I used to think my career path looked scattered, unorganized, pulled. Now I realize that each job, each skill learned has brought me here, to my new vocation.
Vocation: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work -Merriam-Webster
Last month I received my last paycheck. It may be years or decades before I earn another. My new job is one that won’t pay, and one I never wanted.
I tried being a stay-at-home parent once before, and it didn’t fit. The wool was too itchy, the expectations too high, and my coffee always too hot or too cold. I found a job that was fulfilling and meaningful, my children thrived in daycare, and I cherished my time with them more. It seemed clear that I was a better parent when I was a working parent.
Then daycare didn't work for our youngest, "JAM." I gave up the job I loved out of obedience and need. In an unexpected breath of grace I found I fit easily into the new role. In the end it wasn't that I was a better parent as a working parent; I was a better person when I followed God's plan and direction, no matter how much or little sense it all made. That journey brought me here.
My first job was in a group home for people with disabilities. I discovered under it all I was an intellectual snob that believed that everyone should be "best" at something. Fastest, smartest, skinniest, funniest. I'd been searching for this -est part of me, and these clients forced me to stop. As we became friends, I learned that they were -est only at being themselves, and that was enough. These were the friends that we had in mind when we told the doctors "resuscitate our son."
Since then I’ve worked as a teacher and in administration and event planning. The skills in all these jobs touch my children’s lives today. As a teacher I practiced putting myself in the learner's shoes in order to help the learner reach toward the next step. This skill has been essential as I help JAM overcome his PVL (brain issues). As an event planner I needed to know how things worked and keep everything organized and functioning smoothly. I use these skills daily now as I coordinate half a dozen specialists, plus therapists, teachers, medical equipment, and insurance bills -- all in addition to coordinating the schedules of two older children and normal toddler things like diapers and sippy cups, story times and changes of clothes. Even my training as an English language teacher is coming in handy as I work with a speech therapist to teach JAM his first language.
From tutoring and teaching to paying bills and coordinating caterers -- I have had half a dozen jobs in the past dozen years. All of those skills will be used as I move into being "just" a stay at home mom.
I used to be afraid of going back to being a SAHM, but those fears have been squelched. At the core of it all I've found that I thrive when I am following God's plan, wherever that may take me. In addition, I thrive when learning, and I have learned a lot since JAM was born. I spent today researching acidosis. I am in awe of how our bodies compensate for deficiencies. Tonight I witnessed E's kind heart and K's incorrigible optimism. And in the midst of writing this blog post, I've discovered that JAM is soothed to sleep best by harpsichord. I am fascinated.
I am doing more than just surviving my job. I have found my vocation - in the place I least expected and for unbeatable pay.