Flexible.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

If there was one word that my sister Kelsey and I were encouraged to embrace as little girls, it was "flexible." As daughters of full-time Christian musicians, we traveled as a family nearly every weekend to churches around the country. We slept in countless hotel rooms, were expert flyers, and navigated late nights and early mornings like pros. We became the embodiment of "flexible."

Kels and I, outside Alcatraz
It felt like a true privilege, this adventurous life we’d been given. After an evening spent at a church concert - selling product, unpacking and repacking sound equipment, greeting church members - we’d get to stop at a gas station on our way back to the hotel and choose anything we wanted for dinner. I’d pick a cherry Icee and a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips and revel in the fact that I knew none of my friends’ Sunday night dinners looked like this.

This was my early childhood.

It was in middle school and high school when our teenage commitments became less flexible. Cross country meets and Homecoming dances couldn't be rescheduled, and Mom and Dad began praying for work that didn’t take them away every weekend. They were eventually able to be at home more, which was a gift.

Fast forward ten years.

When it felt time for Shawn and I to start a family of our own, the only word that came to mind when I thought of our future children was "flexible." It was all I had known, and it had worked seamlessly for my family of origin. Shawn had a strikingly similar upbringing: parents in full-time music ministry, one brother, near-constant travel, staying in unfamiliar places. We were on the same page.

"I just don't want kids to get in the way of my goals," I heard myself say when talking about our future family. The words spilled out of my mouth and sounded sensible in my head, but didn't feel completely realistic. Because wait, wouldn't everything change when kids arrived? And what, really, were my goals?

We found out our first baby was on his way near the end of nursing school. I was thrilled beyond belief, but also uncompromising that I would be a full-time working mother. It felt like the most empowering option for a 21st century woman, this promise that I could have it all and do it all. I reasoned that it was "only" three 12-hour shifts a week, so I'd be home for the other 4 days.

But then Liam Worth was born: our downy-headed boy with blue eyes and deep dimples, and it wrecked me every time I had to leave home with my stethoscope and breast pump and not him.

My first job as a nurse is a blur in my memory. I remember feeling overwhelmed by my large and diverse patient load. I recall pumping in a less-than-sanitary empty hospital room. But mostly, I remember staring at pictures of baby Liam on my locker every chance I got. My heart was torn in pieces and more every day, I only wanted to be home with him.

Within a few months, it became clear that we would be moving out of state in the imminent future. I promptly gave my two-weeks' notice to the hospital without looking back. Our new business Brighter Day provided adequate income for the time being, so I got to be home with Liam 100% of the time. 

Six years have passed since that time. Six years of reevaluating work-life balance. Isn't that what has to happen with kids in the mix? We recognize that our babies won't always be babies. They won't always need their bottoms wiped, their nap schedules protected, or even their mama with them 100% of the time. But right now, that's exactly what they need. And while I still have to work weekends at the hospital to balance our monthly budget, my dreams have shifted. These four beautiful children are my dreams. Though we never set out to have a large family, it's what God has blessed us with and I don't want to miss out while chasing after something else. As we enter a season with these four children ages 6 and under (!), I'm choosing to release them from the weight of being "flexible" on my account.

I'm left without a defining "word." If it isn't "flexible," perhaps faithful? Available? I still haven't landed, and that's ok. At the beginning of our marriage, I never pictured myself as a mostly stay-at-home mom who drives a minivan, just bought a set of chip-resistant Corelle dishwater, and adores homeschooling. I never thought I could love this life that includes so little travel in comparison to my childhood. Nevertheless, our life is full of adventure. It's full of complexity and wonder and challenges that could only be wrought and redeemed by the hand of God. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I just love reading every one of your comments...
I've turned on comment moderation because of all the spam, so if you don't see your comment, just wait a short while until I approve it. If you leave a question for me, look for a response in the comments section!

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan