***This is kind of a manifesto. If you're just looking for pictures, scroll down to the previous post for June-August pics***
So, in a previous post I mentioned that I'm going back to work, very part-time. As many of you know I never really anticipated working at all with small kids in the house so I want to explain my decision. I don't feel a need to justify myself, so much as a desire to be honest and open.
I love my daughter! I love my daughter more than anything in this world, and my chief desire is for her to grow up to be a happy, healthy, whole person. However, I cannot expect her to grow up happy, healthy, and whole if she doesn't have a happy, healthy, and whole momma. Let me start by telling you that being a military wife was never a part of my life plan. I thought I'd marry a nice guy, work for a while, have babies, and then begin my career as a full-time mom/professional volunteer just like my mom did.
When I sought out a career I chose a "helping profession" because my highest calling is to help others. I draw energy and self-worth from making a difference in the world around me, and so becoming a mom/volunteer seemed like a natural transition for me. I always just assumed I'd join the junior league and be on my way when the time came. Well, the only hang-up with that plan is that when you move every few years, those kinds of opportunities are closed to you. After all, how can one leave a lasting legacy in a community you're never really a part of to begin with?
Last summer, I really felt like I had reached my wit's end. You see, there isn't much to do in Clovis with kids. I could give you the run-down, but that would just depress me and you so just trust me, it is a challenge to keep yourself and your child occupied. So this past year I tried to get Evie and myself involved in some meaningful things. We had a playgroup every Monday. That fizzled by year's end, although those moms are still my closest friends (we just have divergent schedules and some have moved). I also joined a Bible study. I left the Bible study in March. You don't need the whole story there, but for the same reasons it's been almost impossible to find a church here, I didn't fit in at the Bible study.
By the time I left for Texas this spring I was not in a great head-space. I don't have a natural talent for little kids. I was running out of things to do with Evie, day-in, day-out, operating in relative solitude. I was also having the hormone issues I've written about previously and major, debilitating shoulder pain (I'll cover that in a seperate post). It was kinds of a rock-bottom time for me.
Then, something magical happened. Evie started going to Mother's Day Out in Waco. I realized that she was benefiting from the experience, and that I was too. I signed her up for MDO here in Clovis for the fall, and I kept her enrolled at her day care center here too (previously used only for emergency drop-in care). Realizing that I would have time on my hands to get out in the community I started to explore volunteer opportunities. I didn't find any that were just right.
Then, I remembered that Clovis Community College was always hiring tutors. I decided to apply. While working as a tutor is never what I imagined for myself in terms of ultimate career path, I have learned that the Writing Center is staffed by people like me. Almost all of us hold Master's degrees and have a strong desire to work with students in need. In my interview we discussed a holistic approach to helping students, not just with writing skills, but with becoming successful in college and in life. I'll primarily work with students whose reading/writing levels are well-below 12th grade. These students need me, and I need them! I know, CCC is the place for me!
Since Evie has been going to daycare (MDO starts next week) she has become a different child. She was once relatively quiet, now she talks non-stop. She was once mostly serious, she is now often silly! Much of this is regular development, I know, but I absolutely believe that some of it is also getting to be in a playful learning environment with kids her age and teachers who specialize in toddlers.
Life here can be oppressive and claustrophobic. That is the nature of a small desert town. While I know and trust there is a reason that God put me here for this season of life, I also know that this is not where I'll be forever. My personality is not compatible with life here. It's just not. I've tried for over 2 years, and it's just not a good fit. However, I've also spent 2 years railing against the negatives here without doing much to change my situation. Now I am doing something about it.
4 days each week, for 5-6 hours each day, I am giving Evie a chance to be in a peer environment that supports her development. For three of those days I will be working with students who are truly in need of my help, and I will be able to make a real difference in their lives. One day each week I will have a few hours of "Mom-sanity time" to go to the gym, pay bills, do laundry, etc. without my little shadow. 1 day each week (in addition to each afternoon) is Evie's and my special time to hang out and have fun. This is a good balance for both of us.
I have previously taken an all-or-nothing approach to working and motherhood. I believed that I'd either be a full-time working mom or a full-time SAHM mom. I think I've now discovered the best of both worlds. I am excited about what this next year will bring. I know that working will bring its own challenges, but I believe that being at work, even for just 13 hours each week, will ultimately make me a better Mom. And that is why I am going back to work.