Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to Work

***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.


Mary Beth said...

Hey girl! That's awesome. I'm sorry Clovis is so hard, but I bet tutoring will be great. I love tutoring. Once I don't have a nursing new baby - I want to do the same thing! I look forward to the days when I can work a little and be home too. That balance feels right. I think 2 full-time working parents can be stressful, but 1 full and 1 half sounds just right to me! Good luck!

Katie and Justin Cox said...

Excited for your new adventure! Us, mama's each have to do what works best for our families and that can look different from week to week... :) It's exciting to be excited, isn't it?! Happy for you and look forward to hearing more about your new job! ANd of course more about that sweet Evie... she is SOOOO cute! I LOVE her hair!!

Katie and Justin Cox said...

mamas... just mamas... not mama's... eek! Maybe I need a refresher course!! YIKES!

Lauren said...

I'm so glad you found a part-time opportunity...and that Evie is loving MDO! We have missed her and can't wait to see her soon! (Send us videos!)

kelly said...

LOVE this post. Miss you. :) good talk this week- xoxo

me said...

Love your honesty. You absolutely do not have to defend yourself, ever. You are making the choices for your family that God is leading you to make. No questions! :)
I think at each life stage, or change, we have to re-discover "who we are" in the midst of that change. It sounds like you've done a lot of that self-exploration in the last two years and this experience will probably help you be more prepared for the next place, though I hope the next place has more opportunities and is a better fit for you.
Much love and respect,
robin c