I did a very bittersweet thing this week. I resigned from my very first writing job.
I have been writing for a small, neighborhood newspaper in Houston since 2012. That job came into my life at a time when I had a preschooler and a toddler at home. I had never written professionally and wasn’t even sure how to do it. All I knew was that I enjoyed writing and it was something that others had once told me that I was good at, so somehow, I found the confidence to apply for the job and I got it.
That little side hustle provided me with a sense of self that I hadn’t felt since way before I became a mother. It gave me something that was all mine and something that scratched a part of my brain that had lay dormant for a really long time. That job also gave me a new purpose and helped me set other personal goals for myself. In a lot of ways, that job changed me and made me a better mother, in a round-about way.
My kids are in middle school now, but I vividly remember what it is like to have little ones at home. Your days are spent so absorbed in keeping all of your humans alive that the idea of finding a job or even a hobby for yourself feels ridiculous and, honestly, too exhausting to even consider.
There are certainly times in motherhood when seeking something for yourself just isn’t in the cards. But, sooner than you may realize, you might find yourself in a place to begin getting to know yourself again. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job that you embark on–even just an online class or a hobby that you can do after the kids go to bed. Anything that you can find that reminds you of who YOU are outside of parenthood is important.
My friend Tiffany, who is 49 and the mother of a college student, decided last fall that she wanted to take tap dancing classes. While her son rolled his eyes and her husband showed his support through a thinly-veiled snicker, Tiffany diligently attended her weekly lessons and, in December, I was in attendance for her Holiday tap dance recital. The recital was incredible and Tiffany absolutely rocked it!
The week of Tiffany’s recital, her son texted her from his out of state university, telling her that he was sorry that he couldn’t be there for her recital and how proud he was of her for doing it. That, Tiffany confided in me, made it all worth it.
Another friend, Katie, who is the single mother of three young boys, decided that she wanted to be in a play. She auditioned for the Christmas play at her community theater and got a starring role! I went to see her performance and was amazed at her talent! I was also amazed that she had found the time and energy to commit to the grueling rehearsals that the performance required–in December–all with three young kids at home.
So, as I close the book on my first writing gig, I have fond memories of those first feelings of pride, accomplishment and that I was able to overlook the exhaustion and lack of confidence that often comes along with motherhood and went for something that I wanted. In fact, I attribute a lot of the good that has come into my life to that writing opportunity–not only the subsequent writing jobs that I’ve gotten since then, thanks to the skills and knowledge that I gained at the newspaper–but also the self confidence that that job afforded me.
I can’t recommend it enough, mamas. Find something that you want to do and get out there and do it! If you don’t do it yourself, trust me, no one else will find it for you and you deserve to shine!