[staying at home] timing is everything

About year ago, I had planned to start my maternity leave two weeks before my due date to get some things done around our new-to-us house before having Beau, who was due Aug. 1. Well on my first day of leave (July 17) I went to the OB for my 38-week appointment and discovered I was 5 cm dilated, so I headed straight to Labor & Delivery and Beau was born just after lunch. So technically, my stay-at-home adventure began July 17, or July 19 if you don’t count those first two nights in the hospital.

Recently, an old co-worker asked me about my thoughts and experience on staying at home. Was it what I expected? Was it hard from a financial standpoint? etc. So I thought I’d delve into my experience staying at home this first year.

First off, let me say that I know without a doubt I made the right choice. It wasn’t the right choice after James Michael was born, but it was definitely the right choice after Beau came along.

Sometimes, timing really is everything. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you want if it’s not the right time. And sometimes, not getting what you want when you want it makes you stronger and more grateful when blessings come your way.

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There were a few reasons I went back to work after JM:

  • I had always planned on going back to work. I didn’t know I would have any desire to stay home with him. We hadn’t planned ahead of time for me to stay at home–hadn’t even mapped out what that would look like.
  • Financially, it made sense for us. One child in daycare wasn’t enough of a financial setback for me to quit working. Also, I provided financial stability to offset James’ gym. Sure, the gym had been open for 3.5 years at this point and was doing well, but all that could change suddenly. We didn’t have a backup plan if something were to happen to the business or him, as the sole employee.
  • Because James is a small business owner, I needed the corporate insurance. I had just begun to research independent insurance right before my maternity leave with JM ended (as I was starting to freak out about going back to work 🙂 ), and discovered that no plans in Georgia covered maternity services, which meant we’d be paying out of pocket for the next baby.
  • We wanted to move out of our two-bedroom condo and buy a house before having another baby. We needed my salary to help with the down payment and all the upfront costs of moving, and I also needed to be working to get the approval we wanted on our loan. (We were very, very fortunate–blessed–that the timing of everything worked out perfectly. We moved into our house 6 weeks before Beau made his debut. Just enough time to unpack all the boxes, set up all the rooms and throw an ever-important housewarming party 🙂 )

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So I went back to work after my maternity leave with JM, hoping to get pregnant again as soon as possible (once my fertility returned) and then stay home after baby #2 was born. Once we had Beau, my reasons for staying at home (both logically and emotionally), far outweighed going back to work. Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote last fall addressing my decision to stay at home:

My Reasons for Staying at Home

  • I wanted more time with my boys. I wanted to spend those sweet, sleepy-eyed mornings with them instead of rushing to get out the door. I wanted to soak in all their ‘firsts’ as well as watch how they grow from day to day. Though admittedly ill-equipped, I wanted to train and teach them as well as my parents taught me, despite both working full time.
  • My commute doubled once we moved this summer, and I couldn’t justify 2-3 hours in the car each day on top of an 8-hour workday. My options as far as spending time with my kids were pretty extreme, as there was no foreseeable happy medium option. If I worked, I’d see them for roughly 1.5 to 2 hours before bed; if I stayed at home, I’d see them every waking hour.
  • Owning a gym, my husband works abnormal hours. He comes home for random pockets during the middle of the day, but doesn’t get home at night until 8:45 p.m. If I worked and the boys went to daycare, he would barely be able to see them on weekdays since he gets home after they’re in bed.
  • I was burnt out from my job. I spent 4.5 years at my job before I had Beau, and like most jobs, there were great times and there were stressful times. If I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant with Beau, chances are I would have looked for another job by the end of this year, one that was a change of pace and closer to our house.
  • We didn’t want to pay for two in daycare. And since we’d like to have at least one more child in the future, we definitely knew we didn’t want to pay for three in daycare.

Every family’s situation is different. Staying at home means you have to think through a lot of things, not just present circumstances, but future plans as well. I won’t lie and say that I don’t think about our family 5 years from now and wonder what life will be like. But I have to trust that God has me where he wants me at the moment and will provide because of that.

I’m going to touch on some more thoughts I have on my first year staying at home soon, so stay tuned…

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