A few weeks ago, I had a defining moment as a mom. It wasn't a big moment or a hard-won victory or even a milestone in one of my daughters' lives.
But it was a small moment I will never forget.
It came during an unexpected conversation with my oldest daughter that started with a simple question. "Mom," she said. "You're two things, aren't you? You're a mom and you're a life coach."
Yes, I answered, completely floored that she got it, that she saw what I was creating for myself and my family. (She wasn't even 5 at the time. Sometimes wisdom comes in small packages.)
As we continued talking, she said she thought it must be a lot of work to take care of our family and be a coach. And then she asked me "Why do you want to be both?"
I could have answered that question in so many ways. But in that moment, I only wanted her to know one thing: I want to be both a mom and a coach because I love both roles. And because I know I can, I choose to be both a mother AND a woman doing her work in the world.
That was the simple answer, distilled down to its essence for a little girl. But when my daughter is older and more mature and ready to hear the full truth behind my purpose, this is what I'll tell her.
I want to be both a mom and a coach because...
I believe every mom has incredible worth and unique gifts to share - and that it would be a disservice to wait to share them.
I believe a mother's dreams are every bit as important to prioritize as the dreams of her partner or her kids.
I believe when moms find the courage and the confidence to pursue their dreams and share their talents, they create joy and beauty and positive change in the world.
I believe moms are natural leaders who have the grit and determination needed to make a real difference in people's lives. (I bet you've heard the saying "If you want something done, give it to a busy mom.")
I believe that only good things are possible when moms dare to do motherhood on their terms.
I believe that when moms tap into their inherent strength and drive, they can make the seemingly impossible possible in any area of their lives.
I believe when moms find their purpose beyond motherhood, only amazing things will happen for themselves and everyone else in their lives.
I believe a woman who has found fulfillment beyond motherhood and created the kind of abundant, balanced life she desires as a mom AND an individual is a fully empowered woman. And if there's one thing we need in the world, it's more empowered women.
But more than anything, I choose to be both a mom and a life coach because I dream of a future for my daughters where mothers are celebrated, not judged, for going after their dreams. So if my girls decide to become mothers someday, they won't feel like they have to choose between being a great mom and a bold woman.
If I've done my job well and if I lead by example in my own life, they will know with 100 percent certainty that they can be both.
Ashley Gartland is a life coach and mentor for moms who want to be present moms and find fulfillment outside of motherhood so they can use their innate talents to make a difference in the world.
You can connect with Ashley at www.ashleymgartland.com, on Instagram at @ashleygartland or through her Facebook community for purpose-driven moms, Your Bold, Balanced Life.