Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A New Bend in the Road

The move from the ranch taught me an important lesson:  God does not want me to be comfortable.  He wants me to be content and joyful in all circumstances, but not comfortable.  In his wisdom he has reminded me that I have a job to do and that is to serve Him.  Even though I was serving him through my role as wife and mother, He needed to me to know what it was to obey.  And so when the headmaster of the christian school my children attended asked me if I'd consider teaching there, I knew that God had opened another door and I would obey.

So just when I got in to the swing of things as an event planner, I became a teacher; something I said I'd never be.  And it's not because the profession is beneath me, but because when you grow up in a small town in Texas, its automatically assumed this is what you'll become, and I had spent most of my life, trying to surpass small town expectations.  Plus, my entire family network is made up of teachers and I wanted to be different. 

Homeschooling your own kids is different than being a classroom teacher in just about every aspect.  So I went into the job with apprehension and insecurity because I wasn't trained for this, even though I had been homeschooling for several years.  My safeguard was that it was a classical school and I had a grasp of the methodoligy and a fresh outlook on what education should be.  I may have not been a trained, experienced teacher, but I felt like I could at least be passionate about educating the whole child.   Plus, I felt it was an inspired calling so obviousely, the Lord would guide me.

I had a wonderful year teaching eight children.  It gave me an entirely new appreciation for teachers and for private schools.  I loved my class so much and felt like they were an extension of my own family. I was able to implement things in my classroom that I never had in my own education, in addition to intertwine God into the framework of the entire day so that not only was it an education but also a misnistry of sorts.   And it was exhausting.  Holy cow, who knew how much work it would be! 

I had an unrealistic expectation that I'd be so much closer to my own children and could participate more in their classroom events, but was I wrong!  I don't think I went to one classroom party for my own kids.  I missed every field trip and didn't have the time to visit my daughters preK classroom once, like most other moms.  I was so busy planning, grading, fundraising, directing the Christmas play, taking my  own class on field trips that I missed everything my own children were involved in.  

Even though it was exhausing, it was satisfying work.  I was totally invested in the mission of the christian school, invested in the mission of classical education in a remote, rural town.  I had great dreams for what the school would become and for the roles my children would play in its growth.  It never surpassed our homeschool experience, but it came close.  At the end of the school year I found a new self confidence that the next year it would be even better because I would know what I was doing... but there would be no next year, because things were about to change again.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The End of the Dirt Road

On January 1st of 2012, my husband received an email, (not a phone call, but an email) from the ranch owner (actually from his wife, weird)  informing him that life as we knew it was about to change drastically.  Without giving many details, we were instructed to sit around and wait for more information.  It was a fabulous way to start the new year.

Without going into to much detail, and at the risk of sounding resentful and bitter, let's just say the next two months were disappointing and painful for our family.  My husband resigned from his job because they had chosen to significantly downsize their operation.   He'd worked for this particular ranch owner for ten years and we considered them family.  The insensitivity with which they treated us was shocking, but we tried to handle it with grace and dignity.  For my husband, it was particularly hard.  The ranch was originally homesteaded by his great-great grandfather is the 1880's and had been in the family for almost 100 years before his uncle sold it to absentee owners in the late 1980's.  My husband then was hired to manage it and had done so for two owners.  The current family has owned it for ten years.

My husband had known no other job really.  He was the only one who really knew anything about the ranch at all because the owners only came a few times a year.  He knew it like the back of his hand.  In addition to that, he still managed the part of the ranch his family still owns, which adjourns the ranch we lived on.  

To live there we had decided to homeschool because the ranch was so remote from the nearest town.  We had committed to a lifestyle that required sacrifice and at the time, we were glad to make those sacrifices.  Now we faced the unknown.  The unknown was commonplace in my life and I was quite comfortable with it.  In fact, the house we lived in on the ranch was the only home I'd ever lived in for an extended period of time.  I had grown up with a father that changed jobs frequently and I myself had moved more than twenty times in my life.  I did not fear change, but rather lived to expect it.  That was not the case for my husband, who had lived in one house growing up, had never left the county and had only one job in his entire life.

When we decided that we had no recourse but to leave the ranch, we bought a house in the nearest town, put our kids in a local christian school and I took a job in another town as an Event director at a resort.  I felt much guilt putting my two and half year old in preschool, but my other two were very excited to go to school in town.  It was a wonderful environment for them because the classes were small and they had friends for the first time that they could see on a daily basis.  If they missed homeschooling, you certainly couldn't tell.  In fact, I was the only one that seemed to feel bad about putting them in school.

 I began to love my new job, which was actually a dream job for me if I did have to work.  I had always worked until I became a mother at 34, but when I became a mom I was determined to stay at home with them.   In my past life I was a wedding planner, theatre director, waitress, restaurant manager, paralegal, and various assortment of other things while trying to be a writer and actress, so needless to say I was used to having a flexible identity.  However, I took my job as a stay at home, homeschooling mom very seriously and switching gears back to working in an office and being away from my children was difficult.

My husband became his own boss, independently welding for businesses while continuing to manage his family's ranch.  I didn't expect that he would make that transition from employee to self employed as successfully as he did.  He is the type of person who likes to know what he's making, when he will get paid, how much he will get paid and what exactly is expected of him.  The paychecks were much more, albeit unpredictable, so thankfully he is a wonderful money manager.

During this time, I completely lost interest in this blog.  We weren't on a dirt road anymore, it was just a sidewalk.  No longer homeschooling, we were the typical family going in five directions and surviving the chaos of everyday life.  I barely had time to do a load of laundry after work, much less bore anymore online with the details of my new found craziness.  When I'd sit down to post something, I would just look at old posts and photos of what a good life we had and I would cry....

 Although I felt sorry for myself, I tried to remember how good God had been to us and felt extremely blessed.  It could have been different and much harder for us.   I still longed for our old life, but tried hard to be thankful.  I reminded myself that God was molding us through trial and expected us to serve him in our new life.

Months flew by.  The boxes were never completely unpacked and I kept thinking we were just renting this house until we could move back home again.  It took everything I had to keep my feet under me.  I worked full time, catered events on the weekend.  My husband cooked dinner - not something he was used to, nor did he enjoy.  My children cried for me at night when I was working late.

I came home from a full time job to my other full time job as a mother, did homework with the kids, put them to bed and started all over in the morning.  This is exactly why I never wanted to be a working mother.   I admire women who have to work and do it successfully, but I am not one of those women.  My ADD takes over and things start slipping through the cracks:  bills don't get paid, kids don't get picked up on time, ovens are left on.

Truthfully, I really loved my job.  After a few months I began to adjust to my new life.  It was kind of nice to drop the kids off, go to an office, talk to adults all day, eat lunch with friends, plan parties with fun people, buy clothes that were somewhat fashionable and not just comfortable, wear heels and not clogs and all without feeling guilty about it.  I had to look nice for work didn't I?   My husband was a little confused at to why I could fix my hair and wear makeup for strangers at work, when in the six years I was at home it was all I could do to get out of my house shoes by noon.

So just when I finally got comfortable with my new identity, God gave me something else to do....