Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just a Mom

I recently quit my job.

And when I say I quit my job what I mean is that I stopped teaching piano lessons out of my home.

I've been teaching piano lessons for ten years. I was a piano major in college and started teaching a few students during my junior year. The first thing I did when Alex and I bought our house (10 days before our wedding) was get a piano so that I could start teaching from home, and I've been doing it ever since. I've always been proud of myself for actually using my less-than-practical degree. And I was especially proud of myself when I kept my studio going after I started having kids.  It was a creative outlet that I've really enjoyed and that has helped my life feel a little more balanced.

Until now.

I've been balancing my work-from-home job and being a mother for four years, and well, I'm losing my balance. No, I've lost my balance, and I'm spiraling out of control.

Coordinating babysitters, arranging who would pick up and drop off  Johnny at school, strategizing meals that I could make ahead of time and eat quickly between students, keeping our main living areas company-ready for half of the week, screwing up naps and bedtime because of lessons - all these things were making me crazy. All that combined with the regular chaos and sleep deprivation of life with small children, a husband in grad-school, and a child with medical needs that are far from being resolved, had me feeling like I was drowning and couldn't come up for air. To top it all off doing a very extroverted type of work - teaching kids - left my introverted self feeling completely drained at the end of the day, making me annoyed with my family and unpleasant to be around.

I want my family to come first - I want to give my very best for them. But instead of giving my best I found myself being half-present, always looking to the next thing, and treating my family like they just another item on my long to do list.

One night in January I was crying to Alex about how I couldn't go on like this. Something needed to change. He couldn't quit school, we couldn't get rid of our kids (not that we'd ever want to - that was a joke), we couldn't change our oldest child's medical needs. So that left teaching piano. That was something we could change.

As soon as Alex suggested I stop teaching I felt a wave a relief. But I also felt some stubborn pride. I had worked so hard to build my studio over the last decade. I liked being able to contribute to our finances in some way. I liked having something to do that was separate from parenting. I liked that I wasn't just a mom.


But being a mom is the best thing I've ever done! Having my children and caring for them has been my greatest accomplishment - more than my degree, or any of the jobs I have had, or any travel I had done, or talents I have developed. Even if I end up doing amazing things later in my life, I feel certain that nothing will top this experience of having partnered with God in the miracle of creation. And if quitting my job can help me be a better mom, and better enjoy these long days and short years with my kids, then that's what I should do.

So I quit my job. Not all at once. I finished out the semester, gave my students time to find a new teacher, and held one last recital. And now I'm done.

Now I'm just a mom. There are still demands, but the demands are not pulling me in different directions. My days are still busy, but there is less going on, the pages on my calendar have become very blank. I don't need to shower and put on my make up first thing in the morning anymore, although I usually still do, because I like feeling put together. I don't need to plan or coordinate and strategize to get my family through the day. We can move at our own pace.

And you know what? If feels really good.

4 comments:

  1. I quit my job in January and had some of the same struggles you mentioned but now am loving it. I'm realizing how much time and effort can go into motherhood/parenting when it's my only focus-- in a good way! Just like any other job or craft, I'm able to give it my all and consistently improve in ways rather than just 'getting by' because everything else takes my focus and time.

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  2. I quit my job as a manager and the moment I did I felt relief. I am so happy for you. Family and happiness come first always.

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  3. Congratulations on your big move! It's a blessing to be able to be "just a mom." :)

    I worked outside the home until our oldest was three, and I was surprised how much it bothered me not to be contributing to our finances at all when I quit to stay home. Blessings as you figure out your new groove. :)

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  4. Anna, I totally get your feelings! I do a side gig of housecleaning, but the weeks that I'm not doing that outside my home is so freeing!! Even though my mom is willing to watch the kids, its still the stress of getting things lined up, and do they need lunch, oh, will I need dinner made before we get home, and overly tired kids. I know the stubborn feeling of wanting to keep pushing on, even though some moments I feel like crying "I can't do this anymore!". Unlike you, I probably won't be quitting quite yet, but I don't think it's to far in the future.
    Blessings!

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