I will never forget the day: I had just returned from a week-long road trip across the country with my husband and 1-year-old. I was between jobs and unprepared for how that week would change me. I completely fell in love with motherhood. It’s not like I didn’t love being a mom, before that trip, but having a week - a full week! - to spend with only my husband and son changed my heart.
But, upon our return, I started a new, full-time, Monday-Friday, 9-5, job. I was so excited about it! Until my change of heart. When my boss took me out for my “Welcome to the team lunch”, a baby sat with his parents at the table next to us. I couldn’t help but hear his coos and cries and my soul ached. I longed to be with my own son.
Each day became harder. My desire to be home more only grew stronger. And yet. I carried the health benefits. We needed my income. I had worked so hard for this job. This was my dream job! Who was I to quit on this dream?
But. What if your dreams change? I wasn’t prepared to face that reality. My dreams had changed. My future looked different. I wanted to be home with my son. I wanted to make room for more. But I felt so lost.
If you’ve ever felt like this, you know it’s not a good feeling. But, I’m here to give you hope. Hope for a life you dream of. Hope for balance. Hope for fulfillment.
Have a plan.
You don't need to know each step moving forward, but it’s helpful to have a broad, albeit vague, plan. My plan was this: To be home with my son two days a week and build my own writing career. I didn’t need to know how this was going to happen, I just needed to know the direction I was headed. And I knew I was headed for a future filled with hope and fulfillment.
Envision your life.
I would write down my ideal day. I could see it so clearly. We would get up in the mornings on my days off and start our day with a walk. Then, we’d head to a community ed class, followed by lunch and a nap. Nothing ridiculous. Nothing crazy. So simple and to me, so wonderful. What do you see? What do you dream about?
Examine your current situation.
Take a look at your current position. Can you job share? Work four ten-hour days, making room for one day off? Cut back on your hours to work part-time? I had several honest conversations with my boss. She listened and understood. Her advice ultimately led me to the perfect part-time job.
Find people already doing it.
I met with dozens of people and grilled them with questions: How did you find part-time work? How did you supplement your income? Who else can I talk to? I was amazed by the honesty of those I met with. I ate up their candid feedback and advice. I hustled. I took notes. And I never took my eye off my end goal.
I prayed that God would give me clear signs to
direct my path. And amazingly, the right people would stumble upon my path, leading me to the next right thing. Our family priest suggested I try something. This would literally change my life. He asked me to get a journal. I’m a writer, so I have about a billion journals.
“Act as though you’ve made the decision to cut back at work,” he told me. “You have to trust that God has taken care of all your needs.”
He encouraged me to think and act like this for two weeks and journal about how I’m feeling. I noticed a pattern: I was so hopeful. My journal entries were filled with the days my son and I would spend together, the fulfillment I felt writing.
“Then,” he told me, “Do the opposite. The second two weeks will be spent acting as though after your maternity leave, you’ll return to work. Full-time.”
This thought was too much to bear. Instead of hope, I noticed a different pattern: one of despair. I saw my path clearly. I knew I had to trust that God had a bigger plan. No surprise: His plan has been better than I could have imagined.