I can’t say the decision to stay at home with a child rather than going to work is an easy one for anyone. Spiritually and emotionally, staying at home seemed clear-cut for me and my family. But in this day and age of divorce, massive debt, career ladder climbing and social scrutiny, there’s a lot of factors to stress about when considering each side.
Sure, I’ve always done my best to put my daughter’s needs and happiness above everything else. But I felt I couldn’t personally do that while commuting over 60 miles a day to a full-time graphic designer job with 10-hour days.
My main decision in clinching my new stay-at-home status came from my belief that children are a gift from God. As a mother, I feel it’s my responsibility to nurture my child in the ways of God. I toiled over nine months in pregnancy and decided to change my entire life to have this bundle of joy. She will be a reflection of my husband and me, so why would we want the majority of her waking hours to be spent with someone else?
Financially, it was difficult to think about giving up my job. However, once we did the math and figured out how much child care would cost, paired with all of the mileage and gas costs from my job commute, the sad truth was I wasn’t coming away with much profit. Working means paying more taxes and tithes. It means more car repairs, more clothes and sometimes dinners out. It means people coming into your place of business asking you to contribute to their fundraisers and attend their events off of work time. Yes, I do love community-mindedness! However, when every dollar counts and work adds more duties and stress without giving you more compensation, it seems like you’re living a meaningless life in that proverbial hamster wheel. (Boy, is that all life has to offer? I didn’t think so!)
Fortunately, I have obtained a degree and experience in a profession where I can do freelance work from home. While it’s difficult to do that at this point (my almost-two-year-old daughter needs a lot of attention), it reflects choices I consciously made over the years. I wanted options like that open to me before I even had a family, because I realized that my priorities could change down the road.
Trust is another reason why I decided to quit my full-time job. When considering child care options, it seemed like there were always rumors or news stories popping up about abusive day care workers. How can a small child, especially a non-verbal baby, communicate to let you know they are being mistreated? While I couldn’t personally afford the $5 to $10 an hour for someone to watch my child anyway, it didn’t mean that I thought they didn’t deserve much for their efforts. I mean, those honest caregivers have one of the toughest jobs in the world! Yet, I knew these workers aren’t getting rich. Sometimes, lower paying jobs really attract dicey people. And, again, if someone is able to spend their day with MY child, why shouldn’t it be me?
For whatever reason, our society pushes the career ladder climb the most at the time when most of us are getting married and starting the child-rearing process. Admittedly, my career will suffer from this hiatus. I will be behind in my retirement savings as well as my job skills. Every day, I worry about the material-side of my family’s future. However, I make a conscious effort to give those worries to God and try to remind myself that time with my little girl is fleeting. She is my future, and she means more to me than whatever happens – or doesn’t ever happen – with my career.
Time will go fast. As my daughter enters school and gets busy with her own activities, friends and her own spiritual and career searches, I will miss my time at home with her. In my heart, I know the decision to ‘opt out’ now will be worth the extra work I’ll need to get my job skills up to par again. I’ll forget about all the items I couldn’t afford or vacations we couldn’t enjoy because my family decided to go down to one income.
Sometimes, there are days I wish I was still at work, just on those days where I feel she’s stressing me out and trying my last inch of patience. However, spending almost every minute with my growing daughter is a decision I will never regret.