A move was not in the plans for 2019. We love Boston. We have been lucky to have a really great community here, including a handful of really close friends within a 5 minute walk – a proximity we won’t always have. New York was a special season in its own way that I get nostalgic for from time to time. And Boston will be another season that I’m certain I will miss. The close knit friend group, this charming tiny apartment where we brought our first baby home, our church that has become home here, our neighborhood filled with old, uneven brick sidewalks and historic brownstones, the park across the street where so many cultures melt into one. We will miss Boston immensely.
We moved here hoping it would be a long term move. We had no idea what would unfold, but we were open to the idea of settling in & raising a family here (or the surrounding area). At the beginning of the year, right after Cal was born and I was on maternity leave, I had more brain space to think and pray and just be since I wasn’t working. I had a newborn, but he was sleeping better then than he is now at 10 months lol. I felt God nudging me to have open hands this year – with my career, motherhood…and unexpectedly, about location & home. I shared with Nick. We didn’t know what that would mean, but we acknowledged it and tucked it away.
I’m going to make a very long story relatively short or this post will be a small novel. I’ve heard from others that having a baby can shift your priorities and passions. I’ve always been interested in women’s health, but having Cal shifted my interests and desires for my career sharply in that direction and away from eating disorder work. In February, I starting seeing nutrition counseling clients again after 8 weeks off and things were different. My heart & mind weren’t there. I had clients who had endometriosis, infertility, PCOS and other women’s health issues and I loved teaching & counseling on that, but the eating disorder and body image work wasn’t clicking. I felt disconnected from it. I worked hard to push myself back into that space and care for my clients well, but I knew this wasn’t going to work long term. It was also really hard for me to abruptly shift back and forth all day from mom mode to work mode when Cal was sleeping. I felt like I was thinking about work when he was awake and I hated that. It also didn’t feel right in my heart to get childcare for longer blocks of time. Even when I tried to draw mental & concrete boundaries around work, I still felt pushed and pulled. It wasn’t working for me.
I love being home with Cal full time – and what a blessing to be able to work from home in the margins. My mom was a single mom of five who worked full time as a teacher to barely get by – I recognize what a privilege it is to have this setup.
Starting again in March, I continued working per diem at an ED hospital here, but that was touch and go. I knew I desired to do clinical work, but also wanted to be home with Cal as much as humanly possible. I’m sure many new and seasoned moms can relate with this tension. So Nick and I talked and prayed and decided I should start applying for NP positions.
I interviewed at a few places and in March received an offer for an ER position. I started out my career in Dec of 2016 in an urgent care that functioned like a fast track ER in Brooklyn, NY. Even though it’s much different than eating disorders, primary care and women’s health, I love the fast paced, hands on work of the ER. You see so much stuff, are on your feet, perform lots of procedures, read x rays and a variety of things – the schedule is also more conducive to being home with babies/kiddos. Full time for the job I took meant 10 shifts a month including 2 weekends a month. No overnights. I’m not a night person but the 12p-12a was ideal for me to be home more with Cal, but still sleep semi normal hours. So I could work full time, yet Nick and I could still be caring for Cal most of the time. The pay was great too – money isn’t everything, but when you’re going to be away from your baby, it helps to feel like you’re being compensated fair and well. So I signed the offer in March.
When you’re a healthcare provider, you have to go through all this credentialing paperwork before you can start. It takes at least 3 months. So I was scheduled to start in late June or early July. In prep for working more as an NP, I planned to dial down my role in the business and private practice. Crystal and Liz would still be seeing clients and doing our support groups and everything they do, but my role would become more passive. Let me pause and say, I am so, so thankful for this team of women who work alongside me. The dialing down process primarily meant I was going to stop seeing all my nutrition clients. It felt right. Not only because I took the ER position, but because off all the reasons I shared above. It was time to close that chapter.
I was scheduled to have my final clients June 15th. At the beginning of June, when I was at the last step of credentialing and about to begin this new job, I was notified by the company that hired me (I was hired by a third party company that trains NPs, PAs and MDs and then staffs them at hospitals they are contracted with throughout the country) had pulled out of the contract with the hospital where I was supposed to work. There was no longer a position available there. I was shocked, devastated and felt totally defeated. And also mad. I had turned down other interviews because I had signed this offer. Hours of applying and interviewing, months of paperwork…and just like that, no more. The company was incredibly apologetic and talked with me about working at sites in NH and CT (there was only this one site in MA) but commuting an hour both ways in addition to a 12 hour shift wasn’t going to work.
So here I was in June. The job was no longer there and I had stopped seeing nutrition clients. Although it was a financial leap of faith, we decided it was a good decision to stick with closing the nutrition counseling chapter regardless. Seeing clients is a bulk of my private practice & business income. It felt scary. Ironically, the private practice has been a huge gift in terms of paying off my nursing school student loan debt. But, I knew stepping back would create space for me to be a more present mom and give me time to think.
Deciding how you want to mother & navigate your career is such a vulnerable place for women. It’s an area that is so personal and fragile, yet an area we all are so quick to judge. I’m sharing this processing and decision making as what felt best for me, my marriage and my family. My life. What is best for you, your family and your life could be completely different and that is wonderful too.
With the big downshift in income, we redid the budget and buckled it up tight. Really tight. But it was so worth it. For the past four months I’ve felt the most content & at peace I’ve ever felt. I still do some speaking, see occasional women’s health clients and the daily stuff like social media and emails… but overall, I’m mostly just being a mama. And it has been the sweetest season of my life so far. Although I was devastated and anxious about the job falling through back in June, I’m grateful for this summer. I will forever remember the summer of 2019 when Cal was a baby and it was just me and him spending our days together.
This summer gave me space to think, pray, get honest and find clarity on where I’m supposed to be with career and motherhood. I realized for me, full time and being away from Cal all week didn’t sit right in my heart. And Nick and I didn’t feel it was the best choice for our family. It also became clear to me that unless I was doing a good amount of women’s health work, it didn’t feel right to be away from Cal. Aside from motherhood, my marriage and my faith, the deepest desire of my heart was caring for women. And for babies 🙂
After the job was no longer, I circled back to interviews I had turned down and applied to a couple OBGYN NP positions. The couple interviews I had turned down opened back up, but nothing was working out. Either they chose other candidates or I was advancing in the interviews, but the job didn’t feel right. When I interviewed in New York for jobs, it felt easy (not because I’m sought after, the demand was just there) but here in Boston, I was meeting so much resistance. Nothing was coming through.
Nick and I prayed about it for weeks and months. With all the closed doors, I began to think maybe God really did want me home full time. I know for some mamas, the sahm mom life is not healthiest for them or their family. For some, they desire to be home, but it’s not financially possible. Right now, our family does require some income from me, but I can do that from home and I’m thankful for that. The idea of being a sahm mom did feel life giving and fulfilling – maybe that was because I still was able to dip my toes into work a bit with the business and work here and there at the ED hospital? At the same time, the idea of being home full time, if I’m being honest, brought anxiety and feelings of shame – what if I am unable to get an NP job in the future because of this time off? I spent so much money, time and energy going back to nursing school so I need to use it! My ego said, “work full time and do it all” but my heart was not on board. I didn’t know the answer, but I knew anxiety and shame were not from God.
Nick went remote with his job from New York when we moved to Boston and works at a co-working space. He has the flexibility to stay remote if we were to move again. So in August, at the same time I was interviewing for a job here in Boston that didn’t feel like a good fit, Nick encouraged me to reach out to a contact I had in Charlottesville. He was a doctor I knew that worked at a family clinic with a practice philosophy I resonated with – western medicine with an out-of-the-box approach. We thought it was worth touching base and we’d just take it one step at time.
Well, they were hiring. And they were looking for a part time NP (like 2ish days a week) and there was a lot of room to grow in the area of women’s health since the CNM (nurse midwife) who co-owns and helped open the clinic many years ago was going to be retiring in the future. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? My heart felt excited instead of unsettled and anxious about leaving Cal for work. I called Nick after talking to the doctor who also owns the clinic on my drive home from my interview.
At the beginning of August, I flew down with Cal (it’s easier just to take & nurse him instead of pump) for a quick 48 hour trip and spent a day at the clinic interviewing and spending time with everyone. I have a good friend who lives there and has a little boy who offered to watch Cal. The clinic was also incredibly welcoming and family friendly which was reassuring.
I came home feeling excited, yet terrified at the idea of moving our family. In full transparency, after 7 years building it, the private practice/business are far more lucrative than an NP job if you compare hours worked with monetary output. So it would make financial sense to just keep doing that, tucked into the early morning hours and nap time. I love to speak and teach – I’ve really enjoyed speaking this year. And I love being there for support and mentorship with the other clinicians on my team. But my heart truly wants to be face to face caring for people as a nurse. I also want to spend the majority of my time at home caring for my own babies. I’ve wrestled a lot with whether to work outside the home or not. Would I be able to do both well? What is God’s assignment for me in this season of life?
When Cal was born 10 months ago, something in me shifted. My priorities, how I wanted to spend my time and what my heart desired in terms of career all shifted in big ways I didn’t quite expect. Career was no longer at the forefront, being a mama was and is. I enjoy NP work more than RD work, and although I use my NP knowledge all the time in private practice, it is not the same as being in a clinic.
Nick and I went back and forth for over a month. Praying, talking, processing with other wise people and getting their input. On paper it didn’t make sense. This is a part time position. In this season of life, Nick is the primary financial provider for our family while I’m the primary provider in the home. I, thankfully, don’t need to work outside the home to provide financially. We love our Boston community. We are settled here. This moves feels premature. Boston doesn’t feel finished.
But it was impossible not to acknowledge God paving this path. In contrast to Boston, we had walked through each door of this job opportunity and it was easy. My heart felt settled about returning to work with this position. There are two places we’ve talked about moving if we didn’t stay in Boston – Charlottesville or back to the Indy/Chicago area near family. For those of you newer here, I did my dietetic internship in Charlottesville and lived there from 2011 to 2014 before moving to New York. It is such a special place for me for so many reasons. Nick loves it too.
We ultimately decided this was a unique job opportunity and I needed to take it. Part time, family friendly clinic with a tight knit feel, opportunity to grow into a women’s health role, mentoring & support, walking commute and all in a place we love and could hopefully settle – Charlottesville. Mountains and vineyards and walkability and culture and a great food scene with a small, college town vibe.
We do not have clarity on a lot of things. There are many uncertainties. But we do have peace about this next step. And I’m learning that faith and trust don’t come tied up in a pretty bow.
Although I am so sad to leave Boston, I am also excited and hopeful for what lays ahead in Virginia. Except for the warmer weather because we are not warm weather people 🙂
Congratulations. There is wisdom is trusting your gut and knowing in your heart that you feel this is the right step. Much luck on your new adventure!
Thank you Nicole 🙂
I pray for your move to go so well. Charlottesville is such a cute town. I am in Chapel Hill, NC and while I do often long for cooler weather, I greatly enjoy being in the South. It is so cool how God movies in our lives and is continually weaving our story.
Thank you for the prayers Kelly! My husband went to UNC and he loves Chapel Hill. We will only be a few hours north so plan to take some trips down there to visit friends 🙂
Congratulations on your new job! As a full time mom to 5 and 3 year old boys, I totally get your desire to spend as much time as possible with your little one. As a woman who has recovered from anorexia, I want to thank you for all of your content over the years. You have truly made an impact on my recovery and how I view food and my body.
That means so much Amy – I’m so glad you’ve found encouragement here <3
Paige O'Brien says
UVA Nursing Student here who has followed your blog for years, made your oatmeal concoction, and even applied to be one of your interns! Charlottesville welcomes you and I personally am inspired by your NP journey for my future. Hope to see you around!!
UVA is an awesome school! Thank you so much for following along and I hope we bump into each other 🙂
I am so happy for you, Robyn. God is so faithful!
He is. Thanks Julie!
Congratulations! I appreciate you lifting back the curtain to share the thought process that’s been going on for your family. It’s inspiring and heartwarming. As someone in a season of a lot of change myself, it’s very encouraging! Best of luck to the whole fam!
You’re sweet. Thank you Trish!
katie golby says
Thanks so much for sharing Robyn! So encouraged by your courage and heart that is open before God and listening and trusting him at every step. I think so many mommas can resonate with struggling to find our place with career/mom-ing, and it’s just helpful to hear someone else walking through it. thank you!:)
It is a push and pull! We are all certainly not alone <3 Love to you Katie!
Thank you for sharing! I relate on so many ways. I don’t yet have children but a family tragedy caused me to feel the need for a priority shift as well and I constantly struggle with the away from home/home work ideas. I love that you mention how you prayed and feel God leading and calling you! Such a great reminder for us all to take time to pause. Praying for you and your fam in this new season!
I’m so sorry to hear about your family Rainie <3 That certainly reorients us. Thank you for the prayers - sending them back to you!
Thank you <3
CVille is happy to have you back!!! Let’s get the babies together when you’re here!
Life comes full circle 🙂 Let’s!
Monica Martin says
Congrats, Robyn! Your story is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it. Good luck in your next chapter! I can’t wait to see it unfold.
Thank you so much Monica!
Congratulations! I’m in a similar season as you right now- new mom and current SAHM due to a move back to VA to be closer to friends and family. I appreciate your honesty because I too, feel all those same feels. I miss the clinical side (RD) a lot, but also love the SAHM side right now, yet feel that pressure to go back for fear of never finding a job in the future bc of the time off. I feel like my answer is near and God is inching me closer to the next right step. Amazing how things fall into place.
Welcome back to this great state!!
As Emily P. Freeman says, you just have to do the next right thing. Keep trusting and listening to the Lord and what he puts on your heart. The world says, “work and have a career and be an amazing mom!” but that’s not for everyone. You will settle into what feels best for you and your family. And those fears are understandable, but I truly believe doors will open when they should. I read an article from an NP who took ten years off (and had to resit for boards!!) while raising babies and then returned to work. I have a close mama friend who is an OT and is now a SAHM. Listen to your heart 🙂
Congratulations! What a beautiful leap of faith, and it’s clear you guys have thought this through. What is Nick planning to do? Is he still looking for a job?
Happy for you and the next chapter!
He will stay remote like he has been!
Sarah Russell says
Yay, yay, yay!!!! I’ve been waiting to see if you would return to Charlottesville one day. I live just across the mountain in Staunton with a one-year-old and my husband and I have good friends in C’ville. So excited for y’all on this new adventure, and the chance you have to step back a little and just be. I have such a heart for being a SAHM and it truly is a full-time job for those who are called to it. I am lucky to be able to bring my daughter to work with me at my part-time job, but it does get harder to do as she gets older and more mobile. My husband and I have similarly been praying through what we are to do next, for one of us to be able to SAH with the little miss. The waiting process is hard, but when everything finally comes together it is so worth it all. Praying for you all to be tremendously and abundantly blessed in this transition!
I can so relate to that decision Sarah. Staunton is adorable – we need to take a day trip there at some point. My MIL would love it there! Thank you SO much for the prayers! xx
Robyn, I have felt honored to follow your blog for a while now, and I am grateful for the heartfelt posts, wisdom, and thoughts you share. While I know this decision was by no means easy, I think it sounds like the right choice and perfect fit for you and your family. My twin sister and I travelled to Cville twice to visit Kath, and we adored the area! I know the city will welcome you back with open arms. Thank you for sharing and much luck on your move and getting nicely settled!
I live in Charlottesville and LOVE it here…welcome back!!
Congrats!! Change is always exciting AND scary. Were here in Charlotte, NC if you need any southern friends 😉
The life of a mom/clinician/educator is certainly a rollercoaster. I’ve learned to accept nothing is permanent and the best thing I can do is be mindful, open-minded, seek God, and take the time I need to make the right decision. You worded this experience that many of us have gone through very well. Best of luck!
Beautifully written and inspiring post. I’ve loved following your journey over the years. I love how you put your faith in God and trust the process. May this move be a huge blessing for your family.
I’m a former pediatric RN turned SAHM. Everyone has a unique situation. While at times, my head thinks I should have stayed in nursing, my heart and God has let me know being home is where I’ve needed to be.
Congrats and best of luck with the move.
Claire Brieva says
Robyn, thank you as always for sharing your beautiful, honest words. I recently graduated CUSON and started a NP position in GYN-ONC in NYC. As someone who wishes to have a family one day while balancing NP life, has a partner from NYC, a family back in Chicago, and nursing debt, I deeply, deeply appreciate your insights. Your posts always resonate and I am so thankful to have discovered your blog. I am wishing your family the very best for this next chapter 🖤
Twenty-four years ago my husband and I made a HUGE leap of faith and moved 1500 miles away from family in order for me to stay home with our then 9 month old. Housing was cheaper where we moved and salaries were such that we thought we could make it work with one income. Two more babies followed pretty quickly and we never looked back. It was never easy but it was completely worth it. My heart desired to be home. Blessings on your move and your new life in Charlottesville.
So happy for y’all:)
So sad to see you guys move, but happy for you ❤️
Carolyn Bailey says
While I live in the deep South, I love Boston so much and can understand the pull of your heart leaving such a vibrant place, special for you and your family in so many ways. But…Virginia is amazingly beautiful! Your faithfulness in seeking truth and wisdom for your future is moving you where you are meant to be. Seasons come and seasons go. They are all uniquely special. Congratulations on your new adventure. You’re not going alone.
Congratulations and well done on making a difficult decision. I’m mum to a 17 month girl, already living on the other side of the world (from London but live in New Zealand). While on maternity leave we decided to move to a new part of the country – we didn’t know anyone and it was a complete lifestyle change. Thankfully, our gut decision turned out to be the best thing we ever did. My work kept me on – now part time- working remotely from home. We live by the beach in a beautiful, small, friendly town where we’ve made lots of friends. I never in a million years thought this would be what my life looks like. Life works in funny ways! Best of luck and keep us posted!
Victoria Yates says
So excited for you, Robyn! This sounds like the Lord leading you to this place. Thank you for sharing.
I can resonate with this on so many levels. I feel like I wrote this. I’m an RN and second year PMHNP DNP student and also am only willing to work (until my kids are in kindergarten) two days a week. Like you, I feel like I’m called to be a wife and mama first but also a nurse. I sometimes feel guilty as well that I don’t intend on working full time but I know for a fact I’m a better nurse and eventually clinician when I don’t feel like I’m forced to be there. Just like I’d tell my clients, we have to do what is best for ourselves in order to give back to others.
I’m so glad you found your dream set-up! God is good.
Elisabeth Peterson says
Congratulations on so many things! I love your work and selfishly am glad you will be living closer to me. Maybe we can collaborate! Would love to connect when you get settled. -Elisabeth Peterson, RD, CEDRD, Richmond, VA
Congrats! It’s been a while since this post, but I just learned a friend in Boston is looking to relocate & I think your place would be perfect. Are you still looking for a renter?
Austin (Shinall) says
So funny…I randomly decided to see what you were up to and saw this post!
I hope we can get together when you’re back! I have a 14 month old boy 🙂 Would be fun to get him and Cal together.
Robyn Nohling says
Perfect timing 🙂 Let’s get them together – we are here!