My Story Part 3: The First Step Home

From Working MommaThis is my story of “Coming Home” after being a working mother for six years.  You can read part 1 of my story here, and part 2 here.

The reality was, even if I felt called to be home, that kind of decision doesn’t just happen overnight. Nor does it happen by one person.  My husband had to feel certain about it, too.  Through the guidance of my friend, I decided that my first step needed to be to lay this desire at God’s feet and let him work it out.  And in order to do that, I had to lay the reins of my life aside and let Matt lead our family.

It seemed counterintuitive. If I felt called to do something, then I needed to do it right?  What sense did it make to let it go? I realized through multiple sources – particularly through Ephesians 5 – that God wanted me to become submissive in heart to my husband.  That was rough.  I’m pretty strong-willed and stubborn.  I have a type-A personality that makes me think I’m always right.  Having that attitude and being “submissive” are like mixing oil and water.

After prayer and searching Scriptures, I realized I had been challenging Matt’s authority virtually our entire 10-year marriage.   I had been cutting his feet out from under him, day in and day out.  It was most evident in the way I watched Drew, 5 at the time, argue with Matt.  I am ashamed where he learned it from.  I was certainly not teaching Drew (or Alyssa) the proper respect they needed to have for their dad.

My journey home had to start with submitting myself first to Christ, and second to Matt.

I wish I could say it was a perfect road.  I wish I could say I did everything right and here’s how it was blessed.  But the truth was, for every two steps forward in submission I would take, I would take one step back by usurping his authority yet again.  Still, we made progress.

As I made progress in my heart and actions, I was amazed to see Matt’s heart change.  Slowly he began to see the value of my being at home with Drew and Alyssa, and he began to take steps on his own to financially enable me to stay home.  Watching this process was incredible! I’ll never forget the joy of seeing God mold Matt’s heart and mine in a way I never would have expected.

But I had to also take some steps myself.

Next week I will share Part 4: The Second Step Home

*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

My Story Part 2: When My Heart Changed

From Working MommaThis is my story of “Coming Home” after being a working mother for six years.  You can read part 1 of my story here.

My experience with my daughter as a baby was completely different than my experience with Drew.  She was not colicky. I was more relaxed.  And we developed a bond that I can’t describe.  Don’t get me wrong. I have a bond with Drew, and it’s strong, but it developed slowly over years.  He also is such an independent personality (like me) that I never felt that he depended on my presence day in and day out.

But it was different with Alyssa. She wanted to be near me all the time.  She developed quite the reputation at church for throwing a fit to be heard all across the church when I would leave her in the nursery. When I would come home from work, she wouldn’t let me cook dinner. She wanted to be held constantly by me and me alone.

That’s when it hit me. Women who stay home with their children don’t always do it for the love of being a homemaker. They do it for the love of their children.  I’m not saying working moms don’t love their children, of course.  I’m simply saying that sometimes we dismiss the thought of staying home with our children because we think it’s not our gift or our calling. I felt that way for years. I thought some moms were had the personality and interests to be home with their children and some did not. I truly felt that I was a better mom because I worked.  But shifting the focus away from my abilities and aspirations to my children’s needs changed everything for me.

I was almost in tears when I realized that my daughter only spent 1-2 hours with her mother every day.  Not once did this thought cross my mind when I just had Drew. But it haunted me with Alyssa.

That’s when I started praying that God would show me what in the world I was supposed to do.  I was absolutely terrified of being a stay-at-home mom.  I have a tendency toward depression when I’m home alone too much.  I would have no idea what to do at home with a child.  I always thought some women were called to be at home with children, and the rest were not.

Did I mention the thought terrified me?  I guess that’s what makes my willingness to pray about it pretty miraculous in itself.

Confirmation

Isn’t it amazing that God knows when you need a confirmation of what he has laid on your heart?  In my case, confirmations came from multiple sources.

About that time, I developed a friendship with a childhood friend’s wife.  Her fourth child was born two weeks after Alyssa was born, so we had that in common.  Because we didn’t live close, we traded emails, and she shared with me how God had impressed on her heart that she was called to stay home with her children.  I listened to her story and tucked it into my mind.  As time went on, I knew her gentle example was a whisper of the Holy Spirit into my life.

A Lesson from the Israelites

About that time, in my personal Bible study, I was studying Exodus.  I had studied this passage multiple times before, but for the first time, these verses leaped off the page:

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle. Ex 13:17-18 (NLT)

God freed the Israelites from Egyptian captivity for the purpose of bringing them into the Promised Land.  So why didn’t he take them directly there?  Because he knew they weren’t ready to handle it.

What if my Promised Land is being home with my children, but God has not led me there yet because he knew I couldn’t handle it?

I couldn’t escape this thought.  It explained why I had never felt convicted to stay home before.  It explained why I was suddenly being plagued with this thought that I needed to be home.  God was leading me gently to my Promised Land.  With a weary hand extended to His, I let him lead me.

The walk was long.  There were many mountains to climb and many glances back. But I never turned around.  Slowly and fearfully, yet trusting in my Guide, I knew where I was going.

Continue Reading My Story Part 3: The First Step Home.

*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

My Story Part 1: The Working Momma Years

From Working Momma“Mom, can you come over?”

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.

The Sacrifices

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