Accepting the Dream: Thoughts About Mothering and Work
Is it just me or is anyone else feeling "off" this month? Maybe it's because January follows on the heels of a VERY busy Christmas season, or it could be this baby in my belly reminding me at every moment that soon he or she will be in the world and changing everything, or the fact that my first baby is officially 2 years old and revealing more of her personality every day. I just have this overwhelming sense that things are changing beneath my feet.
If I'm being honest, I think the nagging feeling I carry around in my spirit all day long has also to do with a very clear vision I was given toward the end of last year when I was praying hard about my life and the future of my work.
It wasn't a grand vision handed down from above all in one big audible declaration, but a series of small ideas that came to me over months of soul searching. Like a puzzle, each piece I locked into place until I realized the big picture.
And here is what I was struggling to see.
I'm a wife and soon-to-be mother of two. I sit in my studio each week and listen on the monitor to my child giggle and play with other people. While I sit out here and work, I often think, is this work worth being away from Josie for? Am I doing, professionally, exactly what God has laid on my heart to do?
The answer to the first question is YES, I believe the work (painting) I do every day matters, if only to me, but it matters in a deep and meaningful way. I wouldn't be a whole person without it. I wouldn't be "me" without it.
But the answer to the second question is actually what's been troubling me for a long time because the answer is actually NO. I don't feel like I'm fully embracing the career God has called me to.
That's a very frightening revelation. And it kicked me in the butt, let me tell you. There's nothing like having children to make you realize EXACTLY what's important in life, to make you stop and take note and stop with the distractions.
The thing is, I actually KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what I feel like God has laid on my heart to do with my life (professionally speaking). I've always known. Since I was little, I've known.
I want to write and illustrate children's books. That, to me, would be an extremely fulfilling career and one I think I was made to do. Significant enough to pull me away from my children every day in order to work. Significant enough for my husband to sacrifice his free time and energy to pick up the slack around the house and with the family. Significant enough for us all to sacrifice little conveniences every day so that I can have the freedom to do what I love AND be a wife and mom.
Let me just say, that dream has always scared the you-know-what out of me. So much so, that I hide my ideas in dozens of sketchbooks and tuck that little dream in my heart so deep that it can't scare me anymore.
But in two months I'm having another baby. Which means I either need to do this thing or not because life isn't getting any easier and time is slipping away.
So, this year, I've started writing stories again and already have a book draft written and a story board drawn out. Lord willing, I'm going to finish my children's illustration portfolio this year and create a website and brand just for that purpose. I'm going to start saving money to go to the biggest conference of my life in 2018 (scary scary scary) to present my portfolio in person to people in the publishing industry (omg), and I'm going to STOP the excuses and work until it's finished. Then, I'm going to put all that work out there, on the web, in the inboxes and mailboxes of editors and art directors and agents, and everywhere else I can possibly think of.
So there. I finally said it! The thing I've been avoiding for years for fear that it would hurt my business or that I'd not be good enough and make a huge fool of myself.
In the mean time, I'm going to sell and paint as many custom portraits as possible to earn enough money to support my family, to help pay off our mortgage, to serve more people, and to pursue my ultimate dream of writing and drawing for kids.
Want to see one of my first illustrations for a story I'm working on right now?
It's for a story that I hope to share someday soon, when it's ready. I'd love for you to follow along this journey with me this year and will let you know how to do just that in the coming months.
In the meantime, thank you thank you thank you for always being there for me! I hope my work brings joy to people, adults and children alike, as long as I'm alive and able to make art.