution. Do I ever mess up? Yep, we all do. A little grace for ourselves goes along way. Life is all about doing our absolute best and then accepting failures as part of life; learning from them and moving on.
Last, life has seasons. We know this…but do we allow them? When I first became a mother, I parented with techniques. Things I learned from books and what I thought I should be doing. In an attempt to be perfect (ha:), I tried my best to do everything by the book. As I walked the grueling process of asking myself what motherhood meant to me, I had to access part of my heart that I hadn’t before. Today I parent with my heart, intuition, and simple resolve that I, as their mother understand and know what my children need. I for sure, recognize I have a lot to learn and continue to seek parental advice. But my heart is my compass. In this, I am very aware that life is ever evolving. Shifting. Expanding. I no longer fight this and hold onto what feels comfortable and safe. I understand that holding loosely onto life and allowing it to evolve only benefits others and myself. I am having a baby girl in two months. Yep, that will again require me to redefine. But I am confident that I will know and God will meet me there.
- I don’t do it all. Taking care of myself is not a selfish privilege. It is a necessity that enables me to be the best woman I can be.
- We are created to be INTERDEPENDENT. Not dependent. Not independent. What a blessing to be surrounded by others that believe in me and have my back. We all have strengths….what a blessing to work alongside others that have strengths I do not have.
- We all are on a journey. Cliché? Maybe. But truth. Respect others and their journeys. Let’s walk our journey with confidence. Comparing is no good. Ever. It cripples, hinders, and is life sucking.
- Life is ever evolving. Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Life has seasons. We cannot skip the steps along the way. They happen. Whether we want them to or not. Allow the seasons. Seek wisdom, growth, and direction…..and hold onto life loosely and allow it to evolve.
Do I write this from a perspective that you should go on a journey similar to mine? Absolutely not. The world is huge…I only know my small corner. My own journey. I feel quite humble in the fact that I might read this post in a year from now and chuckle at myself. Life has it’s way of throwing curve-balls and taking us through things we didn’t see coming. But you know what, that is okay. Today, I will do what I know, what I have peace with, keep my face up, smile, share, continue to seek, embrace, engage, and live with my heart. Life is short…wherever I am, whatever I am doing…I want be all in…settled, peaceful, and ready.