Monday, May 21, 2018

Finding Myself Again

In my last post I talked a bit about getting lost in the middle of everything, and I promised I'd detail a few things I've done to combat those feelings.

In fall of 2016 I decided to run for the Board of Governors for my university alumni band. I hadn't been involved in the organization at all for years, but it was something I really wanted to get involved in again, something that was mine. I resolved myself that I would make it work, even though I had no idea how I was going to find child care for meetings and such, and I did it.

And I was elected to the board. As a Governor my duties were fairly light, but then six months later our Vice President unexpectedly resigned due to unplanned life changes that took him out of town. While there is no requirement to be local, all of the executive positions have duties that make working from out of town extremely difficult, and so we were left with an executive vacancy.

You know what I did? I threw my hat in the ring. And the President appointed me to finish the term.

I know it's just a volunteer position, but for me it's been a "wow" kind of whirlwind. I went from not being involved in any activities outside the home, to joining the Board of Governors, to being Vice President of a large organization in less than a year, leading a large cross-functional team and managing a major project.

I was re-elected to the office of Vice President last fall, and am now working on my first full term in office, again leading a large team. My biggest project is to plan and carry out all activities related to Homecoming weekend: reunion dinner, rehearsals, parade performance, on-field performance, etc. It's quite a large undertaking, and it's a lot of work, but I have enjoyed it so much.

Stepping up to volunteer, and then taking a chance and going for (and getting!) this position has given me a piece of my identity back. I'm a band nerd at heart and love this organization. The work has given me a chance to use my brain in a way I haven't had the opportunity to since leaving the corporate life. It's given me a new circle of friends, acquaintances, and even professional networking contacts. I feel a little more like me when I'm there.

Most recently, just this past week I agreed to become the Team Administrator for Jena's soccer team. Mostly it's a lot of paperwork and organization, with a lot of communications thrown in just for fun. But I'm excited for it.

These things: volunteering, taking on responsibilities outside the home, creating new circles of contacts... they all help keep me from getting lost, from feeling invisible.

It's not perfect. Finding child care during my activities is still a struggle. But sometimes I bring the girls to tag along to. They've been to meetings, social activities, and even to a vendor site visit. So far there have been no issues, and I think it's good life lessons for them to sit thru these activities and see mommy "work".

So if you, like me, are a SAHM feeling a little lost in the middle, a bit invisible to those around you, try stepping outside a bit. Volunteer, try something new, get involved in an old hobby or find a new one. Remember who you were and grasp a bit of your identity again.

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So what about you? What have you tried to hold on to who you are?

As always, thanks for checking in.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Lost in the Middle

Yesterday was Mother's Day, the end of a long, busy Mother's Day weekend for our family.

Friday was Homeschool Field Day for Jena, then running errands with Jillian.

Saturday we had Jillian's birthday party, then dinner with my mother-in-law to celebrate Mother's Day for her.

Sunday Jena had a soccer game, then lunch with my mom to celebrate Mother's Day for her, then back to MIL's house for dinner to spend a bit of time with Jason's brother before he heads back to California.

There was no Mother's Day for me.

Yes, Jena got me a popsocket for my phone, which she bought when Jason took her shopping for Jillian's birthday present, and they remembered they needed a gift for me... but only after they saw the Mother's Day signs at Target. Even though they both knew the errands I was doing included shopping for presents for my mom & MIL.

It was a busy weekend, a good weekend, but the truth is I was forgotten, lost in the middle.

Kids, kids, parents, kids, parents, kids, parents, parents. No me.

I suppose this is what middle-aged really means. You're in the middle. Doing it all on both ends, but getting lost in the meantime.

As I sit here sorting out my feelings as I write, I realize it's not so much about the holiday itself, it's the getting lost, the invisibility of it all.
It's not that there wasn't time to squeeze in something for me, it's that it wasn't even thought of.
It wasn't that my gift wasn't something I particularly wanted, it's that the idea of a gift was completely forgotten.

I'm a mom. I've been a mom for nine years. Not only am I a mom, it is quite literally my job. I'm a stay-at-home mom. I'm a homeschooling mom. I literally spend 24/7 being nothing more than a mom. A noble job, don't misunderstand me, but it is what I am, what I do. And yet on the one day a year set aside to celebrate that very thing, I am completely forgotten, lost in the middle of generations.

Spending half of my weekend tending to our children's activities, and the other half celebrating our own mothers, putting in the time & effort to try to make everything nice for everyone else, but at the end of it, there's nothing left for me.

It sounds a bit whiny, I suppose. No one's paying attention to me and what-not. But it's what I'm feeling at the moment, take that however you must. It just would be nice to be noticed from time-to-time, to be appreciated. But such is the life of a mom, I suppose. Taking care of everyone else so they can do their things, and the act of taking care becoming the one thing that is yours.

It's so easy to become lost in the middle, lost in motherhood. I've recently tried to stake a claim in some activities in order to retain my own identity, give me something that is mine alone to do, and I'll detail that a bit in my next post.

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What about the other moms reading this? What do you do to make sure you don't get lost in the middle? What steps have you taken to hold on to yourself while you take care of others?

As always, thanks for checking in!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Possibilities

I started this post last year in order to document the ways in which it seemed God was speaking to Jason & myself about a potential major change in our family's life.

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The last week of July Jason and I were discussing how he would like to leave the fire department, for various reasons, most of which I won't go in to here. One big reason is that he can't dedicate himself to our family business as much as he would like because he's on shift every 3rd day.



We talked about what would need to happen to make it even possible for him to leave the department, and one of the biggest roadblocks is that it provides health insurance for our entire family. No job, no insurance. Our family business just isn't quite there yet to begin providing it thru that venue. We also aren't quite making enough money to be able to afford insuring a family of four on our own. So, health insurance for all four of us. If that were covered, it would make him leaving the department much more realistic and feasible.

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The next day I received a text from one of my former supervisor's at my old job asking for assistance with something that used to be my responsibility. We texted back and forth for a bit, as I tried to help him via text, hundreds of miles away, with something I haven't handled in three years.

At the end of the conversation he jokingly texted (paraphrased): I'm going to have a position open soon. Just sayin'.

I replied "Everybody has a price. Just sayin'." (winky emoji)

He then sent a few texts about how they would cover relocation, how there's plenty of land available nearby, etc.

I figured he was half serious, half joking and left it like that. But the thought wouldn't leave me, so I mentioned it to Jason that night.

He basically responded something like "that would be okay".

I was surprised. I figured the idea of me going back to work, not being able to homeschool the kids, relocating 300 miles away would freak him out.

But it didn't. It didn't freak me out either. Which is incredibly weird.

I have been trying to move back to Ohio, closer to my family, for years now. We're an hour away from them right now. Now, suddenly, the idea of being 5 hours away doesn't bother me? Why? I have no reason. It makes no sense. I have no idea why I'm okay with it. I can't explain it.

But there it was. So the next morning I texted my former supervisor and told him if he really thought it would be a good fit for me, then to let me know when the job was posted and I'd take a look at it.

He reminded me of how things work there and that the opening was recently delayed and it could be some time before it was actually posted, but he would definitely keep me in the loop.

Basically that translates to say that the job could be coming open in a few weeks, months, year... or never.

But you see what happened there, right? If I went back to work, we'd have additional income & insurance and Jason would be able to leave the fire department. In fact, if we relocated, he'd have to. So talking and praying about it one night, and the very next day this happens. Did you see that?

But there's no telling when the job will actually be posted, if ever. So... what to do? Well...

********

I started looking at housing prices, educational options & expenses, child care expenses, etc. in the area. You see, I realize that if this actually comes to fruition we'll need to make a decision relatively quickly, but this is a major life decision that directly effects our entire family; a decision I can't take lightly or without considering all sides.

But I also started praying for God's direction. Specifically, I asked Him to slam shut any doors he didn't want us to walk through, and to throw wide the doors that He does. Make it obvious. Make His will unmistakable.

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Fast forward to September. Try as I might to shake the idea and not obsess about it, I can't stop thinking about it. Jason & I found ourselves unexpectedly without kids, so we discussed it in depth for the first time. We had both been praying about it. As we spent the day together, we repeatedly said that we want God to show us, really obviously, what His direction is.

After dinner we started driving around, just driving and talking. Jason needed to use the restroom, so we stopped at a little mom-and-pop bar & restaurant in the middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. Seriously out in the middle of nowhere, driving thru the hills of our beautiful state, miles from civilization. We stopped and went in.

Jason walks into the single-stall bathroom, which was unlocked, and walks in on one of my former executives... peeing.

He literally walked in on the man as he relieved himself. Jason apologized, they both finished their business, we chatted with him for a bit. I had worked closely with this man for the entire 10 years I worked at my former employer. I also hadn't seen him since I left three years ago.

We stayed to listen to the band for a bit, I found Mr. Executive again before we left and said goodbye, then Jason & I got into the car and started laughing at what an incredible "coincidence" that was.

So the day we're asking God for a sign about what He wants us to do, we "randomly" run into one of my former executives at a tiny establishment in rural Kentucky. He doesn't even live in Kentucky anymore. He's still with the company, relocated 300 miles away like so many others. Happened to be in town visiting family.

He happened to be in town this particular weekend, a weekend where we just happened to unexpectedly find ourselves without the girls, he just happened to be at the same tiny bar in the middle of nowhere that we come upon at just the moment when my husband desperately needs a restroom, just happens to be in that restroom, just happens to have forgotten to lock the door. Did I forget anything?

It's a little too "coincidental" for us to believe that it was truly random.

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Now, jump ahead to October. We're still praying about it, but I'm also trying to balance that with not thinking about it. I know from my experience with the company that the job could be posted any day, might not be posted for a few months, or HR could pull the opening altogether. There's no sense on dwelling. But somehow we need to balance that with being prepared for the day it opens. If it does.

So one night, Jason is on shift, the girls are in bed, I'm doing the dishes. And thinking. It was a Friday night, and I had talked with my dad earlier in the day about Jena's soccer game the next morning. You see, my dad comes to every game. Every one. I don't think he's missed one. I've missed more than he has.

My dad adores his granddaughters. My parents were my full time childcare when Jena was little, and they are especially close. Both my parents have incredibly close relationships with the girls. But especially my dad. Grandpa. He dotes on them. Loves them. Can't get enough of them. I joke that he'd keep them if I'd let him.

And then I thought about it, really thought about it, for the first time since the idea of taking a new job and relocating came up. Leaving my parents. Taking my girls away from my parents. Away from my dad.

And I cried. And cried. Snot-faced messy sobbing cries.

What was I thinking?!? How could I leave my parents? How could I take my girls away from them? It's stupid for me to even think about moving farther away. What was I thinking?!?

But then...

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The next day I found myself at my parents. I hadn't planned it, but had an appointment about 20 min from their house, so decided to stop by with the girls for a visit before we headed home.

I'm sitting on the couch, Mom & I are watching the girls play, no one's really talking about anything. Dad walks in from the kitchen and sits next to me.

Out of the blue he says "I don't know why you ever left that job. I know you wanted to stay home and homeschool and everything, but that was a really good job. I don't know why you left."

At this point, I'm more confused than anything. At no point during the visit have I mentioned my old job, the company name, working in general. Nothing. I never told my parents about the possibility of going back. This is completely out of the blue.

He continues "Besides, it's only 5 hours away. If we really wanted to, we could still see each other every weekend. I don't know why you left."

Still in disbelief, I said "You know that's a possibility. My old boss contacted me about a job."

He's stunned. Can't believe it. My mom replied with "Don't give her any ideas!"

We laughed, but I really had a chance to think about it on the drive home.

The night before I had been freaking out about taking my girls away from their grandparents, specifically Grandpa. The very next day, on an unplanned visit, my dad unprompted, seemingly out of nowhere, reassures me that we could still each other every weekend if we really wanted, that it's not that far away, that he himself questions why I even left.

I can't ignore the coincidence. And I haven't been bothered, really bothered, by the idea since.

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Semi-random side note: one of the dealbreakers for me from the moment this came up is that whatever salary they offer me has to be enough for us to reasonably afford a 4+ bedroom house, so that we can have a guest room for our family to stay in comfortably when they come to visit.

Ideally I'd like to have an in-law suite, but a guest bedroom is my minimum. Not having a place for them to stay when visiting is a dealbreaker for me.

********

But alas, nothing happens. Months pass, and there has been no opening. No more discussion (at least that I am aware of) about the job. Eventually Jason & I stop talking about it even being a possibility.

Honestly, thought, it leaves me a little confused. I don't really believe in coincidences, I believe in God. Everything seemed to be pointing us toward this job and relocating our family. I did pray that God would slam shut any doors He didn't want me to walk thru, so maybe that was it. Maybe going back to work & relocating wasn't His plan. But then what is?

Maybe this was just to get me thinking about it. Maybe it was just to open us up to the possibility of me going back to work or of relocating to a different area. Maybe it was just getting us to think & to talk about it as a couple.

Or maybe there's some other plan I'm not seeing yet.

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And then, this past week...

I run into 3 of my former co-workers in less than a week. All of them have relocated. Two are 300 miles away. One is 900 miles away. All back in town in the same week for various reasons. It is not a holiday week, not a company shutdown week, nothing in common brought them to the area at the same time, as far as I can tell. Yet each of them crossed my path; one at church, one at Once Upon a Child, one at Kroger. I didn't run into co-workers out & about that frequently when they all lived here!

Again, I'm left wondering... what are the chances of that actually happening? What a coincidence! But why?

I mention it to Jason. We agree it seems like too much of a "coincidence" to ignore, but we also agree that we don't know what God is trying to tell us!

We both agree that it still seems that the job & relocation might be a possibility, but we also both agree that it seems more & more that there must be another reason these things keep happening. God is trying to show us or tell us something that we just aren't getting just yet.

So we will continue to pray for His direction and His Divine intervention in our lives, and just trust Him as we see what the future has in store!

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Sorry there isn't some exciting announcement and conclusion to the end of this. At least not just yet. But I'll be sure to update if anything else happens!

What do you think? Do you think it will come to fruition? Or is God using this to direct us elsewhere?

As always, thanks for checking in!
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