Besides my craziest wedding story, the number one thing I get asked about is how I balance running a business and motherhood. With so many things competing for our attention I know the challenge all too well. I want to be completely transparent and say that I have a lot of work to do and I don’t have it all figured out. I’m not sure that “having it all figured out” is even the point. To me, I find what works and brings peace to my home and work life, whether or not I know all the answers. I try, fail at times, receive grace and move on to try again … every single day. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Yup. This all day, every day, especially because every literal season of the year pretty much marks a new figurative season in our personal/work lives. With Wayne being in school and work full-time, me running a business, us leading a microchurch and being parents, life looks different every couple of months. That’s okay for us right now. I just think it’s important to cultivate peace and that everything you do, you do with intentionality (Colossians 3:23, through and through).
In order to honor the Lord with the work of my hands, it was critical for me to understand my identity is not in being a mom or a photographer. Before anything else, I am a follower of Christ. That goes above any other role in my life, but it has proven to bring life to all of my other roles. Some of my other life roles are being a wife, a mother, disciple-maker, friend, daughter, sister, cousin, photographer, business owner and a HUGE advocate for not being defined by ANY of those roles other than a follower of Christ. Let me say it again for everyone in the back… I’m not just a mom or a photographer, so when you meet me, know that’s not the only thing going on in my life (or attached to my name). My standard is His standard of grace for my life, not what social media, trends or even other friends’ lives tell me. That’s hard at times, I’ll be honest, but I’ve got to stay in my own lane in order for me to claim that peace He’s already supplied (Isaiah 54:10). Fixing my eyes on the hustle will always leave me wanting to fill that never-ending void for the impossible fix.
So, with my eyes fixed on His grace and mercy, I do what works for me. The pursuit of claiming peace will look different for everyone, as we all have different capacities and roles. These are 5 things that work for me:
Ethan was born in 2016 and I was so blessed to have an at-home babysitter part-time for the first a year and a half of his life. However, I quickly realized that attention was divided by having Ethan home, which made it very challenging to be present in either of my roles. Don’t get me wrong, the snuggle breaks were yummy, but any parent knows that snuggles are not even a small fraction of what goes into caring for a child. For a year and a half, I would hustle during nap time and hustle at night, until Wayne and I made the decision to put Ethan into full-time daycare. This helped me be 100% engaged while I was working and serving our clients and I was 100% engaged when I was with Ethan in the evenings. To all you moms out there, release any shame in the decision for childcare, because for some it allows you to give out of your best. Respect for doing what is best for your family!
2. My team:
I first added to my team by hiring an Office Manager. Then we grew again by adding a Content + Creative Director and finally an Associate Photographer. This team helps me gain so many personal hours back into my life and it also ignited my passion for work. Before, I didn’t have boundaries and felt like I was drowning in a never-ending sea of to-dos. This team not only comes alongside me personally as friends but … really has helped me carry the load so I could serve my clients and my family with my best. If you run a business full-time, I 100% recommend adding help or outsourcing where you can, because it gives you a piece of your life and peace of mind back. I know Wayne is very thankful for our team!
I am really passionate about this one, mainly because I didn’t Sabbath (An intentional day of rest) for a long time. I know what it feels like to run around dry and how it affects everything in my life, especially my joy. On Sundays, the MP office is closed and you will not see me working unless I have a wedding scheduled (in which case I am intentional about Saturday being my Sabbath). Part of my Sabbath routine is to delete Gmail, Instagram, and Facebook from my phone Saturday night and re-download the apps on Monday morning. I HAVE SO MUCH FREEDOM IN THIS. It allows me to be present completely and rest my thoughts from anything work-related. It also disengages me from the ever-so-present temptation to want or even compare my life. Plus, it honors the Lord to take a Sabbath, as it is a command that allows us to rest for our own good. Rest is for the good of ourselves, our family and our work.
4. Date Night with Wayne:
Having a weekly date night with Wayne has made me a better mom. I’m a firm believer in putting your marriage first, before the kids, so that you can cultivate a partnership that’s in accord and your kids learn what it looks like to honor their future spouse. Plus, I love Wayne and I need set apart quality time with him to feel that peace everywhere else. While our date nights may not always be going out, it does mean no phones and Ethan is asleep or with a babysitter. This makes me a better mama and it makes me love my job even more.
One thing I always make time for is daily playtime with Ethan and an end of day conversation with Wayne. I want to stay intentional about connecting to both of them. In order to protect that intentionality, I’ve learned that I need specific boundaries. An example is that I try not to have any phone scrolling between Ethan getting home from daycare and his bedtime. I also have a designated cut-off time in my office. Ethan needs to be picked up from daycare by 6p, so I’m out of the office by 5:30p. While this end time may vary due to deadlines and need to pick up after he goes to bed, that daycare pick up is great accountability for me to end work. Boundaries have helped me enjoy work, as it’s not taking over my life or coming before important relationships. When you love your work, it’s easy for there to be a fine line, but I promise that if you put work before everything you will find that you will lose your passion for it and it will come back to you empty.
The pursuit of peace and balance in all of our roles will vary, family to family because what is best for one, may not be the best for the other. This is just how we try and what works for our family. In the trying to be intentional, however, it’s important not to fall into the “performance trap” of motherhood or work. There, you are chasing to fill a never-ending void of perfection, rather than resting in Him and the gifts He’s given. I can say with all of my heart that nothing has fulfilled me like Jesus has, but regardless of your beliefs, chasing perfection in performance will disappoint you every single time. I had a friend recently posted this as his status and it couldn’t ring truer (thanks, Joel Romelus), “May we never do so much in the name of efficiency that we stray away from the path of love. Let the most urgent thing on our agendas and planners today be to display mutual understanding and genuine love. In the end, our production and efficiency, however great they are will be irrelevant, if it’s not from a heart generated and motivated by love.”
May the role of motherhood and the work of our hands always be intentionally rooted in love.