Archive for April, 2014

Changing Directions

April 27, 2014

It’s been a while, but sometimes in order to see where you are going you have to stop and look back awhile at where you’ve been. Journeys are like that.

How we change, shift, turn, and reinvent. Life has a funny way of altering the tracks just as you are settling in for the ride. At no time is this more evident, I feel, than for women when they have children. Whether planned or unplanned, children intervene on a life formerly lived with sole intentions. They enforce changed priorities, and a re-imaging of a life vision. And not just once, but many times over. Each choice we make represents a fork in the road. Pregnancy, birth, care, work, education, and the minutia of daily choices we make for and because of our children is a path towards the next choice. And so, like stepping stones, they lead us in a direction for which there is no map.

I have recently reinvented myself. Again. Quitting work after Boy 3 and choosing to stay at home full time marked a shift in my stepping stones, and now I have stepped again and am back working away from the home. And a meager few weeks in and I can say I am a better person for it. With the perspective of hindsight, I can see that my experience of being at home full time – and I know this would differ profoundly from that of many other women – has been a rocky one. There are captured moments that enriched my heart and made it all seem worthwhile, but there were also hours of tears and struggle and an esteem that seemed painfully lost. It is true that parenting is largely thankless, and perhaps, for some of us, the more that is put into it the less thanks is noticeably received. You do not get praise, nor encouragement. And somehow, even though I knew I wouldn’t and was never really expecting it, the lack of it hit hard.

But now I find myself outside the home for many hours during the week working, in a way ironically, in childcare and the degrees of achievement, encouragement, praise and recognition I have received in a short time outshine the three years I have been away from paid employment. It is not the money (we all know how pitifully those in the care industry are remunerated). It is having others acknowledge me for my capabilities. I have demonstrated capabilities at home, but they are assumed capabilities: taken for granted requirements of the job. Here, in my new environment, I find my esteem gradually rebuilding, my confidence resurfacing, thanks to a sense of acknowledged achievement.

Just as a tree needs earth, water and sunshine to grow, so too perhaps some of us require more elements to flourish. Add another ingredient to the mix and see what results. It is all experimentation, after all: new steps on a path uncharted. Children can provide inspiration for the steps. They can contribute to the cycle of collapse and rebuild that evolves, ultimately, into growth. 

With another change in direction, I am reaching my branches out to the sky for air and it feels good to be growing upwards again.