Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On Pain and Growth

As I made the long drive home yesterday, I reflected on the changes that have happened since Olivia came into our lives. I never would have imagined that it would be this way.

I always assumed that once we had kids, I would quit working and stay least through those formational early years and until the babies were all in school for the majority of the working day. I looked forward, for many years, to seeing this dream become a reality.

Now that I am here, the transition from employed professional to SAHM is proving to be more challenging than I thought. I'm in the unique position of still being employed for the moment, undergoing a period of transition that is longer than most people give as notice when they leave a job. I still have around six weeks left to wrap up and hand off what it took me more than eight years to build.

I know it sounds weird to some, since I doubt that many desk jobs have as much hold as this one does on me. What I do, though, is plan ministries. I plan retreats and workshops and offer coordination and support of others who do similar ministries. And although I inherited some of these responsibilities from my predecessor, I'd say 80 percent of my responsibilities stem from projects that I started. Projects in which I am emotionally invested. Projects that came about not just because of a perceived need, but because I personally felt called to do something about it.

To add to this, I am the type of person who needs to feel in control. Infertility and then dealing with a demanding infant have done a lot to temper this need, but it's still there. It is HARD, people, for me to delegate anything that I feel is particularly important. I just have a hard time trusting that it will get done if I'm not in charge of it.

So here I am, beginning the process of surrendering control of huge projects and ministries, many of which are dear to me, so that I can be home with my baby. And it's HARD.

Luckily, I know my successor, and she will do an amazing job. Additionally, there is a level of burnout that comes with eight-plus years of ministry that has stifled my creativity. My successor can come in and create all kinds of new projects of her own that I could never have dreamed of. Turnover is, occassionally, a very good thing.

For the most part, I've made peace with the impending change in my life. And yet, there are still daily reminders of what I'm leaving that cause me a twinge of pain here and there.

Even with all the pain that comes with transition, I know that this is the right direction for us. I know this because, right now, I also deal with the daily pain of being separated from my baby.

By 2-3 p.m. every day, I start getting this nagging twinge of anxiety about the baby. Is she doing OK? Does she miss Mommy? Is she napping well? Will she have a good night or a fussy night? And then I get this overwhelming urge to go pick her up and take her home. I miss her. I want to see her playing and comfort her when she cries. I want to talk to her and make her laugh. I want to be there as she explores and learns about the world around her.

We have this painting that hangs in the baby's room. It says something like, "Change is the tearing pain that a rose feels as it goes from bud to bloom".

I feel like that today. As I deal daily with the reality of preparing to leave my job, I know that the pain I feel is just a consequence of change, and it will lead to growth. Our new reality will be beautiful in ways I can't imagine now. And I'm looking forward to my SAHM life and all the challenges and blessings that will come.


maggie said...

I would be bereft to leave a job like that. I often wonder if I'd be so gung ho about the SAHM thing if I'd had a job I loved. But it would kill me to be away from the baby more, I think. You are so blessed to have a job that you love AND a baby to leave it for. I bet one day you can go back to that career... Phase of life, remember?!

Jen said...

That would be a hard job to leave! I'm glad that you had a job you enjoyed so much for eight years that it is so hard to leave. Most people don't like their work.

Plus, you might be able to do it or something similar later!