August 14, 2015 by Sarah
I remember the first moment when I realized how deep the desire was inside of me to be a mother. I wasn’t pregnant, I wasn’t even married! I was actually just one week into dating my future husband.
I had just graduated from college and was sitting in a worn classroom in a camp on Catalina island. I was surrounded by 15 others from my graduating class, during an end of the year conference with the Christian student group that profoundly changed my life in my four years at USC. We were talking about our dreams, the ones that weren’t necessarily related at all to our college degrees, but the wild, crazy ones… the ones where if we could do anything with our lives, if we had no limits or barriers, we would do. My friends shared their dreams of becoming musicians, starting non profits, traveling the world. And all the while, my heart was pounding and my hands trembling.
As we went around the circle and it got closer to my turn to share, my body was reflecting how mortified I was to tell everyone my dream. I was so nervous and scared because my dream didn’t feel as ambitious or exciting as all my friends. It didn’t require 5 more years in graduate school and it didn’t put me in a glamorous spotlight.
More than anything else in the world, I wanted to be a mother. The kind that spent every waking moment with her children, the kind that didn’t have another “job,” the kind whose life became her children and didn’t care that she wasn’t going out all the time or doing amazing things with her life.
When it came my turn, I went for it. That moment I shared my dream with my friends became a significant touchstone in my life. There was something about voicing my desire and saying it out loud that was incredibly scary, but also my first big step in really owning my dream.
It’s been a little over two years since I plunged into the stay-at-home mom world. Caleb’s birth coincided with the end of my day job, and his birthday a few months ago got me reminiscing about making the decision to do this. And of course, being about a month away from baby number three’s arrival, I’ve been asking what the heck I’ve gotten myself into.
Even though I’ve known for a long, long time that I’ve wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, the decision to actually make that my life and live it out wasn’t easy. At the time I was deciding, I didn’t really know anyone else around me that was doing the same thing or even had the desire to. Here in the Silicon Valley, where there are Stanford grads galore, the average woman you meet is incredibly smart and ambitious with work experience at a prestigious company and a plan for how they’re going to change the world. Before Caleb, I had the cool job of getting to work for an organization at Stanford that got to come alongside such women and men, shaping and guiding them spiritually. I was mentored and invested in to a degree that I find pretty unparalleled in other companies. I discovered through my work that I loved public speaking, mentoring, and I had unique gifts to lead a group. My dream to be a mom was strong, but my work made me feel so valuable. I was contributing very tangible things to peoples’ lives and to the world. I had students and supervisors also telling me this was true on a regular basis! This might have been part of the reason why I still chose to work part-time when my first was born, to hold on a little longer. When I got pregnant with Caleb, it felt like it was time to really seriously consider leaving work entirely to be at home with our children.
And so I thought, and debated, and wrestled with whether I could work for just a little longer. I stumbled over my words when I would share with people that I was making the decision to “just be a mom.” I was always surprised and skeptical of people who were super supportive of me doing it. Did they really think that? Did they really not think I was lame for wanting to spend all my time with tiny people?
Pat and I had to have more serious conversations about the financial implications for our family for me to stay-at-home. Our budget would be very tight, we would be saying good-bye to saving anything each year. And we didn’t really know where Pat’s career would be in 5 or 10 years.
But, maybe just as strong as my desire to be a mom was Pat’s want for the same. He wanted me to be the one who raised our kids. He believed that me choosing into being a stay-at-home mom was the best gift for our kids and family, and he thought (and thinks) that I’d be great at it. This mutual strong value for me staying at home was what really led us to feel okay with stepping forward into an uncertain financial future.
And so as I got more and more pregnant with Caleb, and the time came closer to make a decision about whether to continue working or not, I felt a ton of freedom and support from Pat to choose to stay at home. And as I prayed and talked to friends and mentors, I found myself at Catalina Island 2.0, if you will. I had voiced my dream to be a mom over 5 years before, but could I actually make the plunge into making it real? It was very scary and there were a lot of unknowns.
All the while as I explored and considered being a stay-at-home mom, I also felt God calling me in that direction. I don’t know how else to describe it other than that – a conviction that this was what God wanted my life to be about. It felt very clear and very strong, similar to my call to work for a Christian ministry post-college. This time though, I had absolutely no idea what such a calling meant! There was absolutely no job description and I wouldn’t have a supervisor checking in with me regularly about my work (although, I do ask Pat to just tell me that I’m doing good job, every once in a while).
I’m not sure that I know even now, two years later, what I felt God call me into, but I think I’m slowly figuring it out. I’m learning to trust my instincts more, and to believe that I can make good decisions on my own. I’m starting to limit all the conflicting outside voices in the internet world that tell me how I should feed my children and how much sleep they should get, and 50 billion other things that end up driving me crazy. I have just a few people that I really trust, that I know I can reach out to when I have important parenting decisions to make. I’m learning to ask for more help and take more time for myself, because this makes me a better mom. I’m better now about knowing what brings me life and to choose into these things even when I don’t feel like it. And the list goes on with ways that I am discovering what it means to be doing what I’m doing.
And here I am, exactly one month from my due date with baby number three – a little nervous and freaked out about labor, not looking forward to a long stretch of sleep deprivation, bracing myself for a dramatic increase in tantrums from my 2 and 3 year old, wondering how I will ever get anything done ever again, but not wanting to trade it for the world. I don’t miss work at all, because I can’t even describe how much I LOVE being a mom.
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