17 August, 2014

Stay-at-Home Sacrifice: It's NOT all Bunny Rabbits and Roses!

This is what summer is for!

I probably should have been blogging through our massive family transition, if for no reason other than to record it for myself, but alas, I didn't feel much like writing.

I announced it on Facebook, shared it with family and friends, and processed it with anyone who would listen, but I couldn't write about it.

In November, our dear nanny decided she needed to be spending more time with her kiddos. I respect that and am grateful that we had the kind of relationship that allowed her to say so. Since then she has taken time to spend days with Clara and Thomas and given this mama a break once in awhile. We are so grateful for all that she gave and gives to our family.

As a result, Kevin and I had to figure out what to do. With John Ross in school half days and the two littles still at home, finding help and a workable schedule was not easy. After some trial and error, we decided it was time for me to stay home. Working for the church didn't offer the kind of monetary value that allowed us to hire another sitter and give us any additional take home income. Why work to pay the nanny to raise our children? (There is a whole other blog post in there somewhere...an institution that takes the moral high ground on family life, but doesn't provide a living wage or family-friendly benefits like paid family leave.) In addition, here are some things we had to come to terms with in light of our decision:

Always with the tongue!

1. This was God's plan.I tried to explain this to my pastor. I wouldn't have chosen this. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed working the limited hours and limited responsibility job at my parish. I came in, worked, and went home. It was a good break for my head and a good way to appreciate my children. I didn't make much after paying my nanny, but it was worth it. I wouldn't have chosen this drastic course correction, but it was given to us. Everything leading up to this decision was God. We are very much at peace with our decision despite the monumentous adjustments it has required. We are trusting in God's providence.

My first little love.

2. We are grateful.There has been so much peace in our household. I've completed chores on a weekly basis that hadn't been fully complete since John Ross was born. I've gotten into a routine with my two littles which has been invaluable. I've been able to commit hours each week to my physical and mental health with the gift of a YMCA membership from my family. I can slow down and appreciate these fleeting moments with my children and provide more fully for my husband's needs. We are so grateful for this gift.

3. Contrary to popular belief, staying home is not all bunny rabbits and tulips.This is God's plan, we are at peace, and we are grateful, but this is hard. I have several friends who have walked the journey of working outside the home with me for the last 5 years and I so often hear, "It must just be so much easier. I'm so jealous."

Yes, there are times when it is easier. I'm not pushed out the door by a schedule and I'm not rushing home to get dinner on the table during the famous witching hour. My laundry gets done. I don't always have to shower or get dressed in the morning.

But I am always on. There is no physical or mental break. There is no change of mental pace or shift in the demographic I serve. I can't leave it at the office. At work, projects come to an end. At an office, I can close the door. On the phone, the conversation wraps up. At home, the house is never clean, the kids are never ready, there is always another meal and another load of laundry. The closets don't stay clean. There is always needs and you are considered on the job 24/7. When you're working, you get a few hours where ultimately, you're still the top executive of your household, but you've got a director below you managing for awhile.

Again, thankful, grateful, blessed, and honored to have the "luxury", as many call it, of choosing to stay home. That said, I would contest that it isn't much easier than working outside the home.(And for the record, it's hard to blog about something when the only feedback you get on your thoughts is in non-sense all toddler song, baby babble, or Star Wars speak.)

4. We must live with less.We have had to make a lot of mental and financial adjustments. The small amount of money I was bringing in was our "mad money". It allowed us to do extra things like traveling, eating out, and little shopping splurges. We've had to take a closer look at everything we buy. We've done a lot of repurposing, reselling, and rummaging.

Recently, I received a check for some freelance work that I did with a note saying "Buy yourself something nice!" While the sentiment was lovely and thoughtful, there is no extra in our life. We live paycheck to paycheck, making every effort to keep our savings account intact.

If it looks the same on the outside, that is a huge testament to the sheer amount of work we have done to maintain our life despite our financial changes. It is also testament to the generosity of others, our families and those who have generously given their time and "cast offs" to help our family thrive.

3 kids born in Green Bay, it's about time we get to family night!

I say this not because I care what my blog readers and friends think of us. We have made a commitment to a way of life that God called us to and we are at peace.

I write this because I know there are other moms and couples out there that have made similar choices and perhaps can't put them into words. How many of us have worked tirelessly to create a beautiful, peaceful and loving life, but because the grass is always greener, others believe that we're just "lucky"?

No, we are called. We are gifted. We have responded to God's invitation to co-create, sometimes not knowing the sacrifice He is going to ask of us.

And yet, we are so blessed.


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