2017 marks a big milestone for me: it’s been 10 years since I had a M-F, 8-5 job and career. This year my first baby starts junior high and my last baby starts kindergarten. I have been thinking about this year for five years! But as it is now ACTUALLY here, I’ve been all over the place in my thoughts and emotions. At first I panicked-but God has led me to some beautiful shores as a result of my questions. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to get the whole story.
In 2005, I had our first baby: my sweet little Cooper. I also had my dream job working as the Communications Coordinator for my church. I LOVED my job. It was the best thing ever and it was everything I had dreamed and desired in a job/career. I treasured it as one of the best gifts God had ever invited me to join Him in exploring. When Cooper came on the scene, my plans were to continue working. I had NEVER pictured myself as a stay at home mom nor did I know very many. My Mom and my Grandmother had all worked when their children were little.
When Cooper was born however, this thing called hormones changed everything. I still loved my job, but I was missing all the things my baby was doing. It felt like my heart would burst as I realized each day that somebody else got to see all the “firsts” in my first baby’s life. (Ok, not all but very many.) At this same time, my husband was in the midst of some big decisions himself. He had longed for many years to join the police force and had just been passed over for a position after 9 months of interviews. He was crushed and unhappy with his current job. After a lot of thought and prayer and discussion, he decided to join the Army as active duty at the spry age of 27. (That is how this blog was born too!)
Everything in our life changed with that decision. I quit my job, we sold our house, our cars and we drastically altered our path in life (at least in our view of things).
I was very excited at the chance to be a SAHM after we moved. I had thought about the natural cut off our big move made while Jeremy was away at basic training. We did the math and decided that we would try having me stay at home rather than trying to find a job and childcare all while sharing one car once we all made it to our first duty station. More of my friends had made that same decision in either a part-time or full-time capacity and I had longed for it for 18 months (even while still deeply loving my job). So when I finally got to Washington state, I was ecstatic. I did not think about the future, what I would do down the road or how I should plan for things then; I just dove head-first into what I had been longing to do.
It was a challenging transition for me going from a full-time working Mom to a stay at home mom in a whole new state, city and career (i.e. no friends). But those years were completely amazing; I cherish them deeply. Every thing that we struggled with (because we were SO POOR!) was absolutely worth it. The videos of our life and my kids’ childhoods, the traditions we began-I found myself in those years. It was a whole new me I had never met and it was horrible and amazing. It’s like I came to life and discovered things I never knew were in me.
When the time to move back to St. Louis and end our time as an active duty military family came, I was very unsure of what the future would hold. I wasn’t ready to go back to work and I wasn’t sure I was done having children. My youngest child was not yet two and I still had a year before preschool was even something to think about-and three years until kindergarten for him. So in a big moment of transition, I again chose to be a SAHM. This time though, we couldn’t swing it financially. I tried a new thing for a little over one year; I started watching a friends’ baby girl.
More transition, more finding myself and more struggle mingled with awesomeness ensued. We had another baby, Jeremy found an amazing career path and went back to school full time while working two jobs. After we added a third child to our crew, I eventually found a different part time job cleaning a home for a family two days a week, once our daughter was old enough to attend preschool.
I was still a SAHM. I still felt like it was the right thing for our family and for me. In the back of my head, a new thought was budding about the future as my last baby grew. It was the FIRST time since quitting my “real” job that I looked forward with uncertainty regarding what I would do. Our daughter was 3 and as I did the math for the year she would be in school full day and thought about where our other children would be, I started to realize we would have another choice to make. Decision time would be blooming in 2017.
There was a lot of wrestling that began that year (2015). I began to pray and dream and think and to talk with my closest friends about how vulnerable and even worthless I felt. I looked around at my SAHM friends who had walked that path with me and saw the mix of decisions and paths they had taken or begun to take. A new question grew in my heart and in my mind that I had not considered in a long time. I recalled Jesus in the New Testament asking this question: “What do you want?”
And I thought,….”what?”
For the first time, I didn’t know what I wanted.
(Stay tuned for the rest of the story!)