Friday, September 03, 2004

Taking the Stay at Home Plunge

Let me start by saying, I was never one of those little girls that dreamt about marrying a knight in shining armour and setting up house with lots of little babies to fill it. On the contrary, my motto was - Just say no to Domestication!

Any attempts my mother made to teaching me to sew, cook or properly clean a stove, I fled like the plague. There was just no way I was going to do those things. I planned on going to college to set my self up in a nice career and PAY people to do those things for me. Anybody hear of the yellow pages?

Quick synopsis? Well, I decided that I really didn't want to go through nearly another decade of schooling, just to work to pay back mountains of school loans. And why was I paying 10 times the amount of public college tuition to attend a private college? And - oh - did I mention I fell in love and married at 19?

Don't get me wrong. I did finish college. It was a prerequisite promise to not having my parents keel over from shock when I announced to them, after only one semester of college, that I was getting married and moving over 200 miles away from home. A promise that my hubby made me keep so that no one would blame him when I wanted to drop out.

So, there I was starting my career as a public accountant. I was moving along quite nicely. Advancing at the firm, right on track when, you guessed it - we were having a baby.

Amazing how that feels like a ton of bricks when the doctor breaks the news isn't it? But no sweat, I had this planned out too. My mother-in-law was close by and she would take care of the baby while I continued working.

So why was it that I would sit in her driveway after dropping of my little treasure with tears welling up in my eyes. Why did I have to actually say out loud "Okay, put the car in reverse and back out of the driveway." Why did I feel like I was abandoning her?

Fast forward a few months and surprise! We find out that we're expecting again!! I was so shocked this time that I just left the pregnancy test on the bathroom counter. I couldn't process the news. In fact, I forgot that I had left it there when hubby got home a little later and found it sitting there - that's how he got the big news. I guess when they tell you you're VERY, VERY fertile after giving birth, they aren't kidding.

What would I do with two babies?? My first would only be 18 months old when the stork would drop off another!! When God gives, he gives in abundance. As my pregnancy progressed, I wondered how I would leave two precious little babies to the care of another for 10-12 hours a day. How could I reconcile myself to have someone else raise my children?

It become more and more clear that I could not. Soon, my great job didn't seem so great anymore. All I kept thinking was - when I look back on my life and my family - I will regret not dedicating these few, short and fragile years to my babies. I'll never regret not working more. I can always start my career over again. I'll never be able to get these early years in my childrens lives back.

I needed to stay home. That translated to: we needed to find a way to live on one income. So being the A-typical accountant I started creating spreadsheets, lists and spending charts to analyze our financial situation and find SOME WAY to make it happen. I budgeted, forecasted and projected. I calculated and recalculated the numbers.

Guess what? On paper, it just wasn't happening. We were so close but....nope. I stared at the cieling so many nights wondering what we could or should do. I read books. (By the way, You Can Afford to Stay Home With Your Kids: A Step-By-Step Guide for Converting Your Family from Two Incomes to One (You Can Afford to Stay Home With Your Kids) was a great one. Very helpful.) I talked to other stay at home moms. Meanwhile, every church seminar we went to and every christian broadcast we heard just kept reaffirming the conviction forming within me and my husband that we needed to get me home with our kids. I prayed for an answer.

Time was running out. My due date approached and I knew once I had that baby I wouldn't be able to go back to work. Even after I had our second daughter, I clung to my job thinking - I'm going to have to go back to work.

Finally, my boss was calling me. He needed to know what my return date was going to be. He needed to schedule me on to a few projects. That was it. I had to decide.

So I took the leap. I've never been skydiving. But when I went to turn in my resignation letter, that's exactly how I would imagine skydiving would feel. Except I was jumping without a parachute. I was letting go and letting God take control.

When you feel like you're backed into a corner and when you have no where else to turn or go, what do you do? WHAT do you DO?. If you feel that God is leading you to take a step of faith, do you jump? Or do you step back and rely on your own human and imperfect instincts? Do you back away from a potentially great blessing? Or do you take the risk and trust God completely?

It's scary heading down an unknown path. I for one like to know exactly where I'm going, when I'll get there, who will be there and how long it will take. To have faith and believe without seeing or knowing exactly what the plan is can be frightening and downright frustrating at times. But as christians, we have to believe that God is at the control panel. He's steering us down the right path. He knows what is best for us and our families.
I've been home a little over 6 months now. It hasn't been clear sailing financially. But we're learning our lessons quickly. I don't know how long I can stay home - I'm praying that it's for a long while. But I do know that whatever comes, God will be with us.

I do have to gush a bit: it's wonderful being home. To hear my little girl call out "Mommy, I'm awake now." each morning is bliss. I love that I don't have to wake them at the crack of dawn to rush out each morning. I'm glad that I never have to guess about their day or wonder if I missed anything. I like that we sit at dinner together each night to a home cooked meal.

I'm glad I took the plunge.

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