While I was pregnant with my oldest son I was always envious of other mom’s who said they were going to stay home after their babies were born. I worked full-time as did my husband and our son was going to be in daycare almost 12 hours a day.
Throughout my pregnancy I read books on childbirth and pregnancy. Not once did I even think of reading a parenting book. I was naïve and young. Yes, we had waited for this baby for a few years and battled infertility to get him. And yet, I had not the faintest idea what being a parent really was. It never occurred to me that I could’ve worked an evening shift and spent mornings with my son lessening his time in daycare. It never hit home just how deeply leaving that sweet boy for even a few hours would hurt.
My son came three weeks early. And I was so in love with that sweet boy that I almost knew I’d never leave his side until he had to go to school.
The early weeks flew by. Just a few weeks in and I FINALLY started running the numbers on daycare and made a pretty shocking realization that there was no financial way we could pay all our bills and day care. There was no room. We were heavily in debt from our pre-baby days and that was eating up most of the wiggle room.
We had some long nights aside from the typical newborn nights. We ran all kinds of scenarios, made countless list, and finally embarked on the plan best for us. I’ll spare you all the gritty financial details and just get to the point – the best decision at the time was for me to stay home.
It was a shocking and terrifying decision for us. While I was thrilled to have my sweet boy all to myself, I felt like I was failing my husband and putting a huge burden on him. I also knew that I actually was leaving a job I liked doing.
My first son broke me into parenting. You don’t have to have money to be good parents. He taught me that I can love someone so much it can hurt. That I will cry every single time I have to leave my child, even when I NEED a break. That I am stronger than I think, but also now so much more sensitive than I ever imagined. He taught me that parenting is exhausting. That some nights you will go to bed in tears, fearful that you are not doing enough for your child. And some nights you will go to bed elated because that dear sweet boy gave you hugs and kisses all day long. And he thinks the world sets in your face when you reach for him each morning. He knows mommy is there – always.
I felt so guilty for becoming pregnant with my second son. I felt as though I was taking attention and love away from my oldest….Until my second was actually born. And I watched their bond blossom very early on. I watched my ‘baby’ become a big brother. He sat beside me as I nursed his brother, patting his head lovingly. He was so very proud to carry little brother’s burp cloths and binkies. He gave me hugs when I was exhausted from never sleeping. He reminded me why this was all so very important and worth it.
I no longer got paid for my ‘job’. At least not in monetary terms. But boy have I been rewarded each and every morning when those boys smile as I open their bedroom door.
My sweet boys are both toddlers now…one almost a preschooler. Those boys are my world and my rock. There are still days that I am exhausted. Days where I feel like failure and that my ‘work’ isn’t enough. But when I hug those boys goodnight and tuck them in, I know I am where I need to be. I may not bring money into this house, but I am building a foundation for my children. I am teaching them that it is not the monetary things that make us happy. They are thrilled to have my attention. They thrive in my consistency and they KNOW that I will be there for them always.
This year has been full of challenges. Financial, emotional, spiritual…it’s all been thrown at us. I’ve questioned who I am and what my purpose is. I’ve prayed and I’ve cried. I’ve fought my inner self over what the best decision is. Mixed signs have come over and over again. But, if I still my heart, halt my mind, one of those sweet boys appears with a hug and a kiss. Even an “Okay mama, okay” as he pats my shoulder. And I know…I’m where God intended for me to be. And he will make a way.