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Photo By Bethany Chase Photography
I always imagined myself as a stay at home mom and desired that for my family, but I didn’t know when or how that would come true. When my husband and I decided we were “ready” to start a family, we were in our sixth year of marriage and just assumed that it would be easy to get pregnant. Five months later, in the spring of 2012, we were pregnant for the first time, and it felt like our dreams were coming true. We were devastated when that first pregnancy ended in miscarriage around 6 weeks. A difficult road of waiting and trusting God followed. It would be two years before we got pregnant again. Our baby boy, and our gift from God, Marshall, was born in February 2015, and he is the joy of our lives! We absolutely love being his parents.
Until then, I had been working full-time in the field of advertising, using my bachelor’s degree as a graphic designer, in a career that I truly enjoyed. I was proud of my work and felt fulfilled by it. I was blessed to have such a wonderful job. However, as my due date approached, my request to work part-time was denied. In my heart, the thought of continuing to work full-time after our long awaited son was born, weighed heavily on me. I couldn’t picture myself leaving our newborn for 10+ hours a day, 5 days a week, in someone else’s care, when we’d waited so long to have him. I wanted nothing more than to take care of him every day, and be there to watch him grow, every step of the way. We explored daycare options and looked at our finances and thought through every possible scenario. When Marshall was born, I couldn’t escape the desire to be a stay at home mom and we decided that’s what we wanted for our family. I didn’t want the hectic daily morning schedule of waking our son up early, rushing out the door and being away from him the majority of the day, while we worked at jobs that, yes, paid the bills, but at what cost? To only have a couple hours per night to enjoy our son and then put him to bed? Only to wake up the next day and do it again, always living for the weekends (which would never seem long enough)? I didn’t want my life as a new mom to look like that. Plus, although I enjoyed my job, there were deadlines and stress and pressures that I knew would wear on me even more, once I was a mom. I knew I would regret going back at work when all I wanted was to be home with my baby.
Photo By Bethany Chase Photography
At the time, we probably could have afforded daycare. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would be working to pay someone else to do the job that I wanted, the most important job that I’ve ever had. My husband and I decided early in our marriage, to live modestly, in a house we could afford, and live within our means. We don’t spend lavishly or take extravagant vacations. We don’t carry credit card debt. We’ve enjoyed many things and we’ve always had food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof over our heads, by God’s grace. We have never been in want, and we thank God every day for his many, abundant gifts. But we did have to examine our finances, make adjustments, learn to live on less and with less, and most of all, trust God to take care of us, even more than we had before. Losing half of our income was scary. We had many discussions and prayed about it a lot. We believe that taking this leap of faith was what God wanted us to do and that He would continue to provide for us. When money is tight and it doesn’t add up on paper, we continue to put our family first and God has been so faithful to us. Unexpected blessings, raises for Andrew at work, and extra jobs for me have filled in the gaps. It’s been a journey of faith and learning, stretching and growing, and immeasurable blessings and joy.
On top of caring for my son and managing our household, cooking, cleaning and all that good stuff, I run my own design business from home. I also (occasionally) maintain a blog. I squeeze in work hours during Marshall’s nap time and bedtime, which is challenging! I am thankful that God has provided a way for me to make additional income, while still allowing me to be dedicated to caring for my family the way I’ve always dreamed of. It took time though. When I became a mom, there was a learning curve and adjustment period for me in transitioning from working full-time to being home full-time. There are definitely days that are hard and I feel alone or isolated, or I miss some of my “old freedoms”. But, I have never once regretted my decision. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be with my son, every single day. And I can’t imagine myself not being a stay-at-home mom now. I’m where I’m meant to be.
I was happily surprised to receive quite a bit of support and positive comments from friends and family about my decision to stay home. Many expressed how wonderful it is to be able to do so, especially when it’s so difficult to live on one income. Because of decisions we made, like working to pay off debt, not overextending ourselves, and building savings to fall back on, that helped make the decision to stay home not completely out of reach for us. I am so thankful for and proud of my husband, Andrew, for working diligently to provide for our family. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy or without challenges. We’re still learning ways to make it work and are always mindful of our spending habits and what we can and cannot do now. But every “sacrifice” is completely worth it.
My heart breaks for moms that don’t have the option to stay home or financially cannot make it work. I realize how difficult it is to be a stay at home parent in today’s world, for a variety of reasons. I’ve talked with friends that wish they could stay home, and to friends who wish they’d made the switch sooner. I would definitely recommended staying home, even if you’re on the fence about taking that leap. I believe you’ll be so glad you did. In my mind, work and a career will always be there, and I can always go back to it. But children will only be this little once. ONCE. Everyone tells you it goes by SO FAST. And now I know that to be true! I am so grateful to be able to be fully present instead of being torn between working full-time and being home. We can go to the park any afternoon, we can read a few more books before nap time, we can take our time eating a slow breakfast in the morning, play together, stay home if he’s sick or we just need a quiet day. It really is wonderful!
No one can prepare you for how much love will consume your heart the moment you meet your baby, and no one can love that baby better than you can. I’ve been a stay at home mom for 21 months now, and one thing I’ve learned is that I was designed to be a mom, even when I didn’t think I have what it takes. It’s the best job title I’ve ever had! I believe there is no greater calling than to embrace the God-given gift of motherhood, with all of its emotions, messes, lack of sleep, freak outs, beauty and most of all, love. Motherhood changed me, in wonderful and difficult ways that I didn’t expect. No one could prepare me for the amount of work and pure exhaustion it is at times, but nothing compares to the joy, smiles, giggles, hugs, milestone moments, simple routines and the blessing of being home, and not having to miss any of it.