Thursday, June 13, 2013

To stay or not to stay: On being a SAHM

Even before we were engaged, Brandon and I discussed what we would want for our future families.  In my mind, when I began having children I would want to stay home.  I've always felt called to this, a vocation of sorts.  My mom was able to be home with my sister and I while we were small and had a part-time job when we were around 4 and 2.  She worked full-time after my youngest sister was born, but my dad was working for home.  So, for as long as I can remember, one of my parents was with us at home for the majority of the week.

Brandon agreed, he envisioned his children being home day-to-day instead of in a day care.  He grew up on a dairy farm, so his parents were always around, albeit working extremely hard to keep things running smoothly! 

When we got engaged and were going through  Pre-Cana, it was brought up again.  As a sidenote, Pre-Cana was such a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for the journey of marriage!  It really helped us communicate about issues that may otherwise have not been brought up and focus on the vocation instead of the "Big Day."  It would have been easy to focus on the details of the wedding instead of the details of the marriage. Okay--where was I? Oh yes, future families.  In Pre-Cana, we discussed and decided that if we were blessed with children, I would stay home with them and Brandon would continue to work outside of the home.  I have to say that it was definitely a looong conversation.  Playing devil's advocate (sometimes too much, I'm sure) I pushed the issue and inquired about whether Brandon would ever consider staying at home.  This challenged his worldview a bit, but I really needed to know that I wasn't going to walk down the aisle towards a man who thought a woman's place was barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (I was a communications major at a liberal arts college who took--and loved--Women's Studies classes, what can I say?)  The more we talked about it, the more convicted I actually became that I would have it no other way than to be home with our children.  And, in the end, Brandon agreed that he would be willing to be the primary daytime caregiver for our kiddos if the job I had outside the home paid more and had better benefits.  Let's get real though, he's an engineer.  and it made me jealous just thinking about him being home and me heading off to work every morning.  and the fact that I really did know it was supposed to be part of my life plan to be at home with kidssince I was 12.

Fast forward a year.  We're married and go on a super great honeymoon and I have an amazing, fulfilling, challenging job and we join a parish and buy a house.  
Oh, and we're pregnant.  
Three months in, and I pretty much freak out.  Could I really leave a job I love so much? Will I really feel satisfied just sitting at home all day? (how wrong that statement really is...) Can I truly go with so little adult interaction day-in and day-out?  I'm not so sure I can do this and was having major trust issues--trusting myself, trusting my instincts, and trusting God.  I felt like the people I worked with would be judging me.  There were 4 other women I worked with who had babies under 1 year old, and every one of them returned to their position.  Maybe women don't do the stay-at-home thing anymore?  Maybe that's too old fashioned...

Brandon was pretty confused when I drastically changed my tune regarding post-baby plans, and so we began praying about it, pretty intensely actually.  Prayers for the baby's health and my ability to understand my own heart and mind.  I prayed a mass novena for these things, we asked for the intercession of St. Gianna and St. Gerard daily, we prayed rosarys...and I eventually did feel a shift when I took the advice of Sarah A. Reinhard, author of "A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism."  What an amazing read, by the way.  If you are pregnant and Catholic (or even if you're not!), you must get your hands on this book.  Reinhard suggested that you take all of your anxieties and lay them in Jesus' lap, because He can, and will, take care of them.  And God will be there with you in the future, too.  He doesn't leave after baby is born...
Well, duh!  I mean...mega-duh.  Of course I knew this, but I sure wasn't acting like it.  

So my prayers shifted.  I started asking what the Lord's will was for my life.  I asked God to be with me and this child, whether healthy or sick.  I realized this wasn't actually my decision at all.  And during our trip to Orlando, Florida for the FOCUS National Conference, my 26 week pregnant self and the hubs attended adoration with about 4,000 other people (talk about incredible).  I'm telling you, right then and there I was smacked in the face and over the head.  I kept thinking about something my (very wise) mom had said: "No one ever wishes they spent less time with their children." 
And I actually have the chance to choose!  What an absolute blessing that we can figure out how to live off of one income, that our benefits are coming from Brandon's job, that we can make something like this actually work.
I have the opportunity to be blessed by the presence of this child day-in and day-out.  Will it be challenging? Oh, you betcha.  
Worth it?
I dare to think--yes.

Since that day in early January, I became more and more convicted.  I began letting those in my life know our decision, and felt nothing but an overwhelming amount of support.  For some reason, this surprised me.  Many people I told responded with, "That's awesome, good for you!"  Ahh...yes...good for me :)

I have to add here that I have also felt so uplifted and supported by a handful of SAHM Catholic bloggers, whom don't even know I follow and read their blogs daily.  They prove the absolute worthiness (and sacrifice) it is to dedicate this season of their lives to their children.  I have linked to them below--thank you.

Bonnie at A Knotted Life
Rosie at A Blog for My Mom
Lindsay at My Child, I Love You
Emily at Glitter Rainbow Happiness Land
Ana at Time Flies When You're Having Babies
Hallie at Moxie Wife

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