Join us as we hear from our Guest Blogger Brittany Kelley!
Before having my daughter in 2014 I was definitely what you would call a career women. Although I wasn’t on any type of career fast track I was very ambitious and career minded. And it all stemmed from my academic success in high school. When I graduated in 2005 I had a 4.0 GPA and was in the coveted “Top 10” of my senior class over 600 southern California students. And despite experiencing a few financial set backs at the start of my college years; I was determined to not give up on my educational pursuits. So in 2009 when I married my sweetheart of 5 years, babies where far from our minds and finishing school was my number one priority! It ended up taking me 7 years to finish my undergraduate degree because I held down a 50 hours a week full-time job while attending school. I majored in Information Systems Security and I had aspirations to help change the stigma of women (especially women of color) not pursuing careers in the I.T. Industry. By the time I finished my course I walked across the stage to receive my B.S. Degree 5 months pregnant! With child and all, I remember thinking that the sky was the limit!
In hindsight, I feel so naive remembering that I didn't think having a baby would slow me down in any way. I had been raised just outside of Los Angeles my entire life and saw my mother raise 5 children on her own while managing her career. And I believed that women could do just about anything they put their mind and faith towards. Including being a great mom, career women, & a pillar in her church & community. And by 2014 my husband and I had been married for almost 5 years, so the timing of my pregnancy just felt so perfect. I hadn’t started my “dream job” just yet, but I had been holding down an administrative job for some years, was making good money, had great benefits, and I felt good about taking a maternity leave while employed there before starting any type of new I.T. job. Little did I know I would have such a change of heart once she arrived!
Soon after my daughter Connor was born it was apparent that God had other plans for my little family. I was adamant about exclusively breastfeeding her and although we had a bit of a rocky start in the hospital after me being induced and having an emergency C-section, after the first couple of weeks we were doing beautifully. My husband took 2 weeks off right away and another two weeks off toward the end of my scheduled maternity leave and we began to settle into a nice little routine just the 3 of us. And slowly but surely I began to see myself happier at home, watching her grow and giving her the best care possible, than anywhere else. And eventually I dreaded the thought of sticking with our plan to send her to daycare at the end of my 3-month leave. So the week before I was scheduled to return to back work I resigned. My whole family was stunned by my decision and I was a little too! But in my mind I still just saw it as a little break before transitioning into my real career/job. Or so I thought…
My husband and I had to down size our lifestyle a bit and move to a smaller place to make being a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) possible for me, but we felt like it was so worth it. I had been reading all of the studies showing how allowing mothers outside of the U.S. to spend the first year of life to bond with her child had so many positive affects on the mental and physical health of mothers and their children. And I was motivated by the fact that it would make me twice as likely to successfully breastfeed well into my daughters first year. And my husband and I felt good about me being able to give that gift to our daughter during her first year of life. I also saw this as a way for me gracefully settling into this new role of motherhood before I started looking for IT jobs the following fall. Win-Win! right?
But after the first few months something shifted. The newness and excitement began to fade and all the bonding began to get to me. Maybe we were bonding just a little too much? I tried to get out of the house often and hubby and I were able to get away occasionally on date nights but I began to feel trapped by my day-to-day routine with her. My daughter struggled with drinking from a bottle so I couldn’t be away from her for more than 3 hours at a time and she wasn’t great a napping, at all. I was exhausted all of the time because she stilled nursed multiple times throughout the night and I spent a lot of time driving around or waiting in my car just so she could sleep during the day. All of this in hopes that I would just get a few moments to myself. I simply felt like I had no outlet or anyone who truly understood what I was going through. And I was having a heard time reconciling wanting to protect her, bond with her, be with her and wanting to continue to follow my dreams. And putting them on hold was starting to get to me. I began to feel so overwhelmed!
And unfortunately it wasn’t until I reached my breaking point of crying and venting to my husband almost everyday, that I began to talk to God about it. I was so busy trying to be this super mom that I wasn’t praying and reading my word like I used to. And God revealed I was having an identity crisis because I was still struggling to fully understand my purpose, all the things I wanted to achieve in life, and how they lined up with this enormous new role. I had taken so much pride in being the educated, and ambitious girl and here I was a SAHM. I thought I fully understood before but I began to realize that those notions were all twisted and wrapped up in my career aspirations. And I had to humble myself and make time with Him more of a priority in order to understand this new path. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. And I needed to take more time to understand His purpose for this time in my life and plan accordingly. And as I did that, slowly but surely He began to build my spirit back up.
It has now been almost two years since my daughter was born and I still have not returned to a traditional job yet. And to be honest, now I don’t know if I ever will. And I am at peace with that! In hindsight, I am so appreciative and grateful for this unexpected season in my life that has caused me to see the world and myself more clearly. I am far stronger, more resourceful, and fearless than I thought, and it has taken this season of sowing into my daughter’s life to understand that. And even though I am not currently out in the world innovating and making history as I had dreamed, I have faith that the time I am setting aside to nurture my daughter will be just as meaningful in our futures. We are making our own history of sorts!
I am also grateful for this season because it has encouraged me to do some amazing things for me too! Within the past year I have launched a lifestyle blog that has allowed me to connect with so many awesome and talented moms and brands and it has been an amazing creative and technical outlet for me. I also have embarked upon two new entrepreneurial endeavors using my photography, web development and design skills. Aye! And I am walking far more in purpose, more involved in ministry, and experiencing a level of fulfillment that I have never experienced in my life before.
And thinking back if I could encourage the old me, or anyone else struggling to understand their purpose (or how motherhood aligns with their purpose), I would advise these three things:
• This Too Shall Pass – I would tell myself to not stress out so much about schedules, feedings, and sleep routines. I would remind myself that my daughter wouldn’t be so little and dependent forever. And that everything I was obsessing about was just for a phase and a temporary season. So no matter how tedious or mundane I should choose to enjoy it and practice contentment.
• Prayer is Your Ultimate Release – I would also encourage myself to pray more. When she was super young I made so many excuses about not having time but later I realized that my prayer time didn’t have to be long and drawn out. And incorporating small amounts of it throughout my day did wonders. Times like while I was nursing her (instead of picking up my phone during every feeding), when she refused to nap and I was trying not to loose my cool! Ha! And while I gave her a massage after her afternoon bath. Whatever I was struggling with God knew how to solve it and it helped to remind me to give my frustrations to him.
• Explore Old Passions in New Ways or Find fun Outlets – And last but not least I would tell myself to stop trying to be the old me! Because I wasn’t the old me! I had a baby now! And my point of view, interests and free time had drastically changed. Blogging has been so therapeutic for me and it has been a rekindling of so many passions I had that were sitting on a shelf. And ultimately it helped me find my way back to understanding who I am and motivated me to take some me-time to write twice a week. It gave me an excuse to get out of the house and to explore family friendly places around me and see the beauty in them. I wish I had started it sooner and recommend that all moms carve out a space (at least once a week) to do something that they are passionate about. This is a great and organic way to stay in touch with yourself and the things that make you happy and help renew your sense purpose.
We hope you enjoyed hearing from our guest blogger! Here is a little more about Brittany Kelley:
I’m a wife to my amazing husband (KK) , mother to an adorable & darling daughter named Connor. Born & raised in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S, Southern California. Which has given me a multicultural outlook on life. It has also given me an affinity for art, food, travel & family (which I feature on my blog & on my Instagram). I have a B.S. degree in Information Systems Security but I’m currently majoring in Motherhood! It’s a sisterhood & journey I wasn’t sure I would be apart of one day, but now I can’t see my life any other way! LivingLifeKelley.com is where I like to share my experiences, passion for photography, mommy tips, and obsessions!
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