Each morning as I walk home from bringing my kids to school I am overcome with abundant gratitude. Gratitude for the little things like the chalk drawings my kids left on the sidewalk and for the big things like our yellow house with the red door that I sometimes can’t believe is ours. During this 2 minute walk that I do each and every day I thank God for blessing me with the gift of freedom that I have learned to embrace this past year.
- Time freedom to work from home and make my own schedule
- Financial freedom where the sky is the limit
- Emotional freedom where my happiness is not dependent on anyone or anything
These freedoms sound simple but each one took years of struggle to attain. Like most college kids I graduated and went straight into the real world and became a first grade teacher at the age of 22. It was my dream job and I spent 8 years with wonderful students and families, but behind the smiley young teacher was a broken down soul who was struggling to find her place in a “Do as we say” environment. I was young and full of ideas and always wanted to push the envelope, but I also had female administrators who did not appreciate my enthusiasm. It is a very conflicting feeling to know in your heart you are making a difference each day, but are being told by your superior time and time again that your way and their way don’t mesh. By the time I left to have my son I was starting to believe them…believed I wasn’t a good teacher, believed maybe this career wasn’t for me, and by the time my last day came around I ran out the door and never wanted to look back.
Up next…Motherhood. Like so many young naive women I had this ideal vision of what being a mom would look like. I pictured a little girl in pigtails reading books and playing with dolls while I baked fresh cookies and folded laundry. Well, I did get that little girl but she came 2 years after I delivered the most loving, strong willed, and active baby boy I have ever encountered! My self esteem took a sucker punch to the gut as I could be seen daily chasing frantically after this whirlwind of an ALL BOY toddler through stores, at the park, and basically everywhere we went. The phrase, “Thank God he’s cute” rolled off my tongue as I tried to shrug off the fact that I had very little control and was losing my mind a little more each day.
My own thoughts of failure regarding the struggle to maintain order with two little ones was one thing but what I did’t expect were the constant opinions of other parents and even strangers. From my choices about formula feeding, to letting my kids sleep in our bed, to what activities I signed them up for was like open season for the opinionated peanut gallery. When you are in the moment you smile and nod and silently convince yourself that what they are judging you on doesn’t matter, but with every “My child never slept in our bed” or “I would never formula feed my baby” or “Wow are they full of energy” my confidence dwindled more and more.
Last year when my kids were 7 and 5 years old I knew something had to change or I was destined to live the rest of my life worrying about what others thought of me, comparing our family to those around us, and just surviving through each day to make it to bedtime just to do it all over again. I was presented with an opportunity that had the potential to change everything that held me back for so long. I saw hope for the first time in a long time and ran with the idea that in order for the circumstances that were getting me down to change I too had to change. I began to invest in myself for the first time in as long as I can remember. I took a risk and started a business that I was determined to be successful in. I knew this was my one true shot to walk away from the thought of going back to a job where an administrator would have more control over me than they deserved. If I made it I would be my own boss and work on my terms and the sky was the limit. A light turned on within me the day that I decided to go for it and I have never looked back.
A year later everything has changed and then some. I am feeling healthier and happier than ever…exercising every day and challenging myself to be the best version of me, not letting the opinions of others get in my way, and am proving those who thought I was out of my mind a year ago wrong by creating a life of freedom for our family. Knowing I now have the ability to work from home and show my kids that anything is possible if you have the courage to pursue it is priceless to me. They are my biggest cheerleaders and I love that I am finally the mom that I always hoped to be.
Catch My Breath – Kelly Clarkson
It isn’t easy getting to a place where your own happiness is what truly matters, but I promise…once you get there, it will bless and inspire everyone who ever believed in you. Surround yourself with positive influences who add to your life rather than chip away at it. No dream is too big…get out there and make them come true.