Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life by Design: All In

Three months ago, I took a leap of faith and traded in my corporate job with wonderful benefits and a paycheck for a chance to invest time with my kids, serve as a wife and become the woman I've always wanted to be.  While I knew being an all-in, full-time mom was tough, I wasn't quite prepared for what I was getting into.  From ambitious career woman to humble home manager, suddenly I was in over my head. But I wasn't turning back, just like I had been in my career--with the decision to stay home-- I was all in.

Rewind a few years back.  When my husband and I met, I was a single mom to a 4 year old. We were married a year later and had discussed his desire to have a big family.  While I wasn't sure about how many kids we should have, I did know I didn't want to spread them out much further and that we should start trying to expand our family in the next year or so.  The first month that we decided to let nature take its course, we became pregnant.  He was finishing up school & our due date was the day that he was set to graduate.  Despite having morning sickness all day long for 6 months, I was working 60+ hour weeks with 2 jobs in real estate, renovating my own house and being very active in my community.  Our son was in school and with our opposite schedules, we shared the responsibility of caring for our son & both of us were able to put a lot of effort into school/work/community.  We hardly saw each other, but we thought that life seemed to be humming in the right direction.

But then we had a baby.  And my husband graduated (the day that I was discharged from the hospital) and entered a bleak job market.  He had to continue working his restaurant job that paid the bills while searching for a career full time, but wasn't finding the opportunities that made sense financially or strategically for a young educated man raising a family. I had to work more hours to make less money because the incentives in the real estate market went away and while I had years of RE experience I was new to the agent world in a historically difficult market. I didn't take a maternity leave, I took my 4-day old to a closing and didn't stop there,  I was nursing in between showings and I was burning out quickly.

I decided to turn in my passion for something more consistent and while my hours would be less, I knew I would lose the precious flexibility I had come to love along with the ability to bring my children along with me if I needed to & just plain old sunshine during the day.  It was a great opportunity at a wonderful company, but from clouds & clients to cube walls in a call center, it was an adjustment for me.

The job wasn't so bad, but my husband's new career path involved being on second shift and working an irregular schedule.  Often his work was understaffed & he'd have to come in with little notice and wasn't off most holidays. When I came home, he was leaving. We went almost 4 years with him working an opposite shift.  While it was nice to have a parent home with the kids, we were living parallel lives.  Both charged with carrying out the responsibilities of raising kids solo. Date nights were rare.  Talking about bills, plans, and life was crammed into sleepy late nights or hectic early mornings.  We were unable to maintain friendships with our weird schedule/(almost) single-parent lifestyle. While we both were very committed to our marriage.  It sucked.

But I had just committed to leading an organization that I was super passionate about & had the opportunity to work with some awesome people & I had just received a new position at work with lots of potential to grow so we kept going, until I passed out at work one day from dehydration & exhaustion and at the hospital the doctor came back smiling. (Thankfully I was pumped full of fluids & feel-good meds). Surprise! we were going to be expecting again.  So we kept on trucking for nine months, then I went on my first maternity leave with my third child.

Thank goodness for maternity leave, because going from two children to three was the biggest adjustment yet. We were still in the midst of potty training & our toddler started to have nightmares so even if the baby went to sleep, she would wake up.  I maxed out my leave in order to try my hardest to get a solid 5 hours of sleep before heading back into the land of grey cubes & client visits.  Operating a car of no sleep wasn't a good idea--trust me.

I dove back in head-first, planning a major event for the community organization I lead (volunteer) & started work with a new manager intent on revamping operations.  My head was spinning, but I was honestly glad to be back in the comfortable arena of sealing deals, finding opportunities and being recognized for a job well done; at the same time, our marriage was still not a priority & over the past year we had moved to another part of town, our son started a new school & my husband began a more intense position in his career & the boiler of life grew hotter.

My friends showered me with kindness (sprinkled with encouragement to slow down) by saying "I can't believe how much you juggle," but this only made me feel guilty.  I saw pictures of them with their kids at the park & on school field trips and hated that I hadn't made one that year.  I paid sitters to enjoy time with my kids while I attended board meetings.  I had no idea what my son was learning in school, just spent my evenings making sure that he was at his desk drilling away at homework.  I downed at least 3-4 cups of coffee a day, had zero time for margin and hoped that all of this effort would pay off someday.

Then, a leader in our church--a mom to 4 precious girls and wife to our youth pastor--lost her battle to cancer at such a young age.  I missed the memorial service of her incredible life because I had a community event I had to attend, but I went to a different funeral the next day and was reminded again of how short life is.  I cried all the way back to work and prayed fervently that God would open up a door for me to jump out of the rat race.  I shared my desire to invest my most valuable resource of time in a place that would bring solid returns--in bringing up the next generation.  I prayed about having a marriage that was thriving and not barely surviving. And I wondered what it would be like to start all over and to only do things that complimented my families' needs.

Financially, it would not make sense for me to leave my job.  That's why I asked my husband to join me in praying about it, but assured him that I was wait for his leadership in making the decision.  I promised him that I would work on finding a way to use the talents God had invested in me to my best ability to meet our needs, but that God had placed a peace in my heart to just trust Him & He would provide.

After several months of prayer, he came to me and said that he had peace about me leaving.  Respecting his leadership & taking the first step in refreshing our marriage, we made this move together.  I turned in my notice, and tomorrow I'll talk more about how when God provided when we put our trust all in, God showed up in ways we didn't imagine.

No comments:

Post a Comment