Thursday, November 19, 2015

Recognizing My Identity: Am I A Working Woman?

Precious In His Sight, by Greg Olsen

Since I've been able to take a year off of school starting this past fall, I've been giving a lot of thought to my identity.

It's been a stark contrast for me, and the black-and-whiteness of it all. A heavy school load vs. being in "all in" stay-at-home motherhood again has brought new insights to my mind. It's caused me to reflect on what makes me fulfilled and happy, what parts of my personality are "essential," what is innate in me and what is not.

I have concluded that I am completely fulfilled, and at my happiest and a better mother as a stay-at-home mom. I have realized that I was unhappy, stressed, spread too thin with even a few work responsibilities. In the summer I did a short internship where I lived out what I had imagined would be the "end goal" for me after I completed school: I did an internship that was 5-10 hours a week, on my own time. It seems like a great situation, but surprising to me, seeing the contrast from my life right now, I see that it occupied my mind more than I had imagined.

Being without even that little stress in my life has given my heart the chance to find a peaceful rhythm again, and in turn has positively effected a lot of areas in my life. The peace and calmness of spirit I've experienced while not being involved in anything extra has been a happy change for me.

I have said before I wasn't going to school for an outlet, or to find time away from my kids or something. It was something I felt called to do. But what was it for, then, and should I continue. The first question used to kill me, but I am at peace with it now. Since I have fully decided I have no plans of working, I have faith that it may be important to me later in life, or simply lift my sights and thoughts throughout my life, as getting further education always does. I do still plan on finishing my degree, if nothing else to finish what I started (and really, I only have 5 classes left, taken over two semesters, all online).

One big takeaway for me from this experience that I don't think I understood before was that there are a lot of women and mothers who are not like me. I need all of my energies, time, talents, and resources turned toward my children in order to be a calm, happy parent, and a fully capable mother. But this "all or nothing" approach is somewhat unique to my background, my temperament, and my current situation in life. Many other women are wired differently or make it work differently. Because of their temperament, their background, their DNA, they feel energized from working. They need it, they thrive playing both roles. They learn to be good multi-taskers. I had wondered, after I felt called to go to school, if I was one of these people. I can confidently say now that I am not.

It is interesting to me how much time makes a difference in our understanding, our clarity, what we understand about ourselves. Last winter I was so concerned with what all this schooling-thing was leading to, and I never got an answer. I still don't have an answer, but with time and a little perspective I am now okay with it. God leads us along, and while he may not always give us what we want, he is always there. So much of what he has to teach us is dependent on us, where we are in our development, and what we are ready to hear. I am grateful for a loving God who loves me deeply, accepts me for who I am, and leads me along.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall & Being a Mother-Photographer

It's been so windy here almost all the leaves have been blown off the trees. It feels so comforting and warm to be inside, and hear the wind blowing through the bare limbs. We are so blessed to live in the time that we do, and be so easily protected from the elements. In my cozy spot inside, I'm reminiscing back on a few weeks ago when I took these pictures of the bright, sunny leaves, that are no more.

We took a slow walk through beautiful fall trees one late afternoon, the kids and I. There's a picturesque park near our house with a meandering trail through the trees, leaving plenty to be admired. It was definitely slow, but it certainly wasn't quiet, as the kids occupied themselves with sticks and leaves and jumping out of the stroller as I tried out different apertures.

While I'm not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, it's a hobby and a love of mine, to communicate to others through photographs. I love to evoke a mood or capture a feeling, and express that to others through what I see from my camera. I'm somebody who feels with my eyes, so to speak, but it's pretty hard to keep an eye on your subject and your children at the same time. I've been tempted to stop pulling the camera out for a while. You need to essentially ignore your children to compose a good photograph, or halfway watch them and hope the exposure was right, because that was the only chance you get. Most of the time I'm dissatisfied, I didn't get to take the picture that I wanted, or the photo doesn't communicate what I was hoping. I need a lot of practice, which is not very plausible when the things you want to photograph always coincide with times you also have three little people to watch. So I've thought, why not hang it up for a while, wait until the kids get a little older and need less hands-on-ness. But I know that I wont, and I can't. When I do capture something I love, it brings me so much joy, and gratitude. Hobbies you really truly love, should never be given up on.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Pictures

Halloween 2015: Elsa, Cinderella, and Prince Charming (I declared this the last year of princesses!)

The girls had Miss Spider's Tea Party at school and we came to the "bug parade." Here is my ladybug and bumblebee

Then we had a REAL invasion of ladybugs when the weather turned unexpectedly warm. The back door isn't sealed very well so plenty of them got in. It turns out ladybugs are harmless, but we do find them everywhere.

Date night!

I guess I should write a little something since I didn't have many pictures. It's easy to post happy pictures and let people write in the rest of the details, or allow them to imagine that they are the only one with struggles and problems. While we certainly are happy and enjoy being together, I'm so lonely here. I had to be somewhere the other day and realized there's not a single person I can call to watch my kids. There's no one I know well enough, nor are there many stay-at-home moms I can call on for help during the day. It's amazing to me, though, how God makes weak things strong. He can take the times that are difficult for us and use that humility to make us amazing instruments in His hands. I've been so willing and available to reach outside of myself these past few months, and God has been able to bless me and those I've served.

It's an wonderful blessing, to be willing to serve Jesus Christ, and it gives me greater joy than anything else in this life.

A note to my friends: I've taken a break from Facebook because I realized I wasn't connected to anyone I saw daily. Finding more ways to connect with people I see in real life, I discovered, was my favorite aspect of Facebook. So until I have more people I want to connect with on there, I'm keeping distant from it. I've been surprised how much I don't miss it. But I also know that it keeps me connected to so many people I really love, so I won't ever get rid of it. If you ever needed to contact me and you can't find me on there, I love email: ashley (dot) dilsaver (at) gmail (dot) com