Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Recesses of My Life Returning

In my other life, the one before having a baby and getting swept up into art buisness dreams, I was a student in a doctoral program for Marriage and Family Counseling.  It was all I did, all I thought about, it consumed my life.  I was a career girl, driven and focused to reach the peak of my chosen field.  I was good at counseling and even better at academics.  My ego could not have been any bigger.  Even though I was still finishing the Masters portion of my program, I was adopted by one of the more sought after professors in my Dept, and he began mentoring me through my first steps of conducting research and publishing in professional literature for my upcoming doc program.  My interest was in further developing Adventure-Based Counseling and Wilderness Therapy into benefiting couples and families. 

This was a passion of mine and I was throwing all my energy into this project.  And then everything started to change.  A summer mission trip to Haiti and the unplanned arrival of my son the next spring shifted my heart, my mind, and all my focus.  Research and doctoral programs were the farthest things from my mind.  My life now revolved around this new little person that entered my life and my heart and passion became focused on families and wanting to help people more than help my profession through teaching and research.  So I stopped going to school, I stayed home with my son, and 2 years flew by. 

Now I find myself in this strange space of wanting to continue to stay at home raising my son and keep plugging away at building my art buisness, but I have this almost completed Masters degree (1 clinical left to graduate) looming out there in the fringes of my heart and head space.  I have no intention of going to work until all the children we choose to have are all in school, but I have to finish my last clinical in the next 2 years or I cant graduate AT ALL! (there is apparently an expiration date on learning).  I struggle with the choice of when to go back and finish, EVERYDAY.  I know that I have come too far to not graduate, and I know that when my children are older that my passion and focus for practicing counseling with families will probably return, and I dont want to regret not finishing.  So after a lot of family discussion and prayer, my husband and I have decided that I will start back up in the Spring 2011.  What I have to do is do a 2 semester internship, where I practice as a counselor at a clinical site and get weekly supervision from a licensed practitioner.  Then at the end I write a really big paper and get reviewed by the department where they decide to sign off on my graduation or not.  Fun, right? 

My heart is torn,  I want to finish and the thought of doing counseling again is a bit exciting (it is one of the very few things in my life that I feel really good at), and I am really excited to incorporate more art therapy techniques than I had before, but I look into my son's teary eyes on the few times that I leave the house without him now, and I wonder how will I manage to leave him day after day for 8 straight months?  My prayer right now is that I get accepted into a clinical site that allows for night and weekend appointments, so that my husband will be home with him for most of my time away.  So here goes,  I am filling out my application and sending it in today.  No more thinking about it, no more should I or shouldn't I, no more wondering when, it will just be and I will take what comes one day at a time. 

 Trash Art done by my son and I

Any advice from the fabulous working moms is appreciated :)  How do you deal with the separation of your heart and mind?


  1. I stayed home with my kids for 12 years and I just completed my Masters in Education. I am a single mother who is trying to go back to work and thought that being a teacher was a sure thing. As you know, there is nothing really sure in life, BUT (and you know, everything after the but is true) the unconditial lovethat we receive from our children. I am more scared about the changes of returning to work, though my daughter expresses some fear about never seeing me. Kids adapt, grow and continue to love us- Mine did and di even on my CRAZIEST days! We laugh about my inability to handle the stress of single parenting and full time work and school...NOW-I am trying to get a job and just loving each day I get to be with my children (10 & 13) and am so grateful that I finished my program, if not just for me to show them that I finish what I start. Sadly, teachers are being laid off and there are no jobs hopping into my world. So-I respect your choice to finish, will look for responses for I too want to know how those moms do it all-particularly the single ladies with no family like me. I will say art is my therapy and if I can build a life around my kids and my art, I will feel like I have it all :)Your work is inspiring and I thank you for sharing your journey. Best of luck with all you do. You will never regret finishing and will see that when you are done, your kids will be there loving you even more!

  2. harmony, when i read your blog my heart just went out to you. i really feel where you are coming from. i am in the same position and a few of the emails i've gotten from other people sound like their are more people that can relate to your dilema. i'm actually going to be blogging about this myself this week because for some reason topics like this have come up alot lately within the last two weeks and i would like to share my story. again, its so nice to know that we a common thread in some way. we are never alone.

    thanks again for always being so honest with us. i always love reading your blog!

    with heart,
    rita maria

  3. I have always worked and when i had my first son 20yrs ago it was soo hard to leave him and when he was 4 yrs old i decided to stay home to raise him and his 2 brothers that followed, my decision was based on the fact that we where military and that the sitter at the time was not taking care of him properly so I waited till my youngest was 5 and started school to go back parttime a yr ago I lost my Mom and decided that after 10yrs of working nights and weekends i would quit i have enjoyed being home and as i go through some new journeys i know now it was right for me, i do believe that if you have made it this far in education finish it out bc in the long run you have that to fall back on, I dont have a college education and i stress the importance of it to my boys best of luck to you and thank you for always sharing and allowing us to share:O) you are an inspirational spirit:O)

  4. Hi Harmony,
    i found your blog through BYW and Rita Marie. Wow, what a tough decision you face. I wish i had some good advice, but i don't. I decided to leave my job as a RN so I could be with by kids and work on my art, this just happened this past year, we were finally financially able to allow this. I have a 5 y/o and a 2 1/2 y/o. it was hard going to work and leaving them at home, but my husband is self-employed and has a flexible schedule and i was able to leave the kids with him and work in the evenings. i worked part time, and it eventually became a part of our families rhythm, but i always felt like i was missing something and wanted so much to be at home with them. it just felt like it was the right thing to do.
    on the flip side, it would be a shame to let all your hard work and money be lost by not completing your degree. from what i've seen of your artwork, which i enjoyed looking at, it seems you do very well at connecting your artwork and your passion for helping others. if you truly loved what you did before having kids, then you should finish your degree before it is too late and all is lost.
    i'm sorry i haven't been of any help at all, but i feel things happen for a reason and deep down you already know what to do.
    wasn't life was so much simpler before kids!
    best wishes,
    tammy olson

  5. wow! well i really hope that you are able to get what works for you so you can have the best of both worlds - be with your family AND finish your degree in a timely manner.

    your art is beautiful and i love the photo too.


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