Change is inevitable. We were created as creatures that constantly grow. When we choose to follow Christ, we commit to a life of being redeemed. As the gardener prunes branches so that they may bear more fruit, God prunes us so that we can grow to be more accurate image-bearers.
I have found that some of the biggest seasons of pruning come alongside some of the biggest seasons of change in my life and, in turn, some difficult, yet rewarding transitions. At the end of 2021, my husband and I had a beautiful baby girl. We were both blessed to be able to take time off work. Him, about five weeks, and I about ten.
Going back to work as new parents, having our whole lives changed, was a huge adjustment. There were so many new things we had to consider and work around with a new baby and new responsibilities, while also having to transition back into the workplace.
In honor of Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, I sat down with my husband, Braden Chaufty – Manager, Modular and Space Execution at Walmart, to talk about what coming back into the workplace was like as a new dad:
What was it like coming back to work after such a major life change?
At first, it was like coming out of a cave back into society. We weren’t cut off but had every reason to be at home bonding with our little girl. Turns out, the world kept spinning.
What are two words that best describe how you felt going back to work?
Anxious and thrilled.
What were the challenges of entering into the workplace?
I missed out on relationships at work that were crucial for my job and hadn’t worked at the pace required of me for 5 weeks. That was tough to get back into. Essentially, I had to reignite the passion and drive for work while reconnecting with my peers and employees. I also thought they would be equally excited to see me, and they were for the most part, but I was the only person with a child in our neck of the business. There wasn’t another person in my sphere of influence that could truly relate even if they loved seeing pictures or hearing stories.
What did you have to change?
Change was a good friend and unforgiving teacher. When I embraced the new ways in which we had to work and live, I struggled less and even flourished. The days I wanted to go back to old routines, responsibility was there to remind me I still had a job to do at home. As an unorganized person, I had to compromise. My previous habits were making work life balance an unhealthy game of tug-of-war. On one side, you want to come home and relax. On the other, you know your spouse needs relief and your child needs your care and attention. Changing my mindset, habits, desires, and selfishness was key.
What did you learn?
The weight of parenting was designed to be shared. Not only with your spouse, but friends, grandparents, siblings, etc…. Of course, the responsibility of your child is yours, but allowing others to help in their own ways can lift the burden. I also learned my breaking points. Between the stress of work and raising a child, I often felt both physically and emotionally drained. However, I also found the joy of being a father despite the challenges. Just looking into our daughter’s eyes would fill my heart with so much love and adoration. That love is so powerful. It would send me to work with a new purpose and I’d discover a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father. Reading scripture also changes as I could relate to God the Father in a more intimate way. Not only am I His child, but I can experience the emotional bonds he created just for parents. Didn’t hurt to also be able to empathize with other parents and say, “I know what you’re going through”.
If you could go back, what would you tell yourself?
There will be times when you will feel stretched beyond your capabilities, but you have each other. Ask for help. It really does get easier but be prepared for it to come in waves. Try to tune out the noise/cynicism and laugh about the small things.
As I reflect on my husband’s responses, I resonate with so much. For both of us, returning to work was challenging and rewarding. We both learned so much about ourselves and were confronted with the fact that our priorities changed.
In less than 12 months, we both began to recognize how important work / life balance is to our relationship as husband and wife as well as our new role as parents. With that realization, we chose to leave our previous companies in order to focus on our family.
We felt the Lord telling us to trust that He had something better.
As life events happen, it is inevitable that we will have to adapt. So often the repercussions, positive or negative, bleed into our relationships, including those in our workplace.
As you experience new life change, whether it be from a new relationship, having a child, or mourning a loss. Give yourself grace, step into the opportunity to learn more about yourself, and be open to the Father’s pruning as you grow in the midst of change.