Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leaving Your Heart Behind

In November 2002, I got a job with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Elizabeth was 15 months old at the time. Chris was working as much overtime as possible, we had debts from his first marriage and I had hospital bills from being in college and being too broke to be able to afford health insurance.

I wasn't thrilled, but the stress of trying to be our sole source of income was killing Chris. It was affecting our marriage and we had a brand new car with almost $500 a month payments attached. We were making it but barely and there wasn't a lot of wiggle room for extras. So I heard Royal Caribbean was hiring and as luck would have it, I got the job. So I started training and the first night I cried myself to sleep. This trend continued for the first three months I worked.

One one hand, I loved my learning the new things I was given the opportunity to learn. However, I was torn inside. I was missing the cute new things Elizabeth was doing. I missed getting to see her in the morning because during training I woke up before she did in the morning. Then training ended and I worked in the evenings which worked perfectly. Chris had been put on a new shift before I got my job and it meant he was home Monday through Thursdays. This gave Chris and Lizzie time to bond and get to know each other. On Fridays my mom watched Lizzie if Chris didn't work overtime for a few hours before I would get home. Then my new schedule began. I would go into work about 1:30 p.m and work until closing time. I hate it. While it meant I didn't work on the weekends, it also meant I was up later in the evenings and I didn't get to put Elizabeth to bed. Eventually, as I gained seniority, I was able to get a first shift position, but each day I was a woman torn in two pieces.

One part of me loved talking to people and travel agents from all over the country and sometimes other countries. The other part of me missed Elizabeth and helping her learn new things and go places, like the zoo, or the park or playing in her room. It also made it tougher to keep my house clean and to cook good nutritious meals for her and for Chris, because I was tired when I got home. I have friends who do this all the time, they do an absolutely wonderful job, but I learned something about myself. I am a good multi-tasker at home, but I don't have it in me to be a mom AND a full time employee. I try to give 100 percent to whatever task I am doing it, so to try to give 100 percent to both tasks was more than I could handle.

When Chris found out he was deploying in 2004, he talked me into staying. His logic seems good at the time, that I needed to stay busy while he was gone, so the time would go or I would go nuts at home with Elizabeth all day. But by September 2004, I began realizing that Elizabeth was falling apart and she needed me. I also couldn't keep child care anymore. Elizabeth was not yet diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder yet, so I only knew something was wrong, but not what. So with very little warning to my job, I left. I can't go back to Royal Caribbean, and I'll miss it to an extent, but after Elizabeth was diagnosed, the guilt that wracked me was horrible. I felt as if I had failed my daughter, because I wanted to work. I didn't listen to my instincts and I inwardly flogged myself for failing her and not seeing that she needed help sooner.

I am looking to go back to college and finish up my psychology degree, just so I can be done, and yet I know that between working with the youth group and being a stay at home mom; I know I am right where God wants me at this time. I don't know if I'll ever go back to work -it's possible. It's also possible, I won't until Rebekah is much older. Only time will tell.

For those of you who are mom's and you are torn in two every day you go to work. My heart goes out to you. I understand, I honestly do. I was fortunate that I no longer have to work and we can make it on one salary, but I also realize many of you can't. On the other side of the coin, I also know some of you have to work to be a good mom. It's what makes you a better mom, that eight hour work day gives you a bit of sanity in what would be an insane day for you if you stayed at home.

Have a good week. God Bless and I hope whatever is going on in your life that God opens the doors you need opened.

Love in Christ,

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