I was trying not to let my voice break. My newborn son wouldn’t stop screaming, I hadn’t slept more than 1 hour uninterrupted all night, and I didn’t know what to do.
I couldn’t wait to get back to work.
Work was normal. Work was structured. Work was controllable. My colicky newborn son was not, and I was close to a breakdown. Looking back, I’m sure I struggled with postpartum depression, but I was afraid to go to my doctor and admit it. Once I get back to work, everything will start feeling normal again.
So, when Drew was 5 weeks old, I went back to work. And I never looked back. That is, until I had my daughter 4 years later.
The Desire that Wasn’t
When I was pregnant with my son and preparing for my maternity leave, I feared what every first-time expectant working mom fears. That once I popped that baby out, life would change and I would have an insatiable desire to stay home. Because my husband and I had built our lifestyle around two incomes, quitting my job wouldn’t be possible, so I feared that desire.
But it never came.
Not once did I regret being a working mom when I was a mom of one. My mom and mother-in-law watched him during the day, and later he went to a Mother’s Day Out program at a local church. Frankly, I was so unsure of myself as a mom, I felt like his grandmothers were doing a better job than I could ever hope to do. Drew was in the best hands. His grandmothers had a more significant presence in their first grandchild’s life than most grandparents. He benefited from their nurturing. I continued contributing to our family’s income. Everyone was happy.
The Lost Opportunity to Change Course
When Drew was one year old, we sold our house and made plans to build a larger house on land we had bought when I was pregnant with him. We moved into my in-laws’ 400-sq ft, 1 bedroom guest house for the time being. Then the unimaginable happened. Matt was laid off. Suddenly, no longer was my income half the family’s earnings. It was all of it.
But what timing. We were living rent-free, and thankfully torrential rain had prevented us from breaking ground on our house. We only had one car payment because Matt had had a company vehicle, and my boss (at a Ford dealership) graciously offered for me to drive a car from there until Matt found a job. We wanted for nothing, except perhaps more room. God provided.
Matt searched for a job and 7 months after his layoff he secured a very good, stable job in our small town. Not only did we not have to leave the area but this job promised to pay more than he ever could have hoped for at his previous job. But instead of reevaluating our goals as a family, we added square feet to our house plans. Being a one-income family never entered our minds as a real possibility.
A Teacher’s Daughter
You see, I grew up as an only child of two school teachers. My mom stayed home with me the first year, but of course I don’t remember that. I have vague memories of being at a very loving babysitter’s house, and my school memories were full of having either my mom or dad at school with me. I loved it. My parents’ lives were my life. They had summers off with me. I never considered what it would have been like to have Mom at home, because for most of my growing up years, she WAS home when I was home.
Also being a child of two school teachers, college was a given. I would go into whatever field I desired and I would get a good job that would be satisfying and would enable me to live happily and support my family. Of course I would have kids, but I never considered the sacrifices that I’d have to make in trying to juggle both.
For example, my mom, as a school teacher, was always home with me when I was sick. In contrast, being a department manager, I was almost never home with Drew when he was sick. When I had to take him to the doctor, I had to explain what my mom had observed in his behavior. I had to ask her if he was eating. She wrote down what his temperature was and when she gave him medicine. I felt like a part-time Mom when I was in that doctor’s office.
If Drew had kept me up most of the night, there was no sleeping in to catch up. Still, when I was a mom of one, I learned to deal with these sacrifices, thinking this was just “part of it.”
Many people who believe strongly that a mother should never work outside the home would think that I was walking in disobedience. But here’s the problem I have with that. I was seeking God for my life. I was having a regular quiet time and prayer life. Yet I was never convicted to be home then. Later, I discovered why.
Continue reading My Story Part 2: When My Heart Changed.
*Disclaimer: I recognize that the working vs. stay-at-home mom debate has been fuel for countless mommy wars. I want no part of that. I know the reality that many women who work outside the home have no choice in the matter. I also know many choose to work for other reasons. The purpose for this series isn’t to convince anyone that being home is the only right decision because I don’t believe that. Instead, I simply want to share my story for those who might find our path helpful in *prayerfully* discerning which path they might take. My deepest desire is that we would all support one another. I welcome comments that achieve that end. I seek for us to build each other up – no matter where we are – and not tear down. Thank you for letting me share this very personal part of my journey with you!