Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lauren's Story


“Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs…since the payment is pure love.” 
– Mildred B. Vermont

I grew up the daughter of a successful corporate executive and a loving, devoted mother.  I always felt fortunate to have my dad’s ambition and intelligence in addition to my mom’s nurturing nature.  There was never any doubt that I would someday be a mother but I was very open to being a working mother.  My plan was always to have it all.

After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, I found a good job at a respected company and began my ascent up the corporate ladder.  While working full-time, I attended night classes for 3 grueling years to complete my Master’s.  Everything was going as planned; I even had an engagement ring on my finger when I crossed the stage to receive my diploma and the love of my life in the audience cheering me on.  We were married a few months later.  As I blew out my 28th birthday candles, I wished to soon start a family of our own.  Our beloved son was born 9 months later.
What I hadn’t entirely planned for was the overwhelming, all-encompassing love I felt for my baby.  While my head was telling me to go back to work and put my expensive degrees to good use, my heart broke every time I thought about doing so.  I did end up returning to work after 6 months of maternity leave because I figured I would give it a try and could always quit if it didn’t work out.  It wasn’t easy to leave my baby but everything sort of fell into place, most notably that a coworker transferred out of state and their beloved nanny suddenly became available.  I felt okay about being the working mom of a single child, knowing that he was being loved and doted on by a wonderful, experienced mother while I was working at a company that valued and encouraged work-life balance.  I was (just barely) keeping my head above water, doing all the things I wanted to do and being the kind of mom I wanted to be.  But a voice in my head was growing, saying that I couldn’t spread myself any thinner and that this simply wouldn’t work when we had another baby.

Our daughter was born two years after our son.  Even though I knew in my heart that I couldn’t continue working, making the decision to resign from a job I loved, that I had worked so hard for, was still difficult.  I knew my family supported my stepping out of the workforce but my conversations with my professional mentors completely caught me off guard.  Across the board, they not only supported my decision to be home with my kids, they applauded it.  Several successful women who I admired confessed to me, some with tears in their eyes, that they wish they had been so wise when their children were young.  They deeply regretted missing so much of the precious years with their little ones, years they can never get back.  I realized then that “having it all” was no longer what I wanted for myself or my family.  I don’t believe that raising babies and pursuing a demanding career are complementary undertakings.  I think if we’re honest with ourselves, everyone knows deep down that babies need to be home with their mothers, cared for and taught by the people who know them best and love them most.  And quite frankly, I believe that mothers need it just as much, if not more.  And so I never returned to work from my second maternity leave – it felt so good to finally have my head on board with my heart
My husband would have supported my decision either way but he agreed that my staying home was best for our family.  Even though we were living within our means, we met with our financial planner to understand how our short- and long-term finances would be impacted by this decision.  I highly recommend doing this; our planner essentially gave us financial permission to make this huge change.  The loss of a six figure salary didn’t go unnoticed initially, but now, nearly 2 years later, we don’t feel much of a difference because of some changes we made.  We refinanced our home at a lower rate.  We sold a rental property whose cash flow didn’t make sense.  I insourced many of the things I once outsourced – I now clean my own house, wash my own car, paint my own nails.  We obviously cut the expense of our nanny, and luxuries like international travel and fine dining are not particularly conducive to families with young kids anyway; the kids helped us cut our budget in that regard!   
While I missed out on a fair share of tender baby moments with my son, the silver lining is that I have the perspective of a working mother.  I made an informed decision and never have to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side.  I know firsthand that working moms love their kids every bit as much as stay-at-home moms do, but being with my children all day, every day has strengthened a bond that I didn’t realize could get any stronger.
An unforeseen benefit of my being home every day is that my mothering intuition has become so clear – it is rare that I don’t know what my children need.  This intuition has given me the confidence to make decisions based on what I know is best for our family.  It used to be difficult for me to say no to a world full of pressures to go here, do this, or buy that.  But now I do not hesitate to say no, no, no to the chaos of the outside world and focus on the things that truly enrich our lives – time with our extended family, true friends, and most of all each other.

I have also realized that, for me, being a deliberate mother is a full time job.  The busier I get, the less intentional my parenting becomes; I go from proactive to reactive and my family deserves better from me.  I have found that the more intention I put into motherhood, the more rewarding of a vocation it becomes.  I love having the luxury to slow down and savor the simple things in life with my sweet kids.  I enjoy preparing meals with love that nourish both my family’s bodies and their souls.  I share in my kids’ exuberance when they master a new skill or do something to make someone else happy.  My kids are happier and get along better when I am fully present and they have my undivided attention.  None of these things would be as possible or as enjoyable if my family had to share me with a career outside of our home.

I honestly don’t feel like I’ve given up any of the dreams I once had.  Instead, becoming a mother has provided further clarity about what a full life looks like for me.  My career ambitions may return when my children are older, but for now, “having it all” means:

·        Days filled from sunup to sundown with kisses and cuddles, games and giggles.
·        Being able to say yes to my kids when they ask for French toast on a Tuesday morning.
·        Driving to the coast on a clear, uncrowded October day to pick the perfect pumpkins for Halloween.
·        Spending rainy days in bedsheet forts with giggling kids, glow sticks and every stuffed animal in our house.
·        And above all else, looking at my children curled up in my husband’s lap for our weekly popcorn movie night and knowing that I didn’t miss one single moment of their innocence, learning or joy.

My heart is so full of love, gratitude and contentment and I know I’m exactly where I should be.  How could I possibly want anything more? 


  1. I love this series! Lauren, your babies are precious. Thank you for sharing your story. I still can't believe I get to be home with my boys. What a blessing!

  2. I so LOVE this series, but I also feel so much guilt reading it! I wish I could make staying-at-home happen…we barely make ends meet with two incomes! :(

    1. I feel the same way Kelly! Love this blog and this is a really nice series but we're in the same boat. We don't have much leftover at the end of the month from our 2 incomes and we live modestly. I would love nothing more that to stay home but we haven't found a way to make it work. Reading this series breaks my heart even more :(

    2. Just offering an idea for you...I quit teaching to stay home 11 years ago and since I have been home I do home daycare. We couldn't afford to live on my husband's teacher salary but with a bit more we are just fine. Of course we do have to scrimp and save on many things still! We have four children and live in the Chicago savings...two old cars...hand me down clothes...small cell phones. It's difficult but it is possible for the 6 of us to live comfortably on his $50,000 salary plus the extra day care money. Not judging you ;) but I do know many people who have told me they could never afford to quit...but I know very well that their husbands make more than mine...they have iphones...go on vacations etc. In some cases it's a lifestyle choice.

    3. My heart breaks for you women who long to be home but feel like you simply can't. We all do the best we can, and we all fall short in one way or another. I believe God honors the desires of our hearts. If your heart is home with your children, even if you physically can't be, your children will feel that and love you for it, and it will work out in the end.

    4. Well said John and Anna!

    5. Thanks John and Anna - such wonderful words! That really does help! I have thought so many times about home daycare - our house is pretty small so I just wonder how well it would work for us. Our second is on the way so I'll be giving it more thought! :) One thing I've read in several of these stories is how they knew early on, even before marriage, they would want to stay home with their children and they worked hard at that, living on one salary and saving the rest. This is such a simple concept but very smart! I wish someone would've pointed that out to young, naive me years ago! :)

    6. Sarah B I couldn't agree with you more. I love this blog and I love this series...but know that there are plenty of us working mom's out there that would love to cut back/stay home/etc.and it's just not possible. Health insurance through my growing family is through me. My son has a serious condition and we can not go without insurance. My husband is a in grad school... has loans to pay back..the list goes on an on. I love reading the stories of women who have been able to make it work. But there are some of us that simply do not have that option. Doesn't make me love this blog any less. I look at these stories and try to be as present as I can with my son when I am home. I feel happy that he is enriched at his pre-school and enjoys it there. I pick him up every day with a smile on his face and him wanting to stay so he can continue to play on the playground. The time that we do have together I stay off of my phone and I try not to mutli task. I do all of the housework after he is in bed during the week so the weekends we can spend together. I too agree that the decision to stay home with your future kids is something that people shoudl talk about earlier. We bought a house that required two incomes...and though we both agreed we would sell it in a heartbeat and down size the market just hasn't bounced back. We've been waiting since 2009 ...before my son was born..and still we woudl have to cut a check that we can't afford. Until then we do the best we can. I'm fortunate to have a flexible job and on days that I just want to spend more time with my kid I pack up my stuff and I head out early. In this economy sometimes you have to just take what you can get!

  3. I am really enjoying this series!! What a great story Lauren!! I love when you said "I think deep down we all know babies should be at home with their mothers." I have long said this and it is so important. Thanks Sarah for sharing these stories :)

  4. "I have found that the more intention I put into motherhood, the more rewarding of a vocation it becomes."

    Thank you! So many mothers feel like motherhood is a chore, and THIS is the answer! So beautifully put!!

  5. This story touched my heart the most. Thank you for sharing..

  6. You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I haven't been by to read your blog in months, too busy trying to run my new coaching business while still keeping my home and part time homeschooling my teens with special needs (they also go to school part time). The thing is, I don't have career ambitions and even though I love my business my heart is truly still at home. It needs to be my main priority or I lose what I love most. I came here tonight specifically looking for sport for us SAHM's and here I found it right at the top of your blog. Thank you! Even when our kids are teens, they--and our homes/husbands--still need us very much.

  7. Thank you so much for this series! I love seeing so many women sharing their unique and individual stories of how they chose to be there for their children. While I do choose to stay home with our children (and am so grateful for that) I know there are plenty of women who, despite the desire, can't make it happen to be home with their children. I truly believe that god knows their hearts and where their sincere priorities lie and will bless them and their families accordingly. Sadly, I know some mothers who stay home with their kids and still aren't really "there" for them. The blessings of staying true to our calling as mothers pour out on our families when we love, embrace and let that calling wash over us. While that can arguably be easier and best achieved while at home and being the primary caregiver for your children, those are qualities that working mothers can magnify in their hearts and actions as well. Motherhood is beautiful, challenging and rewarding and those who truly devote their hearts (however that may look in their circumstances) will feel the heavenly joy that can accompany it.

    I hope you don't mind but I linked to this series in my Mother's Day post. It's unfortunately rare to find such a devoted series to praising mothers for choosing to be at home. Thank you!!! I have really enjoyed feeling like I am not alone in this devotion!

  8. I really love this article. Lauren put into words what I feel every day. I am currently a working mom but my heart is at home with my two kids. We cannot possibly make it on my husband's salary (even though he has two jobs) so I am in the process of getting my home daycare license. I know this is not an option for everyone (the state places very stringent restrictions on home care facilities, there may be concerns about health insurance coverage, etc) but I am thankful that it appears I will be able to go this route. I agree so much with Lauren's statement that having experience being a working mom can help us appreciate having the privilege to stay home that much more. It's been over five years coming but finally the day is drawing near!

    I hope and pray that all you mommas who long to be home with your kids will be able to find a way that works for your family. God is faithful, even though sometimes it seems like he’s forgotten us he WILL answer prayers in His perfect wisdom and timing. The waiting is so, so difficult though.

  9. "...being a deliberate mother is a full-time job." YES!!! To some people I feel like I have to defend what I do all day (with my 3 year old, my almost 2 year old…and a baby in my belly!)--but sometimes, I don't even know what to say I did all day…but I think your line is spot-on! I'm not just a stay at home mom (a lot of women I know are), I'm a deliberate mother! And that really IS a full-time job. Just because I'm home all day (and not working outside the home) doesn't mean I have all the time to take care of others (not my own kids--extended family), talk on the phone for hours or sit around and watch soaps all day.
    Anyway-in short, I love this explanation and I'm going to use it often. Thanks!!