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Why? Because it is so much easier to run a home when I am, well, home. Because it makes my family happy. Because it makes me happy. Because it feels right, so much more right than anything else I can think of doing. My degree is in physics teaching, but there are plenty of other physics teachers, most of whom can do the job I would be doing as well or better than I. As a physics teacher, I am replaceable. As a mother, I am not. My children need ME. There is so much more to mothering than keeping children clothed, fed, and clean. So much teaching, loving, building. I am building more than a home…I am building relationships with my children that will anchor them all their lives. I am building people, who in turn will go out and change the world. I am changing the world, one little person at a time.
How? John and I knew before we were married that having me home with our children was a priority for us. So the choices we made at the beginning were made with that dream in mind. We planned to live on his income from the start. We actually worked together in an office at the time, which was lovely–the working together, not the office–so we used my income to pay down debt (our car) and build savings. We lived in a little, run-down, cottage home in a run-down part of Mesa and paid next-to-nothing for it. We furnished it with hand-me-downs and thrift store finds. We bought nothing on credit; we didn’t even have a credit card.
When I got pregnant with Adam, we had been married five months. I didn’t get very sick, but I was queasy constantly and so tired I could hardly stand it, especially at work. Trying to keep my eyes open all day (and trying not to gag because the office air was so stale) wore me out and I would come home and crash. Every day. I did this for two months. I ultimately decided that it would be better to fulfill one of my roles well than both of my roles poorly (wife and employee). So, we talked it over, and realized we had enough in savings to pay off our car (which had been my “retirement” goal), and I quit my job. We were debt free, living on one (modest) income.
Money was tight. It has been tight ever since, honestly. I don’t think it always will be, but so far it has been. But we have always had enough. The Lord has provided, often in miraculous ways, and made it possible for John to provide, as we have done all we can to make it possible for me to stay home. I think one key has been that first decision to live on John’s income and stay out of debt as much as possible. That laid the foundation. I have had opportunities to supplement our income by working and I have never felt right about them. I do all I can with what I have, and I trust John to provide financially for our family. I support him, and he supports me. To me, that is what marriage is about. It is a partnership. John provides our income. I work hard to stretch our income, make things myself, sew, cook from scratch, shop at thrift stores, keep a garden. I make lots of mistakes. I over-economize, I under-economize, and sometimes I fall apart. But I keep trying, and I know the Lord makes up the difference. We had one vehicle for years. We still use secondhand furniture, and my children wear hand-me-downs. We live simply. We make it work. It has been worth every sacrifice. Would we have more money if I worked outside our home? Probably. Would we have more happiness? I am certain beyond all doubt that the answer to that question is no.
I am grateful every day for the privilege of staying home, of raising my own children. I know it is God’s will for me and that He is the One who really makes it possible. We pay a tithe to our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) before paying our other expenses, and we have seen so many blessings come as a result of this practice. I am convinced it is a major part of our ability to make this work. (See Malachi 3:10, The Windows of Heaven)
I know that not everyone has the option or the desire. But if it is a desire of your heart, don’t give up. Pray about it, talk about it, see if there is a way. Everyone’s paths are different and I understand that. This has been my experience, and I would not trade it for the world.
“It takes faith–unseeing faith–for young people to proceed immediately with their family responsibilities in the face of financial uncertainties. It takes faith for the young woman to bear her family instead of accepting employment, especially when schooling for the young husband is to be finished….But know this–that all these are of the planting, while faithful, devout families, spiritual security, peace, and eternal life are the harvest.” SpencerW.Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.11