Last spring a friend of mine was abruptly forced to make a career change. She had a job that was fulfilling to her that she was extremely passionate about, that she felt she was called to do. Leaving her position left her broken and questioning her life choices. I spoke to her shortly after this experience and she shared with me that she didn’t know what she would do when the vocation she had choosen as her life’s work was taken away from her.
“This is my life’s calling” she said.
It was then that I said what I’ve been carrying with me since last year.
“Just becuase you are called to do something doesn’t mean you are called to do it right now. I know I am called to be a school psychologist but I know that right now my focus and passion needs to be on my family, and I can’t be invested fully in both and do them both well.”
It was a sentiment I’d never expressed out loud to someone else, but it was something I felt deeply.
My friend is now in a new job, that she is thrving in and at which she is very successful. Perhaps a new calling for her.
Our conversation has echoed in my head many times recently, especially last Monday. I walked into the office of my mentor, the woman who actively recruited me to come work for her, my boss of nine years…and quit my job. I cried and laughed with her and while she was a bit surprised, she understood and was truly happy for me.
I have been a school psychologist for 14 years and in June I will pack up my office for the summer one last time. In my first week on the job (as an intern in a school by myself no less) planes flew into the Twin Towers. Two years ago, Adam Lanza shot his way into a school and changed the lives of an entire community, and maybe the world. My job is hard. Mentally, physically, emotionally. It takes me away from my children during the day, sometimes into the night, on weekends, and when my head is on that one kid to whom I can’t break through. I hope I’ve changed the lives of some of the children with whom I’ve worked. Kids with messed up lives, learning disabilities, or mental health issues don’t often come back to thank you. It’s one of the sacrifices of the job. I also hope that in my work with my school kids I haven’t damaged my relationship with my kids at home. Sometimes I wonder.
So I am choosing to put my focus where it should be. I am fortunate enough that with careful planning and a lot of truth about our spending and financial goals I was able to walk away from my first calling to dive head first into my second. My children are my life’s work, my school psychology career is a job. One I was called to, yes, but not one that I will do to the potential detriment of my girls.
As parents we make difficult choices every day that impact our kids. I think sometimes we know that we are making a choice that is not in their best interest, whether it be a forced choice or not. I’ve learned that choosing wisely for my kids is one of the best gifts I can give them. We might be cutting back on some of the finer things to make this decision work for a while (forever?). No more eating out, more clothes from consignment, no more family vacations. What we gain though, can’t be bought. Time as a family free from the distractions of someone else’s kids is priceless. That is something I’m really passionate about.