choosing this life


These flowers were a part of our trip to Denver. NOT an indication of the state of my mind. They are lovely, right?

It has been a really long time since I’ve written. I’m sorry about that. Lots of excuses – obviously the two little ones, plus two weeks of travel (I took that photo of flowers when we were in Denver. They are lovely, right?), plus a lot of intense work preparing for an audition, plus other things, blah blah – but now here I am, ready to write again.

Well, sort of. My brain is filled with orchestral excerpts and my laundry has been scattered on the floor by the toddler (this is what I get for not putting it away immediately), and my current clothes have spit-up (newborn) and yogurt (toddler) and marker (toddler) all over them. And also, they are the same clothes that I wore yesterday since I currently only have one pair of jeans that fit. It’s hard to find the mental space and clarity to write anything that’s not a panicked text to my husband: Please pray for us. Both children have been crying for the last hour. I can’t get J to eat any dinner and HG won’t go to sleep. I am losing my mind.

But something interesting happened a few weeks ago. Out of the blue, someone reached out to me about an amazing job opportunity. It was an intense week. She needed to fill the position ASAP, so I thought and prayed and thought and prayed. I updated my resume, sent it in, had phone conversations and an in-person interview (the first question: “What can we do to make this work for you?”) and then made a decision all within nine days. And I don’t do things quickly.

Many things about the job appealed to me.

But I realized that I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices right now that it would require. I still struggle with my desire for a title other than “mother” and “freelancer,” and I still crave being out of the house for eight or nine hours at a time instead of stuck inside scrubbing paint off the table from a failed art project – but when push comes to shove, I don’t want to make the transition just yet, just now, to a full-time job.

The very real possibility of the change was enough to make me realize that even though I have so many (so many!) discontent days at home, it’s because I have not yet learned to be content. It’s not because I don’t want to be content in this life.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

I want to embrace this life.

I want to have the flexibility to be with my kids during the day, to have lunch with my husband when he is between rehearsals and the church office and other projects. When I chose to leave my last full-time job, I did so because I wanted to give myself to my kids and to my other interests (namely, writing and viola) in a dedicated, intentional way.

Now I ask myself: have I done that? Or have I mostly complained about how hard it is? Have I mostly compared myself with my husband, and envied his success? Have I mostly been too intimidated by the difficulty of travel with little ones either to accompany my husband on tour or to simply check out the Central Park Zoo or visit my friends on the Lower East Side?

It was hard for me to say no to this recent opportunity. It was not THE PERFECT job for me, but it was a good job, with good potential. I still have moments when I doubt my judgment in passing it up.

But also, I realize that it gave me the opportunity to choose, again, this life that I am living.

To choose my kids. To choose my other interests (that also means writing this blog!). To choose to embrace this short-lived (!!) time when the kids aren’t yet in school and I can Hannah Grace smilesexplore what the city has to offer. I can spend the entire day without getting dressed and can nurse on the couch at 12:30pm while reading a book on blogging or playing Starfall with Jacob (best preschool app ever, by the way) or just staring into Hannah Grace’s enormous blue eyes. I can choose to cook new recipes for dinner AND dessert or I can choose to spend the day practicing (well, and taking care of the kids) and ask my husband to pick up tacos for dinner on his way home (I swear we keep those carts in business!).

little snappyIt is exhausting, this life, and many (most?) days I do not feel “naturally” cut-out for it or inclined towards it. But when our kids are teenagers, I don’t want to look back on these days and regret. I don’t want to regret staying home only to remember hating it, and I don’t want to wish that I had taken better advantage of the freedom of these days when the schedule is dictated by naptime and nursing instead of school and soccer.

So, what does this mean for me? What should I take advantage of? How do I want to organize my days, what do I want to prioritize?

It’s like New Year’s around here. The opportunity to say NO to this job and YES to this life is rejuvenating, exciting, motivating. But most importantly, I realize that I do feel more content now. The contentment isn’t about what I am doing, but about why I am doing it, and my attitude while doing it. (And it’s also about who I’m doing it for — but that’s another blog post.) I know I need to answer those questions posed above – I need to decide how to organize my days and what to prioritize. I know I will continue to be frustrated some (or most?!) days, and will continue to compare myself to others, longing for their career success, jealous of their promotions and salaries.

But underneath that, I know in a new way, that this life is where I want to be, and this life is where my heart is. I have not learnED to be content, but I am learnING.


September 17, 2014 · 3:35 pm

18 responses to “choosing this life

  1. Kristen

    Thank you, friend. Such a great reminder that every day we can choose this life and be grateful for it. I love your writing. (And your kids are amazingly cute.)

  2. Jonina

    Many lovely thoughts, Leah! I can relate wholeheartedly.

  3. Hannelies

    Thanks for your words. So much of what you said is where I am—it is a wild, incredibly challenging and at moments breathtakingly beautiful journey.

  4. Jessica

    Beautiful post, Leah! You are so open, so honest, so inspiring. The wisdom you shared here is now a part of me that I will carry around to nourish, foster, and feed love to the struggles I face in my own life. Thank you for this beautiful gift. Keep ’em coming, girl!

  5. Eugenia

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed to hear this. So easy to compare the hardships of a new season with the benefits of the last… which is what I’ve been doing for weeks. Thanks for reminding me to choose into this season and to choose to be content.

  6. merrittholmberg

    Thank you. Exactly what I needed to read today.

  7. Laura

    Such wise, true, and thoughtful words, Leah!
    Thank you for this.
    And for what it’s worth, I would hardly EVER visit friends on the LES when I was single, much less with 2 little kiddos!

  8. Pingback: do what it takes | grace in the darkness

  9. Pingback: a year of grace | grace in the darkness

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