Guest Post: Fork in the Road

Once again I find myself at a fork in the road. Has this happened to you? I can go this way for this end result, or I can go this way for this result. Both have their good and bad sides. Both benefit everyone, but ultimately you choose the one you feel slightly outweighs the other.

This has been about 83.76% of my thought process for the past 2 months.

I found myself no longer in a paying, away from home, working environment. We had enough savings to keep the kids in preschool for about another month so I could look for another job. So I looked ... and looked ... and looked. The closest thing I got was a form emailed letter saying that my application had been received, they keep resumes and applications on file for a year, and if something that met my skills opened up, they would contact me.  Thanks. I was in HR.  I know what that means. And no one goes back through resumes and past applications.

The time came to take the kids out of school. We told their teachers, cleaned out their cubbies, and at the very last minute, Grandma stepped up with a check to cover the next 4 weeks. Enough time for them to (almost) finish out the school year. So I kept looking for a paying job. And looking, and looking, and looking.

Then I thought ... it costs so much to keep the kids in preschool/daycare. For the past 18 months I worked 50 hours a week (on a slow week) in the office, then replied to every email, every phone call, every request from a customer on nights and weekends, I had software at my house that allowed me to run the office from home in case there was a power outage, or other such issue that rendered us helpless, and was stressed to the point of physical health issues, mental health issues, and ultimately I was "replaced" because I wasn't reliable nor was I committed enough because I needed to miss work on occasion when my kids were sick. No lie. I wasn't reliable, I wasn't committed, and I wasn't an asset any longer. WOW!
Yes, these are of me sitting on the concrete floor of the warehouse garage, sorting through massive amounts of invoices that were logged, filed, and recorded incorrectly.

Adding, tallying, and reconciling years worth of purchases that were a total jumble of a mess.

All the while, I’m sitting on an industrial grade floor mat. Wow ... Just imagine what my work ethic would have been like if I had only been committed to my job.

So ... tomorrow I will once again be a full time Mommy, chef, nurse, maid, play mate, teacher, and wife. I played this role for 18 months right after my baby GG was born prematurely, and I loved it. We found ourselves in a money crunch and needed a little extra to get by. We’re out of that pickle now; we’re wiser and know where our priorities lay. Don't get me wrong, the extra money would still be nice, but not at the detriment of my health or my family's health and well being.  But on the same token, the thought of paying someone my entire paycheck to baby-sit my kids is silly to me.

 Soapy water painting is a lot of fun.

This counts as a bath ... right?

Finding that balance of mommy, woman, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, and friend will be both fun and hard. I have glorious plans for how we'll spend the next year and a half until my oldest is eligible for Kindergarten in the fall of 2014.  Here's what I see us doing... 

I'll wake up at 6:30 every morning and ride my exercise bike while watching the news. This gives me a little alone time before the kids wake up, and starts the day off right. If the kids aren't up by 7:00, I'll open their door and go downstairs to have coffee and watch the Today Show until they wake up and come down. Breakfast will follow, and then we'll sit down at the computer and see what activities are available for us for the day. I'm hoping for a lot of free field trips, petting zoos, library visits, picking fruits, and kid seminars at local craft and home improvement stores. Between activities away from home, we'll send time doing creative learning activities. I bought each child a notebook, and we'll pick a letter a week to focus on. We'll cut pictures out of the paper and magazines that represent that letter and glue them into our books. We'll practice writing those letters and studying the sounds. When the weather permits, we'll be outside as much as possible, either working in our small backyard garden, swimming in the neighborhood pool, or learning to ride our bicycles and roller skates. Each meal will be a learning activity too.  We'll learn where our food comes from, how to clean it and cook it and what tastes great.

In addition to the notebooks I bought for the kids, I also bought one for me. Each night, after they have gone to bed, I'm going to write down what we did that day, leaving them a journal of all the fun adventures.

Plans aren't always followed through on. Supper is on the table, but the family was engrossed in a new movie, so supper waited. 

My little Sous Chef.

Our first two heirloom tomatoes of the season.

Tomato blooms for the cherry tomatoes.

I'm very excited to be starting this new chapter of my life. I've been on both sides of the working Mommy fence, and, like I said before, there are plusses and minuses to each. I have two or three very good friends who are FANTASTIC Mommies and have zero interest in being home all day with their kids. They find they are much better parents because they work out of the home in a paying employment position. I, on the other hand, find that too stressful. I need and want to snuggle, teach, explore, and experience this time with my babies. I need to not feel pressured and fearful of losing that paid position if my child is sick and needs me. Pretty soon they'll be teenagers, and I'll look back at my journal of the time we spent together and I'm sure I'll cry happy tears and longing tears for their sweet days of childhood. But for me, I would rather look back and sweetly remember the days in the sprinkler, the snowmen, the fall leaves, and the new spring gardens, than to look back and realize that I was sitting in a boardroom while my kids laughed and ran and climbed, and discovered the world.

So here's to skinned knees, "why" a thousand times a day, "She hit me", "Don't jump on the furniture!", baseballs through windows, butterfly kisses, bedtime stories, watching the stars at night, "He's looking at me", the occasional chocolate for breakfast, "I want GranMa!", secretly learning our ABC's, and 123's while playing games, and all the sweet moments to come. 

Cheers, y'all.
About The Author: I'm a new (again) stay at home mom. My kids are 4.5 and 3. A boy and a girl who are 18 months apart. I have my bachelors degree in English from George Mason, but I've worked with numbers most of my life as either a financial manager, or other such accounting type role. I'm 39, married to a fireman, we have 2 huge dogs, Stella and Homer, we live in Manassas, but I could throw a stone and it would land in Bristow. I have a fear of birds, yet I buy bird feeders and bird seed. I can't stand stink bugs, cicadas, or Zombies. I have a gluten intolerance, I'm overweight, I don't enjoy to diet or exercise, and I have watched General Hospital (off and on) since I was in 4th grade. We have a cat named Kevin, and a gigantic goldfish who's name is either Iron Man, or Captain America, and since I can't remember, I call him "fish". I drink boxed wine because I can buy it cheap and in bulk. I believe that little girls should have dresses that twirl, and little boys should learn from day one to open doors for girls. I just learned about 3 months ago that it's no longer "proper" to double space at the end of a sentence. I decorated my kitchen around a platter I got for Christmas one year. I'm happiest in my kitchen, in my garden, and while writing. I'm originally from NC, and my older sister and her family are still there. My father lives in Shenandoah county, my mother passed away from cancer in 1996, and my stepmother just passed away in April from complications to liver failure. I'm a ridiculous Daddy's Girl, I was a total Tom-Boy, and I have a handed-down love of British cars.

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  1. Kudos for doing this...I've been on the fence about this and am in a fork in the road myself with similar issue. I want to be a stay at home mom but am having trouble on getting hubby on board since we'd be financially "even" (i.e. we would be able to pay the bills with just him working, but barely, so we wouldn't be saving anything for the kids college or our retirement, etc.) Did you have a hard time getting your hubby on board?

  2. Not really, because I was let go from my paying position, and spent over a month looking for a job. During that month, we saw that we could do it with a few sacrifices, so we agreed. It's sacrifices on both our parts. We got rid of the minivan, and "downsized" to a 1999 Jeep Cherokee. I'm driving the Pilot with the kids seats, and my husband has the Jeep. We had hoped to put our son in private kindergarten this fall to get him into 1st grade in the fall of 2014, so we won't be able to do that this year. The more we thought about it, it will be better for him to wait. He's super smart now, but friends were telling us that its the teen years where we'll see the adjustment issues with him going in"early".

    I'm very happy with the choice. It's hard, but very rewarding. I hope you find the balance and make it work. I remember my OB telling me that if we waited until we were "financially ready" to have kids, we'd never have them. He was right. The money all worked out somehow when I was "SURE" we would go belly up. Staying home with them is the same thing. If its what you really want, you'll find a way to make it work. Good luck!