Things have been a little quiet around here after my ambitious goal of getting caught up over 2 months ago! In fact I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. This post is pretty vulnerable for me, but maybe someone else needs to hear what I heard. I also applaud all the mommas out there whether working full-time, part-time, or stay at home.
Last week I read a blog post of a news anchor. Her very first paragraph started with how proud of herself she was for being a wife, mom, working full-time, and running a charity on the side. At first I felt a twinge of jealousy, as I have a lot in the past of other moms who make it look easy, but then just as quick as it came on it faded into peace. I always thought I could do it all and have it all. I thought I could work full-time and still be there for everything my son needed. In fact, I did think I had it all until a couple of months ago when it was brought to my attention that I was not giving my best at work. If I am being honest, I probably expected this for a while in regards to certain things; however, for it to be an all-encompassing statement was devastating to me. I am still a perfectionist and people pleaser to my core so this news sent me in a tail spin. I immediately thought back to all of the late nights and weekends that I had dedicated to this job, and simultaneously felt the same guilt that I did in those moments when I was spending precious time away from my son.
Thus began a little mini journey of self-discovery. I sought out advice from anyone and everyone who would listen. Working moms, stay at home moms, retired moms, and from them I received little tidbits of advice that kept resonating in my head. My own mom had stayed home with us until we were in Junior High! The first revelation that came to me was from a very dear, sweet friend who told me that when I die my legacy will not be my career, it will be my family. Y’all, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean unless I cure cancer or when a Nobel prize, no one will remember me from Adam. My family, though, they are the ones that my memory will live on in. She told me this as I poured my heart out about how devastated I was that I was not meeting expectations at work. I mean the clarity that she gave me in that moment was priceless.
Next, I sought the advice of a counselor. I am not ashamed to admit this. I have already poured my heart out on this very blog about my history with anxiety. I was very blessed to find another Christian counselor who had also stayed home with her kids for many years. She very candidly pointed out to me that I only have so much to give (duh); but that maybe if I was giving my best at home, I wasn’t giving my best at work. Y’all, that was another gut punch. I mean I know I only have so much to give, but I thought that by working nights and weekends and checking email on my phone 24/7 maybe I was giving my best at work still. I even asked some fellow working mommas where their “give” was. How did they do their best at home and at work? Of course, I got varying answers. Some felt like they gave less than their best at work, while others missed out on school parties for their kids. The truth is, as I am sure it is for many of you, when I am at work my mind is at home. My heart is always with Ryder. In that same boat of honesty, though, when I am at home my mind is at work. I was constantly checking email on my phone and formulating plans on when I was going to finish what task. This counselor also told me that I don’t have to be successful right now in my 30s. I have plenty of time to focus on my career, and maybe right now is not that time. I see so many young people who have already climbed that career ladder, so furthering myself in my career was always something I strove for.
After all of those revelations hit me like a ton of bricks, it was time to be honest with myself. This part hurt a little, because I realized I was not giving my best at HOME either. Of course Ryder ALWAYS came first; however, when I am checking email on my phone, I am ignoring my son who desperately needs me. I would often come home from work so drained that I couldn’t even get out of the recliner to give Ryder a bath. My attentiveness at both home and at work was failing. I also had to realize that Ryder and myself are both sick a LOT. Maybe I never did get over Mono when I had it last Fall and did not give myself a chance to rest, or maybe I just need to get healthy with diet and exercise. In the same token maybe it is the stress taking a toll on my body, or maybe it is ALL of it. You see when Ryder is sick and not sleeping well, that just wrecks me. So we get in this cycle of Ryder being sick, then me, then sometimes Chad, then repeat!
On the days where Ryder is sick I would usually stay home with him in the mornings, then my mom would watch him in the afternoons. In my mind this was a great arrangement because I was only missing a half day of work which I usually made up. In reality, it was still a lot of time taken away from work. Enter guilt. As any mom knows, a sick baby is the quickest way to pull at the heart-strings. I would drive to work in tears some days because I just wanted to rock and comfort my baby. As Ryder got older he felt it too, and would even communicate “no momma go work”.
So I had come to terms with all of the above, but “now what?”. We left on our 7 day cruise immediately following this and it still haunted me every night while I slept. I came back prepared to give my two weeks notice immediately, but fortunately I have a great dad and wonderful husband who talked me down off of that ledge. After much discussion, we decided that maybe it was time for me to find a part-time job. Talk about scary. I had prided my identity on being a “full-time working mom”. In the mean time I would work to correct the things that were previously brought to my attention.
I love what I do, really, and I love working on campus. I just needed to find something that was WORTHY of my time away from Ryder. No more nights and weekends for me to just barely stay caught up. I wanted something on my terms that met my family’s needs. Picky much? I used to be an excellent job hunter, but it has been a while. The part-time jobs on campus were pretty scarce so I just applied for all of them. In what was a little bit of an ego-boost I got called right away for two of them!
Long story short, two hours after an interview I was offered the job with a 1 PM-5 PM schedule on campus. The position will focus a lot on marketing which would be a new skill for me to learn. You would think that accepting it would be a no brainer, but I really wanted to put my family’s interest first. Again, I sought out advice from lots of moms and talked about it to death with my husband. Would I really be getting more time with Ryder? Was this the right move for us financially? I should note that I did pray about it a lot, and I would like to think this was God’s plan all along. I already mentioned how my mom could keep Ryder in the afternoons on days he is sick, so me having an opposite schedule of her was kind of perfect really. There were other signs too that this was meant to be. So in the end, I decided to take the plunge.
Since I have accepted the job and have had a few weeks to think about my new routine, I have high hopes. It is hard for someone with anxiety to have faith and hope in the future, so maybe I should say I am cautiously optimistic. Maybe this won’t fix everything, maybe we will be back to square one; or just maybe this will be the fulfillment that breathes life back to my tired body. I plan to take Ryder to daycare everyday and pick him up (something I rarely had the opportunity to do while working full-time). I plan to work out everyday (something I haven’t done in over 2 years). I plan to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner (something I haven’t done in so long I can’t remember when the last time was). I plan to join a MOPS group (something I have always wanted to do but never could). I plan to join a women’s marketing group (because let’s face it I have a lot to learn). We have also found a new church and look forward to getting connected in a small-group we were invited to. I even acknowledge that I may already be overloading my plate again, but I am intentionally looking for activities that will help me be the person I want to be again.
I realize now that for so long I have just been treading water trying to stay afloat. I was not being intentional about anything. It does scare me that I could waste away my extra 4 hours a day, but as I said I am hopeful that I will find a new groove. I am excited to be the wife and mommy my family needs while still maintaining an identity outside of the home. I promise to report back to you all and let you know how things are going. I mean ideally this would open a lot more time for ye old blog too!
Finally, I just want to reiterate that I applaud all the mommas out there. I know there are so many who can make it work with full-time jobs, or who don’t have the means to do anything but. Maybe this post provided some reflection to you, though, if you have been having as hard of a time as I was.
Until next time friends.