From Working Mom to Stay-at-Home Mom: How I Made My Decision
Deciding to Become a Stay-at-Home Mom
I was born to be a teacher. From my youngest days, I strove to become the best teacher I could be. I played school often with my younger siblings. I read, reread, discovered, and rediscovered books. I wrote stories, made up songs, came up with new games, tried my hand at adult banter at the holiday tables, and listened to my stay-at-home mom (SAHM) as she dealt with her children.
So, I became a teacher. I started out teaching Spanish to middle-schoolers, and then I moved on to 8th grade Language Arts. I loved every minute of it. I loved that I could help shape the futures of the students in front of me. I loved the challenges that arose, whether it be finding a way to reach all of my students so they would have the "aha!" moment or explaining to a parent why their son or daughter just came short of earning an A. I loved the support and friendship of my colleagues who became some of my dearest friends. I just absolutely loved my job!
My husband was supportive in all of this; after all, he was a teacher, too. We loved coming home, cooking a meal, enjoying the evenings, having fun on the weekends, and planning our next school years in the summer. We shared household responsibilities, although—I’ll admit—he did most, if not all, of the cooking (he is the better cook, and he actually enjoys it!).
A Baby Changes Everything
Our world changed when we decided to have a baby. It wasn't when I was pregnant; it was the actual decision that changed us. We knew life would be different. No more absolute lazy days. No more easy mornings, afternoons, or evenings. No more kid- and clutter-free house. Life as we knew it was over, and we decided we were ready.
Work or Stay at Home?
Are you making enough to cover the costs of daily living, gas, and daycare, or could you save money by staying home?
I Still Wasn't Ready to Become a SAHM Even After My Son Was Born
My son was a summer baby, so I actually only had to take a bit of time off from work. I wasn’t going to lose a lot of pay, nor was I going to lose my health insurance. We had so much fun with him that summer.
My mom, who as I said above was a stay-at-home-mom, told us she’d watch our son when we returned to work. That was awesome news. I wouldn't have to place him in daycare and he’d be with someone we trusted whole-heartedly to keep our precious child safe, healthy and loved. We even decided to give her some money (despite her protests) for giving us such a great opportunity.
It worked out pretty well for two years. I left before my son woke up in the morning—my job was an hour away—and my husband took him to my mom’s before he went to work. Only when my son was sick and needed to see a doctor did we need to miss work. When we came home, we picked him up and had fun with him until it was time for bed.
I’ll admit, I was exhausted every day from getting up so early, working non-stop with 150ish teenagers, taking care of my son, taking care of my house, waking up occasionally in the middle of the night…It did take it’s toll on me and my husband, but we kept it up. We still were able to enjoy the evenings, weekends and summertime with our son and make many memories as a family.
The Birth of My Daughter: Would She Change My Mind?
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, our world was rocked a bit. She would be a winter baby, due right after the New Year and smack in the middle of the school year. I had to make a decision about my maternity leave: would I only take the twelve weeks FMLA afforded me (Family Medical Leave Act) or take off the rest of the year?
My husband and I decided, about two months before my daughter was due, that I could take off the rest of the year. That way, I’d be able to spend time with my son and my daughter at home and enjoy the time with them and return to school the next school year (my mom again would watch them).
And then I got an early Christmas present: my daughter was born three weeks early. Three days before she was born, without knowing she would be coming so soon, I sat down with my students on a Friday and spoke with them about my leave that was fast approaching. I wasn’t supposed to be leaving for about another week, which was the beginning of Christmas break. My daughter had other plans. She came into this world three weeks early as a full-term healthy baby.
That’s when my ideas about life changed. I no longer had the urge to return to work. I wanted, no needed, to be home with my children. Did I ever see this coming? Not in a million years did I see myself as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. It was the hardest decision of my life. Could we afford it? What about all of those undergraduate/graduate degree loans we had to pay, along with the mortgage and regular house bills?
I brought this up to a good friend of mine who was a great encouragement to me during my teaching years. She was supportive, but said something that surprised me. She said she was worried about me, because these days, a woman in a relationship, no matter how wonderful the man is, needs to have some financial power. She was also concerned that I would have trouble getting back in to the teaching world.
It made me think. I had never considered my paycheck really to be power for me. It was a means to pay the bills and to put food on the table. Plus, I wasn’t in teaching for money, and I by no means think I am the best teacher ever but I felt in me that someday I’d make my way back in. But wow, did it make me think. What was going to happen to me as a person? Where was my life going to go?
What Did Being a SAHM Mean for Me?
It made me think: what was being a stay-at-home-mom all about?
To me, being a stay-at-home-mom meant a few things. I could be the one to love and teach my children about life. I could be the one to witness their firsts, like crawling, walking or riding a bike. I could be somewhat rested enough to play, and clean.
There were some benefits just for me as well. I now could take time during nap times to exercise and make myself healthy. I could stay in my jammies some days instead of worrying what I would wear. I could work on some of my hobbies, like reading or writing (thanks so much, HubPages!) or even my newfound hobby, gardening. I could relieve any stress I had just by looking into my children’s eyes or listening to my son tell a silly story to his favorite stuffed animals.
I knew, though, there’d be sacrifices. I had to give up my favorite job in the world: teaching. My husband and I had to give up several things, like our internet plan on our phones, the extra purchases we’d make on the fly and going out for dinner. I’d become the cook of the house (I ever so despise cooking, though I may have some talent in it).
The Verdict Is in: I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom, and I Love It
In the end, no matter what, I know this will be the best decision I have ever made in my life. Will I get frequent bouts of cabin fever? Yep. Will my toddler’s tantrums drive me up a wall? Absolutely. Will laundry be a part of my every day life? You got it.
But it isn’t about me. It’s about them: my children. They are my world, and I’d do anything for them.
If you have any thoughts about this, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear what more people think about it!
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