Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Making my way across the monkey bars

For years, I have thought that crossing a set of monkey bars was a lot like going through life. It is an absurdly simple analogy, but it works for me. It goes something like this: when I was a kid and I had my recess time, I would make my daily attempts to cross from one side of the monkey bars to the other. I quickly realized that in order to make it across the monkey bars, I had to keep moving. I had to release my sweaty palm from the bar behind me and reach for the bar in front of me. If I stalled out and hung between two monkey bars, it inevitably led to me falling off them. There were lots of reasons I would stall out; fatigue, lack of determination, inattention, or just plain old fear that if I let go of one monkey bar, I wouldn't have the strength to get to the next one. I learned to keep moving forward at all times to ensure I would make it to the other side, and most of the time, I did.

For me, getting across the monkey bars is a lot like life. In order to avoid falling off my path, there are moments I need to let go of one bar, and reach for another.....I have just reached one of those moments....and it is REALLY SCARY!

I have been gainfully employed since I turned 18 years old. I don't think I have ever gone more than a couple of weeks without a paycheck. All of that is about to change.

My department recently arrived at a critical staffing shortage. The Tuesday through Friday, 8 to 6, DARE officer schedule that I was supposed to have when I returned to work in two weeks, just went out the window. My department informed me that they now needed me to work 12 hour shifts, including every Sunday. Anyone who has had their child in daycare, knows how difficult it is to find daycare with normal hours. Daycare with unusual hours, such as the schedule I was just given, is nearly impossible. After spending literally hours on the computer and phone, I only found one facility that even came close and they are closed on Sundays. Even more problematic, they have a 6 to 9 month wait list.

We can't quite afford a nanny, nor do we really want one. Sophia seems to really like us and has grow accustomed to our presence, but three months is not sufficient time for her to have a third party come in and be her new primary caregiver. We fear that she would be totally confused and are certain it would significantly slow down the critical bonding process that is unfolding on a daily basis.

My request to take unpaid leave in order to give us time to ride out the wait list at the alternative daycare was denied. That left us we few alternatives. Short of strapping a ballistic vest on Sophia, adding a baby seat to the back of my patrol car, and dragging her along on my calls, there weren't really any alternatives. No doubt about it, I was faced with one of those monkey bar moments.

The solution, of course, was for me to resign. I have done just that.

Regrets? I have a few.....it is strange for me to no longer think of myself as a cop. When I became a police officer, it changed who I was, and not always for the better. Colin has said on more than one occasion, "Quit talking to me like I'm a suspect!" Shamefully, I have to admit he is right. When nearly every person I encountered while I was working lied, it is easy to forget that my friends and family don't fall in that category.

I learned that Police officers have their own culture and even have their own language. It is going to take a long time to get out of the habit of constantly scanning my surroundings. I think it is likely I will always notice that there is a dirtbag in the car next to me, that the little old lady behind of me is not wearing her seat belt or that a car in front of me has a tailight out, thus giving me probable cause to pull the driver over......if I still had a badge that is. For over four years, my identity has been inextricably tied to my job. I guess I had better get a new identity, and fast!

Having said all that, the fact remains that I now have a one year old daughter, most of my family lives in Michigan, most of Colin's family lives in upstate New York, and Colin is based in Chicago. Being able to afford a house in California was always out of the question. In Michigan, it is an easy proposition, and a relatively cheap one. We will settle down in Michigan for the time being and try to grow some roots for a change.

Whatever regrets I may have, the truth is that it must have been time for me to let go of the monkey bar behind me. There is the old saying that when one door closes, another opens. I think that most of the time, that's true. What seems like a crisis one moment can turn into a blessing in disguise. I have been told that in Chinese, the two characters that form the word 'crisis' are 'danger' and 'opportunity.' I kind of like that notion. There is a danger in leaving my job but there is also the opportunity to put my family first, to be with my daughter and see more of my husband and my family. I hope that in the future, there is an opportunity for a new career, maybe not right now, but perhaps a few years down the road.

What I do not regret is putting my family first. The choice was really pretty easy. My palms are sweaty and I'll admit that I am feeling a little shaky, but I am ready to let go of the bar I have been on for the past four years and reach for the next one. Like the little kid I once was, I am determined to keep moving across those monkey bars and make it to the other side.


At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Johnny said...

Hey, congrats on your decision. A tough one I'm sure, but you sound pretty good.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Samantha said...

It sounds like it was a tough decision for you, yet the right one for your family! Congratulations on this new start and the Best of Luck! I must say I am envious, there is no way I will be able to stay home with Lilly!

At 7:41 PM, Blogger M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Beautifully written Kat! I'm am SO SAD that you're moving away, but so excited to see what's next for you. All good things, I know. Huge hugs,

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Donna said...

Kat, I think I understand where you're coming from. I let go of one monkey bar and grabbed a totally different one when I turned in my gun and badge and moved 400 miles north to marry Andrew. It took a really long time before I stopped noticing expired tags.

But, as you know, change can be really rewarding. Plus, being a mommy softens you in all the ways being a cop hardened you. That's a GOOD thing!

As I've already said, you're always welcome to crash here when you come to the Bay Area. Andrew agrees!



At 9:05 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

What a beautiful post! Congratulations on a reaching for a new bar. I have been a SAHM for almost 12 years and I love it. I must say though there are days that I wish I could strap on a gun and pull over the jerk that is driving like a maniac. I applaud you putting your family first! Keep stepping with courage!
Jenny V

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Laura and Bob said...

Hi Kat,
I've followed your blog for awhile now and have enjoyed being a part of your journey. I'm not even sure how I came across your blog. I'm not even sure how I came across the 50 zillion other blogs I follow for that matter, but I sure do enjoy sharing in the joys of adoption. I just read this most recent post and wanted you to know I admire your decision, although it was a tough one for you. They weren't lying when they (whoever they are!) said that being a parent changes everything!

I too, am a SAHM (after years of teaching elementary school), an adoptive mom to Amelia (Fujian Province, China, 10/05), and a Michigan resident. Although I don't know where you'll be living in Michigan, I wanted you to know that if you and Sophia are ever looking for someone to hang out with, we're available!

Best of luck to you in all of your life changes!


At 9:22 PM, Blogger Kimber and Chris said...

You know my thoughts on this- but I wanted to post here too.
Can't wait to see you this summer or fall.
We miss you!
Kimber, Chris & Tuesday xx

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Mrs. D said...

Kat: A courageous and admirable choice! We also decided that our little one would have a SAHM, and it's a huge leap of faith. So sad to hear that you're moving out of CA (and away from our adoption get-togethers), but it will be wonderful to watch your family grow on your blog. Huge hugs to all three of you ~ kristin, friedrich, and qiqi

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Katrina said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Lanny and Heather said...

What a very tough decision to make, and the way you wrote about it was thoughtful, engaging, and enjoyable. Best wishes for your future and your move.

-Heather :)


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