The Grace of Giving Up

The last two years have been a whirlwind of joy, successes, milestones, good food, great friends, and new adventures. In the midst of all of that joy, there have been some real challenges. There was a dark cloud that colored the past two years in my life, and it can be pinpointed to one thing: I did not take kindly to being a working mom.

After maternity leave, I lost the luxury of being at home with my Emma Beaux. It was tough to miss things like Emma’s first steps while I worked on projects that took me across the state and country. Hearing secondhand accounts of my child’s milestones hurt in ways I could not imagine. This heartache weighed on me and I struggled to be a good employee because half of my soul, heart, and being was miles away. I had one of those all-encompassing jobs that I thought required all of me. If you know me, you know that I have always given my all to work and academia because that’s where I found my greatest validation.  As a result, I did not have grace with myself, and decided that I could  not be the employee my company required and the super mom that Hollywood depicts.

I couldn’t. I cried. A lot. And then I quit my job.

Quitting was the best decision I could have made for myself and our family. Quitting initiated a few things: Calvin started a dream professional scenario, we took 3 months in Maine to heal and enjoy summer and family, and then we moved again, to a new place. I had no job, no career plan, and honestly I was equal parts excited to be a full-time mom and terrified of what that might mean. I had no idea what would fill our days or how I would nurture Emma’s precocious mind. Emma and I were both excited for our new adventure. However, our first day at home together was less heaven and more of a National Lampoon’s vacation from hell. I learned that toddlers require a lot of scheduling, and that fights between momma and kiddo can happen well before those teenage years. “Two-nagers” can be equally as sassy as pre-teens, let me tell ya.

Thankfully, God set provisions out for us. We set up a fun schedule, we made new friends, and we rarely said no to play. Those were our rules. We changed Emma’s nap time to coincide with the nap times of friends. We structured our days with morning play, time to reflect, and afternoon coffees with folks I admire. We plugged friends, libraries, museums, parks, and gyms into all of our free time. There was no deadline to meet, and no boss to please, so we embraced flexibility and self-care. To that end, I started practicing yoga and got to catch up on reading. Spending time with my girl helped me to get to know her and learn more about myself.

Recently, I started an incredible new job. I always  knew in my spirit that my time at home with Emma would not last forever. So I was determined to savor every moment. I wanted to be whole again. I wanted to find myself and be the type of mom that I dreamed of being. Leaving the corporate world for a beat allowed me to do this work. I had to quit to make room for play, and I had quit to realize my value. What I learned in my 8 months of being a full time mom was grace. I learned to have grace with myself, grace with my husband, and grace with a toddler and her independent spirit.

Grace brought me full circle. The issue wasn’t with being a working mom. It was with giving myself wholly to work that didn’t fulfill me. It was with trying to be all things to all people. Grace gave me the peace to find validation away from offices and work product. I was able to define my own success. Now, my work life is in the proper context and amplified by the smiles that I know will greet me when I log off for the day.