I have always wanted to stay at home with my children. There are few things in life I have ever been so sure of. This could stem from myself never having to go to daycare or a sitter. I grew up at home, with my mom and my three siblings. It is the only life I knew. It was a good life.
My husband also grew up at home, with his mom, and his two siblings. We were on the same page. We both wanted me to be able to stay at home with our children. Obviously, we envisioned having a lot more money by the time children came into the picture.
Well the best things in life cannot be planned. When the time was right to have kids it was just right. Waiting on money, jobs or whatever someday might bring could mean waiting for, well, forever! When we got pregnant with Quinn one thing was for sure. I was not bringing a six or twelve week old to daycare!
I physically could not. The thought of leaving my precious baby literally stopped my heart and left me breathless. I just couldn’t. Aside from leaving him I was bound and determined to nurse my baby for a year. I wanted him all snuggled up with me getting the best stuff on earth.
I took a year long child-rearing leave. That coupled with my maternity leave gave me fifteen awesome (unpaid) months with my little boy. When I went back to work Quinn went to daycare part time (I was at an early start school and my parents could help out) for second semester.
It was heartbreaking leaving him. I felt like a failure. Not because my child was in daycare, but because this wasn’t what I wanted for my child, for my husband, for me or for my family. When summer hit and I was back to being full-time mom again it was heaven.
Quinn was different. Our bond was different. Everything was better. Being fifteen months old and having to be woken up to be shipped off. Spending all day somewhere that is not home with lots of other children. Constantly in go mode. Constantly on a schedule is exhausting. Home life suited us.
Summer wrapped up far too quickly, as it always does and it was back to the grind. Only this time it was different. Quinn was older, he was smarter and he knew better. He wanted to stay at home with mom.
The start of this school year was different in a lot of ways. I was at a new school with new start times. Quinn was doing daycare full time and we found out we were pregnant.
This year was tough on my husband. He did drop off and pick up at daycare. It ate at him each and every day. He left feeling infuriated that an entire day of his little boys life went by and about all he got out of it was what he ate, what times he was changed and when he napped. What about the funny things he said? Who is he playing with? What is he interested in?
We missed our little boy. Life was just more chaotic with both of us working. We were both running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We were both trying to fit a days worth of bonding into a few hours. A few hours, which included dinner, baths and the daily grind of keeping up a home.
When baby number two came we were bound and determined to have me home with them for good. We wanted our kids growing up together. Not in separate rooms in the same daycare facility. This life wasn’t meant for us. We weren’t happy and we knew we had to find a way to keep me home with the kids.
We refinanced, sold a car, and paid off the other one. I got a part time job and started the blog/print shop with the hopes that it might bring in a few extra bucks. We do no live a glamorous life. We drive a 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer. My husband is 6’7 and technically cannot drive the car when Eleanor’s car seat is in. We don’t have money in savings. We barely have enough for life. Literally! We do not go on vacations. This isn’t an easy life, but it is a good life.
Yesterday I was pushing my kids in the swing. Eleanor was kicking her legs like crazy. You know the way 9 months old do when they are excited. She had a big toothy grin and was giggling and looking at her big brother with such admiration. Quinn was chatting away about his imaginary world. The sun was shining, there was a fresh breeze. At that very moment I had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. It is enough! It is more than enough, it is everything. I felt it deep in my soul. A moment of true happiness. You know? the kind you could live in forever.
Yes, I get caught up in it all. We all do. Yes, I still want a minivan. Yes, I want to be able to take my kids on the annual family camping trip to Michigan. Yes, I would love the calm and serenity that must come from not constantly worrying about money. Wanting those things doesn’t go away, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying and loving where I am.
Yesterday turned out to be gorgeous. Took the kids to the zoo. Had lunch with my parents. Played outside with the kids. Colored with sidewalk chalk. Pushed the kids in the swing and had the beautiful moment I talked about above. Later in the night I sat down to catch up on blog posts and I read this from An Inch of Gray. This blogger has lost her son. This post almost made me feel guilty and grateful all at once. This post made my heart stop. It made me hurt.
The day and the post from An Inch of Gray coupled with financial worries and planning for the future led to this post. My year long child rearing leave is nearing its end. My blog doesn’t really make us any money. The print shop makes enough to buy a tank of gas a month at best. There isn’t a whole lot left to get rid of. Money is tight. Worry is creeping in. The bickering that comes with the stress of money has reared it’s ugly head on more than one occasion.
And even though a mathematical equation tells me I should go back to work, my heart and my soul tell me something entirely different. Balancing home means different things for each and every one of us. I know that not everyone wants to or can stay at home with their kids. I know that not everyone wants to be as financially strapped as we are. Everyone makes decisions based on their family. I in no way pass judgement. This is my journey, my thoughts and my feelings on balancing home.
P.S. Sixteenth people! Really!! This is too cool. Only gotta hang on for seven more days! Don’t forget you can vote daily for Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Moms .