I chose to be a Stay At Home Mom.
I have a BA is Sociology with a minor in Youth Ministry and lot of ministry and life experience.
I spent one year after college working a job I hated, moving and then working two jobs and at one point three, over the next couple of years. Three jobs turned to be too much energy spent on things that didn’t bring me joy. Some weeks I would see close to 80 hours of work before volunteer work. I cut work back to two jobs.
In year three after marriage, Anna was born. You can read our story here. I had resigned from my job and was placed on bed-rest. It’s a longish story, but God knew and worked out the details ahead of time for me to be home. (You can read the full story in our book Choosing Joy.)
When Anna was six months old we accepted a full time-ish ministry position that would require us to move. We each worked part time-25 hours per week- in separate ministry roles. Soon Jeremy was hired full time, but I was not. I worked 25+ hours a week, taking Anna to the babysitter and juggling schedules with Jeremy to make our life work.
Kaitlyn came along a couple of years later.
All this time I continued with more classes in order to prepare for my Ordination into the ministry.
Some nights I was up until two or three o clock after we had put Anna to bed and Jeremy was long asleep. Some nights I would head to Dunkin Donuts and work on papers. Other nights I would be sitting cross-legged in one of our dining table chairs, with a pillow on my lap nursing Kaitlyn while I studied and typed.
In the mornings we would start it all over again…baby sitter, juggling schedules. Dad leaves at 7 a.m., Mom takes kids to the sitter at 10 a.m. and heads into the office. Dad picks kids up at 3 p.m., takes them to the park, Dad cooks dinner, Mom gets home at 6 p.m., we eat and spend the night doing whatever we did-usually with a packed schedule.
On Sundays Jeremy went to church early, I got the kids ready and shuffled them off to the church nursery for three hours while we took care of our respective ministries.
I loved my job.
I loved my kids.
God called me to the ministry.
God called me to be raise my kids.
What’s a person to do?
Eventually I realized that our life was hectic. It was stressful and overwhelming at times and felt like it was becoming so more and more. I began to feel like I was ministering to everyone else’s kids while my own were at the baby sitter’s. We had a fantastic babysitter who loved my girls like her own kids,but still…my heart strings were being pulled. My attention was pulled in so many directions. I wanted to cuddle and snuggle more than I was able to.
I began to question which call I should pursue. The call to ministry or the call to mothering?
Can they be compatible? I wasn’t sure what to do.
I began praying, seeking God’s direction. I wanted to make sure if I resigned my ministry position I was doing it with God’s blessing, not on my own will.
The pull to resign was stronger and stronger and I finally could see that stepping down from paid ministry was the right thing to do.
We were finally ordained, classes were over, I was now a full time stay at home mom. The first week of not working was exhausting. I asked myself what I had gotten into. I had no idea what it was to chase toddlers around most of the day, become responsible for cooking at least two meals a day and taking on the responsibilities Jeremy had when I was still working.
I home-schooled Anna for preschool having a full year at home with her before she began Kindergarten and three years with Kaitlyn before she started Kindergarten.
Jeremy would soon pursue a Master’s Degree, working 50 hours a week in ministry and 50 hours a week furthering his education. I was thankful I was able to take care of home and family while he was busy. Some days were harder than others,but he graduated with a 3.9 GPA and a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. The days and hours were worth it. I’ve often wondered how that season of life would have been different had I been working.
I still keep my hands busy with ministry, filling out pastor’s reports and keeping up on current events, current church needs, current literature, but I’ve never once regretted stepping aside from working full or part time to raise my babies.
We decided to begin educating at home five years ago. As it would turn out we moved and Jeremy took on a new role as the Senior Pastor of our church. Now I cook 95% of what we eat…except tator tots…there’s just no need to mess with a legend. We grow as much of our own food as we can, constantly figuring out how to get the most out of our space. I home-educate using an online charter school. I still preach, I still lead ministries, I still do….but I also have the privilege of being present when my babies learn their first words, when the toddling becomes confident walking, when something brand new is learned and when questions of life and God come out of mouths as soon as they come into hearts.
I get to be home when heads are sweaty from breaking fevers and mom is the one who can stay awake for hours on end in the middle of the night. I get to do life with my kids and appreciate even the simplest of joys-the spring birds, the first bulbs, the nuances of growing children. I love it. I love being a mom. I love the call to Motherhood that pushes me, requires of me, teaches me.
Staying at home doesn’t come without hardship, though. My days are constant. Finances were cut by a third when I stepped away from a paid position. We had to readjust how we spent everything. I realized I didn’t have nearly as much time as I thought I would and had to refocus and learn how to run a household. I still felt like I should be constantly doing “more” even though what I was doing was enough. There are days when I still feel like I’ve messed up, when I wish I had more patience and moments where I need to go out even if it’s to Walmart just to have some alone time. And currently the laundry pile is two feet high.
There are days when I still question my own sense of self and ability, wondering if I’m raising the girls right. Raising them enough. Raising them to be productive adults. Raising them to be compassionate human beings who see the value in other human beings. Giving them what they need. Raising them to be women of courage and faith and initiative. Bold,strong, thoughtful, loving human beings.
Can working moms do the same? Without a doubt. I know many of them who have raised compassionate, hard working children.
That’s not what this post is about…to pick who’s better …the working mom or the stay at home mom. Neither is inherently better.
The point of this post is this: In a world were we are told we need to be more, have more, do more, spend more, save more, work more, maybe we just need to step back and realize that what we have, where we are, is enough.
I’ve got a college education and seven years worth of extra education that tells me I should be using it. I should be “out there” not wasting my degree or the time or money spent on said degree. Yet, I find myself still doing ministry. Lots of ministry. Ministry that I wouldn’t be able to do sitting behind a desk. Ministry that I feel more passionately about then I ever felt about paper work. Ministry that includes my children as we do life together. Ministry that empowers my girls to see the world, to find value in education, to jump off platforms and kayak down rivers and preach sermons and pray and speak truth. And suddenly I’ve realized that my call of ministry and call of motherhood is one in the same. My girls understand hospitality. They understand doing community with those different from us, they understand seeing the earth as God’s provision for us. They have seen answered prayer after answered prayer after answered prayer.
I’m a stay at home mom not because of some kind of cultural or religious mandate that says I need to be. I can choose to go back to work, but I really don’t want to. I like being home with my kids. I LOVE being home with my kids. I don’t mind the constant dependence of God’s blessing. I don’t mind living simply-it has forced me to consider what is truly important. I don’t mind the middle of the night wake up calls.
One day maybe I’ll head back to a paid position,but for now I get to raise my babies with the future in sight of lovingly pushing them from the nest and I still get to do ministry.
I still get to use my spiritual gifts of hospitality, administration, teaching and praying to open my home to others, make a soft place of landing for my pastor husband and children, pay the bills, schedule the calendar, organize our finances, keep the household running, home-educate my kids and preach and write and pray.
God is making the callings that seemed so separate years ago to be the same calling right now.
After I stepped away from paid ministry many ladies told me it was the best thing they ever did-staying at home with their kids. “You never get the time back,” they would tell me. “Spend as much time as you can with them.” “I wouldn’t change a thing,” they would offer me.
I’ve learned they were so right. Like so much in life is a choice, this life has been a choice too. I’ve loved making memories, choosing a schedule, having silly moments throughout our day and doing life together in every sense of the phrase.
I chose to be a stay at home mom, and I’ve not regretted it once.