I Was a Career Woman Until Suddenly I Wasn't, And I'm Completely Content With That

I Was a Career Woman Until Suddenly I Wasn't, And I'm Completely Content With That

I thought I knew what I wanted but I was nowhere near close.

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I'll be the first one to tell you I never imagined any of this- I never thought I would be in my late twenties, rocking two babies on the side porch of our home in the country. I never thought I would lie on my back on a blanket by a trellis of muscadine vines while my daughter played on the handmade wooden swing behind me and my son nibbled on fallen grapes.

You see, I was supposed to be the career girl.

I graduated top of my college class in only three years. I took every AP course there was available to me in high school. I stayed up late on Friday nights not because I was out partying, but because I desperately wanted to make an A+ on my Monday morning exams. Since I discovered my ability to write at an early age, I had done nothing but dream of becoming a famous author. I filled blue notebook after blue notebook with short stories, creating enough to fill up an entire cardboard box by the time I finished elementary school.

After college, I took a job as a technical writer back in my hometown. It was fulfilling and paid well enough, but it wasn't my dream job. That concept was always in the back of my mind: the "dream job." I would come home from work utterly exhausted and suffering from carpal tunnel but immediately after dinner, I would be pounding the keyboard again, working away tirelessly at the next great American novel. I was convinced that if I could just create characters that were interesting enough, charming enough and special enough, I could create a best-seller. Then, that best-seller would be turned into a cinematic treasure. Then, I would win a Pulitzer and an Oscar. It was the dream, I tell you.

I never got too far into that novel, though. Our daughter was born when I was 28 and our son came 23 months later. Suddenly, that mental urge I had to win the rat race was replaced with a maternal urge to nest and nurture my children as much as possible. I decided to stay home with them as soon as I delivered my firstborn in the hospital. I called my bosses and through tears, told them I had decided to step down. My projects, the ones I had planned on completing as soon as my maternity leave was up, would need to be given to someone else. I would be back in the office in a few weeks to pack up my desk, the one I had painted cherry red early one morning before work.

At first, I ran myself ragged: I tried to stay up and write after the kids went to sleep, I asked my parents, siblings, spouse and every friend I had to help me watch them so I could sneak away to a coffee shop a few times a week and knock out a few more pages.

The catch? I missed them like crazy when I was away.

I called constantly to check in, found myself browsing Pinterest for baby ideas more than I was actually working, and glanced at my phone every ten seconds to see if anyone had called. I even researched the legalities of installing a camera in our home to monitor my brood remotely when I was away, like we had done when we boarded our pup. It was all becoming too much and I was becoming a bit of a crazy person.

In short, I was dually consumed. I wanted to be the best writer I could possibly be, but I also wanted to be the best mother. I wasn't quite 30 and I was feeling the strain of a lifetime of commitments. I woke up one morning, however, with clarity.

At least for the time being, these are my characters. This is my story. No, the tale will never leave the confines of my heart and no one will ever read about us at the local bookstore. We won't go down in history for flying a kite in the backfield at two in the afternoon, while the pecan tree blows in the breeze and clothes dry on the line. No one will settle in with a cup of coffee and delve into the story about how we went to the library every Thursday, the same barbecue restaurant for chicken and dumplings every Tuesday, and the playground almost every evening in the summer of 2017.

But as the writer and the teller of these moments, I can't help but be so richly rewarded by them.

I may have given up my career temporarily, but the fact is that the keyboard will always be there, waiting for when I'm ready to pick it back up again. I have no doubt that the day will come when I am, indeed, ready. For now, though? I'm content to move from narrator to observer for the time being. I'll observe how the morning sunlight streams in through his hair when he's just stirring in his crib. I'll notice how her dimples show up when she's laughing with her head thrown back, hanging onto the monkey bars.

As my favorite song goes: "My only excuse for not doing enough? I was too busy being in love."

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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We All Need An 'In Color' Conversation, While We Still Can

The best way to keep memories is to pass them down.

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I love country music, especially a little older country music that tells a true story. One of my favorite songs from any genre is "In Color" by Jamey Johnson. It's one of the most relatable songs for anyone from any background. As you listen to it you feel the descriptions and the emotions Johnson is trying to get across.

Jamey Johnson - In Color YouTube

The song starts out with a grandkid asking about a picture and if it's his granddad. A simple question that can start a vast conversation and pass down memories of old times. This specific picture causes the grandfather to start speaking on the tough times in the 1930s and life on a cotton farm. For me, I can feel the same way that Johnson felt hearing the memories his grandfather passed down to him because my grandfather has told me the same memories about growing up in the south in the 1930s on a large piece of farmland.

The second verse goes into the grandfather showing a picture of him and his tail gunner Johnny McGee. He gives the information that McGee is a teacher from New Orleans and he had his back throughout the war. Though my granddad has never gone into anything that happened overseas in Korea, he will tell you stories for days about Camp Roberts in California. There's even a large picture of Camp Roberts hanging in his house. It's understandable he won't talk about what happened overseas because some Veterans will just tuck it away and it's how they handle it; however, hearing the tales about his basic training, his time on a boat headed overseas, and seeing pictures in his uniform still mean a lot to me.

My favorite story he talks about is how he was used to running the fields on a farm just outside Phenix City and was used to running in the heat, but the guys from up north(especially Chicago and New York) would drop like flies from the dry California heat.

The third and final verse describes a picture from their wedding. According to the granddad, it was a hot June that year before telling how red the rose was and how blue her eyes were. For most anyone, you will hear about your grandparents' wedding day and possibly see some pictures. My granddad to this day still talks about how blonde my grandmother was back then. It just helps bring my emotions more into the song.

The one thing Johnson does say in the song that most people feel when hearing these stories or looking at black and white pictures is "A pictures worth a thousand words, but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered, you should have seen it in color." There's a lot of stories I've heard from either my parents or grandparents and wished I could have been there.

The music video for the song is so simple as well yet one of the best music videos I have ever seen. It starts in Black and white with Jamey Johnson sitting on a stool playing an acoustic guitar surrounded by hundreds of black and white pictures. It just brings the entire vibe of the song together. After the second chorus, the video starts to change from black and white to colorized and you see the pictures in their true colors.

The first time I had a true "In Color" conversation my step-granddad on my mom's side who was the only granddad I had known for that side of the family was declining in health. I was 9 or 10 and an in-home nurse had been talking to him about all his life experiences and told me to go in and talk to my Paw Paw about them. I learned about his father died when he was 14 by getting kicked by a mule and about his many years of service in the National Guard. At that time I never realized how major that was but as I look back those are the moments I cherish and I will pass down those memories as well as the numerous times he'd run your feet over with his electric scooter.

In eighth grade, I did a project on my dad's father and pulled out a box of old black and white pictures. These pictures ranged from him as a boy, his great grandfather, his first car, him in his service uniform, on up to him in suits on his business trips for the Columbus mills. I was older then and around the time I cherished learning more about his life and wish I knew where that box was just to have a look again.

A couple years ago around my 21st birthday, I had an "In Color" conversation with my mother about my dad looking through pictures while drinking Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine. It had almost been two years since my father's death and though I'd had plenty of conversations about his high school days on the football field playing for ol' Dickie Brown to stealing Mr. Gays Batmobile to getting three licks pretty often. I'd even heard these stories from different friends of his from high school and hearing different sides makes you feel more and more like you were there. As we sat there looking at pictures my mom told my wife Sarina who hadn't heard many of the stories and I knew and old stories about her life and my dad's life till 4 in the morning.

In conclusion, pictures can be passed down from generation to generation but unless you go through and talk about them then you won't pass down the story happening in the pictures. It is especially important just to sit down with a grandparent, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or an elder from your church or community to learn wisdom and about their life. I've had times I'll see an older couple or just an elder sitting alone at a restaurant and will pay for their meal(even if you can tell they have the money it's just a respect thing) or just talk to them. It can usually make their day and make them happy to share about their life with you if they don't have anyone else to. So let's keep the memories alive!

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