I distinctly remember the evening before the BIG decision. My friends and I went to a local church for a women’s night out event. They had vendor booths, a food court, worship music and a motivational talk.
I texted a collage of silly photos I made depicting myself waiting in the car for my friends to arrive. Apparently it was some comic relief for them, maybe because it was just so unexpected coming from me.
Little did I know that life as I knew it was about to change the next morning.
Hubby and I had been discussing some hard things over the last few weeks and weighing our options about whether I should go to work part or full time and put the kids in public school. Up until then, we’d been homeschooling, and I was a stay at home mom our entire marriage of 11 years so far.
At that particular moment in time, we’d left the discussion at me dragging my heels and resisting the ideas equally of me working and putting the kids in school, for a whole host of reasons.
I had a great time with my friends that evening. We laughed and talked, sang and listened to the speaker. The following morning, hubby came and sat next to me on the bed, waking me from my Saturday morning sleep in (don’t hate on him). Without mincing words, he informed me I needed to go to work and we had to put the kids in school.
Before getting all defensive on my behalf, just know that he ends up having to put his foot down sometimes with me because I’m so stubborn, not always nice, resist change, and overthink things. I need a good kick in the pants sometimes, a push off the diving board, to borrow a few overused metaphors…
My reaction wasn’t the nicest. But once I got over the initial shock of the delivery method, and he pushed through my attitude with some hard facts, I realized he was right.
So began the journey towards where we are now. That was two years ago. I detail that process more in depth in a blog post, This is the Post I Never Thought I’d Write.
I enrolled the kids in school two days later. The following week, all three were picked up by the bus. Just like that, I was alone at home for several hours a day. It felt weird. I hadn’t been without kids around all day in almost 10 years! The house was SO QUIET.
Meanwhile, I was at home trying to figure out how to quantify and make relevant all of my experience running a few businesses- both overseas and in the USA, homeschooling and being a homemaker onto a resume; scouring the job websites, filling out applications and fretting over whether I’d get a decent job that paid more than minimum wage since I’d been out of the workforce for over a decade.
I eventually got hired at a records management company. I LOVE it! Luke was right; he said once I was over the initial insecurities I felt, I would love working. I love the gratification of doing a good job and getting paid for it. I love the responsibility. I love the mission of the company. I love getting a break from my children (it was desperately needed for my, and the kids’ sanity at the point we made the decision to cease homeschooling).
Overall, I’ve said the transition was pretty smooth. However, I think it was a challenge emotionally for the kids and me. But they did great at school. We didn’t have any major issues. They’ve been able to shine academically in a formal setting and they love their teachers and school friends. We’ve worked out a rhythm that works for us with chores and routines- though they are still fluid.
Emotionally, I’ve been the most angsty because of my life plans, upbringing, perfectionist personality and stopped intentions. My identity was wrapped up in the lifestyle we’d chosen, and I had ALWAYS planned on homeschooling and staying home. I kept in the back of my mind that I would probably go to work after the kids were in high school or at the very latest, graduated and we were empty nesters. For it to come so soon, was a shock. There was a grieving process. I had to grieve our old life and the vision I had for our family, and accept and embrace the new reality.
I’ve had to do a LOT of hard work quieting the fears, anxiety, guilt, and shame I’ve felt after this change. I feel like it took a good 6 months to hit my stride and even then, I would be gripped with this horrible anxiety and shame that sat heavy on my chest as I was going about my day.
Now it’s so much better! I still have my moments of anxiety, though. Frankly, I’ve moved on from the grief over these two lifestyle changes and have other things that take its place in my overly anxious mind. I’m trying to just deal with each thing logically and practically as it comes up, re-framing the thoughts so I don’t work myself into a tizzy. Prayer is such a great calmer, as is reading my favorite scriptures. Listening to podcasts and audio books written by inspiring authors with a positive message has been SO transformative. They’re like a pep talk, therapy session, and chat with my girlfriends all rolled into one in my ear while I’m going about my day (we’re allowed to listen to stuff at work).
My hope is that through my stories and hard lessons learned, other people can be inspired to find and CHOOSE the joy in their circumstances, even if they are HARD. We all go through stuff- stopped intentions, tragedy, loss, etc. We’ve gotta feel the feelings (not repress them) and do the hard work emotionally and mentally. But I’m finding, at least for me, I have to get to the point where I pick myself up by my bootstraps, and train my brain to think in new pathways of positivity- not wallow in the negative stuff forever. Nobody else is going to do it for me.
I love the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” by Helen Lemmel. It basically talks about centering our view on Jesus and we won’t get caught up in the “stuff” happening around us. There is HOPE. It’s found in focusing on Jesus Christ and the JOY walking on the path of righteousness brings us.