Here are some updated photos of Makenna, Enjoy! (Thanks Linda!) Some people are wondering whether she’ll have red hair. In some lights there’s a hint but other times it looks brown.
Grandma Linda holds Makenna while Evan, Elyse, and Ryan hang out!
When I pictured myself being a wife and mother, I had always pictured myself being home with my children when they were little. Ryan and I had discussed this when we talked of having kids and he was supportive of me wanting to be home with our children. With this in mind, early on in our marriage, we were intentional about putting money into savings so I could take time away from my career to be home. Then life happened and Ryan was out of a job. Luckily, when Ryan was laid off, I was still working despite having wanted to be home with baby Evan. My old boss (“old” as in former, not “old” as in elderly), Mike, had challenged me when I was pregnant with Evan to consider coming back to work for a few months until Ryan found out whether he was safe in his next job layoff. He reminded me that if Ryan didn’t get laid off in the next round, I could always quit then. So I had gone back, not because I wanted to, but because it was the wise thing to do. Mike was right in his advice as during the next round of layoffs, Ryan was laid off. Instead of being home with my son, I was now the sole breadwinner, and continued to be so for almost a year. As Ryan struggled to find a job in a tough economy, I started to wonder whether I would ever be able to stay home with our kids. Would Ryan be the full-time stay-at-home parent? Would our savings, originally intended to subsidize me being home with the kids, evaporate due to job issues?
After two and a half years of juggling being a wife, mother, and full-time mental health professional, the time has come where I will be home full-time with my kids! Although this is something I’ve wanted for years, now that it’s finally arrived, I not only feel excited and grateful, but also hesitant and nervous to leap into this new phase. There’s a sense of sadness and anxiety that come along with this opportunity. I’ve been a therapist for hurting teenagers for so long and I love my job. Will I do a good job being home with two little ones? Will I lose my professional skills and instincts? Will there be a job in my field or with DYC for me when I choose to come back? Will we be okay financially? How much of my identity have I drawn from my career? Will I go crazy with less adult interaction and the monotony that comes with child care and keeping up the house? There have been many things to ponder, but despite these musings, I am moving forward and taking the step to be at home.
I am excited to be here day in and day out with my little ones. I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time during the day working with Evan on eating more types of foods and helping him “catch up” on some of the other skills he’s lagging on. And being present for Makenna’s firsts (and working really hard to get her to say “Mama” first instead of “Dada” like her brother did! : ) Ha!). I’m looking forward to having more opportunities to connect with other young moms and being able to get housework done more efficiently so our weekends don’t revolve around to-do lists and chores. I’m also taking the step to get involved in an in-depth Bible study again, something I’ve needed for awhile now. So there are so many familial and individual benefits of being able to stay at home.
And I want my husband and kids to feel like they get the best of me rather than the leftovers after long and often stressful workdays. My line of work is relational and requires you to show up on so many levels. And a lot of times you see the dark side of humanity. It can be incredibly emotionally draining, even with great boundaries and the ability to compartmentalize. My heart has broken many times for the kids I’ve worked with and the lives they’ve had. I’ve been honored to walk along side them as they explored their issues, worked on making changes, and glimpsed the future they could have. Although at times I resented my singleness, I’ve since become so thankful that I had years where my focus was undivided and I could invest a lot at work. There are many in my field who are able to give a lot at work and at home in a balanced way, but there are others who struggle to cope with the darkness and traumas inherent in working with high-risk teenagers and their families and are unable to find a good balance. Many divorce, struggle with addictions, or become cynical and dark themselves…Some struggle to find ways to maintain hope and a belief that life is good, change is possible, and people aren’t all cruel to each other or all out to con or abuse someone. In all honesty, I’ve seen my perspective darken some regarding people and have grappled with how my belief in a loving, all-powerful God can co-exist with all the suffering, pain, and abuse that happens, especially to children. Being with Evan and Makenna and engaging in healthy friendships really helps challenge my perspective on people and relationship issues. Those heavier, philosophical and theological questions aren’t as easily addressed. I think it’s something I will always wrestle with being in my field, but honestly, isn’t that what faith is all about? Believing despite having questions and doubts at times?
I’m sure I’ll find a balance of how to do this type of career with having a family, but for right now, I want to be able to give my time, my commitment, and my emotions primarily to my family. And Evan and Makenna will only be little for such a short time (I can’t believe they’re already 2 ½ and 2 months old already)! Work will always be there, hurting teenagers and their families will always exist—unfortunately, but my little kids won’t always be little. So as of September 6, 2011, I no longer work for the Division of Youth Corrections and am home full-time. Let a different kind of adventure begin!
Last year we celebrated my mother’s 60th birthday (belated). One way we honored her was creating a Shutterfly photo book. If you’ve never made one, it is really fun, and a great individualized gift for anyone on your shopping list. In the book, we put pictures of our family, pictures of Mom, and our thoughts and feelings about how much she means to us.
As we’ve mentioned before, we named Makenna after my mother by giving her my mother’s middle name, Linnea. Thought we’d share some of the reasons why she is so special to us by printing a few of the entries from the Shutterfly book:
Mom, I love your tender, sensitive heart. You are always so careful to make sure you don’t hurt or offend others and your tears show how much you easily and deeply feel others’ pain. I know I used to tease you about how easy you could tear up, whether it be from watching a long distance commercial or seeing the last few minutes of a movie, but now I’m saddened that I teased you as I truly admire your tender heart and your unabashed vulnerability. You are so comfortable with who you are, tender emotions and all, and are willing to be yourself, even when people tease you!
I adore how creative you are! I love that you have used your creativity so many different venues over the years, whether it be coming up with games for us to play when we were little that taught us new concepts, making quilts, arranging flowers, or coming up with clever assignments for your students!
I also admire how natural being a mother and a grandmother comes to you. I love watching you with Evan and learn so much on how to take good care of him and make him laugh! It puts me at ease to know that I can pick up the phone, day or night, if I don’t know what to do as a new mom.
I love how you refuse to become bitter or overwhelmed from the difficult times we’ve had as a family. No matter what, you’ve believed that God has good for us, and that His good, loving, and faithful heart will be revealed to us regardless of tough circumstances. You are steadfastly full of hope, joy, and peace and it is contagious!
Mom, I so enjoy your zest for life! Whether its laughing over the phone when I mess up a family recipe or getting hyper and competitive together while playing cards, I so enjoy laughing together.
I love you! ~Elyse
Why Nana is the Most Amazing Grandma in the World!
1. She treats each moment with me like a treasure, even the middle-of-the-night moments!
2. She searches high and low for the perfect gift for me (hockey ducks, fancy mobile, recorded books, etc.).
3. When I arrived unexpectedly, it took three people sitting on her to keep her from rushing to Colorado to meet me, even though it could have jeopardized her job!
4. She’s like the energizer bunny, she just keeps going and going! She can entertain me and make me laugh for hours and hours.
5. She offers my mom great parenting and child-care advice.
6. She takes tons of pictures of me from creative angles (capturing my feet, my belly button, my ears, my nose, etc.) and shows them to anyone that will look at them!
7. She loves me so much that she had to have me in her Christmas picture/letter.
8. She has to see me multiple times a year and is willing to spend the time and money to do so!
9. She takes me for long, bumpy walks!
10. She’s not scared of my poopy butt!
From Evan, Nana’s First Grandchild
My brother, Drew, is a much better writer than I am. His words about my mother were few but profound:
You have been blessed with an enormous heart, bursting with love for others.
In watching you I have learned the incredible gift of helping others, and seeing the good in people.
You have always believed in all of your children, always wanted us to reach for our dreams.
You never gave up on us, and when times were tough you were there with encouraging words and unconditional love.
You have given us the courage to shine bright like the stars in this sometimes dark world.