Thursday, July 13, 2023

A Big Career Decision

The wonderful thing about being thirty nine is that I know myself. I know what I need, what makes me happy, what ignites my passions, and I'm comfortable with all of it. Sometimes I surprise myself, but for the most part, I know myself well. At many points in my life I would apologize when my passion would scare or offend people. Now I know to surround myself with individuals who support and encourage me. As a mother, I've figured out how to either include my children in my passions and make them a part of it, or when I needed to do things on my own.

A highlight for me was figuring out how to be the mom I wanted to be and run a business by making my children a focal point of my business model, thus my daycare business boomed. For twelve years I drew inspiration from my career.  That inspiration spawned other career highlights for me such as this very blog, freelance writing, and becoming an author. However, as children do, my own kids grew. Their needs changed, my mom role evolved, and I was suddenly taking off just as many days as I worked. Around this time, I was inspired by new challenges that arose.

For the last six years, I've been an active board member at the Des Moines Children's Museum (which is also a career highlight for me). The unique thing about this role is that we have been a working board. For six years I planned every event, attempted to hit fundraising goals, and failed marvelously at networking. I was thrilled to have a space that also shared my passion to have children learn through play. At this time last year I sat at a board meeting where we discussed how the Museum was growing and what was needed. I had an idea; I knew this idea to be a large undertaking for myself, but I figured, 'why not?' This idea was in the form of a monthly, Friday night program where we would try new and different things. One month was Games From Around The World, while another was a dance, and another was all about flowers. I knew I could do it because these are literally things I would do with my daycare. I loved when I could intertwine the two with my ideas reaching more children in our community. 

I will note at this time, that one year later, our Try Days will be no longer because they didn't bring in as many people as we had hoped. However, these Days did more for me personally than I realized until I sat down to write this. You see, while I showed up and shared these ideas with whoever else showed up, as the months went on, I grew increasingly frustrated because I couldn't network or get fundraising or whatever because of my full time job. By the beginning of this year, I realized my focus was changing. I was, and still am, passionate about daycare; stellar, affordable daycare where children learn through play. I am equally as passionate about following my passions, letting my ideas take the lead.

As I sat in the quiet on a January morning, I put finishing touches on another children's book and sent texts about more ideas I had for my other ventures, my mind began to wander. I knew a change was needed. For myself, for my growing children, for my sanity because there was no way in hell I could spend another school year wondering how my children were getting to and from school. If I'm perfectly honest, my initial plans (years and years ago) were to close daycare when my youngest started kindergarten. Of course, life is fun and throws curveballs. Here I was, that youngest child in her last year in elementary school and heading into middle school. I was still in a career I loved and I don't think I'll ever stop loving it. But on that quiet January morning, I updated my resume. I had no clue what I was going to do with it though. A quick skim of job searches left me thinking, 'oh hell no.'

Later that same day, I broke out my computer to send an email for the Children's Museum, thinking about how I could have gotten this done a week ago if this was my job....wait, what if this was my job? Two weeks later, some research, and basically creating a job I knew would check all my boxes, I submitted a job proposal to the Board of Directors, excusing myself from the board discussions of it all (obviously, because clearly I would hire myself). Two months and some job description changes later, I accepted the position of Programs and Events Director at the Des Moines Children's Museum, beginning at the end of August of this year.

Cue all of the emotions. I was a ball of nerves breaking the news to my daycare families, many of whom have been with me for all twelve years I've been open. Some days I'm elated and feel like I could have began the job yesterday. Other days, I stop and think how much I'll miss these daycare days. Sometimes I'm nervous and uneasy, what if I misread myself this time and life is throwing another curve ball? In this precise moment, I'm enjoying the last few days/weeks of my business before life changes. I'm taking in all of the moments, the good, bad, and crazy, and locking each moment away in my brain for when I need them.

I can't say I would have made this move at this time if my children's needs weren't changing, but I do know change is good. I enjoy challenges, learning new things, and letting my ideas fly. All of the emotions are with me as I head into my final days as a daycare provider of my own daycare business. I feel as though I'm reinventing myself when I step into my new career. Who knows where this next road will lead me, but I am ready to find out.