Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sharlee's Story

Have you ever had a tough decision to make? Have you ever second guessed your instincts? Have you prayed for answers, but then felt too afraid to trust them?

My decision to quit my job after JaiseAnn was born was not easy and happened a bit unexpectedly.

While there are a myriad of reasons as to why some of you my not relate to my decision to stay home with my daughter, I hope you can relate to my feelings in the process of making a tough decision. My worries, anxieties, fears, prayers, etc. 

Before JaiseAnn was born, we discussed the option of me staying home. We didn't feel it was possible, so we planned and hoped that I would be able to work part time. Honestly, I felt that was the "best of both worlds." I wanted to get up and dressed every morning, spend time doing something that brought in a steady income for my family and that I had worked hard to be able to do, and then come home and be a mom. I told Zach that I thought it would be best if I always worked part-time even if we could afford for me not to. 

And then she came. And my world changed in an instant. I belonged to her and she belonged to me. We were partners entering a brand new world together. I was readmitted to the hospital only a few days after she was born and it was a really scary time for me. She needed me so much during that time. I could not sleep because she wouldn't be without me. She wouldn't let anyone else hold her. I felt like she saved me in a time when I was so scared and unsure. She knew I needed her and she made sure I knew how much she needed me. 

There were a lot of things that lead up to me finally saying to Zach, "I can't go back to work. I just can't. It will rip me apart."

There were so many reasons not to quit, finances being at the top. Everyone kept telling me, you have to make sacrifices to stay home." "If you want it badly enough you can do it." Well, I also have to make student loan payments. I was worried about my career. I was enrolled in graduate school and had a career path in mind--do I just leave that behind? I worried about my physical appearance. Would I take care of myself? Would I be able to go to the gym? 

But I still didn't want to leave my little girl. So I prayed for guidance. I prayed for help. I prayed...and prayed...and prayed. I don't think I stopped praying for weeks.

Little by little ideas or thoughts just came to our minds. Zach thought he should look into the remaining balance of one of his student loans. We had enough to cover that balance in the bank. It would deplete a good chunk our savings, but it would save our monthly budget. We paid it off. 

"Have Zach put you on his benefits." was a thought that came to me one day. That way I would be free to choose a job that was more flexible, part-time, or work from home. I could even run a daycare. If Zach put us on his benefits, it would open a lot of doors for us. So he did. And I waited for that first paycheck while holding my breath. I was so worried it would be too small. 

The check came and it was enough. Zach had worked overtime so we didn't really even notice the change. "I'll keep working extra." He promised. 

After that, I started searching for online work and plotting and planning a daycare. The ideas were coming like crazy. I wrote cover letters like I was a force to be reckoned with. I wanted this so bad and I was definitely being assisted in my efforts. I could feel it as I jotted down activities for a day care. I could feel it as I wrote out resumes. I could feel it in my heart. 

It came time to make a choice. With very little promise of an income for me, but all of these options out in the open, we decided to pray about it me quitting my job. When we decided that I would go to work the next day and resign, I felt a wave of peace wash over me. It was the right choice. 

 After resigning, I spent days at home worrying about the things that had already been tucked away safely, not to be worried about again. I am the queen of bringing those things back, and so I did. Every walk we took. Every time I nursed JaiseAnn. I started second guessing and hoping for a more sure situation. 

Then my boss called. She offered me the job of all jobs. It was the job I had been going back to school for. Only it was part-time and mirrored Zach's schedule. JaiseAnn would never have to go to daycare. She would never be without one of her parents. I would get to continue working in a job that I loved, but still be home more than half time with my baby. It was the best of both worlds

Except after that phone call, I sat down with my daughter and my heart felt heavy. I suppose I should have known right then and there, but I fought it. I wanted that job. I loved that I had been offered that job. I entertained the idea of taking it for several days. Zach felt that we had already received our answer, and promised he would work an extra shift after talking it over with his boss, but he also said he'd support me no matter what. 

We went back and forth on it, because I wasn't sold.  Zach told me to write out a pros and cons list to see how it added up. There were so many "pros" to taking the job. A steady income, continuing my career, having an income through next summer, and time for JaiseAnn to play with her dad. As I moved to the "cons" section I wrote, "Have to leave JaiseAnn." I felt like Ross on the episode of Friends where he tries to chose between Rachel and Julie. His only con for Julie is that she's not Rachel. The only downside to this job opportunity was that I would have to leave my little girl. Sure it was only a few days, and most people would jump at that chance, but the thought still left my heart heavy.

Our Heavenly Father is so incredibly patient with us, I know this because I still fought it. I wanted a deliberate answer right then and there.

The day I was supposed to call my boss, I was still teetering back and forth. Every time I decided out loud, I decided I wasn't taking the job, but in my head I still sort of wanted to and it was a struggle for me. Zach and I fought that day. We hadn't fought, really fought, in a long time. And this fight was a big one. One of our biggest. I spent that day angry and in tears. I was angry with my husband, but I was more angry with the situation. "If this job offer hadn't come up.." I began thinking and before I could even finish my thought, there was my answer. 
In our situation, this job wasn't a blessing. The offer had created contention in our home and stress that had not been there before. I wasn't supposed to take the job. So I called my boss and turned down the "offer of a lifetime."

"I need frozen yogurt!" I declared, and Zach, JaiseAnn, and I went and ate our yogurt while basking in the sunlight. We talked about how next summer, JaiseAnn could partake in my favorite treat with us and for the millionth time, talked about how wonderful our little girl is.

We tiptoed around each other, treading lightly, throughout the rest of the day.  That night, as I nursed JaiseAnn to sleep while rocking her just before we went to sleep, I felt a real wave of peace wash over me. I whispered to Zach, "I made the right choice."

Because here's the thing: I could list reasons to keep working or not all day long. I could hear valid arguments about it. I could make a million pros and cons lists with very good points for both sides. None of the options I have had at my disposal have been inherently bad. Which is why prayer seemed to be the only solution. Only He knows where I belong right now and why. 

Personally, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to leave my work behind and embrace this new job. For motherhood is truly the job of all jobs. I want to get to know the new person I've become.. I'm grateful that for now my answer is to be home with my little girl. There will always be time for work, but I won't get this time back. When she's grown, she's grown. I only get one chance to do this job and I want to (get to!) put my all into it right now.

Our finances aren't completely outlined on paper. I'm not sure what it will look like or how long it will last (honestly, I hope it lasts forever) but we've gotten our answer (more than once) and we're taking a leap of faith in following it.

Sharlee blogs here.