Monday, March 21, 2016

Going Back to Work

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, theLord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  -1 Kings 19:11-12

It's been too long since I've written. Every time I sit down to write, I get distracted or my son needs me (here he comes now) or I'm simply too tired, but I should probably chronicle the big life changes we've been going through.

I've gone back to work. It's something we've been talking about for months. Well. Something Travis has gently suggested and I have vehemently opposed. Why? We certainly needed the money. But it just didn't seem right. I had just come out of a very difficult year and a half working full-time at a challenging library, first pregnant and then the mother of a newborn. Having a newborn takes a special toll on parents, and mothers in particular. Having to work where I worked AND juggle mothering a newborn was a special kind of awful. Needless to say, I was not anxious to go back to work. I think the main problem was, I had come to the realization that I just really didn't like working in public libraries. I don't like the hours, I don't like the patrons, with the exception of some Districts like Las Vegas, compensation isn't great. If you move every three years, like Travis and I tend to, it is a pain in the ass to try and break into a new library system. I don't even particularly like the work. There were days I loved my job and there were days I despised it. Let it be known that my coworkers were almost universally amazing people, at both public libraries I've ever worked at. But by the time I left my last job, I had pretty much had it with the work.

That's just to give you a little idea why i was not anxious to go back to work: the only thing on my resume was public libraries and I couldn't... I couldn't go back. I have so much love and respect for public libraries. It doesn't mean I need to work in one ever again.

There were other reasons too, reasons that seem foolish in retrospect but felt very real at the time. After we left Vegas I had the amazing privilege of being a stay-at-home mom for a while and getting to be friends with other such moms. It was like a hidden world that comes out to play between 10am and 3pm every day. It was a softer world, filled with play dates and walks to the park and yes, I admit, a lot of TV. I felt I had earned it.

In the meantime, we were hemorrhaging money. No problem. I'd figure out some way to make money from home. I saw countless other families working it out with only one parent working, and I thought, "Why not us? How are we different? We can make it work, too." Predictably, none of my make-money-from-home ideas paid off.

Things really came to a head for us after Christmas. After yet another serious discussion that ended with me in tears again, I reluctantly decided to begin searching for jobs. I literally googled "library jobs Indianapolis" and got a few interesting hits. I sent in applications and cover letters to a few on a lark and within a week or two I heard back from someone. It was from an extremely vague job description that I only applied for because I fit the basic requirements and could perform all the duties. I didn't know if I wanted to work there or what the job even was. But after a series of phone interviews, reality began to set it: I might actually get this job. The night before the on-site interview, I had a nervous breakdown. It was all happening way too fast! I had been casually job-searching--I had even been a little impudent in my cover letter!--and here I was in the final stages of recruiting! I told Travis that it didn't feel right. Nothing felt right. I wanted to withdraw my application. I hadn't even had a chance to apply for other things that might be a better fit! What if I got this job?! How would we figure out childcare?? Dog care?? What if I really wanted the job after all and I didn't get it?? My anxieties began to spiral out of control.

My mind actually went to a pretty dark place. I thought, "Is this some sort of punishment?" I knew I wasn't always the best mom; I knew the ways that I failed my son; and now he was being taken away from me.

Travis calmly talked me away from the cliff's edge. Mostly he just listened, actually, while I came to the only logical conclusion: just go to the interview and see how it feels. I wasn't under any obligation to accept the job if it didn't feel right. Take one step at a time. Cross bridges as I got to them.

I went to the interview. I felt... so calm. No stress whatsoever. I figured I had nothing to lose. And the job site was really, really nice. It was a totally different energy than the night before. I walked away shrugging my shoulders, feeling confident that I would indeed enjoy working there, that my interview had gone well, and that there was nothing else I could do so why worry? I called Travis excited about the interview, and in my heart I knew. I knew I wouldn't surprised if I got the job and that I'd accept if I did.

I'll make a long story short. (Too late.) I got the job. :) I love it. All the things I thought would be worse are actually better in our lives. I'm a better mom. I'm a better wife! We are more equal partners. There are some things that are more challenging, yes, but overall it's much better. I may want to go back to staying at home in the future, when it is financially feasible. But for now, this is what's best for us.

My takeaway:  The scripture at the top of this post immediately came to my mind as I went through this process. Sometimes you have to go through the wind and the fire and the hell before the dust settles and you hear it: the still small voice telling you that everything is going to be ok.


Mary Thomas said...

Oh this is wonderful! I am so so happy for you Erin. This is when you know this is exactly what should be happening in your life--when it's effortless and it eases all the strain. Plus, they love you! It's dreamy. I'm so glad you were brave and took the worrisome step. You are my hero!

Mom/Paula said...

Erin, thank you for sharing this process and its outcome, and for prefacing it with this particular powerful Old Testament quotation about how, out of struggle and travail, inspiration and peace can come. Your Grandpa Rasmussen would enjoy that reference, and so did I. I love you, and Travis and Cohen too, a lot! Mom

Susannah said...

Thank you for sharing this! I had a similar experience, but in a different context -- house buying! The whole thing came about unexpectedly and was happening so fast. I, too, was just casually looking at homes without any intent to buy, but then I learned of the house on a particular Sunday night and was planning to sign a contract on the following Thursday!! That was the very definition of absurdity! The night before I was to sign the contract, I was a total mess, and like you, I was on the verge of just calling it all off, but I didn't feel quite right about that, either. So the next day I went to Doug and Kim's house (now my house) and signed the contract. Literally the second I finished signing my name I felt the most amazing peace and calmness that I hadn't felt all week. Whatever I was worried about was just gone and replaced with quietness and confidence, and above all, HAPPINESS! I love these tender mercies of the still small voice that finally emerges from the winds and quakes and fires. I'm so glad that you felt this, and I'm so happy for you in this new job and all the good things that have resulted from this decision. Love you tons!