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Day 53: Staying at Home

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of me being a stay-at-home mom. As the old cliche says, the days were long but the year was short!

February 16, 2015: my last day of gainful employment. The day was bittersweet, as I knew staying home with the boys was the right thing for our family at the time, but I also really enjoyed my job and especially my coworkers. The company I worked for treated me well in the 3.5 years I spent there. My team became close friends and enjoyed each others' company, mostly.

I know there are many people out there who long to stay at home, or even just to work less, but can't. So I do not take this gift lightly. The decision for me to quit working was a no-brainer for us, as day care for three kids was more than I was making at 3/4 time. Easy decision or not, transitioning from one to the other is challenging. I felt nervous that I would hate it, or suck at it, or raise serial killers. So far, none of those things have happened.

This life is definitely stressful, but it's a different kind of stress. I didn't save lives at work, or do anything almost anyone else couldn't do (I did excel at vlookups!), but I still brought work home with me at times. I worried about things that needed to get done, lamented over changes I didn't agree with, and spent late nights and weekends there during "busy season." I left the boys at day care late some days, so I could have time to get things done after work. I stayed home with the boys on most Fridays since #1 turned one, but 32 hours a week didn't feel like part time. I honestly don't know how families manage when both parents work full time, even if they have flexible schedules as I did.

As I said, the financial bottom line didn't take much of a hit as most of my salary went to day care and benefits. We still had some adjustments to make, but thankfully major budget cuts were not a stress added to the transition. My major stress was adequacy. Was I good enough to do this? Could I spend my day with little people and not go completely bonkers? What if I hate it? What if they hate me? Do I have to cook every night? Do I really have to feed them all at least thrice daily? What will we do all day? My husband affirmed me and helped me work through the transitional struggles. He's also an excellent parent - there's no way I could have made the transition smoothly if he was one of those husbands who never helped with the kids unless expressly told to do so.

Thanks to several supportive friends, especially the ones in my mothers group, the transition was not as hard as I expected it to be. The oldest kid started a 3-day morning preschool, and was in a class with a friend. School worked out beautifully and he loved it. I was able to get to know #2 in a way I hadn't before, and of course the 5-month-old nursing infant loved having me around 24/7. I quickly started to look forward to my mothers group and developing a new rhythm of life. 

People have asked if I wish I'd stayed home from the time #1 was born, and I think the answer is No. I don't want to slight him, or make it seem like I didn't/don't like being home with him. That's not it. I just feel like the timing of the transition worked for our family. I learned so much for the teachers at our wonderful daycare. I knew the teachers there really cared for our children. They taught me about parenting, both the things I wanted to emulate and the things I didn't. My work experiences were valuable to me, too, and although I'm no longer doing what I did, I learned a lot about myself, how I operate and how I thrive.

The benefits to me being home are many. I am much more confident in my parenting and in the choices we've made for our family. My husband takes far fewer days off for illness or kid-related things, which is extra-great now that he's commuting 80+ miles to a new job. The kids and I have been sick less. We have more fun together. I am seeing more closely the development of each of the boys' personalities. We are able to live our Catholic faith more fully and be more involved at church. The boys and I get to spend more time with friends.

This life is not perfect, but I'm willing to bet no one's life is perfect. We try during our nightly prayers to express gratitude with the boys about where our life is right now and the opportunities that have arisen for us. We never know what is going to happen next, so we are trying to enjoy our life right now as much as we can.

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  1. I am so proud of you....a little jealous maybe (maybe).....

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