Then I read the article further and it struck a deep, vibrating chord inside of me. This woman had given up a promising career as a Broadway performer to be a military wife and mother, stationed in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest, an hour away from the nearest Wal-Mart. Her life was sometimes difficult, often mundane, and definitely not as exciting as Broadway. While she had regrets about not choosing to pursue a bright and fulfilling career, she expressed that it was a regret she could live with over the regret of not raising a family. For her, life has been about choosing which regrets she can live with and be happy with.
And so it seems to have been so in my own life........
*********In high school I was the somewhat "nerdy" girl who busied herself with studying, FFA, 4-H, student government, piano, drama club, and choirs. I had great friends and a lot of fun, but by no means was I popular, athletic, or the social butterfly. Sometimes I regret not focusing on a sport in high school (I wished I would have joined the dive team!). During high school I sometimes regretted being such a straight-laced kid when I spent Friday nights at home while most everyone else was out having a good time. However, as I look back, I would have regretted more not getting into the college of my choice and having most of it paid for through scholarships I received because of my many extra-curricular activities. More than going to parties or pursuing sports to which I have no talent (as IF I could be a diver! Ha!), I would have regretted not having the 5 amazing years I did at BYU with the most amazing friends and experiences. (It's also nice to not have any regrets of doing dumb things as an inebriated teenager) So really, I am happy with the regrets I took away with me from high school. They were well worth it.
After my third year of college, I had a decision to make: continue in nursing school and go on a study-abroad, or put off my schooling for 18 months to serve a mission for my church. I really had wanted to go on a mission since high school, but when the time came to go, the decision was difficult to make and I felt something telling me to stay. So I did. Sometimes I still regret that I did not serve a mission for my church at that time. What wonderful experiences and personal growth did I miss out on? What awesome people could I have met and what country could I have been called to serve in? However, during those 18 months that I finished nursing school, I met life-long friends, spent 6 wonderful weeks in Argentina as a nursing student, and became best friends with some guy named Garrett. I may regret not having served a mission, but my regret would have been deeper to have missed out on meeting the love of my life and the experiences I had that last 18 months of my schooling.
I put my education to good use and have worked as a nurse to support our family over the past 6 years. I have had tender, stressful, heart-wrenching, and triumphant experiences and have felt very fulfilled serving my patients in ICU, oncology, Alzheimer's, pediatrics, and adult medical-surgical. A lot of sacrifice has gone into doing what I do and while it is difficult and completely draining, I am so grateful for my career choice. There is no moment more sacred then holding someone's hand when they pass from this life to the next. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone make a full recovery to health when they had been at death's door weeks before. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you helped to save someone's life.
For the past 6 years I have enjoyed my work but since becoming a mother, I have worked out of a necessity to pay the bills and put my husband through school. Over the past few months the light at the end of the tunnel has grown closer and the possibility of experiencing life as a stay-at-home mom has grown brighter. As this milestone in my life has come closer, the decision which used to seem like a no-brainer has suddenly become the most difficult one I've ever faced. To quit working would mean a much tighter budget and less money for the "extras" in life. Managing tight budgets is nothing new to me, but I am a penny-pincher who stresses over finances and who also longs for a little kid-free, tropical getaway with Garrett. I would regret letting go of the financial security and the extra things if I stopped working. Most difficult, however, would be the decision to let go of what has largely been who I am for nearly 10 years. I am a nurse. I am a good nurse. I worked hard to become a nurse. I am (usually) a wicked-good IV starter. I'm also pretty good with an NG tube. I love my co-workers. I love my patients. I work my little tush off to keep my patients safe and comfortable and I do the extra things that help them to feel cared for and loved while they are in their most vulnerable and scary moments. I LOVE being a nurse and I would regret it if I let that part of me go........
.......but I regret not being present for my daughter's first steps. I regret not seeing my girls for several days at a time each week. I regret the fact that my daughters don't have a lot of consistency in their schedule and that I am too drained to really be present for them after I have worked several days in a row. I regret that after a few days of working, my children are more likely to shy away from me than run into my arms to welcome me home. I regret that my sweet baby first used the word "mama" in reference to her grandmother and that she will go to my mom over me any day (though there is no one more worthy of her affection). I haven't had a choice but to work and I have trusted that the Lord will make up for all I haven't been able to do or haven't been present for while I've been working. That piece of faith has been comforting when I have felt those regrets. But now? Now I have a choice. I can choose which regrets I want to live with, which regrets I can live with, which regrets I can bear to carry with me throughout my life.
And so today I made my choice. To weeks from this Saturday I will become--for the first time--a 100% full-time, stay-at-home mom.
(It's all for these three, beautiful people.)