Thursday, May 19, 2016

As My Mom Retires

One of the sacred parts of growing up and living in relationship with your parents as an adult is gaining the ability to have a little bit of perspective into their lives as they were parenting you.  It's all too easy as teen or even a twenty-something to not give much thought to the way our parents navigated life, other than perhaps a flippant "I will never do that!" or the casual "I'm glad they did that right."  Maybe sacred seems like to large a word, too dramatic for the purpose but I do think there is something sacred about realizing that our parents are people too who have real personalities that hurt and grieve and yearn and hope.  It's pretty easy to hold our parents' emotions at arm's length, to reduce them to more simplistic terms like happiness or anger.

Until we become adults who are faced with the same challenges as our parents.

Then suddenly things present themselves in full color, where we are now capable of catching all the nuances of a situation, where we are much more able to grasp the gravity of the situations that our parents faced.  For a moment, time is suspended and starts going backwards.  Our feet somehow find themselves nestled into the footsteps of our parents.  In some other-worldly way, the skies part, the sun shines more brilliantly than ever, and the birds seem to be singing because we've just had an epiphany.

I've certainly had my fair share of those moments connected to an assortment of topics.  This latest moment was no different, and like the best of those moments, it came as a bit of a shock to me.  It's no secret that while I chose to stay home with my kids, that I always describe myself as a stay-at-home mom by default.  I'd love to work a consistent part time job that lines up with my talents and my passions,specifically teaching or working with families and children.   However, part-time gigs like that are hard to find.  There have been a few opportunities here and there.  Some I've applied for, some I have not.  Some were just not the right situation; in a different time or different place, I might have said yes but at the time, the situation was just not what I was looking for.  Some were things that would have stretched me out of my comfort zone but I was willing to throw my hat into the ring and see what came of those things. In all things I have tried to center myself with the belief that God will put me back into the workforce in His timing, in a job that will bless me and others.

Within the last few weeks, I've applied for, interviewed for, and not been hired for a position I would really have liked to have had.  Financially, it really would have helped our family.  In terms of qualifications, I felt like I was highly qualified for the position.  In terms of time management, the proposed schedule seemed to be one that would have given me time at home as well as time at work.

It was of course disappointing to not be hired but I was thankful that God had seemed to be preparing me for handling a disappointment like that through the last few devotions I had done.  As I studied through some Psalms, He seemed to be whispering a bit about how much He values me, about how nothing in my life goes unnoticed, and about how He created me and that my value stems from being His creation.  Job hunting always seems to have this element of personal rejection to it, even though sometimes, it's not about being rejected but more about someone else just being a better fit.  Hearing from Him helped to soften the blow.

But what surprised me most about the situation was how much I found myself thinking about my mom as I applied for and then waited the outcome.  My mom is also a teacher and also chose to stay home with my brother and I.  She's never really said much about her feelings in regards to that.  Financially, it probably would have been much better for our family had she chosen to go back to work when we were little but she didn't because she, like I, thinks that these years home with our kids are a gift that we will do our best to preserve.  Instead, she waited until we were in high school and then chose to go back to school and earn an extra certification, one that would expand her ability to find a teaching job when she was ready to start teaching again.

As I started the process of applying for this job, I was faced with the reality of not having applied for a job in approximately 15 years.  Oh goodness!  I can't believe that's true but it is.  I know it sounds silly but there is something overwhelming and a bit intimidating by that.  While I've tried to keep myself invested in teaching by substitute teaching and while I occasionally peruse educational research to try to keep on on what is going on in the teaching world, it is not the same as being in the classroom.  I couldn't help but find myself feeling too old, not something I thought I would ever feel.  I also couldn't help but think of my mom, because she did much the same thing, sitting on the sidelines and then jumping back in, trying to figure out how to fit back into the education world after years away.  I am sure she felt some of that trepidation in filling out an application and interviewing and then waiting the outcome, for many of the same reasons as myself.   I can't help but wonder what encouraging words my dad said to her because he was often good at grounding people.  And I can't help but wonder if God provided encouragement for her about who she was in Him and how He had a plan in all of it, just like the way He showed His presence to me.

 As a kiddo who hadn't even turned twenty yet, I was completely oblivious to how it probably felt for her to start the job hunting process.  Not so today.  So for my mom, this is one of those sacred moments where your heart has become so much more real to me.  I'm proud of you.  I am thankful you were brave enough to start again, to keep learning and to put  yourself out there, even though it was hard and scary and exposing yourself to failure.

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