I’ve noticed that I’m healing differently this time. Certainly, I’m gonna have a scar (metaphorically speaking) but I feel… better, I think? I do know taking the extended leave from work was one of the wisest decisions I made. I think it came to me in the parking lot after the ultrasound — I hate the finality of that… the ultrasound… the one that ended it, that crushed our hearts — and before we even made it to the car, my mind was made up. I needed to be out of work. I wasn't going to get on with life and bury it. I tried that last time, and I almost landed in a dark oblivion. I was going to take some time for me and for my family. And it has helped so much.
This past weekend, five days after surgery, Jake and I spent a day in Chapel Hill again for another one of his seminars for school (ironically- this must have been where we conceived last time- TMI, but important to understand the emotional weight of the place. It’s a place where we’ve made happy memories together), and it was good to be back in a place feels okay. UNC’s campus was brimming with busyness — squirrels frolicking, pink and white dogwoods in full bloom, and college kids buzzing between classes in Keens and Vineyard Vines tees. I happily blended in while Jake attended his meeting, cozying up in the library after a healthy walk, then getting my nails done, window shopping on Franklin, and enjoying a salad for lunch. I would say time alone is dangerous, but not like this. Time alone at home in bed is dangerous. This is living again and seeing life continue. Without needing to explain anymore, I enjoyed the day.
That afternoon, Jake and I ventured to a little town we had never heard of nearby to stay the night in a lovely B&B. The hotels were full in Chapel Hill and so our tardy attempt at reservations lead to having to go off the beaten path. And I’m so glad we did! The place was darling. And I told Jake that I actually went a full evening, laughing and smiling, and did not once think of my broken heart. Cuban food, bocci ball, history, art, and new friends. It was perfect.
Since I’ve been home, and now, a full week after surgery, I am mostly back to my normal self, so I have stayed busy. Planting tulips and giving my porch some love and subsequently spending the evenings there rocking, drinking copious amounts of hot tea and coffee, cooking and doing housework again, running errands, and just enjoying being a mother and a wife and daughter and alive. I let her paint my nails. I didn’t fuss when they cut flips in the floor. I let her run outside and catch bees to put in her bug jar. I have just lived happily.
On Saturday we came home and picked up Makinzy and Bella, who are alway both a little more chubby and lazy and sticky after spending time with grandparents, and then on Sunday, my mom and I attended a women’s conference hosted by our church. It was on spiritual gifts. I bought the ticket a few weeks ago and had not even thought about it with all the other things rolling around in my brain. It was so good. Many women, of all ages and circumstances, gathered together for a delicious and dainty lunch, and throughout this time I found myself enveloped in hugs over and over. In the workshop portion of our conference, we worked through some testing similar to Myers-Brigg tests and my spiritual gifts were exhortation and mercy and my personality type was an unusual blend of three of the four categories. Solid-Expressive-Analytical. Meaning that I am 1.) strong-minded, sincere, and warm. 2. talkative, social, and emotional, and 3.) a data-driven, detail-oriented, thinker, planner, perfectionist. Clearly, it was accurate. But couple this with my gifts- exhortation, lifting up others and encouraging them and mercy- empathy and love, and I feel a calling.
You see, back at school on my desk is a paper. A letter of intent for next year. And I’ve avoided it. An October baby was the perfect reason not to go back to work next year, so now, I felt a heaviness on me about my career. What do I do now? Jake and I have talked about it, prayed about it, and after the conference, I now feel a confidence. The amount I am actually bringing into our household is very small due to the gas it takes for me to travel to work. I am on the road so much. I spend so much time in my car, that I am cheating out my life as a mom and wife. My gifts of mercy and exhortation are poured out in the classroom, and by the time I get home, I am ready to collapse. I have nothing left for Makinzy, who needs more mercy that I have left to give most nights. So, I feel ready to make the jump. I am applying for a teaching job close to home. Where Makinzy can ride a bus to my school, where I will be surrounded by church family, and where I will spend 10 minutes commuting rather than an hour or more. And in that time, Jake and I will spend that salary paying down some medical debt, our vehicles, and adjusting to living off just his pay, so when I need to stay at home with a baby, it will be easier. And if a job doesn’t open up, I’ll do something local until then. I feel so relieved about this. So okay. I
It’s hard to say how the conference helped me work through all this, but it did. I guess it just reminded me of who I am and what God has called me to be. It has also opened up a door for a new Sunday School class which I am eager (I know, me? Eager for Sunday School!?) to go to. I have always felt like a black sheep in Sunday School because I don’t fit into the traditional class divisions. I was a teenager (youth group) planning a wedding, then a college student with a husband and a mortgage, and now I am a perpetually un-pregnant 26 year old mama to a 9 year old, hormone-ravaged little preteen with emotional baggage. I have trouble relating to couples in coed classes, and I don’t think I can stand watching families grow as each week someone else in the class announces a new baby and then week by week grows before my eyes, reminding me visually of all the milestones we do not get to experience. It tempts me to envy and to be angry, and that’s not what I want or who I want to be. So the class I am hoping to visit, and maybe like, maybe love attending is one made up of women ages 30 (Gosh, how weird that I’m “close enough” now…) to 70-somehting. Full of marrieds, never marrieds, divorcees, those separated, those who are moms, and those who are not. A room full of wisdom. Of I’ve been theres. I think it’s a place where I can exhort and be exhorted. I am eager.
To close, an accurate summary of my current place would be coexisting. In me right now, there is a coexistence of happiness and grief. Contentment and sorrow. Trepidation and confidence. I had no idea I could embody such a strange dichotomy.