I couldn’t swallow the lump out of my throat.
I didn’t anticipate today would hold any emotional import.
This May, I was offered a new job at my company. A job I had expressed interest in that could have resulted in our family having to move towns.
When the job opportunity presented itself, it truly was more than I could have “ever asked or imagined.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Not only would I do interesting work on an unique project, but instead of moving towns, I would only have to work from a project office 2 ½ miles from my house. The only thing between the project office and my house was my kids school: ONE MILE IN BETWEEN.
After two and a half years of long commuting (those in Houston understand the commute to the Woodlands from West Houston), I would finally be close. Not only would we take more money home because I’d eliminate tolls and gas expenses, but I’d see my kids so much more easily.
I could drop them off or pop in for a lunch.
Mom would finally make appearances.
For two and a half years, I have woken up early and left for work, often before the kids are even out of bed. The trade off is that I get dinners with the family because I start work early so I can leave earlier.
I hate missing mornings. I hate never doing drop off. Pictures on my Facebook feed of moms volunteering for an hour at the Fall Festival or bringing a surprise lunch could make me cry without warning.
Then, after I accepted the position for this job which I love, the project announced the current offices would close in August. Instead, the project would move even further north than my former office.
I was devastated.
I questioned God. Why would He let me believe I would be so close to my home and kids only to rip it away before I had any chance to enjoy the blessing? Wouldn’t it be better to have never even known? To have been given the offer months later when a lifestyle change was never in the cards?
I had told the kids I would drop them off at school some mornings.
We planned monthly lunch dates together.
My friends danced and laughed with me. This will change your life, they said. You’ll never go back to how it was.
I spent a solid month, if not more, mourning the news. Deeply mourning the loss as if it were a person.
Then, I found myself loving the work. I love the people. After years of doing some similar things, I’m doing entirely new work which keeps me interested and engaged.
So I thought I would be okay.
I dropped my kids off at school, drove a mile to the project for the very last time, and popped back in to have lunch with them at 11:15. Their friends crowded around to regale me with stories from their summer and we gabbed about the news of potential Hurricane Harvey. I got hugs not just from my people but from their people too. I laughed with the teachers. As lunch wrapped and we walked to the playground, I pointed out the building down the street to show them where I’d be watching them from this afternoon.
And then I cried.
Maybe for the last time, and maybe not.
This was my view from the office window: the green field beyond the red-roofed apartments is their school playground and the trees beyond are my neighborhood.
We fought so long and hard to have these babies. And I know I wrote yesterday how they can be utter despots sometimes. But I want to be engaged in their lives. There is such little time left where they beg me to have lunch or volunteer or where all their friends all cluster around my legs. I passed out I love you’s and hugs like they were candy this morning.
I will always have to work. And I am thankful I have a job and a career I love which offers us the opportunity to live in a comfortable house and send our kids to private school. So many people don’t.
AND, I want to work. I like to work. I am a better mom because I work. But this is the working mom’s dilemma: how do you operate as an engaged parent when you spend so much time away?
I don’t have an answer. But like my post yesterday, I share mainly to let you know we’re all in this together. The latest census showed 67% of moms in the US work outside their home. It’s not easy. But you find spaces to make the time you have count. A mom of twin two year olds came up to me in the ice cream shop yesterday. She said, I just wanted to tell you what a good mom you are. You are so engaged with your kids.
I could have kissed her. And cried. Maybe they won’t remember I couldn’t show up for lunches and school volunteer assignments when they’re grown. Hopefully, they’ll remember the conversations over ice cream and curled up in bed at night.