This is the final week of my maternity sabbatical, I begin a new career chapter next week as Maise turns a joyful sweet 16-months-old! As I had written, everything about my first pregnancy and postpartum have flowed in His timing and which, is also what I’d love my life to be known for.
I was in-between jobs in my former role as a film producer when we found out I was pregnant with Maise exactly two years ago. It effectively led to my sabbatical, but with no clarity of its duration. So I tested it by assuming it was going to be one year and began my job search process while 9 months pregnant. (It didn’t scare anyone away!) Multiple rounds of interviews later, I landed a job offer at the senior producer level that was to begin 12 weeks postpartum.
It felt perfect until it wasn’t. For the world had dramatically changed.
Maise was born February 2020 right at the start of the pandemic. By May 2020, when the new job was to begin, like most of the world, it was a very confusing time. Even as I felt physically ready and had in effect ‘worked’ throughout postpartum. As it was announced literally the day after I had Maise that my feature documentary was accepted into an international film festival. And even as the festival was later cancelled due to the pandemic, by May, we had a distribution deal. So I always had something to keep me active, even if the ‘work’ weren’t on par with my income potential or made career sense, a career sabbatical is for me a permission to focus on Rest and renew vision.
Being my first pregnancy, I had no idea how long postpartum recovery would take for me so I hadn’t quite put a timeline. Though the stigma of ‘mommy tracked’ a la moms being passed over jobs and promotions are very real. And so I couldn’t have scripted this better for what’s to come in motherhood for me. When I applied for that new job, I was in the “pre-pandemic work structure” psyche, even as I had been in Work-From-Home (WFH) status for 3 years of my life at that point.
So quite frankly, I believe the pandemic was a needed wake-up call to how we work and disruption to the conventional work structure and hustle that the world had been long bound to. I’ve always loved being a trailblazer for how it’s possible to work from a foundation of Rest and to scale “the career trajectory” He has graciously placed me on despite going against the grain of the pre-pandemic traditional work structure. I saw the pandemic as a divine conspiracy for me to continue bravely forge my unique career path as a first-time mom under this new world order so to speak.
I turned down the job offer, and took another year of career sabbatical to really take the time to vision it all out. One month later, Edward would receive a new job offer himself that was to be at a deputy director level (allowing another year of career sabbatical for me). Further, it is a permanent WFH role that we have found served our current season in marriage and parenting impossibly well. That became a game changer for us, as we have learned to always make decisions that’d be best for our marriage in light of eternity. We then followed the spirit prompting to move our base back to California while I continued figure out the second year of my career sabbatical.
In the past year, I started my MBA, gained an executive coach-mentor, served an inner-city ministry in San Francisco, which all combined to steer me towards this next chapter. I don’t think I’ve thought as much or as carefully of what’s next in my creative career than I had after becoming a mother. Even so, I have not felt more inspired and brave to dream bigger, too.
The thing about motherhood is it constantly leads me back to the question of what do I want Maise to grow up seeing her mama positioned to do and be in this world? What may inspire her or challenge her? How am I best stewarding all that’s placed in my hands? What stereotypes am I breaking or ceilings am I shattering? What problems am I solving or pain am I intervening in ushering His Kingdom on earth until thy Kingdom fully come?
As with the theme of my year, when I think of “having it all”, I think of arriving at a place of divine wholeness in stewarding both being a mom and my creative career.
It’s a dance – and in closing out this mid-year update post, I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources that I affectionately call “my ten parenting commandments”. They are like rhythmic cues that have set me up and given me clarity and conviction to scale and keep dancing to this new chapter of my creative career.
That I pray you’d find the freedom to dance in your season too.
1. Bring your child along on your mission – parent in light of eternity. (Francis and Lisa Chan)
2. Guard having a happy healthy motherhood – become the best version of who God has made you to be. (Havilah Cunnington)
3. Seek wholeness, not balance – creatively involve your child in your work. (Joanna Gaines)
4. You don’t have to be a superwoman, you just need to be supernatural! (Christine Caine)
5. When you work, work. When you parent, parent. Crossover guilt is a waste of energy. (Lavinia Thanapathy)
6. I am a wife and a mother, but I’m also the person before I became all that. (Midwife Marley)
7. Have baby registries with less stuff and more support, and it’s perfectly reasonable to establish boundaries. (Mombrain Therapist)
8. Raise a child as far away as possible from stereotypes to offer them a fairer future than the one we’ve got. (Emmaclit – I adore this comic)
9. The goal of parenthood is to raise children to be independent of you and dependent on God. (Lisa Bevere)
10. Relax. We are all just figuring out as we go! (Yours Truly!)