Staying home was something I’d never given thought to even as recent as a few years ago. Not for me, thank you very much, but more power to the moms who do it! Honestly, it doesn’t seem like an ideal “job” for someone like me — I’ve always liked interaction. So when I had a change of heart this past year, I wasn’t the only one who was surprised.
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
That is a question asked of children starting in elementary school and continuing all the way up to seniors in college. Back then, my answer didn’t vary much a little: teacher, veterinarian (just for a minute, until I realized I’d have to put dogs down), chef. But by my sophomore year of high school I’d made up my mind. I was going in to marketing, thank you DECA!
Preparation for the Work Force
When I began college, I chose classes leading down the marketing major path. Some people wait to declare until Junior year, but I didn’t need to. My mind was made up. Halfway through my junior year, I decided to add an advertising degree, because hey, what’s another year when you’re already doing four? Plus, I really liked the combo together! Lots of overlap
The classes made sense to me and I thrived. Presentations and writing are areas of strength for me — I prefer them 100 times over exams. While taking classes, I also had multiple internships. Most of these led me to event planning.Until I actually had those opportunities, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed them. Especially during the events. On top of that, I began to realize that event planning was definitely my wheelhouse. My future plans were slowly becoming clear for me!
Narrowing the Scope
In my first senior year, I narrowed down my preference to Sports Marketing and as luck would have it, I found an internship with a small baseball team in California to work for that summer!
My summer with the team changed my life in more ways than one, but that’s a story for another blog post. Seriously though, working with that team quenched my thirst. Every morning, I couldn’t wait to get to the stadium and I thrived on the energy that came from the job both during the work day and during games in the evening.
It was sports marketing, but we also had mini events almost every night of the summer! It was awesome. I fell in love and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. All my goals for life changed. As my internship with the team came to a close I realized that I would do whatever necessary to get back to a job like that someday.
Unfortunately, I had to go home to finish school and graduate. In May 2008, I was ready to get out of my hometown. My heart led me to Denver to find work, but jobs were few and far between in any industry, let alone ones in sports. So, I took what I could get and worked at a sports bar in Denver. While working there at night, I kept searching for anything that would be a stepping stone to my dream job, but was coming up dry in the Denver market.
Eventually, I made my way back to my team in California as the Director of Marketing and Promotions. It was the job for me! Living in Southern California with few friends and family around, work became my life. And I loved it. I was good at it. At some point I decided, no family for me! Nothing was going to tie me down. I was going to focus on my career and make it to the top! (At that time, for me, the top was working in marketing for the Colorado Rockies). My mind was made up and nothing was talking me out of it!
God Does for Us What We Can’t Do for Ourselves
Unfortunately, things rarely work out how we plan. Life was happening outside of work and life at work was becoming hard. My heart wasn’t in it anymore and I felt conflicted. During this time, I was getting to know God again and starting to let Him back into my life. Looking back, I can see He was already starting His work on my heart. Life in California was no longer my love and I was ready to go home. So I did.
Upon returning to my hometown, I went back to work at the cafe where I worked while in high school and college. It was great for that season of life. Work was light and I was able to enjoy life a bit more and even make enough money to build my savings back up! (I quickly learned I wouldn’t get rich quick working in sports… it takes a long time to get to that place!)
Eventually, I felt my old desires rising up and wanted “something more”. Looking back, I think I was feeling guilty about all the money I spent on school and felt like I should be “using” my degrees… So I found a “big girl job” as I called it, working 8-5 in an office. Oddly enough, I planned events, among other things. It was like He knew this was just what I needed for this next phase of life. 🙂
A Big Change of Heart
Being back in the midwest and settling in to a new life, my heart changed again. It wasn’t long before I realized I actually did have a desire to be a wife. Kids still weren’t on my radar, but I thought marriage wasn’t a terrible idea anymore. A couple of years later, I met and dated the man who would become my husband and best friend.
One spring day, after dating about a month, we visited his family on the farm and he shared some photos from when he was a kid. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw him as a little tike. Tears filled my eyes and my throat tightened. In that moment I knew I wanted to have children with this man. Never in my life had I thought or felt like this! For the first time in my life, kids were an option.
Another Career Shift
Once we were married, a change at work demanded more and more time and weekends. The problem was, my heart wasn’t in it anymore and I knew it was time to find something else. Again, God led me to where I was to be next. Less weekends, more money. Perfect!
In this new career, I worked with friends which was a fun new experience. Of course, I enjoyed the work. In addition, working with my like-minded friends was fantastic. Most of them had families, so I was seeing how they balanced a demanding career and home life. Thankfully, the team we were on was very flexible and understanding. It seemed to be a great place to work and have a family.
Side note: Remember I wanted to be in marketing? And I went to school for 5 years to prepare me for that field?Interestingly enough, my role on this team was “project manager.” Which has nothing to do with marketing. Actually, the skills that made me qualified for this position were skills I learned outside of the lecture halls. Mostly, they were characteristics I possessed before college. This fact still makes me laugh when I think about it.
No Longer a Career Woman
For the majority of my time in this role, I loved my job. Each day I went to work ready for the challenge and enjoyed what I was doing. But as the seasons passed, I could tell God was still working on my heart.
As each year passed, I felt myself becoming more laid back at work. Of course it’s a good thing, but work wasn’t my driving force anymore. Yes, I still enjoyed it a lot, but something was happening inside of me that I couldn’t explain.
At home, we’d started the conversation about starting a family. We discussed timelines and options and laid out a plan. Assuming we had time, we didn’t talk much about my working and child care. And all of a sudden we were pregnant!
Normally, I’m neurotic about planning. But something in me just kept telling me to wait. Any time I’d start to obsess about finding a daycare, I felt God’s hand on my arm saying “Wait.” At the time, I seemed like a crazy person. From what I hear, you have to register for daycare in your first trimester! But we just waited.
All Part of the Plan
Because I was hospitalized at 25 weeks during this pregnancy, my work allowed me to take a 6 month leave. Shortly after (like the next day), our daughter arrived very early, turning my short-term leave into maternity leave. While on leave, I spent my days in the NICU and, honestly, I miss working. But I think what I missed was the comfort of the routine and the security of knowing what I was doing. I had no clue how to be a mom.
In those weeks I spent in the NICU, I bonded with our daughter. I never knew I could love something so much. They tell you that’s how it’s going to be, but you cannot understand the overwhelming feelings until it is happening to you.
Our daughter came home one month after her due date, in the middle of flu season. Her doctors strongly encouraged us to keep her out of daycare for as long as we could, to protect her. Because of her chronic lung disease and low birth weight, the stakes were high if she were to contract anything. All of these factors weighed heavily on us as we brought her home for the holidays.
After our first month home, I felt a churning in my stomach when I thought about going back to work. But it wasn’t because of the actual job I’d be returning to, it was the thought of leaving my baby. Surely most moms feel this as the end of maternity leave approaches.
At the time, I thought my current mood was completely unrelated. Hormones probably. I found myself attacking my husband over silly things. I wasn’t sleeping well, was overly emotional, and I was on edge all the time. Something was wrong. When I finally sat down and talked with my mentor, she put the pieces together for me.
“You have made the decision in your heart, you aren’t going to go back to work. Now you just need to decide it with your husband.” Wow. Later that same day, I sat down with him.Rarely in our marriage has there been a time when I’ve felt nervous speaking to my husband. But leading up to that moment, that’s exactly how I felt. What if he says no? What if he disagrees?
Hardest and Best Decision
As I started talking, he smiled. He knew this was the decision we’d need to make. He had always wanted me to stay home with our children, but wanted to make sure we were in a better place financially. I respected that, but circumstances surrounding this child made that seem less important.
Once the decision was made, I was flooded with peace. It was the right call for us, and for me. But this decision wasn’t made that weekend, or even since our daughter was born. It came easily because God changed my heart over a number of years. He changed my priorities and I listened to Him.
I’ve been home with our daughter for almost 6 months now. At first, I waited for the regret to set in. I was sure I’d feel remorse or even hopelessness. But those feelings have not come. In fact, it’s been the opposite.I’ve been filled with peace and have found new joys every day in this new role as a stay-at-home-mom.