I used to have a lot of opinions about what I would never do with my life:
I would never get married…(been married for almost 10 years now).
I would never move back home...(I probably live 7 miles from my parents).
I would never teach in public schools...(guess what I’ve been doing for the last 5 years).
I would never have more than 2 children...(yes, that was me carting the three into the grocery store, and yes - that license on my entryway wall says we have room for four-YIKES!)
I would never drive a minivan...our car is currently on the market and what am I shopping for? :)
Last, but not least, I would NEVER quit my job and stay home to raise my children...well, surprise! I am.
I had always maintained that I would be a working mom. That is what worked for me. I completely respected stay-at-home moms but I could never do that. I liked being busy, I liked being around adults, I liked the money, I liked the sense of accomplishment, I liked going somewhere and doing something that, on most days, I am pretty good at.
Well, this past summer that started to change. We had our second foster placement in a year; off from teaching for the summer, I was working the day camp that I had done for the last three years. It is an awesome job that I love; but this year, with kids at home, it was harder. I was constantly, keenly aware all day that I was losing time with them. In the mean time, we were getting submitted for adoptive and legal-risk placements by the fistfuls. My family was on my mind. One night, when I was feeling overwhelmed and praying about all of this, I felt the Lord clearly say to my spirit: “You have two callings on your life and one is louder right now.” I immediately called my fabulous director (yeah Josh!) and we agreed that I could go part-time for the remainder of the summer and officially resign from my position at the close of the camp. So, I thought: Well, that’s that! But the Lord had more in store as he so often does. This was the beginning of turning my heart. Turning my heart from my story, to His story, to the Big story.
As more time went on, I started the school year, and it quickly became clear to me that I wanted to stay home for many reasons, mainly because I was sick: I was sick of having to choose between my job and my kids, sick of long meetings, sick of my mom having to keep the kids when they were sick in order to save my personal days in case we got an adoptive placement, sick of fighting with doctors to get appointments AFTER work hours, sick of only getting to see my kids for a couple of hours between school and bed, and sick of getting home and being short with my kids because I had used all my energy and patience on someone else’s children. I felt like my students at school suffered and my kids at home suffered. I was a half-assed mom and a half-assed teacher. I told Matt I just wanted to be full-assed at something. We decided that I would finish the year and stay home next year. Once again, I thought: Well, that's that. But again, the Lord had more.
On October 22, we got the call that we had been chosen for a legal-risk placement for a baby boy from Houston. Nine days later, my son, Isaiah, came home. I took two weeks off from work and again, I was keenly aware of the clock ticking down and I hated that feeling. But after those two weeks, I sent him off to daycare and I was sad, but OK. I just had to finish the year. The next few months were not difficult, I was fine. Then the snow and ice came and we had an unplanned six days at home. That last Sunday night, I was devastated at the thought of sending him back to daycare. I think it was harder this time for a lot of reasons. For one, I was more bonded to him and also, I didn't have breaks coming up (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc). I was sobbing and Matt said: "Well, just quit." (This is one of those moments where Matt offers me an option that he knows isn't really an option). I tell him I can't break contract, I will just have to suffer through, blah, blah, blah - poor me. At school the next day, I have a stroke of genius! I am entitled to 12 weeks under the Family Medical Leave Act and I have only taken two. I called my HR department and they say: yes, I can take the 10 remaining weeks. I looked at a calendar and figured out that if I took it after Spring Break, it pretty much carries me to the end of the year. I tell Matt my "good news".
Fast forward to today, my second day home with Isaiah. When people hear that I have quit my job, most of the reactions are surprised, questioning: "I never thought you would do that!" or "Are you sure you want to do that?" My responses, respectively, are "I know, right?" and "Yes". The long and short of it is that there are a lot of reasons I am where I am.
I believe that we are called to continue foster care. I feel like I can honor that calling better if I do it full time. I feel like the Lord has specifically called me to this season to work on some personal stuff in me. I missed the first four months of Isaiah’s life, I can't get that back, but I do not have to miss any more. I mean, there are more logical and responsible reasons to keep working: we can't afford it, I have a great job that I love with people that I love - which is hard to find, what about retirement? Insurance? The economy? I mean it is truly foolish.
But who can argue with this? This is it folks - you are witnessing the moment my heart was totaled. I mean this guy wrecked me...
It's funny, after all of these declarations I have gone back on, I try not to make them anymore. I try my darndest not to make plans. When people ask how many kids we are gonna end up with, or if I will ever go back to teaching, I just shrug. This Sunday there was a guest speaker at the church and he talked about taking your story and placing it in God’s story. How easy it is for us to write our own story and tell God to help us make it happen. I want to be in His story - it's always been better than mine anyway.
Now for my disclaimer: this is MY choice, MY calling, and what is right for MY family right now. I truly think that each family has to find what works for them. I am NOT dogging on working moms; after all, I thought I would always be one. Never say never, right?