Grieving the Gap between “Am” and “Was”

It’s been two months since I quit my job.

And I’m struggling.

Quitting my job has brought so many good things into my life: more rest, more peace, more time for my family and myself and has greatly reduced my stress.

But I am mourning the gap something fierce.

It’s the gap of transition, the space between “Am” and “Was.”
I am an English Professor.
I was an English Professor.

Right now, it doesn’t feel like a break. It feels like an ending, like I am closing the door on a chapter in my life, a chapter that began 8 years ago when I started my Masters in English.

It was such a high, getting that MA. I felt powerful, smart, and unique. I wrote a 100 page thesis that impressed both my professors and peers and graduated with a 3.9 GPA, all while keeping house, being a wife, and raising twin boys.

I chose this. I was moving forward. This was going to be my career. Every time I saw her, my Thesis Advisor pressed me for an answer: “When are you going to get your PhD? I will write you a recommendation letter to any school in the country.”

The semester after I graduated, I taught 11 hours on campus. It wasn’t full time but it was enough enough to give me a nice pay check and a small office space.

But my “career” only diminished from there. When you’re an adjunct professor, the work load is not reliable; it changes semester by semester, and fluctuates with the whims of the department chair and who is the “favorite” at the time.

But I kept my finger in the pie. I was determined to keep working as a mom. Two kids? Three kids? Four? It didn’t matter. There wouldn’t be any gaps in my resume.

Doing the WAHM thing

I lost my foothold with the on campus classes after my third baby but I was thankful for my teaching position online. It wasn’t my dream job, like being in the classroom, but it gave me the something I craved, the something that said “you are more than just a stay at home mom.”

I polished that badge and updated my resume each semester. No gaps, not now, not ever.

My husband likes to say, “Life is full of choices.” What’s left unsaid is that you have to live with the consequence of those choices, both good and hard.
We’ve made our fair share of choices. We chose to have 4 children, four beautiful, energetic, special boys.

There are also things that Life gives that are not choices, but how we respond to them determines the people we want to be and become.

So I did quit my job so I could be and become the person I want to be.

The thing is, I feel a bit lost right now. The decision was hard and the aftermath isn’t easy.

My work stress has seemed to morph into “Blog Stress,” as if there is something inside me that screams for tension and angst.
Instead of diving into home and family, I find myself slumping around, goading myself to do housework and make phone calls to the insurance company, and wondering how I am going to fill hours and days that loom large and lonely before me.

Transitions are hard.

I never really wanted to be a Stay at Home Mom. I always craved more. But sometimes the thing you want is not the thing you need and I made choices, choices about the family I wanted, the life I desired, and the person I truly wanted to be.

I made the choice to quit my job.

It was right and needed and good.

But it is sad too and the grief of letting go of past desires and dreams aches.

I’m in the Gap, grieving the space between “Am” and “Was.”

But I’ve been in the Gap before.

When I moved across the country to go to school, thousands of miles from my family and friends.
When I transitioned from being single to saying “I do.”
When I became a mother of two at the age of 23.

Maybe you’re there too:
Maybe you used to be a stay-at-home mom and now you’re a work-outside-of-the-home mom.
Maybe you just graduated from college.
Maybe you have a new house in a new state, or a new husband, or a new baby.
Maybe you just retired or finally pushed your last baby out of the nest and watched her fly away, strong and brave.

There’s celebration; there are so many good things happening for you right now.

But there’s a Gap too.

For me, when the Gaps loom large, everything is fuzzy and I wonder who I was, who I am now, and what-the-heck I am doing with my life! Even though transitions often come in the wake of happiness, the grief of the gap weighs heavily on me too. I feel sad and lost.

The truth is, grief makes its home with you for a while but after you wrestle with it for a moment, or month, or year, or however-long-it-takes, you get stronger.

And after you are strong enough to move forward, the grief releases its grip. The mourning period does end and acceptance settles into place. An “I can do this” replaces the paralysis of grief.

Then you move out of the Gap.

I’m there right now, wrestling with my grief.
I’m in the Gap between “Am” and “Was.”

But, God willing, I’ll get stronger.
I’ll find my place again.
I’ll learn new ways to accept myself and my story, eagerly anticipating the chapters yet to be written.

Have you been in the Gap between “Am” and “Was”?
How long did you wrestle with your grief?
What helped you get stronger and accept your choices?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂 

7 Comments

  1. Susan McClure

    Brittany, this moved me to tears today. I am in a different life transition–transitioning from full-time stay at home mom to part-time working mom. There is grief for me too. Grief as I watch my children sleep at night and think about all the moments I missed. But also joy. Joy in walking the path God has placed me on and using my gifts to care for my family, in reaching for a potential that has yet been unrealized. Mothering is hard. Adulting is hard. Thank you for your willingness to discuss honestly what is too often overlooked or actively suppressed. Praying for you and your family as you forge your new path.

    • Susan, thank you for reading. I think the tension between the joy that comes with good change and the mourning that ride side by side is difficult to process. I know it has been for me. I’ll be praying for you too. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment

    • Lu, I think the motherhood transition was one of the most difficult for me. You are in the thick of it. Hang in there, Mama! <3

  2. The last three years has been THE GAP for me, from a single corporate professional in Seattle to a married quasi-work at home mom of two. This was encouraging, Brittany. It’s a true and honest reminder that •all• go through these ebbs and flows of life (man, how I saw red when people would say “it’s just a season” to me) but we emerge shinier, stronger and refined.

    I believe this transition time was used for me to be stripped of my idols — productivity, achievements, influence, status — so that I would not find so much of my worth dependent on the views and esteems of others. It suuuuucks. But in a good way, you know? It’s been a brutiful ride.

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