Growing up I was raised by a stay at home mom. Our family made a lot of sacrifices for her to stay home with us, but we were grateful for it, and I know she would tell you she would not have changed a thing. She always had a side hustle. When we were growing up it was piano lessons. We would get off the bus and she would teach until dinner. She was the room mom for our classes and as involved with our lives and school as she could be. I knew when I grew up, if I was lucky enough to have kids, I wanted to be a stay at home mom too. And then it happened, I got married, had a little girl, and my desire to be a stay at home mom was fulfilled. To be honest, I was one of those moms who really loved it. I didn’t feel like I was missing a career, or adult time, I didn’t need much of a break from my kids, I just LOVED it. It was probably the teacher in me that gave me the ability to enjoy it as much as I did. Everything about our day was planned and structured: naps, eating, playing, screen time, it all had it’s place and I treated my stay at home motherhood like my full time job because, well, it was. I worked part time from home during naps and traveled to my hometown with my kids every other week to work in the office, it was the perfect balance for me and I was really living out my dream. I remember saying, “I would do ANYTHING to be a stay at home mom, I would sacrifice everything to be with my kids when they are little.”
And then I came to a situation where I had to say, “but I won’t do that.” I found out in October of 2016 that I would be getting a divorce and I lived in a large house with a large yard and… you guessed it, large bills. I had to then make a decision. Do I sell my home and move my kids to a cheaper part of town away from my support system, or do I get a job? Ellery was starting kindergarten and Vaughn preschool in the fall of 2017 and God blessed Andrew with an incredible new job making a lot more money so he could financially keep me and the girls afloat until they started school. I knew in my heart keeping them in their home, at our church, and near our family and friends as we adjusted to our new normal was important and, to make that feasible, I would need to get a job.
I hadn’t even started looking yet when my brother called me one day to let me know he had found the perfect job for me and gave me the guy’s number. I called, set up my interview for the following week and a few weeks later I was an agency business consultant for Farmers Insurance. I had a flexible schedule since I was working in agencies, I could do work from home when needed, and my boss was a great balance of invested and believing I was capable to do my own thing. I loved what I was doing, but still had a lot of heartache that I couldn’t be there ALL the time. I wanted to be at the bus stop everyday and preschool pick up. I still wanted to be that full time stay at home mom that now had TEN HOURS a week to get my own house stuff done. I was about to be stepping into that sweet spot of stay at home motherhood where I had a handful of hours a week to clean the house and grocery shop and maybe occasionally grab lunch with a friend and suddenly all their school time was my work time and I will admit I really struggled with this. It’s a long story, so I will spare you, but I ended up having to switch to a different district that was an hour from my house and had agencies all over town, I was sometimes spending 4 hours a day in my car and, let me tell you, commute time makes a mama’s heart ache worse than work time. I had a lot of time to miss my kids while I was driving around and a little over a year into this position I knew I had to make a change.
My friend’s husband was looking for an assistant in his Wealth Management business and after a couple months of talking about it, I finally decided to quit my job and work 5 minutes from home. Also I now was able to do preschool drop off and pick up and only needed childcare on Wednesdays which freed my parents up to live more of a true retired life and made my work life balance actually BALANCED. When I need to come to the office outside of my typical schedule my kids can come with me and my boss believes that family comes first so I am at every school function and get to stay home when they are sick. I am gonna be honest with you, I still struggle with it. Legitimately the best working mom set up on the planet and I still struggle, do you know why?
Because it wasn’t what I wanted or planned. Sometimes I see my kids reactions when we change the plans or they don’t get what they want and I think, yeah kid, I get it, I feel that way sometimes too. Adults have just learned to put the feelings inside and deal with it. I have had a phrase I’ve used through this 3 year process as sometimes a moment will hit me when I say to myself, “this wasn’t what I planned.” I remind myself often that THIS IS GOOD TOO. Perhaps I’m working because my girls need to see their mom work. Maybe they will grow up and have a passion that they want to pursue at a time they are also moms and they feel they have to choose. Hopefully they look back on childhood and remember me being present while also working and they’ll believe that they too can be a working mom while still making their kids feel loved and important. Or maybe I’m just working for the purpose of there not being money stress in our home. I have realized how much pressure men must feel when their wives stay home (and vice versa). When it came down to JUST ME even with a fantastic child support check it was still a lot of pressure to make sure I was providing for my family. Working now that I’m married means we get to take the trip, do the swim lessons, go out to eat, see the concert, do the camps, and give without worry because I have an income.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I have been thinking about this post for 2 years and I finally decided to write it. I think maybe someone needs to know that it’s okay to mourn the life you planned while still feeling happy about the life you have. I do not know why I’m walking the road I’m on, but I’m confident it’s charted with purpose. And know too that everyone has at one time or another had to draw the line and say, “but I won’t do that.” Don’t feel bad about having to change course, I lived a lot of days feeling like a failure because I said many times I would do ANYTHING to stay home full time with my kids and I felt like I made myself into a liar. Life took an unexpected turn and I made the necessary adjustments to stay afloat, no shame in that!