Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Balancing Act

Two weeks ago, a friend texted me:  "I just saw Kellen take 11 steps!"  I was at work.  And I cried.  Just a little, but I still cried.  Of course, I was proud of my little guy, working so hard to move that chubby little body, trying to find his balance, taking those tentative first running steps.  He'd been taking a few steps here and there, but until that moment, had not managed to get very far.  And I missed it.  My heart ached.

And then my mind started to go through all the other family things I've been missing out over the past few months that we've been in Cairo.  I've only been to the big kids' school a handful of times; I had volunteered to work the Halloween party for the big kids' classes and then wasn't able to make it to the meetings; I had planned on taking the baby in the jogging stroller for a run at a local track (some of my favorite times in the States with my little guy have been out running; he's the best running buddy), and hadn't yet found the time to do so.  All of the mundane tasks like grocery shopping and haircuts and errands have to be done on weekends, and it really eats into our family time.  And so on and so on and so on...

Please, don't get me wrong.  I love my job; I love being a nurse, and I've worked hard for my career.  But finding that just right work/life balance is hard, really hard.  I want it all - work and kids and free time and lots of time with my hubby.  But it seems I can't have it all, at least not all at once.  Maybe it's time to admit that, and find a middle ground?  I was lucky enough the last few years working in Ohio - I worked ER and had a very flexible schedule, working 2-3 days per week.  Good time with the kids, good time at work.  Only one thing lacking during that time - the fab hubby was in Iraq.  But on his home leaves?  I still worked the ER gig; it was a good balance between work and life.

My new job here in Cairo is fantastic.  I had always hoped I'd be lucky enough to find an RN position with the State Department, as we follow Jason's job throughout the world.  This is our first assignment, and I couldn't believe it when I heard there was an RN posting! I was even happier when I got hired. Things have really come together well here for us.  It's a great nursing position for me; different from ER, but it incorporates all of the things I love about nursing.  I get more time to sit down and really listen to patients and to teach.  I've learned so much about immunizations and all the gross buggies we work to keep the community from acquiring.  I deal with more pediatric patients then I did in the ER, and I love pediatrics.  Of course I do!  I wouldn't have my own kids if I didn't love kids, right?

Which brings me back to the work/life balance.  I miss the kids.  I miss getting them off to school in the morning and seeing them step off the bus at the end of the day; I miss getting involved in their activities and helping out with all the parenty-things at the school.  And the baby.  He's already one.  And I missed those eleven steps!  How could eleven steps mean so much?  They just do.

It's a hard balance - being a mommy, a wife, and fitting in a career.  Lots of debate by many, lots of choices to be made.  I know there's no right or wrong - I never ever judge one mommy's choice to stay at home with her kiddos, and I never judge another for her choice to work full-time. You have to do what's best for you and what's best for your family.  Except for my choice.  I always judge my own choice.  Why am I so much harder on myself and so understanding of others?  Why do I feel like I have to do it ALL and do it all right now?  Why don't I just sit back, relax and admit what I really want right now?  Do I even know what I want right now?  Yes.  I do know.  I want some more time with my kiddos and hubby but still have my career.  Can I find that balance here in Cairo?

Turns out there's a silver lining here, a sort of fairy-tale ending to my current work/life balance story.  And it turns out that it's not an all or nothing deal!  This week, my work offered me the chance to reduce my schedule to part-time, three days per week, and I actually jumped on it. Jumped for joy all over that offer! Giving me the time I really want at home, and still allowing me to do the job that I love.

Now that I think about it, it was not quite a year ago that I mulled over my nursing career, wondering if my next move might be school for my Master's or becoming a Nurse Practitioner, or if I'd even be able to find a job overseas.  Well, I found a job, one that I really love here in Cairo.  At the time I wrote that blog entry, I hadn't even thought about the work/life balance issue, because at the time, it was really a non-existent issue. I had a great work/life balance.  So, while I don't know what the NEXT chapter in my nursing career might be (Master's? Nurse Practioner? Another RN gig overseas?) I do know what my current career offers me, and I like it.  I'm really excited to get more time with my family AND continue my new job with the State Department.

Somehow, things have a way of working themselves out just right and at the moment I needed it most.  I can't wait to be there for Kellen's next eleven steps.

More time for tire swinging at the kiddos' school.

More time to hang out with this little guy!
Getting to watch him take those important steps.


  1. So happy for you! Sounds like a perfect balance.

  2. What wonderful news!! I have found the part time solution to be best for me too. Balance is still a rascal to achieve, but I found it easier to find. Enjoy those steps, and extra family time, and still having a great career that stimulates your being!

  3. Awesome! You lucky girl, I've been whining for months about not finding a nursing job at post. I'm applying for the co-CLO job. CLO! Bo-ring! I'm gonna lose all my skills :(

  4. I'm so happy everything is working out.