You still have to mow it…

The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence but you still have to mow it.

One of my favorite versions of the classic phrase used to compare ones life to another. Why? Because it is reality.

A year ago I was downsized from a job I enjoyed and an agency I respected. I even respected them after I was kicked to the curb. It was a good opportunity to take a step back for a reality check. I was burned out.

I’ve been working since my first babysitting job at age 9. Most of my life I’ve also had a second job in addition to my full time job. There are a few reasons for this, one being it was necessary with a young adult starting wage smaller than my rent, car payment, student loans, etc.  Another is that I am lousy with money.

The one job I always wanted was being a mom. I was afforded the opportunity one time but had just six weeks of family leave before returning to work full time. And now, my tenure is nearly over as she starts her final year of high school. I know I will always be her mom but realize she must have wings.

I regret that I wasn’t able to be a stay at home mom. That’s one regret in life. I have said before I don’t believe in regrets because everything brings you to the wisdom you have as you mature.

Having to hold a full time job while parenting was hard. Adding a business when she was two made it a constant balancing act.

I am grateful to have good friends who were stay at home or part time job moms. There never seemed to be comparisons over who had it better. We knew there were disadvantages to either path. Thankfully these were my closest friends.

I wasn’t immune to criticism and judgements. During some of the more challenging times, I heard hurtful comments that implied I was career driven and could make it work to be a home-school mom like them if I made the same sacrifices. Ugh! They had no idea the challenges I faced on my homefront and had no compassion to hear any part of my story. What would they do if the burden of providing insurance and a solid base income fell on them? If their husband was self-employed or had his position eliminated? What if they didn’t have family nearby or able bodied grandparents happy to step in on a regular basis or when a child had to stay home sick? If-only and what-ifs are normal in ones own life. But the judgements and criticisms we send to one another are so unnecessary. And yet, we do. We all do. Even the quiet thoughts in our minds or shared among our closest friends, including Christian sisters.

So I had an hour between my restaurant job and my daughters dismissal from school. I chose to come to the lakeshore to cool down on this hot day. I need some quiet time to recalibrate my emotions and contemplate the near future.

The backstory is I opted to find a job as a server in a restaurant after my last downsizing to see if it would be as interesting as it seems from the table. It’s been a great experience to say the least. One thing it has afforded me are gaps of nontraditional time to manage. I can now say I’ve given it a fair shot. It’s given me an appreciation for people from all walks of life through interactions with customers and coworkers. It has given me new insight that I never could have gotten in a traditional office job. I think we all need to be recalibrated professionally from time to time.

From my vantage point here on the rocks I still feel uncertain about the next few months. I long to return to routine with a package of benefits for security. And yet I wonder if my time away has wrecked me… Am I now so simplified and mission focused that office work will seem superficial? I really need to leave this one up to my God. His vantage point is much better than mine.

There are things I miss about a weekday routine. I was so used to playing a round of “Chopped” on my commute home. “I have feta cheese, gummy bears, and frozen chicken… What can I make for dinner without stopping at the store?” I was a master at that game and often challenged myself to see how fast I could get a presentable meal on the table.

I was accustomed to a routine of cleaning, laundry, yard work, and prep for my business during my freetime. I utilized lunchtime in the office if I was able and seemed to better manage time when I had less of it. The working mom vs stay at home mom roles each have their advantages. I’m an introvert and found time at home precious. Now that I had a taste of it I regret I missed it.

Woulda

Coulda

Shoulda

Could I have been more supportive and encouraging to my husband so he would ‘allow’ me time at home?

I know my job was not one that allowed job sharing but I wish it did. Sometimes it didn’t allow me to take a day off when I needed it.

I’m documenting the finances of working a restaurant gig. Our nationwide situation with insurance requirements and options is frustrating. I’m saddened to be living the reality that work either has to be at a neck-breaking speed or nothing. Seriously, if you spend time understanding the system you might understand the complexity.

Me? I’m just trying to figure out how I fit in.

I’m some sort of wacky sandwich generation. My husband is ‘hitting’ 65 this year and my daughter is contemplating where and what she wants to be when she grows up. Having a midlife crisis might be bearable if I was partnered up. If this is a sandwich generation, I feel like a piece of Bologna.

I know people read this blog from the most random places of the world. Can you pray that God would shed some light on my path?

I so want to continue to serve Him through mission work if I am able. If I’m to return to the corporate life, I can guarantee I have a valueable insight and work ethic to bring to the table. Thanks for lifting me in prayer.

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