I had an awkward moment today. One of those where someone asks you something simple, something a kinder-gardener would know, like your name, phone number, what day it is, and you just freeze. All knowledge of said basic item of your life leaves your brain and your left looking incredibly incredibly dumb.
Well, I was chatting with my new boss-lady in our first official work-oriented meeting, and she asks me, “what do you like to do?” In terms of public relations and general work. A simple question. No pressure. No right answer. Just a considerate question as to my preferences. And I froze.
What did I like to do?
Heck, lets even break this down to what did I used to do?
This brain freeze was a result of a almost year long journey. 11 months ago I finally gave in and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. A barrage of events made it apparent that I couldn’t continue to consult full-time from home or an on-staff job somewhere, without spending every cent I made on daycare. It just wasn’t financial feasible. I couldn’t work without daycare and daycare costs too much to be worth it. So I said goodbye to my clients, and packed up Blank Notebook Creative.
Around the same time, I was learning quick that I always took on too much. I was never happy with just a job. I needed a second job, or involvement in two or three causes on the side. I didn’t do just one ministry, there was so much need! So I did three! But living like this meant my house never got cleaned, my work started turning rushed and (I’ll admit it) not very good, and I didn’t have a moment to slow down. I needed to cut back. I needed to detox from this over ambitious lifestyle, so I could focus on what I needed too.
I did it all within a couple of months. I quit my business, I quit my ministries, and just focused on family and my husband’s ministry.
The fall out of this was not a relaxing “whoo hoo” vacation of a time as you would think. For one there was too much child raising, chores, and husband-ministry supporting to do to resemble anything like a vacation. But with it, also came a full-blown midlife…quarter-life identity crisis. I have never ever wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. My life and personal value was really centered around the accomplishments of my career. Who was I without it? And the same question but different context then stumped me, what did I like to do? I liked to work. But now that it was no longer an option, how would I spend my Friday nights? What would I do for fun? What interests did I have outside of work?
I’ve spent almost the last year trying to figure that out. It was very hard to put my ambition aside and focus on my family, but I did it. I am better for it (and my house is much more livable).
And don’t tell anyone but I have even *gasp* started to like being a stay-at-home mom. I never ruled working again out, and still plan to do it once the kids are in school.
So now this heaven sent four hour a week job for an awesome boss-lady and amazing organization fell into my lap, and I feel completely different going in to it.
I know I can still do the job. I can rock it.
But the big difference from current Jen from 2012 Jen is that I didn’t automatically click into take-over-the-world kind of obsession I used to do with any and all projects. I actually had to think about what I liked to do. I didn’t have a manufactured sound bite of a fancy response ready. And the funny thing was, my response was completely different than I expected: Coalition and community partnership building. Who knew? A year ago it probably would have been strategy, or branding, some more fancier sounding thing that I did daily.
But after a year, what I actually miss is not some fancy PR tactic. What I actually want to do is working with people to build something. To help each other or to help others.