You Don't Have to Pick One
When I was a little girl, I couldn't wait to grow up and be a mommy! I could picture myself nuzzling sweet baby heads, feeding my toddlers cut up grapes, and helping middle schoolers with school projects. I also couldn't wait to be an attorney who later became a judge who threw the book at all the people who hurt children. But don't forget that I also wanted to be a pastor's wife who helped my husband run a thriving ministry. Oh, and at some point I looked forward to being a college English professor...
It didn't occur to me that all these things conflicted with each other. I just wanted to do them. My priorities shifted over the years, but my general enthusiasm for life and the desire to do several things at the same time hasn't changed.
Today, you may find me in my pajamas in my home office, typing away on my laptop while on the telephone with a building contractor, simultaneously whispering directions to my assistant. There are likely a couple kids popping their heads into my office to ask if they can have chocolate. When I hang up the phone, I may turn to my computer screen to finish writing a blog post or finish my makeup for a YouTube video. Then the phone is likely to ring to confirm a therapy or specialist appointment for my son who has Down syndrome. I'm probably trying to figure out when I can squeeze in a workout and if it's actually worth it to buy a home treadmill. There are other days when things are pretty chill and I just snuggle the kids on the couch or pull them around on sleds in the snow.
I recently saw a post from Jess Connolly that basically said you don't have to pick one. We can be multiple things. My heart soared when I read it and I immediately shared it. The response I got surprised me. I expected to hear something like, "Yes! Here are all the awesome things I do!" Instead, I was almost chastised by a well-meaning friend for trying to do too much.
I took a minute to think about her perspective and realized that she knows me well. OH, so well! YES. The old Kimberly always had too much on her plate, running from thing to thing until she finally collapsed into some kind of sickness and had to rest for a few days (or a year). Then she jumped back up and did it all again. Sometimes, when it got really crazy, she would take over-the-counter medicine to increase her energy to accomplish all the things before she crashed again.
The old Kimberly felt driven to shine at everything she did, and to rescue everyone who was hurting around her. She didn't want to let anyone down. She confused herself with Jesus and thought she could save the world. When it became apparent that it wasn't possible, she was devastated, and a little relieved. OH. It's actually better to let Jesus handle what's His responsibility and limit myself to the things that are my responsibility? What a concept!
Who I am today is different. I can blissfully announce the various things I do without guilt or shame. By announcing them, if you read between the lines, I have also announced the things I am not - an accountant, a home organizer, a technical writer, a seamstress, a gourmet chef, a nurse, or a party planner. (Those are some things I've failed to pull off.)
As I've studied success, I've discovered a secret. Successful women don't waste their time doing things that they aren't called to do. They allow others to support them in the areas where they don't specialize so they can focus on those things they do best.
For the last few years, I have intentionally looked at all the things I do and narrowed down the list. Before the pandemic, I chose to volunteer in my children's classrooms once a month. With three children, that meant I'd be in the classroom three weeks a month. I'd still be involved, but I'd also have the time I need to get my other work done. I chose to set up a home office, rather than rent office space in town. I want to be physically present, available if I'm needed, but able to shut the door and focus too. Our babysitter handles the kids' transition from school to after-school before she leaves, which frees me to enjoy quality time with them and not feel like all I ever do is nag them to put away their bookbags, etc.
I struggle sometimes when someone asks me to do something that I'd like to do, but will take time away from the things I've committed to do. It takes a lot of self-discipline to say no to a coffee date on a day when I'm just scheduled to work. But I'm doing it, and the freedom it provides to do the other things well is worth it.
A dear friend of mine is a stay-at-home-mom who homeschools her children and also has an online shop full of fun, hand-made goodies. I think about how lucky her kids are to have such a creative, energetic woman for their mama. Another friend chooses to focus most of her energy on her career, wearing high heels and power suits every day, holding important meetings and making decisions for her company. On her days off, she's likely to be found doing really fun activities with her kids. I think about how lucky her kids are to have such a smart, capable, organized woman as their mama. Both women are great examples of what a successful woman looks like.
If you choose well from the beginning, not allowing yourself to get bogged down by the things you think you should be doing but aren't what you're called to do, then you don't have to pick. You can be all the things God has uniquely gifted YOU to be without fear or hesitation. As you consider this idea more, I highly encourage you to check out the following books that helped me make this change in my life. They are all excellent. (I listened to most of them on Audible and if you'd like me to send you one of them for free, send me a private message.) If you buy any of them through the links provided below, a small donation will be given to the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN), an organization that I volunteer in and truly love for all it's done for me.
You Are the Girl for the Job, by Jess Connolly
Your Sacred Yes, by Susie Larson (no audiobook available)
Girl, Wash Your Face, and Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis
The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst
Chase the Lion, by Mark Batterson
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