Sometimes I swear the phrase “moving on to the next chapter of the book” should actually be more like “changing volumes in a series”. I am in one of those special time periods in life, where major changes happen so frequently its hard to keep up, and of course, with major changes come major decisions. Have I mentioned that I kind of hate decision making?? Anyways, I will admit to you, I had always wanted to be a stay at home mom because I was brought up valuing that type of family dynamic, but when the time came to make the decision to actually STAY home after maternity leave, it was a whole lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I LOVED my job. I worked hard for it, and I was good at it. Why was I feeling like this? Why wasn’t this easier? Why am I so scared? This is what I wanted, right??
The American Heritage Dictionary defines sacrifice as – “The act of giving up something highly valued for the sake of something else considered to have a greater value or claim”. Sacrifice does not mean giving up something for nothing; it means giving up one thing for something else we believe is worth more. So in it’s design, sacrifices do hurt. When you give up something you love, for the greater good of something you love and value MORE, it doesn’t mean it won’t sting. In order to attain something you believe is of greater value, you must give up something you believe is of lesser value.
There it was, plain as day for me. I valued my career, my contribution to the corporate world, my financial independence, my hard work to get the job of my dreams…but, I had found something that suddenly rivaled all of that. Last summer I gave birth to a bright-eyed little beauty that challenged me beyond anything I expected. Perspectives morphed and I became your typical germaphobe first time mom. I obsessively checked on her on all hours of the day and night. I quickly learned the what moms meant when they referred to their kids as their “heart beating outside of their body”, that one of a kind, “mother love”. I value motherhood. I value family. I value a faith-based, love centered home. I valued the type of mother my mom was to me. I realized, toward the end of my maternity leave, that given our unique family dynamic, it was one or the other. I couldn’t have that same career and be the wife and mother I knew God was calling me to be. I had to make a decision on what I placed more value on.
Side note for a minute – When people say mothers need to work outside of the home in order to be a good example of hard work to their children, is a big pile of you know what. I was raised by a woman who stayed at home with all 8 of us and, she, BY FAR is the absolute hardest working woman I know. I guess she was what we would refer to today as a Stay-At-Home-Working-Mother (SAHWM). My idea of “staying at home” was not formed by a life of managing tennis schedules and when the nanny arrives (no offense to the tennis players out there or for the ones with nannies for that matter). She stressed the importance of finding ways to contribute to the family financially, while still keeping in mind that your #1 contribution to the family and to God is raising healthy, respectful, faithful children, and creating a loving environment for you, your husband, and kids to live in. For some people this could mean working full time from home, perhaps a part time job, maybe finding a trade and/or crafting and selling your items at craft shows (yes, many weekends were spent doing that as a kid), maybe your contribution is even more creative (think about the $$ saved by not paying for daycare, commuting, or business attire) maybe it’s couponing, making slow cooker freezer meals ahead of time, cloth diapering.. who knows! Every family is different. So from a kid who was raised by a mother who was technically “at home” I respect women who work hard, period. No matter where or what their “jobs” might be.
Now in respect of those women who have to, or truly desire to work outside of the home after children, that is totally okay (not that you need my permission lol), but whatever works best for your family. There is something liberating about the idea that no two families are the same, you just have to go with what works best for YOU and your life. I will say, the example set by my mother and father for my siblings and I, is something I truly, honestly, value above all else. The idea that family is a community, a tribe, and that it takes an immense amount of hard work, sacrifice, and team work in order for it to work is something we ALL can relate to.
Anyways, about the same time we finalized our decision that I would not go back to work full time, and I would focus on building my business from home, God swooped in and gave me the greatest gift possible – work. A few contracting opportunities fell from heaven into my lap as if God was affirming my decision to work from home. It was the confidence boost I needed to kick my butt into gear and realize that I can stay at home with my little one, and build my business at the same time. God gave me the deep desire to be a mom, but also the desire to work and be successful. It was going to take a lot of effort, dedication, TRUST, and discipline, but it was possible if I wanted it and if I was willing to be courageous and work for it.
Sometimes I still struggle with the newness of my role as a SAHWM – it is hard! But then I think about this – Before I had baby G, I would leave the house at 5:45AM and not get home until 7PM on a good day (I lived an hour from the office without traffic). I would frequently travel to trade shows across the country for days at a time. As for my other half, my hubby is a LEO and works a LOT of odd hours. Right after G was born his work hours shifted to where he is home in the mornings until about 10AM and then doesn’t get home until after we are asleep. If I wasn’t home, the only times I would see him for any significant amount of time would be every other weekend (which he works extra shifts then too). We would never see each other, and he would never be able to see G if she was in daycare. This was something we both agreed, would not work for our family. Everyday I realize that being able to stay at home is a privilege, but it’s a privilege that we must continue to work for as a family unit.
Another side note… Personally, the idea of daycare and someone else relaying to me my own child’s milestones at the end of a workday kind of broke my heart to pieces (hello! I helped create her and did the hard work bringing her into this world! I want to see her laugh first, eat solids first, crawl first, walk first, say da-da or ma-ma (or with my luck some colorful choice word from my husbands dictionary). Call me selfish, but I want to see that. I want to know what foods she doesn’t like and figuring out her nap schedule. I want to potty train her, I want to be frustrated when she pees on the carpet, or down my leg. I want to feel exhausted at the end of the day chasing her around, getting her hands out of power sockets, pulling her off the dog, blocking off the stairs, removing cords from her mouth, wiping baby food off me, the cabinets, the dog, the floor, and behind her ears, and putting blankets and foam things on every corner, edge, and ledge I didn’t even know we had. I don’t even care if I have to do laundry 3x a day and both of us are in our 3rd outfit by noon because she exploded out of her diaper. I wouldn’t mind, if it meant I got to see her grow up.
I, of course, have a lifetime of lessons to learn ahead of me and several more on the meaning of “sacrifice”. Funny how we think we grasp the idea or concept of something until we ourselves actually experience it, then you are kind of left there, stunned, with a deeper awareness of how complex the world is around you. I have expressed the personal decisions my husband and I have made based on our value system, unique family dynamic, and where we are in our life journey. I encourage you, whatever you do, to let the decision be 100% between you and your spouse. Based on what you believe, the desires God placed in your heart, and your unique family dynamic. Don’t let people on either side of the fence persuade you one way or the other, otherwise your decision will lack authenticity and therefore may cause you more heartache than you deserve. Consider your own values, the meaning of sacrifice, hard work, and always stay courageous when things get scary. We are all in this together <3
great things never came from comfort zones
xox – J