How I Stumbled Into My Dream Job
My work-from-home journey began about two years ago after I first had Ginny. I was shell-shocked from the raw realities that newfound-motherhood brings, and we were trying to adjust to life on only one income. I will never forget the anxiety I felt after getting off the phone with my principal, having just told him that I wouldn’t be returning to teach 2nd semester. I had been a middle school English teacher for the past seven years, and I felt like I was letting go of a deeply-rooted part of my identity. I had fully planned to return, but between nursing, colic, and my post-partum depression, the thought of adding “full-time teacher” to the equation completely overwhelmed me. Teaching is not a job that – even if done “part-time” – is ever really just a day thing. You bring home all the grading, all the emails, all the lesson plans, all the emotional stress, and I know myself well enough to know that all of that + a newborn was the perfect recipe for a nervous breakdown.
So we regrouped, and I started looking for options to supplement our income. My husband was right in the middle of a job transition, and I was so proud of him for chasing his dream. He had finally exited the non-profit world of fundraising and would now be an associate broker doing large-scale corporate insurance (people who love math and analytics and spreadsheets will always be weird to me, but to each his own). Since he was “starting over” in a new field, that meant that it would be 3-5 years before our income would be at a place where I could truly be a stay-at-home mom.
I stumbled into my first work-from-home opportunity accidentally. My doctor (who had delivered Ginny) had some needs for a little social media management, as well as bit of personal assistance to run errands, organize, etc. At first it went well, and I settled into a routine and enjoyed the work. Initially, I had majored in Communications/PR at UGA as an undergrad, and I started to remember why I had chosen that field as a major. The work was FUN – kind of like a puzzle. How could I market an OBGYN (who also happened to be an outstanding surgeon, public speaker, author, etc.) on social media? How do you make a world-class, triple-board certified surgeon relatable? I suppose I’ve always enjoyed this aspect of marketing. It’s likely the same reason I spent almost a decade trying to sell Shakespeare to middle schoolers ;). So I picked up a few more clients, and I was finding my stride. I soon began to learn some basics in graphic design to make my clients’ infographics stand out, and my little side business really started to take off. While the work was fun and engaging, it still didn’t provide enough, financially, to truly keep us out of debt (a standard we’ve had since we began our marriage). That’s when I started tutoring on the side. Then, my church suddenly had an opening for a part-time wedding coordinator…ummm, sure, why not? So I was working three part-time jobs when an opportunity to teach homeschooled kiddos (one day a week) emerged. If you’re keeping score…that is FOUR part-time jobs. And a very full-time toddler.
I was not having fun anymore.
When I wasn’t changing diapers, grading papers, tutoring students, coordinating weddings, marketing/designing, or prepping dinner…I was passed out from sheer exhaustion. I began having random breakdowns each evening as I longed to feel less fragmented – to find just one thing I was really passionate about that could provide the financial support we needed. After a day full of tantrums and working through naptime, I didn’t want to drag my weary butt over to the kitchen table to slog through a class set of essays on King Arthur. I was tired of being short-tempered and resentful of the lack of time for anything other than work, work, work. And my heart – it got so ugly. And then the guilt would settle in. Because we all have our stuff, right? We all have seasons that are “hard,” and that definition varies greatly from one person to the next. I was fortunate to have work, we were all alive and healthy, and I needed to get over myselfand just do what needed doing.
But I still prayed for a way out. And to this day, it still blows me away how God answered that prayer.
When Ginny was a newborn, Burch had generously gifted me an email consult package with a company called Moms on Call. They are an incredible infant consulting company based here in Atlanta, and you can basically buy 6-months worth of unlimited email to the co-author of the book series (a registered Pediatric Nurse with five children). Cue a choir of angels for this first-time mama. I could finally quit calling and texting my short list of five dear friends and family members that I was driving INSANE.
Laura Hunter patiently walked me through those early days of mommyhood, helping me troubleshoot, work out schedules, introduce solids, figure out naps, etc. Lord bless her. The woman has the patience of Job. Somehow in the course of all my relentless emails, I began to find encouragement from this woman who, like me, had to divide her time between work and home. She understood the challenges of being split in a million different directions, and she was such an encouragement. One day, after my 79,000th email, she invited me to meet her for lunch. I was so excited to meet her; I had grown to see her as such a mentor and voice of Truth in my life. We met for lunch, and it was then that I began to describe to her what I was doing for my doctor. She expressed that she would love some help with Moms on Call’s social media marketing, and I offered to work over the summer for her for free as a way to say “thank you” for putting up with me over the past year (did I mention she let me continue to email her questions well past my allotted 6-month window? SAINT.).
We parted ways, and I began doing a few things here and there for Moms on Call. I absolutely LOVED the work. I found myself wanting to do more than just social media marketing for them – I had a passion to serve and bless new moms the way that they had blessed me. Except that I am not a registered nurse (which is a good thing…I can’t do math and made a C in Biology in college). Instead, I began offering to do more administrative work for them as well, and all of my Type-A glory began to shine. I wanted to free these two precious women up to do the work that they were so very good at, and it just so happened that they wanted me to come aboard. I met with Jennifer, the other half of the Moms on Call mastermind, and she offered me to join them as a “full-time, part-time” position. They offered me a salary that would replace all of my other part-time work combined, and I cried right there at the table in the middle of Longhorn’s. Super professional, I know. I didn’t care, though.
It was more than just a dream job, it was a loving God showing me that, in spite of all of my complaining (and oh, there was complaining), and in spite of how small my problems seemed in the face of this big, big world, HE HEARD ME. HE CARED. HE SAW ME.
I could not believe how God had answered that prayer. Instead of working four jobs that I didn’t love, I could now work one job that I was passionate about. And oh, just because He likes to make sure we know He’s super on top of things, did I also mention that we soon found out that Jennifer LIVES IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD? If I was more at all athletic, I could jog to her house (instead, I usually polish off my post-dinner ice cream in one hand while I drive there, but still. We’ve got options).
So now, when we need to do design work or go over social media, etc…I usually show up on her doorstop after I’ve put Ginny down for the night, and we laugh on her couch while we balance our laptops on our knees (to say I am obsessed with her is an understatement – think super witty, unbelievably generous in spirit, and wise wise wise). These women make work a JOY. In fact, it rarely feels like work to me. I get giddy to sit down and do design work for them, or call to get quotes for upcoming toddler seminars, or organize correspondence. I love watching them help and encourage young mamas, speaking truth and confidence into the vacuum left behind by sleep deprivation and around-the-clock baby care.
I still wonder, sometimes, if I dreamed it all and might wake up any moment to find a stack of essays on my nightstand, or if I will get that panicked feeling that used to come at the end of every evening when I could not ever just be done with the day.
I will be posting some tips, soon, on how to maximize your time when you work at home with littles, so whether you want more time to do work to supplement your income, or maybe you just want more time to blog or work on your hobbies, stay tuned.
And wherever you are on your own personal journey – He hears. He cares. He sees you.
This blog originally appeared on hopefulmosaic.com on August 8, 2016.