It’s been an emotional week for sure. Downsized is my word of the week – from a job of 7 years. I thought we all left this in 2008, but sadly I add to a number of friends and family I know who have lost their jobs because of the current falsely hopeful economy. When I first got the news, strangely my first reaction was relief. I felt a 50-pound weight be lifted from me. Sure I am worried about how we will pay our bills, but mostly I’m glad that the crazy treadmill speed I have had to run on is stopping before I just fly off the back and crash. In this first week, I found myself rushing and rushing around the house, rushing to get the kids dressed, rushing to get to the doctor’s, rushing just like I always do. Then it dawned on me, I don’t need to rush anymore. Here I have been rushing around feeling like I can’t possibly get it all done unless I run, for way too long. That feeling gnawed away at me and I knew I had it, but recognizing it out of the daily grind was scary. It is eye-opening to realize I was feeling that way ALL the time. I was losing that battle every single day! This morning on the way back from my son’s school I was reflecting and likened it to going back to the factory settings on a computer and starting over. (and strangely I got home and read a very similar analogy on my friend Mandy D’s blog! When I sense a pattern in my life, that’s when I know I am learning) That’s how I feel, and I don’t really know how to do it. I don’t know which programs to reload, because I don’t know what programs I need and which ones I can do without. I don’t know how to be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t know if that will be for one week, one month, one year or forever. I do know that it feels weird to be home after I had finally accepted that I was a working mom, and was no longer bitter about not being able to be home with my kids. Maybe that is the point, who knows.
You see, for months, okay years, my husband and I have been praying nightly for something to give. We accepted at least a year ago that we would not tell God how to answer our prayer, but that we would just pray for him to take over the situation. Since we didn’t know even what to pray for, we just prayed for God to just work it all out. It was all getting to be too much for me to be working a fulltime job, a contract job, and then trying to get my daughter to all her appointments etc. She was still coming to work with me after a short-lived disastrous stint at a babysitter’s house. Being a full-time employee and a full-time mom was starting to wear on me and my daughter. We couldn’t afford to put her in daycare, but we couldn’t afford for me to stay home. So, here we are strangely relieved to know that something is happening, even if we have no idea what. When you ask God to move a mountain out of your way, don’t be surprised when he does.
When my husband accepted a lateral move for the sake of a quality-of-life improvement this summer, we knew it was the start of something greater for our family, but felt like just a glimpse. That is when I accepted that the answer wasn’t going to be that he was going to be leaping to a salary that would not require my income, and that the whole daycare thing would just have to work out some other way. I was okay with that and found that I knew so many others in my situation, working and running all day every day.
So, here on the other side of the downsize, I am trying to learn about this whole stay-at-home mom thing, at least for the time being. Quite frankly, my house is still messier than I like it (except for our bedroom is newly uncluttered and spotless and I’ve reverted to the clean freak I used to be where I don’t like anything left out at the end of the night). When my daughter’s therapists come it is no longer a day that I also work from home. I can fully be present for her treatment. I am not commuting 8 hours a week. I have savored the spontaneous hugs from my son, hugs that someone else was getting every day.
I have acknowledged that I never want to feel that trapped in stress again, feeling like I can’t possibly run any faster before I am thrown from the treadmill in defeat. But what’s next I don’t know. I have a crazy excitement about it. I know whatever it is, it is better than where I am coming from. I am sad to leave this job that I was so passionate about. It was truly the job of a lifetime, where I saw all of my passions and experience come together. It was a big part of my life. It made having my son in daycare feel tolerable because I was doing something to help people that spoke to my heart. If I have to work for a living it has to be something that makes up for missing out on time with my children. I do fear that I will still be stuck making either the choice to take a job that requires me to go back to a crazy schedule, or not doing that and not being able to pay our bills. I have the potential and skills to work in the corporate grind, but I lack the desire at this threshold. I am more in the business of helping people, and a non-profit veteran. I know it will be difficult to find that socially-minded job with a paycheck big enough to cover daycare. But maybe that’s not my answer.
I felt that I have been preparing for this season in life for some time. But I’ll save those details for another blog entry for fear of once again being too wordy. I feel God’s peace overwhelm me and hear friends and family sounding more fearful about our situation than I actually feel. To say it feels like a much needed vacation sums it up. I don’t yet know how to reprogram. I feel like there is some healing that needs to come from all that stress before I can effectively start over. For these first few weeks, I am just going to get up and see what happens (I am a planner so that in itself tells me I am in need of rest). I do have very part time work at my former company that does give a little structure to my otherwise wandering schedule. When we told my son that he would have to leave his school, I cried; he cried. We sat down and made a list of things that we would like to do together. It felt like the right start to this adventure. It felt good to be able to make plans and know that I could at least start to reprogram there. I can’t help but feel that even though so many of our plans have been turned upside down that I am once again right where I am supposed to be…and back to my word of the year BUILD. I don’t know if that will still include our dream of a fixer upper home for our family. For now, that has to be on hold. I am not sad that our plans are gone because I’ve been here before, right in the place. And this place has always meant that God was about to do something extraordinary. And these children that I now have the privilege to be home with at least for now, are two of those something extraordinaries. So, knock me upside the head if I forget this perspective down the road, because at this point in my life I have been through enough valleys to know that God always gets me back up on that mountaintop. And someday soon I’ll be there again celebrating how he rewrote this part of my story.