Turning in my key

A couple of months ago, my husband and I got to talking about our little family.  And how constrained our time is with him in school and me working.  We both wished we had more time at night to be with each other, serve people at church and just have personal down-time.

We could see some light at the end of the tunnel for Charming–he graduates in two weeks!!!

But my tunnel was still dark.  Even though I had scaled back to working just one night a week, it still added up and limited our availability to each other and to the people we’re trying to serve.

And then.  Bubbers started riding around in his plastic car, waving and saying, “Goodbye!  I’m going to work!” or “Goodbye!  I’m going to Cub Scouts!” or “I can’t play with you, cause I’m going to work and Cub Scouts!”

Wow.  I was seriously only gone for one hour and ten minutes of his waking life each week.  But watching me leave right before his bedtime twice a week was clearly making a big impression on little Bubbers’ mind.  And it wasn’t the impression I wanted.

So then we reevaluated the reason I started working in the first place…  To help pay off debt from selling our last house at a significant loss.  And amazingly, Heavenly Father has blessed us to pay off a lot of it!  We still have a ways to go and now have student loans on the horizon, but we no longer felt it was a necessity for me to work and it would be best for our family to have me stop.

And honestly?  I was torn.  I really felt like I had the perfect job that allowed me to be a full-time mom at home with a few hand-picked hours out in the professional world.  I wanted to hold onto it and had even convinced myself that it was a job I should keep forever because I’d never find another one like it.  And that after we didn’t “need” it anymore, I would hold onto it “just for fun”.

But deep down, I knew I shouldn’t.  So.  I finally told my boss that I was going to quit.

And you know what she did?

She cried.

And not because she was going to miss me.  But because she was so happy I’d made that decision.

“I’m so touched to see you make your family your top priority,” she told me as she wiped her unexpected tears.  “I decided to make a career my priority early in my family life and now I have regrets.  So I truly honor that you’re doing this.”

I just stared at her.  Absolutely speechless.

Then she smiled, “And if you ever want to come back down the road, our door is always open to you.”

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So.  Last week was my last night at work.  I turned in my key, packed my bags and went home.

And you know what?  I’m glad. :)

I love being a speech-language pathologist.  But I love being a wife and mom better.

And you know what Bubbers said while he was playing with his helicopter named Harold yesterday?

“‘I have time to play with you!’ said Harold.  ‘It’s my last day of work and church and Cub Scouts and school!  So now I have time to play with you!  I’m gonna stay home with you now!’ said Harold.”

Then I peeked around the corner at him and smiled.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us now.  And it sure looks good. :)

My Greatest Accomplishment

(Note: All names are changed whenever I talk about work).

Last week, I mentioned that I’ve cut back to working just one night a week and I really love it.  It’s just enough, yet not too much–you know what I mean?

I have just two clients and I love them both.  We’ve developed great rapport and they’re both smart, engaging and hard-working little kids.  We have a good routine going and I’m usually able to keep my work time down to exactly 2 hours.

Then a couple weeks ago, I was thrown a curve ball…

“Pediatric Therapy, this is Janet,” the front desk aide answered.

“Hi, Janet, it’s Heidi,” I replied, making my routine call in to the clinic before work that evening, “How do things look for me tonight?”

“Hi, Heidi!” Janet said, “One of your clients had to cancel, so we found a fill-in client.  Do you remember Jared?  You did his evaluation a couple months ago.”

“Jared, yeah, I remember him,” I replied.

“I’ll pull his file for you to look over when you come in,” Janet offered.

“Thank you, that would be great!” I smiled.

As I drove into work later that evening, I tried to remember what I’d recommended for his treatment goals.  I recalled that Jared had a cleft palate at birth that had been repaired through surgery.  But he still had velopharyngeal insufficiency (or VPI).  This VPI allowed air to escape into his nasal cavity during speech which decreased the loudness level of his voice and made it sound hypernasal.

Aha! I remembered, Loudness level!

I had written goals for Jared to produce more loudness when speaking.

After reaching the clinic, I entered my office and gathered a few materials for our session.  Then Jared arrived and we chatted for a bit until I introduced our goals for the session and we began therapy.  Jared worked well for me and steadily progressed through the increasingly difficult speech tasks I presented.

Toward the end, I pulled out one of my favorite speech tasks:

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Heidi’s Question Jar

It’s a jar of random open-ended questions that I save as one of my more “difficult” speech tasks.  For this task, the child has to mentally process and answer an open-ended question while utilizing their new skill at the same time (in Jared’s case, this new skill was speaking with more loudness).

As I read the questions outloud to Jared, I silently reflected on what I would answer if someone had asked me these questions…..

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Oooh, I wish I could remember everything.  Everything about my entire life.

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Really, really cold.  You can always put more on, but you can only take off so much.  Plus being hot makes me cranky.

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Ha!  What do I NOT worry about?

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Hm, I’ve never thought about that before…  Huh, I think right here.

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Wow.  What a great question.

If I’d been asked this question three years ago, I don’t know what I would have said.  But it probably would have had something to do with my education or career.

But now.  When I read this question, the answer is immediate and absolute.  And priceless.

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Them.