Friday, December 15, 2017

The Final Final

This Fall has gone by in a blur! New schedules, new schools for a couple of the kids, a different job, celebrating our 25th Anniversary and taking two grad school classes made for an extra busy Fall. The dust is finally starting to settle as we ramp up for all the excitement that Christmas brings.

I learned a LOT over this past semester....and it wasn't all about Psychopharmacology or Career Counseling!

Learning to juggle homework, housework, working part time, meeting the needs of a husband and 8 children, and taking care of a new puppy was challenging to say the least! (We brought home an 8 week old female black lab puppy we named Josie at the beginning of August...I claim a moment of insanity mixed with mommy guilt)

Luke is thrilled to have his first pet!

It took time to sweep away all the cobwebs in my brain and teach myself how to study again. It was difficult for my family to have me gone one night a week.  Dinners were simple on those nights and Sarah did a great job taking care of getting everyone fed. Jay, Sarah, Jon and Ellie all pitched in for clean up and taking care of Kate and Luke. It was a very different experience from what everyone was used to. They were all very supportive and super helpful.

I saw this whole semester as a time for discernment. Was this really the path that I was meant to/wanted to pursue at this point in my life?

One of the major struggles for me was the constant busyness of life and feeling like there wasn't any down time. I changed hats multiple times a day, and there was always more work to do than time to do it in. The housework definitely took the brunt of the neglect, but I often felt like I was being stretched between my role as mom and student in an uncomfortable way.

After Kate and Luke's normal night time routine, sitting on the couch relaxing with Jay always had to include reading tedious, technical textbooks, writing papers or studying for quizzes/tests. There was always so much to do and keep track of. As the semester went on, I got better with juggling everything but it was almost impossible to ever really relax with so much hanging over my head. This played into my discernment about grad school being the right path for me. I had to consider if this level of busyness was something that was good for me and for my family over the 3 years, (including summers), that it would take me to get my degree.

Another piece of discernment puzzle was how long it would take me to get the degree and then work part time for a company to complete the almost 1500 hours I would need before I could even sit for the exam I have to pass to become a licensed therapist. It would take me almost 6 years to get to the point where I could work independently and create my own flexible schedule. I started thinking about what my life might look like in 6 years. Since my older boys are all in their mid to early 20's, there's a very good chance that in 6 years we will have some daughters-in-laws added to our family and some grandchildren arriving. Just when my older kids might need me to take a bigger role in their lives, this time as Grandma?...Nana?...Mimi?....Grammie?, I would be starting a career. The thought of that made me hesitant.

I've always been very interested in psychology and mental health. I love trying to help my friends and family work through struggles they are going through. I really liked the idea of having formal training and helping others. I liked the idea of attaining a Master's Degree...of reaching that level of accomplishment. It would make me feel more capable. It would make me feel more important. A little pride there..umm, yeah, but I'm being honest.

Yet, to achieve that goal, I would have to sacrifice in other areas. I couldn't be as fully present to my family. I would have to split my attention and focus between different areas of my life in a way I haven't had to in the past. The mom that Luke and Kate would have during their elementary school years would be a much different mom than their siblings had.

While there's absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing a different goal in my life, was this really the direction I wanted to go in? Is it the direction I was meant to go in? Did I really want a career, or did I just need a job? Are some interests and talents just meant to be used in His way and in His timing, and not just as a means of financial gain? I had so many questions as the semester went along and I waited and prayed for more clarity.

Jay and I have made lots of sacrifices over the years so that I could stay home with our babies and toddlers. It's been a blessing that Jay had a job, and added per diem hours during the week, so that I was able to stay home. My family has been my career for my entire adult life.

At one point towards the end of the semester, I was pondering the direction I should go. I felt God ask me in my heart, "What if your family was the only career you had in your lifetime? Would you be satisfied with that?" I thought about it for less than a minute before answering "yes". Loving my family and giving them my whole life would definitely be enough.

I continued to pray about it and talk it over with Jay. I decided that this graduate school adventure is only meant to be a short journey. I'm really glad that I took the courses and tried out this path that I have been considering off and on for the last 10 years. This particular adventure wasn't meant for me.

So, for right now, I'm continuing to work part time for my parents' business. The hours are very flexible, which is perfect for the stage of life I'm in right now. I think I will enjoy some extra prayer time and quiet time come January after the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season settles. Who knows what adventure God might have in mind for me next?!? There still isn't a whole lot of free time most days, but there is a little. I'm not in a hurry to fill it....I want my days to be more "Spirit Lead" and less "Michelle driven".

His plans and ideas are always way better than mine, anyway! ;)