Wow, has it really been more than a year since I've posted here? Well, I was thinking recently that I should start recording my thoughts on...life...to help me process. So, here goes! I'm going to do two years in review, to get me started...
Recently, well, basically for about two years, come to think of it, I have been wrestling on and off with purpose and calling. Not necessarily in vague theory, but in practical, day-to-day, how I spend my hours. I think it began after grad school finished a little over two years ago. My time was no longer filled with college friends and fun mixed with a little studying and work (ah, grad school! undergrad, for me, anyway, was not like that...but I digress). After 7 years in school, I was happy for a change, but knew I would miss it. I love to learn, be challenged, and have my mind busy!
Unfortunately, the degree I had just finished did me little good (educational leadership), and I didn't really want to be an economist. Besides, I had always wanted to travel a little and have an adventure or two. Throw into the mix a certain young man I had been dating for six months, and what was I to do? I decided to put off the job search and shipped off to a bunk room on top of a mountain in rural Kentucky for six weeks to volunteer with poor Appalachian kids at a summer camp. Although that experience in itself wasn't all that adventuresome (albeit interesting), it was where God wanted me. Colin was in Ireland during that time and we could only communicate via old-fashioned letters. This was great for our relationship, and, for whatever reason, God was very good as to teach me a lot from Scripture that summer. It felt like I daily sat down with a lesson from Him in my devotions!
After six weeks, I found myself back in PA with all my possessions in my car, an orphaned Kentucky puppy in tow, and nowhere to live. Within a week, I also found myself engaged! I camped out on the floor with my new house mates and renewed the job search, without really knowing what I was looking for. Teaching? Perhaps, but with no teaching certificate, I apparently wasn't a very attractive candidate. I ended up with a part-time job teaching pre-schoolers in daycares, and another part-time tutoring job. I was thankful for the time this left me to plan a wedding in four months time, but felt like a bum for not working full time (not to mention that my savings was draining). My constant struggle: be useful, be productive...but how? I sure didn't feel like I was doing any of that!
December came, and with it a beautiful snowfall, a lovely wedding, and my 27th birthday. Well, I was married! Isn't that what I had always wanted? But, the stress remained. I wasn't finding a full time job, I still didn't know what I wanted to do, and...we needed the money since Colin's grad school income and my part-time income weren't sufficient. Savings continued to drain and I felt like it was my fault. Why couldn't I get a handle on things and just get a job like normal people do? I set out to get a teaching certification, but within a few weeks found out that Baby was on the way! Well, I firmly believed, in theory, anyway,that I should be home raising my own kids, so...so much for the teaching certification idea! Nine months of waiting with the same part-time work...but nine months is a long time to feel like days are not being used well! Colin was busy with his teaching job and classes. I was NOT busy, and for someone who loves to be challenged (in spite of being a homebody), that was just torture (ok, torture is being a little dramatic). I would work in the mornings and then be home...bored most of the time... waiting for Colin to come home. Poor guy, I'm afraid I was hardly a happy housewife! But why couldn't I be? I don't know... I guess because I didn't feel like my time was being wisely used. I made dinner, cleaned the house, and still had lots of time on hand. On top of that, I felt like the financial stress was my fault. I had two master's degrees and couldn't bring in more than a few hundred dollars a month? Now, with a baby on the way, there didn't seem to be much point in looking for a different job.
Well, after losing our health insurance, paying a midwife, and then finally getting a new job (Colin did, I mean) with insurance and a real salary two months before Baby was due, the financial stress eased. I was still bored and unhappy, though. Was it my attitude? Yes, but I didn't know how to change it. I like to be busy and I wasn't...One can only bake so many loaves of bread and cookies. I had everything to be thankful for: a wonderful, caring husband (who now was making decent money and wasn't crazily busy!), a good church, friends, an easy pregnancy. What else did I want?
October rolled around and so did a desire to have my waist line back. A week before her due date, we made the discovery that Baby was sitting in there wrong side down. Ah! I was planning to have a home birth! Not anymore... two days later, I went into labor and was promptly sent to the hospital for a c-section. So much for my birth experience! A beautiful baby girl. However, the doctors said she showed signs of an infection. They put an IV in her little forehead and kept her for a week. After four days, I had to hobble home and then make the daily trek to the hospital to spend with her. Sleeplessness and recovering from major surgery. I hope I never have to do that again! She was fine, though, never showing any signs of the infection besides her very high blood count numbers, and was nursing like a champ. After a week, we got to bring her home, and then came a month of the recovery and exhaustion. Where was the joy and "happiest-moment-of-my-life" feelings I thought came with baby's arrival? I didn't and don't know. She was pretty and precious, but I felt most of the time like I was taking care of someone else's kid. Perhaps I was just exhausted. I was, but even two months later when she started sleeping and I was recovered, those feelings never came. What was wrong with me? Poor kid, she deserves a mom who feels happier than the one she got!
I started getting into the swing of having a baby to take care of, but discovered that this was an interesting job. For one, I didn't know that you could be extremely bored while being so busy. Baby needs to be held and played with and, as she got more mobile, constantly watched. But, sitting and doing this from morning til night gets a little old. I felt like it shouldn't be getting old though! What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I just enjoy being with Baby? "Being with Baby" was, in the moment to moment reality, not what I had envisioned in the fantasy of my singlehood. Ugh, piled on top of the frustration was guilt. Guilt that I felt this way, guilt that I didn't have a better attitude. Guilt that I couldn't seem to change my attitude.
Still it remains. Somehow, ten months of "being with Baby" have passed and I still feel the stress. The other day, I was so angry. Frustrated with a fussy baby, frustrated with the stress of buying and preparing a new house (wasn't this supposed to be exciting and happy, too?), frustrated with the usual lack of mental challenge, I kind of blew up. Why did I feel this way? I don't want to be angry and frustrated and discontented! Ugh! Maybe I need a part-time job, my husband suggests. Hmmm, maybe, but is it worth the hassle? Who will take care of Elsie? Billions of women have spent years taking care of little ones. It's the job we're supposed to do. Did every mom feel like me? I'm pretty sure not... Humanity would have gone extinct or something...(well, not really). And the guilt, why do I feel like this?
This weekend, though, I got out my Bible and was reading in Psalms. Had I been ignoring my time with God? Well, not entirely, but it was often rushed or distracted. It did my soul such good to be in His Word! Why could I not remember that and do it more often? In church that day (with Baby in the nursery for the first time, I actually got to hear the sermon!), the pastor talked about the importance of prayer for breaking into and breaking through our lives. How true it is! I knew that, why did I so rarely do it? God seemed to be saying what I knew all along, " you need a change of attitude. You need to find your strength and fulfillment in me". Indeed, I do. Is the boredom and monotony of being home with a baby best remedied by getting out of the house? Not when I believe that I have a responsibility (albeit one I've failed at miserably at already!), to train and raise my child and not have someone else do it! I need to find my rest and my purpose in God.
Lord, help me to do it!