First, let me just go ahead and tell you that this is going to be a long post. Also, it may seem somewhat disjointed at the start, but I hope you will be able to follow me and see where I am headed. Last, when I started this blog, my goal was to completely open, honest and transparent even when it came to sharing the hard stuff. This post is full of “hard things” for me and definitely not easy to share.
Last Friday, May 16th, I went out on a much needed Girls’ Night Out w/ my 2 best friends. The week had been emotionally exhausting for several reasons, but the biggest being that the 16th was the one year anniversary of the day that everything at work hit the fan. We ate dinner at Chili’s and then headed to see “Mom’s Night Out.” The movie was hilarious! There were times I was laughing so hard that it was difficult to breath. Time w/ my friends and the laughter did my soul a world of good. Then, the movie took a turn that took my by surprise and had the tears rolling down my cheeks. I promise I won’t spoil the movie, but towards the end there was a conversation about being “enough” b/w 2 of the characters. Given the week I’d had and already being reflective, it caused even more reflection on my part.
So here we go…
Thursday, May 16th the crap hit the fan at work to put it lightly. I was devastated and in total shock. That weekend was spent in tears, praying and seeking godly counsel from those I trust the most. After an emotionally exhausting weekend the decision was made that I would turn in my resignation. Monday morning, May 20th, I went to my supervisors office and handed in my resignation. In all honesty, I had wanted out for a while. I was frustrated and completely burnt out, but didn’t have the guts to look for another position and certainly, never would have had the guts to resign. So, while this was not how I would have liked for my time at this company to end, it honestly needed to end and it was way past time for me to be gone. The next 2 weeks were a complete and total blur and I pretty much stayed holed up in my office, not really speaking to anyone, other than when I had to.
About the time all of this was happening, my husband was not feeling well and he just wasn’t getting any better. I landed an interview w/ another company and totally bombed it due to being so worried about my husband and honestly, I didn’t want to go back to do the same job I was doing, just w/ another company. The day after my interview, my husband was walking through our dining room and almost passed out. All 3 kids were home and it was all I could do not to scream. I called his mother and then raced him to the Vanderbilt ER. I prayed that I wouldn’t run into Metro on the way and then again, prayed that maybe Metro would help me get him there faster. I was convinced that he was having a heart attack. Yes, I know, I know, that should have been a 911 call and not me driving like a crazy woman to get my hubby to a hospital 25 mins away. Anyway, I threw my keys at the poor guy running the valet service and just about ran the guy in security over trying to get the love of my life into the ER.
Once there, he was taken to a room and hooked up to a machine to attempt to determine what was going on. After a couple of tests had been run, it was determined that he was not having a heart attack. At that point, we were sent to the waiting room. Low and behold one of the ladies who had interviewed me the day before was sitting there w/ her daughter. We exchanged a few words and I was not overly friendly b/c I was so worried about my hubby. Eventually, my hubby was called back and since there were no rooms, he was placed on a gurney in a hallway and we waited some more. A tech came and drew blood and we waited some more. Eventually, a doctor came over and told us that his blood work looked pretty good and started asking questions. About that time, we told the doctor about the tick bite he had that wouldn’t heal and was still irritated and somewhat infected after almost a month. After several hours of craziness and waiting, he was given a script for a strong antibiotic for Lyme’s Disease. This took a toll on him for the large majority of the summer. It was a horrific experience and that day and I thought I was going to leave Vandy a widow. While I was not happy to hear that my love had Lyme’s Disease, it definitely beat the worst case scenarios playing out in my head.
We did take 3 days to head to Gatlinburg to get away from all of the insanity. I tried and failed to not think about my interview 2 weeks prior. When we returned home, I sent several emails to find about second round interviews only to find out that I was not being called back in. After my job ending the way it did, dealing w/ my hubby getting so sick, this was like rubbing salt in a deep, open wound. I was upset and humiliated. Up to this point, I had never not received a job after an interview. This was a first and not a pleasant first. Little did I know that this would not be the last time in the next year, that humiliation and I would come face to face.
Not only did my hubby spend most of the summer sick, he also did not have the best summer when it came to his line of work and money became increasingly tight. At times we had to pick and choose what bills we would pay and how much we would be able to pay. The difference b/w wants and needs became apparent and difficult choices were made. I knew there was difference b/w wants and needs, but we were now at a time where it really made a difference in our purchases. It’s amazing what you can live w/out when you don’t have budget to have some of the “luxury” items you like to enjoy. For those of you that know us well, you know that we are not materialistic people to begin w/, but it was difficult to let go of certain things through out this time.
July came and our annual trip to MI didn’t happen b/c our finances wouldn’t allow it. The van was not driving quite like it should and we didn’t trust it to make the 9 hr drive to my sister’s house. As if that wasn’t bad enough, given the way May and June had gone, my hubby’s car died. It died bigger than big on his way to a gig. Thankfully, his brother came to the rescue and let him borrow a car so he could get through the rest of his day. After talking w/ the shop about his car, we were told that it needed a brand new engine b/c his was totally shot and couldn’t be repaired. Given the age of his car, the new engine would have been way more expensive than what the car was worth. We looked at several cars and never felt a peace about any of the ones that we looked at, so we became a 1 car family. This led to feelings of isolation due to the fact that if a gig came up, it had to take precedent over a social event and that made it even more difficult, given that I am an extrovert.
As we started into the fall, I joined a Tuesday morning Mom’s Bible Study. While I have grown to love this group of ladies and have a couple of great friends in that group, it was and sometimes is hard to be in there. Many of these ladies chose to be housewives. They chose to be in the positions they are in and I felt like the choice was never mine. They knew how to be a stay at home mom and how to be a housewife. While I wanted to be in their shoes, I felt like a fish out of water and there are times that I still feel like a fish out of water where this group is concerned. They have been wonderful and a couple of them have been there to encourage me and cheer me on over the past year and for that I will always be grateful.
In September, my mom took some vacation days and booked a condo in Gatlinburg and invited me and munchkin to join her. That was a nice reprieve from everything and I probably slept better those 3 nights than I had since everything started back in May. During that trip, we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium, which is probably one of my favorite things to do while out there. After we came through the incredible shark tunnel a picture was taken. When I came home and really looked at that picture, I realized how large I had become and what would happen if I continued down that road and my weight loss journey started. That is a whole blog post in and of itself and I won’t go into all of that in this post.
We headed into October and I felt for sure that things would get easier for us heading into the last 3 mos of the year. Well, that wrong. Typically, October is a time of “feast” for us and we enjoy getting caught up on some things and then enjoy a few small splurges. That didn’t happen. Things were shaky at best. Our nerves were shot. Putting food on the table and gas in the van became a huge struggle. By the time we hit December, I was convinced that we were going to go under b/c things were that tight and the income just wasn’t there.
I wish I could say that I totally trusted the Lord would provide, but that would be a lie. I knew that none of this of took Him by surprise and that somehow He would bring us through it, but my faith was not as strong as it should have been. I went to church and put on my “happy camper” face that we all tend to do when things aren’t going well b/c, who wants to actually admit that things are bad and their faith is wavering? About that time, I was reading several devotions on You Version and a couple of verses jumped out at me and kept me going even on the hardest of days:
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give you counsel.
Psalm 95:1 “Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation!” (emphasis is mine)
Numbers 6:24-26 “May Yahweh bless you and protect you; may Yahweh make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; may Yahweh look with favor on you and give you peace.
At this point, it would have made sense to let a few people in on what was going on. I will be honest, pride prevented me from opening up, even to those in my inner circle. Not one of them had a clue as to how tight things really were for us. There were times, I would tell my friends that there was schedule conflict, when in reality, we just couldn’t afford for me to meet up and go out w/ my friends. I finally let one and only one person in on what was going on. That person became our lifeline through Dec and Jan. Thanks to that person, I was able to enjoy a Judson Singers’ Reunion. Thanks to this person, our kids had Christmas and we had a nice meal on Christmas Day. Yes, things were so tight, we couldn’t afford Christmas for our kids. This person also kept food on our table for a couple of months and if one of the kids needed something, this person made the sacrifice to take care of the need. In Jan, we didn’t have the money to pay tuition for the kids. We had received a savings bond from my father’s estate and that covered one child, but not the other 2 and this person wrote the check to keep our kids in school.
I hate, loathe, despise having to ask for help. My husband and I are not ones to ask for handouts, nor do we like asking for help to provide for our family. Thankfully, I have an incredible husband who is not afraid of hard work and even took on a part time job to help make ends meet. Given that neither one of us are afraid of work and don’t think there is a job that is beneath us, to be in this position was difficult and humiliating.
At one point, a couple of snarky comments were made about us “eating out a lot.” Little did that person know, that we were using gift cards given to us at Christmas. If we went out, we either used a gift card or had a nice coupon. This small gift allowed us to feel like we were “normal” and could enjoy things that we knew we couldn’t afford. I share this, only b/c you never know what another person is going through or what is going on behind the scenes.
The Lord opened a door for me to start a contract position w/ our church in Jan. While I don’t make a large amount of money, I do make enough to pay a small bill or put gas in the van. With my previous experience, this job is a great fit for me and it allows me to feel like I am making a difference and contributing. This has also allowed me be back in a ministry position and I can’t even begin to state how that makes me feel. I still have a heart for women’s ministry and I still pray that the Lord will open a door for that down the road, but this season, I know this is what I am supposed to be doing.
As we started into spring, the Lord started to answer our prayers and my hubby’s work started to pick up. In April, ALL of my hubby’s weekends were filled and he even had gigs at other times during the week. We finally took a deep breath and felt like we could actually start to breathe where finances were concerned. No, we were not rolling in it by any stretch of the imagination, but bills were getting paid and it was easier to put food on the table. As we have started to head into the start of summer, things have started to turn around for us. We were blessed w/ a tax refund that is allowing us to pay off some debt and we were able to bring 2 credit cards down to a zero balance! As I write this, my husband will have worked for 9 days straight and will also work tomorrow. I like that we can breathe and even can enjoy some small splurges that we haven’t enjoyed in a while, not to mention, we have been able to put money back into our non-existent savings account.
To back up just a little bit, I know I haven’t shared much at all what is has been like to be a stay at home mom and a housewife. This is the first time since I turned 16 that I haven’t worked, so this was a huge change for me. While I wanted to be in this position, I didn’t know how to fulfill this role. Honestly, a year in, I am still not convinced that I know what I am doing. I can say, that through all of the craziness and insanity of the past year, getting to be w/ my kids for more than a couple of hours a day during the week and then on weekends has been wonderful. For the first time, I didn’t have to feel guilty about missing out on events at the kids’ school. I have been able to volunteer in the classrooms and actually be there for school events w/out having to rely on pictures and videos from my hubby. I take my kids to school and pick them up in the afternoons. I get to actually talk to their teachers and meet other parents. When I pick them up in their classrooms, they are happy to see me, especially peanut. Most days he yells “mommy” and runs towards me and gives me a big hug. Our church has a playgroup and for the first time, my kids were able to go. I have been able to watch them develop relationships w/ other kids at church thanks to this playgroup. There are days that I am exhausted and there are times on Wed nights that I can’t wait to drop them off in their classrooms. This year has given me time w/ my kids that I have missed out on the past several years. The mommy guilt is not completely gone, but it has not been near as bad this year as it has in the past. I know that at some point, I will look back on this year and will realize how important it was in building the relationships b/w me and my children. They are incredible and have 3 very distinct personalities and I have enjoyed watching them grow and getting to be there as they have hit different milestones. I have to say that stay at home moms rock. I could write another blog post on the differences of being a working mom and a stay at home mom. BOTH are rewarding and challenging in their own ways. I am happy thankful to have experienced life on both sides of that fence.
I have had more time w/ my husband in the past year than I have had in years past. Before I resigned there were too many days where I would leave early in the morning and then walk in the door as he was headed out and we barely had time for a quick kids before he left. I was home on weekends and he worked. It benefited my kiss b/c they didn’t have to go to day care and they had both parents, but it was almost like we were roommates rather than husband and wife. Yes, me being home was an adjustment, but we were able to spend time together that we hadn’t had in a while. Thursdays became our days. I look forward to Thursdays most weeks b/c I know that will get at least a little time together. During the summer, we will have to figure out time once our kiddos are home on those days, but somehow we will make it work. So, in the insanity of the past year, I feel like I have been given the gift of being a wife and mother in a way that I have never experienced before.
Back to the title of my blog “What is Enough?” The Lord is enough. Even when we don’t see or don’t understand what He is up to, He is there and He is enough. When only the bare minimum of our needs are being met, it is enough. On the days when I feel like a failure as a wife and a mother, I am enough. On the days you don’t feel like it, please know that you are enough!
I didn’t share this post to have people feel sorry for us, but to be encouraged that the days in the valley don’t last forever. Some valleys may seems deeper and longer than others, but the mountain top is coming. I know there have been times when I have heard stories such at this from others and it reminds me that I am not alone. If you are at a point in your life and you can relate to all or part of this post, I hope you realize that you are not alone and that you are enough. HE is enough.