Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stephanie's Story

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I remember so vividly the moment I told my boss that I was pregnant with my first child. I had just started working at my big post-graduation job - I was a customer service rep for a software company. Ha! It was the worst, and unfortunately the best my degree in Home and Family could give me at the time. She asked me if I planned on returning to work after the baby came and it honestly took me a minute to understand what she was saying. Because the idea of going back to work after I had the baby was something I had never even considered. Even though my husband still had a year of schooling before he graduated and wasn't working. Even though without my paycheck we would have no income. And no insurance. And still, it wasn't even a consideration. I'm not sure how we made it, now that I think about it. Maybe we were naive to think we could. I know my parents gave us quite a bit of help, and Mike worked here and there. I am sure it was difficult to make ends meet, although I don't remember it being so. I was so consumed with my new role as a mother that the rest blurred into the background.

Let me back up a bit.

I went to college to get married. There, I said it. :) And I chose a major that I thought best suited to my plan - Home and Family. My studies focused on managing a home, providing good nutrition, family relationships and human development, with lots of sewing thrown in for good measure. Most of the girls in my major (there were only girls in my major) were going on to become Home Ec teachers. That didn't interest me one bit.


I'm lucky that I met Mike. He was everything I wanted in a husband, and we were married during my final year at BYU. We didn't plan on starting a family right away, but that's how it happened and I am glad it did. Mabel arrived feet first into this world a few weeks ahead of her due date, and at least a year or so ahead of "our plan". We were thrown into parenthood, and we were young, and it was hard, but so wonderful, too.

Since then, we've never looked back. I guess there have been sacrifices made so that I could stay home, but because we've never known any different, maybe we haven't noticed? Living on one income is not impossible, and stressful though it may be, my husband has always been willing to be the bread winner. There have been times when I have felt pulled away from my children to sew more, in order to provide a little extra spending money. That has been difficult for me. During those times, I was technically home, but completely unavailable to my family, holed away in my sewing room like I was. But those moments were fleeting, and I am better now at saying no to new projects. Or at realizing that the little bit of income sewing provided wasn't worth the stress on my family. And so I try to budget our money better instead.

There will be time later to pursue other things. But for now, my family needs me to be present at home, more than we need a little extra spending money, or anything else really.


When I am home, I can create an environment that provides relief from the wild world outside. I believe that my husband and children need that relief, more and more as the years go by. The peaceful feeling in my home is something that I don't like to disrupt, and so I make choices that contribute to that peace. I keep my home tidy. We try not to raise our voices. We don't rush about if we can help it. And the biggie: we stay at home as much as we can. This is what works for us.

I realize that wouldn't be ideal for everyone. And I understand that some women have to work. I believe that we are all doing our best. No one wants to fail as a mother, and so we find routines and activities that work for each of us. Judging another mother on her decisions doesn't do anybody any good, and so I turn my focus to my own family. I do what is right for us and I don't worry about what anyone else is doing.

This is what I know: being a stay at home mom is everything I dreamed it would be. Yes, there are hard days, and long nights, and sometimes difficult children. But as a stay at home mom, I get to decide the tempo and structure of our daily life. I choose what to feed my children, I am the one who reads them stories on the couch, and listens to how their day went when they come bursting in the door after school. But most importantly, I am here, always here.

The success of my life will be measured in how well I complete my role as mother. Period. It is my calling and my pleasure.

(Stephanie blogs here.)

28 comments:

The Family Chef said...

Thank you for this, Sarah! I simply love both your and Stephanie's motherly inspiration, I needed to read these reminders today.

Jeanie Ribble said...

What a lovely essay on the calling of motherhood and the joy and fulfillment of being a mother and serving our families. Thank you, Stephanie, for writing this, and thank you Sarah for posting it.

Kendra Baird said...

Thanks Sarah and Stephanie for sharing this. I have to say out in the big wide blog world the two of your blogs are my very favorite and the only two I consistently keep up with. You both are such an inspiration!!

katie said...

Sarah, I so look forward to these posts! And Stephanie this was beautiful and I feel so connected to your story. I got my degree in Education and ALWAYS knew I would stay home with my children. Once I stopped working and stayed home with my first child the economy crashed and my husband's income was sorely effected. We also had amazing help when it was necessary from my parents, but we mainly just did without. I also started my own sewing business to help make ends meet and I totally relate to feeling trapped in my sewing room (though it is really something I love). After our third daughter was born sewing time when to virtually nothing. I sometimes worry about that little business that I worked hard to create and loosing followers, but my priorities are my family and there is just limited time. Thank you for your sharing your experience!!

cheryl cardall said...

I am much like you Stephanie, I also have a degree in Home and Family and always knew I would stay home with my kids. Although it has been harder than I ever expected it to be. It is wonderful and I wouldn't trade being home with these 5 amazing spirits, but it can also exhausting and taxing. But anything worth doing isn't easy and so I fill my life with as much gratitude and happiness as I can because the days are long but the years are short!

Jen said...

I really like this post. While I never wanted to be a SAHM when I was younger, I am now and it works for our family. We have 2 girls (now 5 & 9) and my husband works one job. We don't have a mortgage since we inherited our home (whew!) so that helps. But we live paycheck to paycheck. We make do. Our oldest was diagnosed with cancer when she was 5 so that took another financial toll on us. But if I had had a job outside the home, I would have had to quit. So, already being a SAHM didn't really throw us for a loop when she was diagnosed.

Laura said...

I am both enjoying this series and finding it hard to read. I have no doubt I want to be home with my children, but I feel like we are in a really difficult season right now. I don't know what I'm doing wrong but things are not peaceful and I feel like things seem to come so much more naturally to these other mothers :( I would love to read Stephanie's blog too if you would link to it please!

annie leavitt said...

I can attest to the peacefulness in Stephanie's home, it is real and it is there as thick as clouds. She is a mother who knows her family's needs. Thank you for this!

joojierose said...

Yay Steph. This was so perfectly representative of how I see you as a mom and your peaceful home. Love you guys.

Beth Allen said...

I love this. All I want to be is a mother. Everything else is extraneous. Thanks for supporting motherhood!

Sarah said...

Laura I think we all feel like that at times, hang in there. Sometimes what helped me get through those tougher stages and ages, was looking back at the day and seeing where those stressful moments came from-was I running too much, did I need to organize our day better, slow down? Were there some time wasters I could cut out? Iif I slowed down our pace of life, sat down with them, created a schedule we both could count on and expected LESS out of the day, things fell into place. I put the link to Stephanie's blog at the bottom of her essay.

kristinwithani said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Stephanie. I love your blog, too.

I, too, went to college to get married. That was 24 years ago and I'm 43 and single today. I still don't know what that means. I haven't given up on my dream to be a wife and mom but some days are really hard. Like today. It's my 43rd birthday. At this age, my mom had a sophomore in college. I just long to hold a child in my arms. Oh, how I'd love to be home raising a family but for now I'm thankful for all the friends who allow me to be a part of their families and their children's growing years. I'm "Aunt Kriddie" to a good number and am so thankful.

Rachael said...

I went to college planning to never marry, and a year later I was married and two years later I was a mother. We have five children now, and I did go on to get a graduate degree, but I am so much happier using all of my talents and education to raise my children than in the career I had originally planned for myself. I am so grateful that God's plan for me is the one directing my life!

Courtney said...

Happy birthday, Kristin. I hope all of your dreams come true.

Amy Makechnie said...

Success is no at title or a rank, it is excellence in a chosen field. There is no doubt that a woman who chooses to be a mother to the very best of her ability is a success. We might not feel "excellent" everyday, but all those little moments of "trying" will be enough. Thanks for sharing these stories; they are wonderful.

Megan @Me and Wee said...

This was so very inspirational! There are so many days I feel so out of place as an at home mom. I know I'm just what they need; but that doesn't make it an easy job. I'm working so hard to simplify my expectations and be in the moment with the kids. I get so easily distracted toward my own personal wishes and goals that I often find myself out of balance and feeling so stressed out. I've found that prayer has been helpful for me; to center and to remember my "bigger picture" priorities. It helps me focus on the most important things and cut out the rest. I still have all my own goals, but I know now that I must move more slowly toward them while I tend to important things! That really helps.

Laura said...

Thank you so much Sarah!

Laura said...

I could have written this! I keep telling myself to take it one day at a time and not focus on what I could have done better yesterday, but instead what I can do to be the best mother today!

LeighSabey said...

I am loving this series, Sarah, and I've been following Stephanie's blog since you linked to it another day. Both of your perspectives have influenced me quite a bit as I aim to intentionally add peace and simplicity to our lives. I've been a busy SAHM in the past -- with part time jobs, a large home, lots of activities for my very young kids. But over the past couple years I've really cut back and have all the time in the world to dedicate to my family and our small home. I even take naps - this makes me a more patient mom :). Thanks for sharing this series!

Linda said...

Excellent!! I had the same mindset ever since I was a little girl. My Mom stayed home with all of us 4 girls and didn't return to work until the youngest was in high school. I admired that then and now. I quit my job when I was leaving on my maternity leave with my only child, and we too lived on one meager income (a factory income) and somehow we even ended up buying a home on that income. Not a giant mansion, but a sweet comfortable little home that is where we still live today. I think the mindset of many is misplaced. People used to tell me - Oh, you're fortunate that you could stay home. I only stayed home for the first 5 years of my daughter's life, but even after that and to the present day, I negotiated a very flexible schedule with my employer (my motto is that it doesn't hurt to ask), so that either my husband and I were always there for my daughter before and after school. I didn't view it so much as we were fortunate to be able to do so, but rather - we made the choice to do so and to me that's what life is all about - choices.

Heather said...

Love!

Jody said...

love both of you! tears from, "I am here, always here." that really never dawned on me until I read that and I am so grateful that if all else goes wrong on any given day, I am here for my brood...always here. :)

Melissa Buttry said...

I love your first comment, "Success is not a title or a rank, it is excellence in a chosen field." I think you hit the nail on the head Amy.

Melissa Smith said...

I loved reading this, thank you Stephanie.

Renee said...

I just had the time to read this. I am a stay at home mom, but have always had to work. I am lucky that I can just walk down the stairs and into my office. When they were young, it was tough trying to fit work in between naps and I usually spent the better part of the night finishing my job. My kids are mostly grown -- one out of the house and two teens and I am still here, taking on new work. Unfortunately, I've always had to work because we could never survive on my husband's income and we now have a chronically ill child and medical bills are mounting. Even with insurance (most of our doctors don't take it), we are strapped and I find myself not being present for my kids because of the stress. I envy Stephanie a bit, but also count my blessings that even though I'm not always "here," I am here if they need me.

Heather Wix-Aguilera said...

LOVE!!! Thank you both for making stay at home moms feel good about themselves. There are so many different people/things in the media that make stay at home moms feel bad or less of a person. While its easy to ignore its more fun to live in a world where people share the same values. I never thought I'd be a stay at home mom and not that I am I want nothing more.

onehm said...

I have the pleasure of personally knowing Stephanie, and I must say, she is the most delightful, calm, inspiring mother! This story was lovely. Grateful for this series you are sharing!

Tiff said...

Thank you to both of you for this wonderful series and post. From another SAHM in the thick of it this (these) are just what I've needed to hear. Thank you so much.