Sunday, August 27, 2006

Choosing to Stay-at-Home

Many mothers dream of staying home with their children, being homemakers, keeping their husbands happy, and jollying around all day with PTO ladies at coffee dates and lunches. OK, maybe that's just me.

I know there are other mothers who want nothing more than to have it all - wonderful children, wonderful husbands, and wonderful careers, or at least a good paycheck so they can get their hair and nails done, pay for their SUVs, and buy name brand everything. Well, let's be realistic; we can't have it all. When we have children, sacrifices have to be made, whether it be the time with the children that we'd like to have or the income that we'd like to have - one of them is just not going to happen.

I am fortunate enough to have graduated from college, so in the last nine years, I have been able to parent my children nearly full time and work part time at a high rate of pay with some slight inconveniences and schedule conflicts from time to time. I have pretty much had a perfect set up going on. For some reason, I've gone and screwed that one all up by having another child - nine years after my last baby - at the ripe age of 33. This means I'll be 50 when my baby graduates from high school. This means I'll never have a career. This means...That I was meant to be a mom! I couldn't be happier!

For years I had resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to be more than what I was at my job - a part time college instructor and part time substitute teacher. I always put my children first, so there was no time to go back to college to further my education or to work full time; whoever would take the children to dance lessons, soccer, swim team, school, Brownies, boy scouts, basketball, volleyball, etc.? Their schedules were full time and they needed me working for them, and I did. Just when I thought I was ready to give it all up and go back to work, I became pregnant again. It was going to start all over again!

It took a lot of thinking, weighing options, and arguing with my husband about it, but I decided that I was done working. Retiring early, if you will. I was going to be full time mom and that was it. I would make the financial sacrifice to be the mother to my children that I longed to be and that they deserved.

No fake nails for me. No salon color. No fancy car. I was trading in the Lexus for a Town and Country. No more silk shirts - only baby spit-up approved attire for me. Forget a nice figure; bring on the curves! I was ready to tackle motherhood once again.

My friends thought I was crazy, but they were also slightly jealous. By now many of them or their husbands had chosen to become sterile so they didn't have the chance of messing up their established lives and routines, and most of all, financial situations. Children were and are too time consuming, too wouldn't be fair to themselves or their other children. That was their philosophy - until they held my new baby. Then they were searching for a way to once again become parents.

Luckily I did not go through the same emotions. I had been wanting to expand the family, as I felt my career was going nowhere and I really did not enjoy it any more. I did, however, enjoy my children, who were getting older and didn't need me to go everywhere with them. They were spending more and more time with their friends and wanting to be alone more than with my husband or me. I needed a solution - another baby.

It was difficult making the choice between career and child, but I always knew which one I really wanted and which one was best for me. There is nothing I enjoy more than waking my children each day, helping them make good choices, teaching them about life, and watching as they take it all in and practice it on their own. Starting over with an infant will certainly give me that pleasure all over again.

There is no regret here. I am glad that I chose to stay at home with my children. Money is pale in comparison with what we give each other each and every day.


Ann M said...

Bravo! I have to agree as a SAHM the money vs. family dilemma isn't even a dilemma, the answer is clear. I have my whole life to work (and get paid). Dh isn't planning to ever retire anyway, so what am I possibly going to do at 74? I either can work or sit at home waiting for my husband to get off work. I prefer to stagger my life goals rather than try to do all during a very narrowly defined window.

Heather said...

Thank you for commenting! Some of my best stay at home mom friends are going back to work, and I'll miss them, but I'm so relieved and happy that I can be here to give my children what only I can give them and what they so deserve!

I agree with staggering. We have all the time in the world to punch someone else's time clock; right now I'm just working on mine!