Life's Greatest Lesson: Are You Learning It Too?
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By Jennifer Lebo
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Ever have a moment where everything around you just seems to freeze, and you hear the voice of your heart speaking as clear as day to you?  I had that moment early last month, and it’s the reason why I’m back here blogging.


Let me back up a bit.  To the week when everything came to a head.  The week when my 12 year old daughter shared with me some of the struggles she’s been having at school.  (isn’t middle school just the best???)  The same week my teaching contract came up for next year, and the question of whether to continue in the classroom or return to my passion resurfaced.  The week when all three of my worlds collided, and then settled into a peaceful clarity.


I’m sure many of you can relate to the truth that being a mom is insanely hard!  From the moment our kids arrive, we are a basket of emotions, in love with them in a way we’ve never known, exhausted to a degree we’ve never experienced, worried like we never knew we could worry.  But this.  This tween and teenage phase, particularly with a daughter.  Well, this is a whole different kind of beast!



My mother warned me about this (a story for another post), but I really had no idea.  Raising a young lady is hard!  One minute my heart is aching over whether she is happy or lonely or afraid, and the next minute I’m doing everything in my power not to lose it on her as she sasses me for absolutely no reason!  Who is this girl?  Where did my sweet baby go?  Why does she hate me?  Oh, wait, now she loves me?  Why does she think she’s ugly?  Who told her that?  Why doesn’t she see what I see?  


The questions, the uncertainties, they are endless.


I know you know what I’m talking about.

So during that week, when the perfect storm of parenting, passion, and profession erupted, I was able to see it for the gift that it was.  Earlier in the week, when my mind swirled around the question of whether to continue teaching or not, I had jotted these thoughts onto a Post It note: “Had no plans to teach.  What’s changed?  Is this an opportunity?  Am I afraid of business or of trying?”

Not one day later, my daughter stood crying in my arms sharing her experience of loneliness at school.  I stood in our kitchen, holding her, and crying with her, and I felt so thankful that I could at least just be there in that moment.  Then I remembered that I was free from teaching the next day, and suggested I take her out for lunch.  The relief on her face, and relaxing of her body in my arms was instant.  I was able to rescue her, even just for a moment, and we were both grateful.


It was just a brief rescue, but it was precious.  We grabbed a quick lunch the next day, smiled and laughed a lot, and I was able to bring her back to school fill with love, and the assurance that I’d be waiting for her after school.  We hugged and she hurried off, knowing this would not be an everyday thing, but that it was in perfect timing.  It reminded me of how much my kids still need me, and how much I want to be there for them.




While organizing past business files, I came across some brainstorming I had done less than one year ago, titled “Fifty Questions to Find My Passion”.  About halfway through the list, I found it.  The answer to a question about what I dislike doing.  It said, “I don’t like staying up late for dorm duty, although I like the girls.  I hate teaching English, never want to do it again.”  


Woah.  When did I forget this?  


In that moment, it all sort of fell together, my passions, my purposes, my plans.  Somehow I had found myself doing something I never intended to do again.  I knew why I had accepted the job, agreed to help out my community when they needed help.  But why was I going to pursue it further?  I don’t care for the subject I teach.  No, what draws me to teaching is always the students.  I don’t love teaching English.  But I do love teaching.


This revelation, coming on the heels of time spent with my daughter, following the hesitation over walking away from my business, was peaceful yet powerful.  I knew I was ready to try again.



Which brings me here with you, today.  Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to just try one more time.”  That’s what I’m doing, with my business, with my parenting, with my life.  I’m just trying again.  


My passions in life are simple.  I love my family, and my sweet sassy daughter.  I love taking pictures of people.  And I love teaching.  I do.  I don’t love teaching English, but I love teaching.  I love sharing what I know, what I don’t know, what I’m learning myself.  So here I am, doing all three.


Trying each day to be a mom, a photographer, a teacher, a woman, a friend.


If that resonates with any part of who you are, then come take this walk with me.  Let’s learn about parenting our daughters.  Let me teach you how to use photography to empower your daughter (and yourself!).  Be encouraged to try along with me.


Let’s never be afraid to fail.  Let’s just be afraid to not try.


Looking forward to our journey together.



Leave a comment:
Jennifer Lebo - I'm thankful I have such a great example just a few years ahead of me on this journey! Plus, I have so many beautiful images of YOUR girl to help me tell this story! Love our girls!!! (our boys are pretty ok too!) ;)
Love you!
Jennifer Lebo - Hi Deb! Yes, boys are a whole different kind of challenge, right? As is the magic number of 3, right? It's all so hard. I'm so glad we moms lean on each other. Thanks for your comment! Loved hearing from you. :)
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Debbie! Having sons is a whole different kind of challenge, right? May I raise my kids to be as wonderful as your boys! Miss you!
Jennifer Lebo - Hi Cathy! How IS Mallory? Wow, it's been too long! Thank you for your comment! Give Mallory my best- Scotty's too! :)
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Mike! I'm so touched that you read my blog post. You inspire me, in business, and in life!
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Jenn! :)
Tara - YES to ALL OF THIS!! Man do I love you and your heart. Follow it always. Keep B close and be her biggest fan. Can’t wait to follow along on this journey with you. Love you!
Deb Horwatt - Jen! Love your message and am making big changes myself but I don’t have a daughter. Being the mother of all boys has its challenges too.
Debbie Sizemore - I may not have a daughter, but I am one. A daughter of the one True King. And I love what you write, why you write and because you write. Having sons gives me the unique advantage to see young women come into my life through them. I want to be a better person for these young women that will love my boys and will be loved by my boys. Help me to help them....and myself. I love you Jen! Don't stop writing is a gift.
Cathy - Hi Jen - I’m Mallory’s Mom, from the CCS days! I just asked someone at The Hill about you and your family. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights. Raising a teenager - possibly the toughest job I will ever love. Take care,
Mike Bruny - Well said, welcome back, we left the light on for you.

With love and support,
P.S. “I ain’t afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not tryin’ “ - Jay-Z (song: Beach Chair)
Jenn - Beautifully said
Jennifer Lebo - Thanks Alex!!! :)
Jennifer Lebo - Samantha, oh my goodness, yes! So hard, but worth every effort!
Jennifer Lebo - Mimi, thank you! Miss you so! Give my love love love to Leilani! I miss her too! Thank you for your encouragement!
Jennifer Lebo - Please join me! You might not have a birth daughter, but this daughter-in-law loves you like one!
Jennifer Lebo - Aww, thanks Mom! You're wonderful.
Jennifer Lebo - Oh, yay, Katie! Something to reconnect us. This mom stuff is HARD! Let's keep doing it together, even thousands of miles apart! Miss you so!
Jennifer Lebo - No, I'm going to teach their moms! At least that's the hope! :)
Lori McHale - Always love your revelations!! You know I need help :-)
Matthew Trunsky - Please visit Michigan. You can teach.... and photograph. And you can borrow my daughters if need be!!
Debra Rutkowski - Jen I always loved your heart and the way you express it with words. Your good with words too! I remember you always teaching too in our group how God would speak to you. I think He is speaking to you now again about your passions that He has given you. You go girl!
Gina - Mix your passion for teaching and your love of photography. Does that mean you were going to teach photography to young girls ?
Katie - I'm crying. Literally. I miss you. You literally just captured and quoted my life perfectly. I am facing the same struggles, obstacles, questions, etc. I'm in this journey with you. Xox
Mom - Love this Jen-awesome! I’m so happy you’re doing what you love
Carol - Hooray, o for it!!! May I join even though I don't have a birth daughter?
Mimi - I've always enjoyed reading your writing - I also feel that each one has given me a lot to think about and relate to as I attempt to 'parent' my sweet Leilani. Do what you love.
Samantha - Beautifully said Jen!! Raising a daughter is hard work but so rewarding!!!
Alexandrea Dedrick - Love, Love, Love this!