Thursday, March 20, 2014

Erin's Story

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Today is the first warm day of March and I eat scrambled eggs outside in the morning sun while my two little boys (ages 4 and 1.5) walk around the front of our property, exploring spring mud, scattering bird seed and discovering the first of the season's crocuses. How many questions do my babes ask me before I have finished my eggs? I lose count.
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"Are there lawnmowers in heaven, mommy?"

"Why is mud called mud?"

"Is today spring mommy and is tomorrow going to be June???"
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Their little minds are hungry and I teach them from the minute their eyes open with morning's dawn until I sing them to sleep at night. This morning in particular their faces are full of delight and the coffee is hot and black in my cup that overflows with blessing and contentment. Soon the spell will break of course, someone will start to whine or fall in a puddle and need a change of clothes. The laundry pile I left overflowing inside will call my name and there will be dishes to do and floors to clean. But the real work of mothering has already begun. This loving and teaching and exploring together and I am home, here, a part of it.
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My toddler runs up to me and I hand him a fork full of fresh warm eggs. I am his provider, his teacher, his friend and above all, his mother. Mother! What a blessing that God has shown me this favor.
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I always knew I would stay at home with my children. But I also knew that I would have a career. I just knew that I wouldn't do both of those things at the same time. For me, it would have felt like trying to celebrate Easter and Christmas on the same day.

In the years before I taught my boys about mud and mowers and scrambled eggs, I wore pretty suits and 3 inch heels and went to court and was a successful attorney. I worked really hard in school for 20 years (God was preparing me, even then, for the hard work of mothering). I went through all those years of school and even sat for the bar exam knowing that one day I would be a stay at home mom. I have just taken life slowly, one season at a time.

I offer this as encouragement to anyone who has invested extensive time and money (oh the money!) on education and formal degrees. You can have a doctorate or a bachelors or a masters or any degree under the sun and put it to work in your daily life as a mother. You do not walk away from that degree or career experience when you become a mother. I know the world tells you otherwise, and it is such a pity. Yes, it will be a different kind of work and it will be an income of an entirely different variety, but motherhood can be the next season along the same path you have always been walking. It is not a matter of walking one path and then dropping off all you have accomplished to jump on another path and start all over. There is no such thing as a "wasted degree." I am still a lawyer, I just don't practice law right now. You can still be a teacher, a counselor, a nurse, a doctor, an engineer. No one can take that from you. Don't let them.
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You will run into people who disagree with your choice. I certainly did. But by the time I was making known my plan to leave my job to stay home, I could feel my first baby kicking inside my tummy and all other thoughts and cares just faded to the background. I have a very vivid memory of sitting in my boss's office talking to him about my plans to stay home. I was nervous and had been dreading that conversation. But as I was sitting in that chair my little one started kicking and wiggling inside me and I knew we were in it together.

In deed, after my first was born my whole world was turned on its head. Having your first baby (any baby, really, but particularly your first) is like experiencing life with all of your senses in overdrive. You are awash in hormones, love, perplexity, and tears. I couldn't stand to be apart from my baby. It felt unnatural and went against my maternal instincts. My first baby was also a "high needs baby," colicky, cried constantly unless held or nursed and would only stay asleep with loud white noise like the vacuum cleaner or dryer. We went through all of those days together. He needed me.
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Today, four years later, staying home with my children means:

I am the one who lays my baby in his crib for a mid-day nap. I choose the lullaby he hears, which blanket will cover him.

I bandage the cut and dry the tears. I know which song soothes his anxieties and I sing it six times over.

I am the one to notice when a fever starts to run or to give Motrin when I sense teething.

I am able to answer the important question that comes out of nowhere at 2:15 on a Tuesday: "Mommy, what is Jesus doing in heaven right now?"

My primary goal the first 18 months of baby's life is to allow baby to bond deeply with me, so that I start off a step ahead when the toddler years hit and the important training begins.

My husband and I did make changes financially as our household income was cut in half when I stopped working to stay home. We downsized our house and eventually became a one car family. It has all been more than worth it. My husband and I have thankfully always been on the same page on this issue. I don't remember it exactly but I am sure we talked about it as early as our dating years. If you are single and reading this, I encourage you to wait prayerfully on God's best in a husband for you. If you are already married and wanting to stay home but your husband is opposed to it for financial or other reasons, I encourage you to pray-that God would give your husband a sense of peace, of financial security and ultimately a changed heart. Don't despair, prayer is powerful and God loves you, beloved one.

Motherhood is a sacred vocation. A blessing. I believe it is the hardest work one can do, but also the most rewarding. The most important. Our modern culture has seen fit to strip it of it's value, but on this beautiful spring day, I know the truth. I am living it. I am sharing it with you. It is in my heart, warm, like the sun coming up over the horizon. And I promise you this, it is a blessing, good and true, to be home.
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38 comments :

  1. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for introducing us to Erin! Her words speak right to my heart. I love this new series too!

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  2. A very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing Erin's story.

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  3. How beautiful! And true. Thank you Erin and Sarah!

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  4. This beautiful! I love it all. It's wonderful and so, so true. Being a stay at home mother is a blessing and I soak all of this in. Thank you Erin and Sarah .

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  5. Thank you so much Erin! So inspiring! These days with my two little ones have been difficult as of late and I've been losing steam! But this nourished my soul and increased my faith. Thank goodness for you!

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  6. LOVE! Thank you for sharing!!

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  7. So beautiful. Thanks for featuring Erin. I had lost track of her blog somehow.

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  8. This is so touching, beautiful, poignant, and true. Motherhood is such a powerful & humbling responsibility and we need to support each other along the way. Sara, you are a blessing to me. Thank you for showing me how being a stay at home mother can be wonderful and joyous. I always knew I would be a mother and a homemaker, and I knew I would love trying my hardest. You've shown all of us that we can and should go through each day with gratitude for the blessing of being our children's softest and safest spot in this world... And we always will be. Have a wonderful day, friend! Xo

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  9. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am 41 and we just took on guardianship of the biological brother of the son we adopted three years ago. I was in school to finish my ONE semester left of college, but when the call came to bring baby home, I withdrew from my classes. I am a mom to five, having quit college with one semester left when my first came 22 years ago. I would not choose any other way but to raise my babies. And if God is calling me to be home for another 20 years, I gladly accept that. It is so encouraging to know that other women have put their own agendas aside to bless the next generation. I only wanted to be a mommy when I grew up anyways!

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  10. Wow, Caroline! That is amazing. What a testimony!

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  11. Like celebrating Christmas and Easter on the same day. Exactly. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for the new point of view; as a Paralegal, this is especially touching and meaningful.

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  13. Stunning piece of writing and gorgeous pictures! Will be adding her to my blog roll!

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  14. I loved this! It's so important. Thank you for sharing!

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  15. Oh wow!!! This quote, exactly, "Like celebrating Christmas and Easter on the same day." I have never been able to full describe my life with two kids, and a career. I work at home 100% of the time, so I am constantly in a battle between children and work needs. One always seems to suffer a bit. Luckily, I am able to stay home with them, I just cannot get them to understand that Mommy works, and doesn't just "play" on the computer all day.... Lovely post!!!

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  16. Oh... this is wonderful! I've been home 14 years and thank God everyday!

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  17. Personally, these are the subjects I love to see shared - not preachy or judgmental, but simply showing the beauty of motherhood! These sweet glimpses into life as a SAHM, whether your life or another, is a much more powerful witness/testimony to motherhood and faith than any eloquent speech or well-planned argument. "More is caught than taught." Thank you!

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  18. Needed this! I didn't stay home after my first son who is now 3 for financial reasons. Now I am with my second and I get to be with both my boys. What a gift! I wish I had the courage to take this leap of faith sooner as now I am repairing my relationship with my first little one. I know God's grace is sufficient. I feel like I keep hearing Matthew 10:39 in your words Erin. Mothering is the mundane, the happy moments, but it has eternal ramifications.

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  19. So lovely and what beautiful photos!! Thank you for sharing this Sarah and Erin!

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  20. So beautiful! I love what you said about asking for God's help. Last night, for the first time I started praying for my husband to want another child. I never thought to pray about it before. We have 3 beautiful babies now, and it seems I have had to beg and force him into every one of them. I'm so afraid to tell him that I want another because I don't want him to stress about it. I know he stresses over the financial responsibility. I believe in God and know He can cause miracles to happen. Thanks for this beautiful story. Love love love it. Being a stay at home mom is difficult and sometimes I get caught up in the difficulties instead of the amazing JOYS! I LOVE this BLOG! Best one EVER!

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  21. This is wonderful! I love the quote by Linda Eyre who said, "Life is long, you can have it all....just not all at once."

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  22. Thank you for your perspective. Very beautiful, and what courage you have. Thank you.

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  23. Thank you. I have been struggling so very much this week with working full time and having my two children in day care 5 days a week. I would like to stay home, my husband is opposed due to the long term financial impact. I was just thinking how I needed to really talk to him, but in this time of Lent, I think I will start with prayer. Thank you, thank you.

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    1. Laura, I am praying for you and your husband by name. God is faithful and good.

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  24. I love this. You write about your vocation of the home with humble pride. I hold back from talking about being at home because so many seem to get so upset about it before even hearing what I am saying. But I need not hide what I do as a stay at home mom, it is not something to be ashamed of. I know the other side, I was a working mom before staying home. I along with my husband intentionaly chose the vocation of the home, it wasn't chosen for me but by me. Thank you for your beautiful words.

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  25. My nest is empty, but oh-so-thankfully filling back up with grandchildren. :) I stayed home to raise my 3 children. I often say it was the hardest, most wonderful and rewarding thing I've ever done. As Erin so eloquently said, I wanted to be the one imparting Truth and values and making all the decisions big and small each and every day, raising up my children to know and love God and their fellow man. We struggled financially. I tried an occasional parttime job to help out. It always ended up costing more than it helped in more ways than money. I sometimes look back and wonder how in the world we managed. By God's grace and generous parents - that's how! Now my daughter has chosen to stay home and I get to watch her, help her, support her to do likewise. We both love this blog. She told me just yesterday how often she comes here and finds reassurance that she' doing alright even if she hasn't accomplished anything but a shower, taking care of two toddlers. I love visiting here and finding this new generation of moms coming to the realization that being at home is more than ok. It's the best place any mom can choose to be! Thank you Sarah, for using your voice and convictions for such a beautiful and needed place for moms of all ages to come home to on the World Wide Web!

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    1. Oh Shelley, thank you so much for sharing all of that. Especially this: "I tried an occasional parttime job to help out. It always ended up costing more than it helped in more ways than money." Sarah and I have both talked about going through that as well.

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  26. What a wonderful piece! I am a chemical engineer; I keep my degree framed on a wall and occasionally give it a wistful glance. But, even in college, I knew I would put a career on the shelf if God saw fit to fill my life with a husband and children. I worked for five years and formally resigned my job a couple of months after becoming a mother. I have four children now and a deployed husband, and I'm homeschooling, albeit reluctantly. A few days are ideal from start to finish, most are challenging, some are exhausting and bone-wearying; but there is never a day I don't go to bed chuckling over some adventure or smile or teaching opportunity I would have otherwise missed if I were working. It is wonderful to hear other women affirming what seems obvious to me - that mothers were meant to be with their children, whenever possible, and that children should have, whenever possible, a mother's care.

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  27. I love Erin's story and her blog. Thank you so much for sharing a woman who left a career for a vocation:) Wonderful!!

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  28. This is so beautifully expressed and rings so true to me. Thank you for hosting this positive and much-needed series!!! I love it.

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  29. What a wonderful idea you're bringing into being Sarah. And Erin, that was breathtaking. The photos. The mother/child conversation and especially, you're perspective on education: nothing wasted when it comes to mothering. I couldn't agree more. Keep writing. The world needs your voice. It is full of light.

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  30. Beautiful!! Thank you sharing! I love being a mama; I've never worked harder, but I wouldn't change anything!

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  31. I really needed to read this today. Tomorrow is my last day at work and I have been struggling with my decision to stay at home with my daughter. I was with her from the day she was born until she went to preschool, and then I went back to work full-time. I have enjoyed working for the most part over the past several years (she's now finishing third grade), but feel like I have missed so much time with my family and when I am with them, I am thinking about work. I finally decided I needed to just take a break, however long that may be, and reconnect with them and be a full-time mother again. When people hear I am leaving my job to go home and not to another job, I am met with perplexed looks and blank stares. It's been awkward. But I have to believe I am doing the right thing for my family. Sometimes I feel like my husband is raising her alone. It's an awful feeling. I'm so glad I read this tonight.

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  32. I'm crying as I sit here rocking my sweet, nursing baby. What a wonderful post about staying home. What a haven this blog is for those of us who feel the draw to spend our days home with our littles.

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  33. "If you educate a boy, you educate a man. If you educate a girl, you educate a family. And a family passes on what it learns to the next generation”.

    With a Masters in Social Work and a career in education, there was no doubt that I would stay at home and raise our 3 children....because I have been witness to too many children who have not had stable homes, consistency in discipline, and the gift of time to enjoy a simple life. Thank you to all of the families who have made the sacrifices to raise their children and give them the gifts they need to grow to be loving members of our world! I am grateful to wear the title of mommy!

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