Monday, April 8, 2013

Another Answered Prayer

Just a few weeks before Allie was born, my alma mater contacted me about teaching a class in the psychology department. I had been inquiring about a part-time position every semester since Reese was born, and had always been told that there wasn't an opening. Well, of course, the offer came at a challenging time and I knew this would be tough, but I was afraid I wouldn't be asked again if I said no. 

It turned out that the additional income would fill the second-child-sized gap in our budget almost to the dollar, and I had been wishing for some scheduled time out of the house. I saw it as a huge answered prayer for our bank account and my sanity. 

I failed to consider my unfamiliarity with the content and my complete lack of teaching experience as I made this decision. I would imagine all of that contributed to the intensity of my post-partum issues as I attempted to juggle a colicky newborn and learn the ins and outs of adolescent psychology while riding a hormonal roller coaster.

Allie was ten weeks old when I taught my first class in a small lecture hall of 65 students. Did I mention that I have a gut-wrenching fear of public speaking? Well, I do and I almost quit several times before I even started for that reason alone. After the first couple lectures, terrifying became doable and doable became enjoyable. I quickly discovered that I like every part of the job and I started believing again that - despite the challenges - this really was an answered prayer. 

As January became February and February became March, the cushion of pre-planned material slowly dwindled and soon I was planning a three-hour class full of unfamiliar content from week to week. I literally have to learn everything myself before I can present it to them. It makes me quite sad because it's an area I studied in school, but it's totally true what they say - if you don't use it, you lose it. And I lost a lot of it.

Literally every second that I'm not with my children (which isn't many), I am planning, grading, or reading. I hardly cook. Things aren't getting done around the house. Reese is watching A LOT of Mickey Mouse. And I'm exhausted because I'm up late almost every night. The gap between this Tuesday's class and next Tuesday's class closes faster than I can take a breath and I never realized that days and weeks could be so short. 

Reese will be three next month. It just doesn't seem right. It feels like she was just born; like I was just writing about her first steps. Now here I am with a five-month-old (yeah, five months already) and a child who just got registered for preschool. 

I've always heard that this phase of life goes by fast. I didn't take it to heart.

I've always heard that time seems to pass faster the older we get. I didn't think it was true.

These days time seems to be flying by at an alarming rate. Maybe because I'm busier. Maybe because I'm older. Maybe both. Whatever the reason, it bothers me that life is moving so fast. I've never had a stronger desire to lasso time than I have in recent weeks. 

That's what this has been all about. I thought God was answering my request for additional income. Then I ran into all these struggles and I didn't understand why He would clear this path and then make it so difficult to follow. But this was never about money.

This semester has been a reminder to me of how dearly I value my full-time life at home. This job prompted us to look at our finances and realize that all of our true needs are met and the "extras" just aren't worth the way time speeds up around us in exchange. I think about how I miss my friends and my evening time with Matt, and I see that they gave me all the adult time I really needed. I see myself telling Reese that I can't play with her because I need to get my work done and I remember that playing with her is the only kind of work I want to do. I see my growing list of writing ideas without an outlet, and I know that I would rather do what I truly love even in absence of a paycheck and the financial security that comes with it. and And, I see how fast these months have gone by and I know now how precious my time at home really is. 

Through this experience I learned that I would love to come back to a teaching role in higher education someday in the future. I realized how much I enjoyed my field of study and I set some goals to prevent myself from "losing it" any further. I squashed my fears of public speaking and revisited some of my long-abandoned plans to share the message of my writing with my real voice. Most importantly, I discovered that my slow, simple life is all I ever needed and no longer will I wonder if I am missing out by choosing to stay home for these few short years.

Last week I got an email from the head of my department saying that there will not be a position for me in the fall and that they will continue to keep me in mind for future openings. I can take that as a cue to start worrying about the returning gap in our budget. I can apply at other schools and search for other jobs. Or I can take a deep breath in and a big step back and thank my all-knowing God for another answered prayer.

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