Saturday, October 18, 2014

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road...

...time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don't ask why
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life
-Green Day, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

This blog used to be a place where I regularly made jokes about daily life, but apparently it has turned into the place where I drop big news and/or bare my soul then disappear for a few months.  Tis the life with three small rugrats I suppose.    Behold, more dropping of big news:

I left my job on Wednesday.

(Let me let that sink in a moment.)

Yes, I left my job as Director of the Goodnight Scholars Program.  The one I loved, my dream job in academia.  The job where I was respected and appreciated by the best students on campus.  The job with wonderful colleagues who worked hard and truly cared about students and their success.  As I sit here writing this, the only thing going through my mind is "What the hell was I thinking?!"

But here's what I was thinking:

This kid wants to play hide-and-seek, and I always say no.

This one desperately wants me to volunteer for Farm Days at his school, but I just don't have time.

And this one?  Oh my word.

I know time flies, but I am completely incapable of understanding how we went from newborn to this in approximately 5.2 seconds.

This has been brewing for a while - maybe since she was born, maybe even longer.  I tried to find the elusive "balance," and had the ideal situation that any working parent dreams of.  I had flexible work hours, a part time schedule, and the best childcare situation on the planet.  But I became more and more bothered by the time that I was missing out on with them, and more convicted that I needed to do something different to capture this time.  I finally came to the realization that I can do it all, but I can only do a halfway job of any of it.  So I'm stepping off the higher ed treadmill for a few years until I've got my feet more securely under me.

I am planning to go back to grad school.  I'm halfway done with my Master's, but I'm not sure that program is really what I want anymore.  Of course, I'm not really sure what I *do* want, so I am going to spend a little time figuring out which direction I want to head.  I know that this isn't the end to my working career, but I am really unsure what the next chapter holds.  I do hope it's back at NC State, and I fully expect that it will be.  But in my heart, I need an outlet to create, whether that is writing, photography, cardmaking, or crafting.  I am re-energized when I make things with my hands, and that desire has been ignored for a long time.  Who knows what might happen when my creative juices start flowing again?

Saying goodbye to the people I love at State has been so hard.  My students threw me a going away celebration which was just perfect.  There were lots of hugs, some favorite stories from back in the day, and a goodbye video which created the perfect mix of laughs and tears.  One of my students is Native American, and she performed a smudging ceremony, which I had never seen.  She wrapped me in a blanket as a sign of honor, then smudged me using smoke to cleanse my spirit for the next phase of my journey.  It was beautiful and touching and meaningful.  And I cried some more.

I'm in the center with the blanket around me as a shawl.  

I am not stretching when I say that this was one of the hardest decisions of my life.  I've always said that I didn't want to be a stay-at-home-mom, and frankly, I'm not sure that identity really fits me, even when I've chosen that path for myself, for this moment.  I've already lined up some very part-time work that I can do from home during naptime.  And I've promised my scholars that I won't be a stranger, so I hope to surprise them at some events here and there.  And maybe I can finally publish that book I've written in my head a thousand times over.

So far, it feels a little like playing house.  I folded 6 loads of laundry yesterday, and I had the fleeting "You quit your dream job for THIS?!" moment.  And of course the answer is no.  I'm not sugar coating the hard work or expecting that every day will be filled with picturesque moments of my children frolicking at the pumpkin patch.  But I do believe, in my heart of hearts, that this is the right choice for this season.  I can't even count how many people have said, "You will never regret this time."  Most of the time, I believe them.


Libby Barnes said...

Jen, I found that a full career was waiting for me when my kids were out of the house. I know this sounds prosaic, but I had much more to offer as a result of raising a family, managing a household, etc. It doesn't take long at all to get back up to speed in the work world and then you say, "I'm so glad I didn't sacrifice that time with the kids to do this" - similar to what you said about folding laundry. :)

Emily Erin said...

I remain inspired by your choice and glad that you'll have the time to play hide and seek or look for wooly worms or kiss the boo-boos that you didn't get to before. Happy Trails my friend-- I look forward to hearing all about the new adventures that unfold. I was so honored to be able to see the smudging ceremony and see first hand (which I knew already) how much your students love and respect you.

Sush said...

Welcome home...

Kim said...

We are adopting a little guy with Mitral Valve Stenosis and your blog popped up in my Google search. I would love to e-mail with you because I have not been able to find any families of children with this CHD in the adoption world, but I don't see an e-mail address on your blog. How can I contact you? :)

Jen F. said...

Hi kim,
Happy to chat with you about life as a CHD mom. Mitral valve issues are somewhat unusual in the chd world and it is always great to find a friend! Email me at Jenjmclean @ hotmail. Com.
Best of luck with the adoption process!