On the tail of what was undoubtedly a Grumpy McGrumpPants post about Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to share some happier news. As some of you know, this past year has been challenging not only because we lost Noah, but also because our family was dealing with a lot of change. That change started while my husband was on deployment in 2014.
Over the summer and into that fall of 2014, I can honestly say that our family had never been more stressed. Sure, we’d been through other deployments and other challenges, even ones involving intense loss. But this was different. The hubby was in Baghdad for a stressful mission. Noah was rebelling. We fought constantly. Gavin was incredibly emotional and getting lost in the shuffle. I had a high-stress, full-time job that my kids hated. Late fall, I hit a wall. For the first time in my life as a military spouse, I was completely overwhelmed, trying to perform well at work and hold the family and myself together—and I was failing.
After a lot soul searching, it became obvious to me that my family needed me more than I needed a career at that point in time. My boys were struggling and I felt like I was letting everyone down. With only a few precious years left with them at home (or so I thought), I decided it was time to focus my attention on them and on surviving the deployment. Looking back now, I feel like God was laying the foundation that would prepare me for what would happen the following summer and opening the door to the best six months of my life with Noah. I made the decision to quit my job and focus on my family. I also thought it was probably time for me to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up.
That was 15 months ago. I have continued to consult part-time for my company and I dedicated more time to building my photography business in our new town. But I quickly learned that making a living as a photographer in an area where there are already a billion photographers isn’t the best business plan. I took a class at a local university, explored some freelancing routes, but mostly just enjoyed being at the boys’ beckon call. For years, I felt like I put them second behind my career and it felt so good to be there for them in any way that I could.
My relationship with Noah improved. I could see the tangible results of putting him first. Gavin was happier. Things were actually getting done around the house. Our family was thriving.
Then, June happened.
For the past six months, I’ve felt blessed that on top of everything else, I’ve not had to worry about work. It has allowed me to fully focus on the grief process, evaluating my life and where I’m supposed to go from here. The thing is, losing Noah is only part of that story, I was already on the path to make a change for our family. Now, after more than a year of looking for the glass slipper of a plan, you all have helped me figure it out.
I’ve tried on lots of different things that I thought would fit our goals for the future, but none of them quite felt right. I’ve been turned down for things I thought were a perfect fit and have absorbed that rejection, as if somehow I’m unworthy of success. It wasn’t until I started to hear form you, a lot of you, that I realized that I need to stop trying to do things that feel only half right, and focus on what makes me feel good. Writing makes me feel good. So why not just get better at that?
Critics will argue that a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing is useless, that it really only leads to either teaching or writing. Um, tell me again why this is a bad thing? Some of my happiest professional moments involve both. And I could not make it through losing my child without putting my thoughts on virtual paper. Why not pursue something I actually enjoy?
So this is where my graduate journey begins, like…next week. I am announcing it publicly so that I might actually stay on task, so that you might help me remain accountable. This is a huge step for me, and I feel like God and Noah are both leading me to this place—a place where I can refocus my career on working to live, not living to work. This path that will allow me to continue to be here for Gav and to continue to keep our family afloat as my hubby goes off to rule universe in his Superman suit everyday, all while not losing myself in the process. Thanks, everyone, for giving me the courage and confidence start this journey. Without you, I would not be here.