No more leftovers

I left my job of three years at the end of May. Twenty-four hours a week away from home had worked well for our family for a while. It was good and healthy for me for a while. But around the time our second daughter was born, I began to feel unsettled. Yes, it is hard to leave your baby in someone else’s care while you head to work. I felt guilty. I knew her caretakers were capable, yet I worried about her. I was crushed when I’d come home from work and scoop her into my arms, and she wasn’t interested in me. (Can babies be offended? She sure looked offended.)

My then 1st-grader became accustomed to the fact that I couldn’t attend events at her school unless they fell on the right days of the week. Why couldn’t I come eat lunch with her sometimes? Some of the other moms do that. Why didn’t I sign up to be her classroom art helper? Why couldn’t I go on that field trip? Ouch, ouch, ouch.

All that aside, the mom-guilt stuff isn’t what ultimately led me to quit. I realized that at the end of the day, and on my off days, and in the middle of the night when stressful thoughts crept in and kept me from sleep—I had nothing to give my family but leftovers. Little scraps of me, crumbs of attention, bits of care, whatever energy and heart and soul I had left after I had given the rest away elsewhere. Meager offerings.

Many years ago, I prayed for my husband before I knew him, prayed that God would bring this person into my world to walk through life with.

Then I prayed for babies. Oh, how I prayed for them! My dream was to be a mom. I did well on my career path as a copy editor for several years, but always there was a yearning to be a mother. We left it in God’s hands, and boy did He surprise us when we least expected it. Twice. (Stories for another day!)

What was I doing with these gifts I had prayed and pleaded for? Neglecting them. Let me be clear—(See how I bolded and underlined that? Please don’t miss this.)—I wasn’t neglecting them by having a job outside the home. I worked because we needed the income, yes, but I also worked because I love working, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I am in awe of women who work inside and outside the home and do both with such passion and heart. You are superheroes to your children and an inspiration to fellow moms like me. I had reached a point, though, where I was no longer doing both well. I needed to make a choice.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… You are serving the Lord Christ. —Colossians 3:23-24

I was tired, irritable, and unhappy at work, and I was tired, irritable, and unhappy at home. There was a deep desire stirring in my spirit to just be present and available for my kids and my husband, and I couldn’t ignore it. Did I try to work around it? You bet. The timing of leaving my job was terrible. (Remember when all this stuff happened?) It meant losing a source of income, and therefore some sacrifices would need to be made. But there’s this funny thing about the Holy Spirit… He doesn’t tend to leave you alone when there’s something you’re really supposed to do. I’d say I finally relinquished control of the situation, but what a joke that would be. I am not in control, and thank God for that.

My now 2nd-grader went back to school this week after a summer full of lazy days and lounging around in pajamas until right before dad came home and pretending that swimmingIMG_9491 in grandma’s pool counts as being bathed. I wrote out one of those Pinterest-y lists of things to do when you’re bored on three Post-Its, stuck it on my desk, and never looked at it again. I won’t pretend it was a glorious or perfect summer. Some days I thought I was going to lose my mind trying to keep up with these kids. (There’s only two of them, for Pete’s sake! Get it together, lady.) Some days felt boring, if I’m being really honest. My kids are 7 and 1, and they don’t exactly have a lot of common interests right now. (Except for eating! Some days I felt like all I was doing was fetching snacks and making sandwiches. The little one learned “hungry” and “snack.” They both got taller.) The TV was on more than I liked. I tried to cook more dinners. I intentionally completely ignored this blog. Sometimes I wondered if I was doing enough with this time, because the days felt so mundane. Some of them felt long.

But I felt God’s Spirit teaching me all along that it was okay not to do, do, do. I needed to just be for a bit. I did my best to be still, and to just be with my girls. I’m learning to treasure these gifts I’ve been given and am discovering gifts I failed to recognize before.

So what’s next? The word quit implies giving up before something is finished, but I think this quitting was a new beginning. With the fall season comes new routines and habits (good ones, I hope), and I feel I’m on the cusp of something exciting and fresh. There are new dreams and goals to tackle now. My new work has just begun.

 

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