- As we continue to pursue financial peace in our lives, we have also made a huge decision to make me (Jamie) a stay-at home mom, 6 months ago. In fact, we made some pretty big changes to make this happen that would make Dave Ramsey proud, but it was HARD!!!!
- Below is the description of my journey for those that are transitioning out of the workplace, or for those that are just making a big change in their lives, to serve as a form of encouragement!
Some of us grow up infatuated with playing house, and tending to our baby dolls, and whipping up food in our little toy kitchen with our little apron, dreaming of the day when we will be a mommy and have our own babies and family. How sweet it was to watch my 9-year-old daughter play out this scene – it was so cute!
Growing up, I was not that girl. Of course, I loved the relationship aspect of playing pretend with my Barbies and stuffed animals (there were many!), but I never idolized motherhood. I knew I wanted to have kids, but I remember thinking that I would work until they were teenagers, when they would need me to be there for them and make sure they didn’t get into any “shenanigans”. I know I would’ve benefited! When I entered the workforce at 17 or 18, I didn’t love it until I got a great job with great benefits and began working with people. It was then that I strived! I LOVED being a Safeway courtesy clerk! It is pathetic, I know! But still, every time I see a Safeway truck, I holler and cheer! Since that time, I have performed well and excelled in the workplace. My parents were both very hard workers and put in long hours, so it seems I also like a challenge. The bummer was that their relationship wasn’t very stable and they ended up divorcing. To keep things afloat, they maintained their long work hours and, unfortunately, were not able to be around much. I hated that and so I had a strong conviction to be home when my kids needed me most – when they were preteens and teens!
Anyway, after working passionately and diligently for 15 years, I have recently “retired” to be a stay-at-home mom. My kids are ages 9 and 4. They are definitely not teenagers, but God and reality hijacked my plans. Through a series of events over the last two years, God stripped me of things (like work) I believed identified me as “good” and “praise-worthy” and “effective” and “confident”. So much of who I believed I was had to do with what I could DO or PRODUCE. As I began to face the reality that I would be at home sooner than I expected, there was a sense of relief and DREAD that came over me. Who would I be without my work? Would I be a good full-time mom, or would I go crazy? Was I making the right decision? What will I do without the praise I was so used to getting at work? Will someone praise me? Who will validate me? And then came the mourning for a chapter of my life that was being closed, or suspended in the least. FEAR, INSECURITY, and GUILT (that I didn’t see this as a dream come true, as I knew others did) were intense! I had a strong conviction that this was not a mistake, but that didn’t change the fact that this was HARD – harder than I had expected. I loved my family and my kids, I just felt like a caged bird (lol)!
Now one thing to note is that, I believe, if you are doing anything to glorify God and obey him, and make the family unit stronger, you will meet opposition! So if you are making the move, and feeling anxious and trepidatious about it, let me reassure you – you are TOTALLY NORMAL! My hope though, is that if you know the battles that lie ahead, you can prepare and face them head on – and WIN! Know that, at first, you will feel at little lost, like a fish out of water. That doesn’t mean you are a bad mom, or a lousy stay-at-home mom. It just means that you have a new job, and just like any other job you get paid to do, there is a learning curve. No one walks into their first day and knows exactly what to do, what works, what doesn’t work, and how to do their job perfectly. Even though, you may have been given a “title”, you still have to determine your boss’ expectations (for me, that’s God and, in some healthy ways, my husband) and yours personally. You need to discover how your unique gifts can best benefit the company, what “other duties as assigned” really entails, followed by setting up a routine to accomplish what’s needed. Why should it be any different at home?
So the first thing I would suggest is to GO EASY ON YOURSELF. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes, without condemning yourself. Then, make sure to GIVE YOURSELF TIME to get into a rhythm. This is a whole new dance! Next, FIND A DECOMPRESSOR – someone or something who helps you to release stress or agitation associated with the new “job”. This is not necessarily your husband and lets face it, some of the agitation may be aimed at him! To avoid this, do yourself a favor and DISCUSS HIS EXPECTATIONS OF YOU, YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR YOURSELF, and YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF HIM. Make sure you two are on the same page. All expectations should be realistic and agreed upon by both of you! Each partner should be dispensing lots of grace to the other! Also, remember to go easy on your husband – he is now carrying the FULL load of providing for the family and this is accompanied by its own measure of stress and pressure. And just like he doesn’t know how it is to be home with the kids all day, you don’t know what it’s like to carry that kind of responsibility! And keep in mind, the role of the provider and the caregiver are equally valuable! In a family, both are crucial and should be honored!
In addition, let your husband know that during this transition, giving extra doses of love, encouraging words, acts of service, AND quality time would be greatly appreciated! This means that date night is no longer a perk, it is imperative and well worth the time, money, and worry that may come from leaving the kids with a sitter. Brandon and I are better parents when we spend time together as a couple. When we spend time strengthening on our relationship, we, in turn, strengthen our family. After all, your relationship is the foundation of your family, and everybody knows what happens when you have a cracked foundation. Remember that he should not be required to meet every individual need you have. There are going to be needs that can only be met by God and fulfilling friendships & hobbies.
Lastly, DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY! Don’t be tripped up by comparing yourself, or your family, to another. Be the mom that God created you to be – not “Martha Stewart” or “Susie Homemaker”. I love problem solving with some of my friends, who are mothers, and their wisdom has been so helpful, but when it comes down to it – I have to do what works for my family and I. Take the advice and use it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean duplicate it. You can’t put a round peg in a square hole, right? You know your family best!
And before I forget, I PRAY! I pray daily that God will equip me with tools, patience, and wisdom to be the best mom and wife I can be. I don’t believe I will ever “arrive,” but I believe He is always working in me to fulfill my “job” as a wife and mother, and I couldn’t do anything without that!
I pray this is an encouragement to anyone who reads it and that the transition to stay-at-home motherhood can be seen as a move from being “employed” to being “deployed” – meaning bring into effective action; utilize. Our family’s strategic decision to “use, bring into service, call on, turn to, or resort to” bringing me home, full-time, has come with more courage and bravery than I realized. But to me, you must have both to be a parent! So whether you are employed, or “deployed” (and your mission field is in the home), I commend you for fighting the battle to keep your family strong!
P.S.: In case you were wondering, finances were an issue at first, even after the drastic changes we made. BUT I want you to know that God has been an awesome provider and has made it so doable for us! I had a friend tell me the same happened to her, so although I believe it is important to be realistic, I believe it is also important to have FAITH!