One year ago today, I was sitting alone up in our home office. The house was eerily quiet and tears filled my eyes as I sat pumping breastmilk for my 5-month-old son who was at daycare. I wasn’t in the right headspace and I couldn’t focus on work.
The company I worked for was amazing and very accommodating to me. I had a position change that allowed me to work from home every day. The first 2 years of marriage to my husband, I spent several nights away from him traveling for work and it was very difficult… because turns out, I actually like spending time with him and hate being away.
I felt unbelievably blessed to be able to work from home. I felt like God was looking out for me… and he brought this job change opportunity as a solution for me to be able to keep working after becoming a mom. So what was the problem? Why wasn’t I happy? I had everything I wanted didn’t I?! We could LIVE off of the salary I was making. I should be darn happy with that.
But the truth is, I wasn’t happy. Not even close. I knew I wasn’t in the right place. All I wanted was to have my baby home with me. I felt so ungrateful and not worthy of the opportunities I had. Being a stay-at-home mom was not on my radar at all… What was wrong with me?!
My mom was a working mom. I grew up with her example and she was successful. She was one of the most caring, thoughtful teachers I knew and she got several compliments like that from her students and coworkers. I was proud of how far I’d come in my career the 5 years I had post-college… and I wasn’t planning to slow that train down after becoming a mom. I mean, my mom did it! Why couldn’t I?
Turns out, I was about to completely de-rail that train. After several conversations with my husband, we started to look at where we were financially and if it would be possible for me to stay home. Through these conversations, I remember feeling extremely guilty for all of the money and benefits we would be walking away from. How could we live without that? How could I possibly do this to my family? Losing our solid income and relying solely on variable income from the farm seemed a tad insane.
However, the more we talked, the more comfortable I became with the decision we were about to make. Here’s the thing… You can have ALL the money in the world and still not be happy. You can have MORE land, a NEW house, NEW kitchen, NEW appliances, NEW leather furniture, NEW Cars, whatever you can dream up and STILL not be happy.
We talked about our goals in life, what we wanted to accomplish, what we thought we would need to be happy, and none of our dreams were going to be crushed if I quit my job. After lots of conversations and prayers, we made the decision. I made the call to my boss and cried more tears. I worked an additional month after that call and I felt like I was more productive than I had been before. I saw the end in sight and knew I’d soon be spending every day with my little brown-eyed boy.
Being a mom has taught me so much. Looking back, I barely recognize who I was before. My priorities have completely shifted, along with what I want out of life. I always thought I needed to be successful in my career to feel fulfilled. I thought if I left that career, I might lose my purpose. In the beginning months after I left my job, I was even a little embarrassed to tell people. I wondered what they would think. Maybe they’d think I was lazy. Maybe they’d think I was weak. Maybe they’d think I was dumb for leaving what I left.
I know it’s different for everyone. Not every mom has a desire to stay home, or financially can’t for the well being of her family, and she shouldn’t feel guilty for that either. Whatever works for you and your family is what you should be doing. But guess what? It takes strength to recognize what’s best for your family and to do what’s best for you despite what you dream in your own head that others will think.
After almost one year, I can tell you the decision we made was the best for our family. The feelings of guilt and shame are gone and I am truly happy. I feel excited for the days ahead and spending all the moments I can with our little man. I feel like I have a GREATER purpose than I did before and the thoughts of what others may think don’t bother me near as much.
In summary… because I feel like I went on a little soap box here. Do what’s best for you and your family, but don’t discredit the fact that it takes a lot of strength to do so. It takes strength to recognize what you need to be happy may not be what you or others were expecting. It takes courage to execute and push negative thoughts out of your head. Coming from someone who has been through feeling ALL the feels, it is possible to go against the norm you had set for yourself and do something that makes you truly happy. You only get one life. Live it.