When my youngest child started half-day kindergarten, I became the parent volunteer that I think every teacher dreams of. After years of fulfilling my lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do with so much free time. The following year I began a new career as a tutor and classroom aide in the same school my kids attended. I consider it a great blessing to have had the same hours and holidays as my children through the years! There’s only one drawback—Summer Unemployment.
As necessity is the mother of invention, it can be the catalyst for many failed experiments as well. I have become obsessed with learning new skills, and developing hobbies that would be practical and worthwhile. “What’s for dinner?” or “What are you making/doing?” is potentially too embarrassing for me to answer candidly. “A mess!” or “just experimenting!” is easier to walk away from if things don’t turn out as desired. My family teases, but since not every experiment ends in disaster, even my teenagers have expressed respect (awe?) from time to time. That’s just who I am, I guess. My husband recently told me that my wild ideas are actually endearing. Well! That’s a good thing! So my schemes have had one of two purposes: how to make money or how to make money stretch.
Several years ago, with making money in mind, I decided to try my hand at writing a book for children. I spent the summer writing and revising; then researching the publishing process and sending my manuscript to dozens of publishing houses. My husband was encouraging and gave me an inspiring wall hanging featuring Mary Engelbreit’s adorable artwork and the quote credited to George Eliot that says “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” It has inspired my craziness through the years of successes and failures ever since. While I still love my story, and I still have confidence in it, it’s been gathering dust while I’ve moved on to other things. It will never make me any money, but I’m so glad its part of my legacy.
I don’t think I’m alone in my quest to become what I want to be. Everyone is searching for what will make them happy. I’m not saying that I’m unhappy, and I don’t characterize myself as “lost” or “trying to find myself.” I think I’ve just come to the realization that my two purposes (making money and making it stretch) are short sighted. I think the key is that freely sharing the joy of what inspires me will multiply the happiness for myself, my family, and hopefully those who read. My husband wisely counseled me on my latest venture, “If you want to blog, do it. But do it because it makes you happy.”