Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

11 May 2010

Epiphany defines EPIPHANY as

a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

And I have recently had one.  I mentioned here about being in transition this year from having small children at home to having those children at school and how this year bridges those two states of being with our youngest son at Kindy for two days a week.  It has been surprisingly and unexpectedly difficult, not because I was experiencing the first phase of my nest emptying, but because I have been troubled about deciding what the new normal would look like once both boys are well and truly ensconsed in school life.  Basically, should I return to paid work or not?

After stumbling about for an entire school term wrestling with work options, whether we need or want the extra income, the impact the extra income would have on family life and the impact NOT having the extra income would have and a whole bunch of other stuff, I suddenly came to a decision a little over two weeks ago.  An epiphany.  It now seems so blindingly obvious that I don't know how I could have possibly missed itI've made a decision and it isn't the one I was expecting to make. 

I have decided to stay home.  I am not going back to paid work any time soon.

It's a long story involving several decisions along the do relief teaching, do relief as a teacher's assistant and then to work for a local university as a supervisor of student teachers.  The last option was (and remains) my favourite.  I have been in reasonably frequent email contact with someone at the university in question making all sorts of inquiries and was so close to getting this ball rolling that I had arranged referees. 

And truth be told, it is a job that I would LOVE.

And then I did the maths.  Not the financial maths.  The maths of time.

I would like to try to guard the day my husband has off so that we can have a day off together.  I need to keep a day free to spend time with my mum.  I want to keep teaching Scripture at school.  I want to keep up with the mothers' group I run out of our church.  There are some dear church folk who I want to visit for a cuppa.  There are other friends to see as well.  And I want to be available for listening to kids read at school, preprimary mum's duty, canteen duty...

I just ran out of days.  When I realised this, my initial reaction was, "Oh..."

I came to realise that I had been imagining all the time I would have once our youngest is at school full time.  But his going to school doesn't actually create days.  The days remain the same - just without him in tow.  How could I have missed it?  You should have another read of the definition of "epiphany" at the top of this post now and have a laugh on my account.  Really.  I don't mind.

Couldn't I just squeeze the student supervision into a few afternoons?  Well, yes.  But then my week would be so tightly programmed that there would be no slack in the week.  And that's not good for anyone, especially my household, because I just don't manage stress as well as I used to and anyway, it is good to have some room to move for the sake of spontaneity and crisis.

The big question I asked myself in that original post was, "How as a Christian do I best use the time now given to me to serve God, my family and my community, bearing in mind my own capacities and circumstances?"  Thanks to some beautiful people praying for me, some profound advice, some special conversations with some very caring people and my husband, who fits all of those categories and also showed enormous patience with me as I kept making major, life-changing decisions and then changing my mind on a weekly basis for a while there, and thanks be to God, I now know the answer to this question.

I have decided to stay home.  I am not going back to paid work any time soon.  And I am good with that.


Wendy said...

Thanks for sharing what you have decided Meredith, as many have already commented - there are many of us working through these issues at the moment, and hearing how others have done it is really helpful.

I need to pay attention myself when you say that you were imagining all the time you would have - I often find myself thinking about all the time I would have to do things when my kids all get to school. My husband is already warning me that when that time comes I cannot say 'yes' to everything as I will be tempted to do. There are still only so many days in the week and hours in each day.

I'm glad you are happy with your decision, my guess is - you will love it.

Thanks, Wendy

Helen said...

Well done Meredith, a good decision to have reached for you.

Meredith said...

Thanks Helen - you know our situation well.

And thanks for your comment Wendy. Yes, that thing about the time was quite a revelation! And in realising how little extra time there would be, it became a no-brainer because I can't see the point of squeezing in work and multiplying life stress by 100 which ultimately benefits no-one! Like you say, there is PLENTY to fill the time with and much wisdom is still required.

Thanks for your comment and kind words of encouragement. You are right - I am going to love it. And so will you. God bless.

mattnbec said...

So glad you've made a decision. Funny how you imagine far more time than there really is, isn't it?! I've done that a few times too, so it's nice to know it's not just me who makes such an obvious mistake. And it really does strike me as a great decision for you. Much more relaxed and (sorry - bad pun coming...) workable.

And, fwiw - if you do go back to paid work, uni supervision is something I can see you doing SO well with. Back in the day, I had some baaaaaad prac supervisors and some truly excellent ones. Keep that plan up your sleeve for if/when the season changes. You would truly bless your students.

Eugenie said...

Dearest Meredith
What a good decision. I tried the alternative for a while and it was hard. God will provide for your financial needs. I will pray that you are able to trust him completely and that you and your boys know true contentment. It's amazing how God fills up the days with good things - school, church, community, friends - when you put the time aside for his service. Love from your sister in Christ

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing Meredith.

It's great to hear what you have decided and that you have peace about it.

Meredith said...

Thanks friends.

It strikes me, as I think through it a bit more and reflect upon your kind comments, that what is at play here as well, but at a subconscious level this time (it was more upfront a few years ago), is the final bastion of letting go of an easy entree back into the world of work in the education system.

I am about to lose my final layer of registration as a teacher and to return to teaching will require significant hoop jumping...and hoop jumping that I am not prepared to do - their requirements of returning teachers are insulting in my view. And even the prac supervision job requires at least relatively recent time in the classroom (and Scripture may count here but not sure) so the longer I leave it, the harder it becomes to return to it.

Even so, I feel at peace to finally let go of the safety net and totally trust God for His good provision. And we as a family know well that God does provide.

Simone R. said...

A decision is a wonderful thing. Well done.

Meredith said...

It is indeed. Thanks Simone - for your helpful comments, a post you once wrote about the difference you were noticing in your life with everyone at school and for your prayers. And for your good humoured blog that always raises a smile!

Jean said...

Catching up on my blog reading ...

So glad to hear about your thoughtful and godly decision, Meredith. Praise God for helping you to think through the issues and make a wise decision for his kingdom and your family. Your comments about the time we have with kids in and out of school are spot on! I, too, have come to realise that having kids going back to school doesn't mean instant extra days in the week, although I'd like it to! :)

In Christ,


Meredith said...

Thanks for your encouragement Jean - always. Funny how the obvious is not always so clear to us! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this subject later in the year.