And then I had a child.
At the time, I had what was pretty close to my dream job. I was an editor for a local TV news website, the second most popular broadcast news website behind only CNN.com. I loved the work, I loved my co-workers, and the future possibilities seemed endless. Still, it seemed like the perfect mom job because it was only part-time. I worked from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. most days, so I found a wonderful lady in the neighborhood who babysat Evan from 2:30 to 5:30, when his dad picked him up. It seemed like the perfect scenario, where I could have the best of both worlds.
And it did seem perfect for a long time. I had the bulk of the day to be home with my son, and I got to go do the working-woman thing and still be home in time for dinner. But then he grew, and his schedule and needs changed. By the time he was about 5 months old, things started getting tough. Each day became a race against the clock to get his diaper bag packed, get me ready for work, get dinner prepped, and be sure he had his two naps before going to the sitter so the rest of the night wasn't plunged into chaos. Then I had to be sure I woke him up in time to get him changed and ready to be out the door, and pray that he didn't spit up all over my work clothes and his and force use to start over again. Anyone who's been in this scenario knows just how stressful it is. If you haven't been there, just take my word for it. It's harder than it sounds.
I found myself hardly enjoying any of it when I was supposed to be enjoying all of it. And yet, I just didn't see how it was possible to quit. We needed my income, small as it was. We could barely make ends meet with it let alone without it. And I needed the sanity of those four hours away from home in the grown-up world.
I started praying for an answer: Should I quit? Should I become a stay-at-home mom? How will we have enough money? Should I find a different job, or try and change my work schedule? I could never sort out an answer or my feelings, because my logic and fear always stepped in when I should have let the Spirit take over.
The months passed, and little by little I couldn't ignore the thought that this wasn't the life we were meant to be living. It got to the point where, because he wouldn't nap at the sitter's, Evan was in bed before I even got home most days. I finally knew this was a problem when, one Saturday morning when he was about 9 months old, my husband and I brought him in bed with us to hang out and snuggle. He sat up in the bed and looked from dad, to mom, to dad, to mom and back again, just grinning from ear to ear. That's when I realized, he hardly ever sees us together. He is shuttled from parent to babysitter to parent, with so little family time on the weekends.
That's when I finally knew I had to quit. My son had two loving parents, but he needed a family.
I remember praying one weekday morning after Evan had gone down for a nap. I basically said, "OK, I believe now. I know I'm supposed to be a stay-at-home mom, but that's all I know. I can't figure out how to make this work. I will do it, but please take me the rest of the way."
I stood up, went downstairs and picked up my cell phone. I had a missed call from a work colleague in a different department, in charge of the company's freelance contributor network. And suddenly I knew how to make it work. He called about something completely different, but I called him back about a job as an at-home editor.
The rest fell into place. I quit my job as a scheduled employee and became on-call, allowing me a few days here and there to fill in and get some grown-up world sanity. I am an at-home freelance editor, able to work when Evan's asleep. My paychecks are smaller, but with the money I save by not needing to commute or hire a babysitter, it works out just about evenly. And best of all, I am home with my son.
Evan and Mommy, July 2011
I learned so many lessons from this experience, the most important of all about letting go of logic and trusting the path that the Lord has for you—and that once you finally submit to the Lord's will, everything will fall into place. I never in my life wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but when I let go of my stubbornness, opened my eyes to the possibilities, and was willing to do what God wanted me to do, I discovered a lifestyle that was made for me. It is not easy-peasy, by any means, but it's just what I need to become the best version of me. More importantly, it's what my son and my family need.
Since becoming a full-time mom nine months ago, I have become an entirely different person. All those motherhood things I didn't think I had in me — now I know they weren't there because they were waiting to be cultivated in me. I now have so much more patience, kindness, gratitude and joy than I ever could have built on my own. I laugh every day. I ignore the clock and sit on the floor and play every day. I snuggle with my son, we read books, we snack, we explore. And we love. The only way for me to become this person was to take this path, fully and completely. I never could have imagined that this was the only way to bring out the best in me — but thankfully my Heavenly Father knew it, and He kept on pushing me until I took the leap. And I am so infinitely glad that He did.
I haven't even gotten into the ways this has changed my son and my family. That's for another post entirely. For now, let's just say that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am fulfilling my higher purpose. Nothing in any job or career could bring me as much satisfaction, joy, pride, fulfillment or appreciation than being a full-time mom. I repeat: NOTHING. This is what I need and what we need as a family. This is what I was created for. I am forever grateful that I took this leap of faith.