Before my son was born in 2016, I worked a full time job, a part time job, went to school online full time and still managed to date my husband, serve in church, workout every day, and have a social life.
My schedule may have looked crazy to some people - sometimes it definitely felt overwhelming - but it was MY crazy. And I loved it. Crazy worked for me.
So when we found out we were expecting a baby, I had the utmost confidence in becoming a mom. After all, I was already a self proclaimed master multi-tasker. How hard could it be?
We started talking early on about what we would do in terms of me working. I've held a job consistently since I was 15 years old. That was half my life. So the thought of not working was actually SO APPEALING.
And that was it. We knew it would require some faith financially, but we also knew God would provide. And, He did.
When Andy was three months old, Mike got his official acceptance into Local 73 Sheet Metal Workers. He was a union man!
My family owned their own construction company when I was little. I spent almost my entire youth in construction yards, at Truck shows, and learning how to run a crane. When Bongi Construction closed in the 90’s, my dad was still a union man, an operator for over 20 years for Local 150. I was darn proud that my husband also became a union man. Because I knew, first hand, how well we were taken care of, and I knew that Mike would now be able to offer our family the same support.
He was (and still is almost three years later) so happy with where he is.
I wish I could say the same.
I learned quite quickly that being a Stay at Home Mom was not as elementary as I had assumed. It was the total opposite. Out of all the jobs I had, motherhood was, by far, the hardest.
Never in my life was I so exhausted, confused, anxious, doubtful and drained. But I also never experienced the joy or love I felt when I was cradling Andy in my arms, watching him explore every new scene and sensation, or hearing him coo and giggle. It seemed a fair trade, so I did my best to embrace this new normal and tell myself how lucky I was to have this opportunity to stay home, and that I was wrong - almost ashamedly so - to be unhappy.
Andy was five months old when I was invited to an online party for Usborne Books & More. An avid reader myself, I had stocked our house with books for my baby boy the moment the test read positive.
The consultant had asked if I wanted to join, and truthfully, I did NOT. I had my own salon at 23 and closing those doors was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I didn’t know if I could handle failing at this. But I also had over $100 worth of books in my cart that Mike was not going to approve of. Financially, it made more sense to join for $50, and get 10 books plus the opportunity to earn some extra cash.
That was the best decision I almost never made. My book business boomed - and quick. Almost too quick. I had a team of over 20 girls, promoted after a month, earned hundreds of extra dollars, and almost $1000 in free books.
This was what I needed. Something I could work at without actually being at work.
It wasn’t until this past Spring - over two years into business - that I suddenly felt that same loss and confusion.
Postpartum hits every woman differently. For me, it causes a case of mistaken identity. I doubt who I am and what I’m doing. My worth becomes blurry and entangled in the lies of the world.
Because by social media standards, as a SAHM I should be able to have an impeccable home, Pinterest worthy meals, hair and makeup selfie ready at all times (ok, that one isn’t very hard for me - I learned how to get ready in under 5 minutes in beauty school), and kids that are beautifully chaotic.
Instead, I was spending my days catering to my customers instead of my kids, popping frozen meals in the oven, and yelling at my beautiful babies for needing me. The business that brought me joy was now a burden. My health was fleeting, my mental stability was wavering, and I refused to ask for help.
Rather than seek God and trust that I was good enough as a mom, I thought I could fill the gap by helping others feel healthy and well, naturally! The marriage of Shaklee products and CBD helped to keep me off of medication this season - something I had prayed about my whole pregnancy. I had (and still have) a desire to help others who want a more natural approach to health and wellness. But even then, something was still missing. I still didn't feel like me.
I started writing more consistently because, well, it’s the only time I feel I can accurately acknowledge my emotions.
As I took a step back from pursuing business, I found other opportunities presenting themselves to me that I had never expected. I am no social influencer, but my marketing skills have been an asset in securing brand ambassadorships with some amazing companies.
I learned about The Letter Project from a friend. This is where everything started to make sense. Helping young women by writing them letters of hope and encouragement - seriously, why did I not start this? It combined my hearts two biggest passions; helping others and writing.
I have not experienced this particular joy in awhile. It’s a joy that can only be accomplished by selfless love. Where there is no gain for yourself. It’s the joy I had known while serving at a special needs camp. It’s the joy I had working in a special needs school. It’s the joy I have teaching Sunday School and Children’s ministry. It’s the joy of serving.
When I was offered a brand ambassadorship with Trades of Hope, I didn’t want to take it. The days of business seemed to be over and the thought did nothing but make my heart anxious. Until I learned about the mission behind the company; empowering women out of poverty.
With any network marketing, there are perks and rewards, recognition and compensation.
But, for whatever reason, my heart feels that this is so different. Because it is no longer for me. It is no longer about finding my own identity as I navigate motherhood. It’s about bringing awareness about the artisans and helping them find their identity.
Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. Luke 17:33 (NIV)
Being a mom, and a wife, and a daughter of Christ is proving to be the best full time job I could have ever imagined - once I learned to let it be enough (something I am still learning), and let it be my full time ministry.
But God has also equipped us with gifts of the Spirit, and it’s only when our will is aligned with his that we can be fully immersed in true joy. Trades of Hope has given that to me; a community of believers who seek to share the love of Christ by helping empower women out of poverty, and the opportunity to help my family financially.
I never saw myself where I am; sitting at my kitchen table, kids napping, writing next to the big picture window, contemplating motherhood and my mistaken identity. It’s not easy to admit defeat, or let go of an image we created for ourselves. I still see my fellow book bosses and wonder if I’m making the right decision letting go.
I guess that’s why they call it faith.
So, to all my fellow moms who may feel lost or like they’re living a mistaken identity themselves; know that you are loved beyond all measure. Know that God is faithful, His word is true, and His grace is sufficient for you.
And our ultimate identity is secured in Hope.
I'm enjoying this new season. I'm enjoying my children. I'm enjoying the amazing opportunity to serve others around the world. There are still many things that make my heart anxious, but those worries will have to wait for another day.