This post was previously published on the author’s blog

I am a lot of things: mom, daughter, sister, wife, friend, writer, neighbor, runner, reader, coffee drinker, meal planner, potty trainer, school volunteer, etc. All of these labels make me who I am in this world.

My current stage in life dictates that motherhood pretty much overwhelms everything else. And I’m okay with that, because the experience of raising little humans to become grown-ups is pretty rewarding. However, the stay-at-home mom label is hard for me. My kids are the best part of my identity, and I do not take all of the joy they bring me for granted. But, as much as I adore being a mom, I also want to be more.

It’s difficult to be a parent who watches her kids full-time, but wants the recognition of also working on outside interests a few hours a day. Prior to making the commitment to be a freelance writer, I was blessed for many years to work for an insurance company that allowed me to maintain sporadic hours and work from an office in my basement. It was a great gig that kept my children in my care and me on a strict daily schedule. I worked with wonderful people and I was definitely in “like” with my job during our 11-year run together. However, through a long string of events I came to the conclusion that I needed more for myself and it was time to break up with my employer. It really wasn’t them, it was me.

I had been tossing around the idea of quitting my job to focus on writing for a while, but it took the better part of a year for me to acknowledge a change was necessary. When my sister-in-law was killed by a drunk driver, I received a kick in the gut, which propelled me to re-examine my life choices.

I was always telling myself that once all of my kids were in school I would have more time. But honestly, the time is now for everything. It would have been much easier to start writing once my children were all in school eight hours a day, because scheduling interviews and finding inspiration requires blocks and blocks of time. Unfortunately, I know too well that tomorrow is not a guarantee, and waiting can just lead to regret and inaction.

By following a dream, I now make less money, face more criticism, and hear rejection a lot; while also still being spread a bit thin with my stay-at-home mom duties. However, I’ve never been happier. I was content before in a job I liked, but I am now overjoyed in a role I love. The learning curve of change can be discouraging, but I know I’ve found my calling because there is zero dread. There are definitely nerves, but it feels good to be in my mid-30s and getting butterflies again.

I realize that I’m fortunate to be in a position to follow my dream. Outside support from friends and family can be a strong motivator. Any guilt I have about giving up a steady paycheck comes from myself only, because I think everyone else around me can tell that I’m doing the right thing. Encouragement from others is the absolute best, and reinforces that being surrounded by people you love makes the world so much sweeter.

It may be hard at times to balance (and battle) demands that go along with wanting more in life, but hopefully embracing this ambition makes me come full circle to be a better mom, daughter, sister, wife, friend, writer, neighbor, runner, reader, coffee drinker, meal planner, potty trainer, school volunteer, etc.