Kristie is a proud graduate of Utah State University (GO AGGIES!) who also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah. Her passion for finding the perfect recipe for chile verde is matched only by her intense dislike of folding laundry; nevertheless, she remains determined to perfect the art of properly folding a fitted sheet. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart (who, through all of this, cheers for the BYU Cougars) and blogs about the adventures of parenting her spunky three-and-a-half-year-old redheaded daughter and one-year-old son with the most delicious chubby cheeks at www.paddyandkris.blogspot.com.
“Unsettled!” I announced, and I felt that sense of relief wash over me that comes when I finally catch that elusive word that has been dancing on the tip of my tongue, just out of reach. “I am feeling unsettled.” My ever patient and long-suffering husband nodded appropriately, good-naturedly enduring yet another soliloquy from me as I struggled to articulate how frustrated and helpless I felt.
He had heard this tearful rant in one form or another countless times in the 5 months since our first baby had reached that inevitable 12-week-old milestone that sent me reluctantly back to working full time. I was sour, irritable, and generally unpleasant about the whole situation; even though I had known throughout my pregnancy that my returning to work was just part of our family’s economic reality, I continued to harbor some sort of vague resentment that the stars of the universe had failed to magically realign themselves in a way that left me, well, independently wealthy, I guess.
When I bothered to consider the situation from a rational perspective, I knew I was lucky to have a job. 2009 was not exactly a year overflowing with employment opportunities (as my younger sister, a brand new college graduate, was learning first hand) and our decision to encourage my husband to jump at a fantastic work opportunity a mere two days after our baby was born left us hopeful for the future but painfully strapped financially in the moment. I had accepted a new job, too, while out on maternity leave, and it promised to be more flexible and family-friendly than my former workplace. We had prayed about the decision and felt good about it.
And yet, here I was a few months later, feeling grumpy, miserable, and unsettled. I hated my job. I hated my crazy boss (a label that was solidly confirmed when she was fired for gross misconduct shortly after the Great “Unsettled” Epiphany), I hated the environment I worked in, and oh, how I hated leaving my baby in the morning.
I did not then and I do not now identify my feelings at the time as anger towards God. I readily admitted how blessed I was. I had a wonderful husband, a healthy baby, and safe, warm place to live. My unemployed sister, who I trusted implicitly, was able to watch my baby for me which saved me from the expense and anxiety of daycare. I knew that lots of people who were more faithful, more righteous, and generally more fantastic than I was faced circumstances much more difficult and painful than mine, and I knew without question that, despite my heartache, I was loved.
What I felt was unsettled. And a little bit cheated.
I had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine after her son was born. “I’m not going back to work,” she chirped, cheerfully. “We’ve decided we really want ME to raise our son.”
Oh, that’s a unique perspective, I raged silently, my mentally commentary dripping with ugly sarcasm. Clearly, I never considered THAT. I just thought that puking up my lunch a million times over 9 months and then pushing a kid out of my body sounded like a fun recreational activity before I returned to what I REALLY love, which is this stupid, crappy job.
Instead of feeling happy for her ability to choose a path that worked for her family, I felt cheated. Rather than share in her joy, I grumpily wondered why I didn’t deserve to stay home with my baby. Why didn’t my lovely daughter deserve a mama who could focus solely on her? Didn’t my husband need a wife dedicated entirely to home and family? When I should have felt blessed and privileged to have the graduate degree and licensure to obtain a good job to help support my family, I instead wallowed like a pig in the mud of my self-pity.
Oh, how I love a good wallow.
I wallowed away while the logistics of that job (through no fault of my own) completely crumbled around me. I stressed and muddled and fretted for my family and for myself over that awful, miserable job that my soul knew was wrong until, for the one millionth time, I found myself very literally on my knees.
And while I’m not very good at snagging the obvious revelations—I’m typically sort of a stumble around until I figure it out sort of girl—right there on the floor of my room next to my queen-sized, unmade bed, the words of a favorite hymn lit up my mind like some sort of flaming tattoo.
Keep thou my feet. One step enough for me.
Here was the second epiphany that horrid job afforded me, after the one that so aptly labeled the feeling my spirit knew as unsettled. I don’t know why I was supposed to accept that awful job. I don’t know why I had to work outside my home when I didn’t want to, or why others can’t work when they desperately need to. I’m not sure why some mothers know with surety they need to be at home while others know they are the best versions of themselves when they work professionally, too. To be frank, I’m not even sure which of those boxes I fit into, or if it’s another one altogether.
What I do know is that Someone knows. Please bless He keeps my feet, and yours, too.
One step enough for me.
I’m lucky enough to work part-time at a different job these days, and I choose to work graveyard shifts while my (now two) babies sleep. The arrangement isn’t perfect; I’m tired (but what young mom isn’t?) and I’ve gained ten pounds from that accursed midnight cafeteria run. I still long to be home full-time at some point, but my job as a social worker in the Emergency Room of a hospital very near my home makes me grateful every single day for my good health, good fortune, and my many, many blessings.
So, after the occasional good wallow, I do my best to shake off the piggy mud and remind myself:
One step enough for me.
And, in general, I’m feeling settled.