Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Lot on My Mind

We've recently returned back from 2 weeks away at the beach visiting various members of our family. Having taken well over 100 pictures, I am sure you can imagine that it is taking me a while to get them uploaded, go through them, and find the ones I love enough to consider "blog worthy." I'll post some soon... I promise.

This summer, I have had a lot on my mind... a lot that I find difficult to share on here, which I am sure accounts for the fact I haven't been blogging as regularly. I don't know if it is out of desire to protect those I love, the fear of judgement or just what. But I wanted to share some of the latest and greatest... well, I don't know that it's great... but the latest, anyway, of what's been happening.

If you remember back in May, there were all sorts of issues that arose with my maternity leave, FMLA guidelines, and securing my position at my school. I ended up going back to work for three weeks in June. In some ways, it was incredibly difficult; in other ways, the time flew because I was able to tell myself just three more weeks... just two more weeks... and so on.

Spencer and I had talked at length for a while about the financial implications of me not working, or of me working part time. We felt as though these weren't really an option at this time. While disappointed, I knew that many moms work full time... many moms I know how are really great moms. I have had a hard time shaking, though, the commonly held belief in Christian circles that women with young children shouldn't work outside the home. And to be honest, my deepest desire is, in fact, to be able to stay home with Eliana.

Several weeks ago, we were told that part of our childcare for next year fell through. While my deep desire was to be home with Ellie, and financially it didn't seem possible, I had gotten to a place where I was at peace with going back to work because of who would be watching her. When this feel through, however, it became a whole new story.

Spencer and I visited several day care centers and in home childcare providers trying to find something else that could work. Needless to say, trying to find childcare for an infant with only 7-8 weeks notice in incredibly difficult. Most of the centers we visited made me cry... I just couldn't imagine Ellie there. The in home providers we visited seemed to be managing the chaos of watching several children under the age of three or four... and I wondered where Ellie would fit into all of that. In the end, another great friend, who is soon expecting her first baby, has offered to fill in the gap that was left when our original plan for child care fell through.

While the child care search was happening, we also revisited the options of me not working, or going back to work part time. I inquired about extending my childcare leave, but that didn't really go over too well with the leave office in the county in which I teach. They suggested resignation. I then started looking at part time positions, interviewed for one, and was offered the job. In addition, a wonderful couple from our church offered me a position with the husband's company to work from home with a flexible schedule that could fit around the part time teaching job I was offered.

Seems like a no brainer, right?

This was all a very difficult process for me. One that was happening so quickly. We sought the counsel of good friends, one of our Pastors, and one of the elders in our church and his wife. However, I didn't feel like I had the time to really prayerfully consider various options, to evaluate each situation, and to come to a place where I really sensed God's peace. I didn't feel like I had enough time because of our school system's deadlines for making these sorts of decisions over the summer. When I was offered the part time teaching position, Spencer encouraged me to take it. For whatever reason, all of it just didn't sit well with me. I did a little research, and found out a few things that made me hesitant,like the fact that the size of the position (how many hours per week) can change from year to year, how these particular positions are likely to be eliminated because of ongoing cuts to our school system's budget, and how working less than 1/2 time (which this was) in our system leaves you in a precarious state as to whether or not you'll even have a job at all the following year. I expressed all of these concerns to Spencer (as much as I could in a brief phone call during his lunch break), and he was very understanding.

So I declined the part time options. And now that August is here and I go back to work in just over two weeks, my heart is full of regret.

That's a terrible place to be... in one of regret. There's a part of me that feels as though I have not only failed my husband and my daughter, but also God. I feel as though I listened to the voice of fear, rather than trusting His provision. At the same time, I had, and continue to have, such a hard time recognizing what God's provision in this was... the ability to work part time and from home? The provision of another wonderful, Christian friend to care for Eliana? I felt as though there was a right and a wrong choice, and I felt so much pressure to make the right one... and now I sit here feeling as though I have made the wrong one. In some ways, I feel as though I have chosen a job over my daughter, and to be honest, that pains my heart more than you could know. I sit there and think to myself, "Stacy, you have already lost your son... and now this? Now you are choosing to go back to work instead of staying home with Ellie?" At the same time, many people have encouraged me that going back to work doesn't mean that I haven't chosen her... that they are two separate things. Yet, I already miss Ellie when she's just here napping; and the thought of leaving her each day is really hitting me hard.

Spencer has been incredibly encouraging and reassuring, reminding me of a few truths that I know he hopes will help encourage my heart...

- that God is not a God of confusion, and that if I wasn't at peace with going to work at this new school part time, then it may not have been a good choice
- that we're to bloom where we are planted until God clearly moves us
- the my going back to work full time this year is just for this year to allow me the time to go through the proper channels to either then go on child care leave or have a great number options of part time positions from which to choose for the following year.

While I find the last point helpful... when it comes to the first two, I feel like I missed it. I feel as though God was trying to make this new direction clear, and out of fear, I kept looking for reasons why it wouldn't work. I can't quite put my finger on what that fear was... fear of a new position, fear of letting my current Principal down, fear of making ends meet financially... I don't know. Regardless, I feel like I let fear get the better of me.

I am not sure if this explanation has even made sense... I hope it has, even though I have left some parts pretty vague.

I would really appreciate your prayers about this... prayers for God to heal those places in my heart that are full of regret, for His forgiveness in my letting fear get the better of me. I am sure that as the school year draws closer, there will be a lot more that I appreciate your prayers for...but for now it's my hurting heart that could really use it.

Because of the sensitivity of this topic, and truthfully my inability to handle any criticism of this decision right now, I have disabled comments. However, if there is something you would really like to share as an encouragement, you are more than welcome to email me. My email can be found on the right sidebar of this page.

Thank you for praying and for walking with me through this next challenge.

And, happy 5 month birthday Eliana! Mommy loves you more than you know...