It’s been about a month since I transitioned to stay-at-home mom, so I finally feel ready to share more about why we made that leap of faith. First, a little background!
I became a mom in 2019. At the time we were newlyweds and I was still in grad school. I did a combined program which meant I was in graduate classes for one year, then doing about 9 months of supervised practice for my dietetic internship. I gave birth to Theo at the end of that first year of grad school. I got to spend that summer home with him and when he was 4 months old he got to start daycare while I did my rotations as an intern. It worked for us, but it was definitely hard to send him to daycare and be away from him, which I think is a universal experience for a working mom.
I’m sure you already know where I’m going with this. I was about halfway through my foodservice rotation in March of 2020 when the pandemic hit and we all went home. It actually worked out well because I couldn’t go back to in-person rotations and got to stay home with Theo, who was about 11 months at the time. I was a stay-at-home mom by surprise at that point. I felt stressed about it though. I knew it was the best option for us at the time, but when I graduated and studied for the RD exam that summer, I was building up a lot of bitterness and pride. I felt like I HAD to get a job as an RD, otherwise I ‘wasted’ the past 6 years. I felt a lot of pressure financially because I knew we spent money on my schooling and wanted to contribute. AND I felt a lot of guilt for sending Theo to daycare when I did eventually get a job in September of 2020.
Looking back it’s interesting. I could have just accepted the position of SAHM back in 2020. I could have never applied for any jobs and simply enjoyed raising Theo at home. But, I didn’t. I’m not saying that I was sinful or wrong for taking that job. It allowed us to purchase our first home, where we still live today. It was a really great job for me at the time and it was extremely flexible, which was a huge benefit having a toddler.
In 2021 I had our second son, Calvin. I hated that my maternity leave was so short. I was shocked to learn that I wouldn’t actually get full pay during my leave, and in fact took some time off without pay and without my employer paying for their part in our insurance premium. Typical and noraml for any American working mom, but insane to me. I went back to work when Cal was about 10 weeks old. I was working from home and that was HUGE. I was able to pump whenever I needed to and that was something I didn’t take for granted. But, I hated having to send him to daycare so soon.
I started to feel this rise of guilt. “Am I a bad mom since my kids go to daycare?” I knew that it was guilt and not conviction. There is a great difference. I follow Jesus as closely as my sinful self can, and I know that guilt isn’t from him. I was feeling guilt and I took that to the Lord. I felt that I was where I was supposed to be.
Increasingly in 2022, I started to feel really frustrated with the position I was in at work. The company I was working for was starting to go a direction I really didn’t find to align with my values as a provider. It was emotionally draining. I would text or call my husband after almost every team meeting and ask him if I could quit. I knew the answer, financially, no.
I started First Foods in February of 2022, but knew that financial success in the business wouldn’t happen overnight.
In October of 2022, I got a calendar invite placed onto my work calendar with an HR rep. LOL because I literally emailed back and told her she made a mistake, I didn’t have a meeting with her. She replied back and told me to clear my schedule to attend. Gulp. I then got on a team call and realized that most of us on the team had these mysterious calendar invites for that day, but no idea why. I met with the HR rep and our VP that day and they dissolved our team, laying us all off.
I was shocked. It was devastating and confusing. I wasn’t happy in that role anymore, but I wasn’t prepared for it to end so abruptly. I wanted to leave on my own terms. God really humbled me. I was angry, scared, excited and, honestly, depressed that winter. I felt immense pressure to go all in on First Foods, thinking that my practice needed to blow up overnight in order to make money and ‘show them!’
That didn’t happen. I’ve been consistently able to serve women and families in this practice, that’s a belssing, but financially nothing was blowing up.
Looking back, I think, “why didn’t I just take that opportunity and embrace being a stay-at-home-mom?” I confess now that I was running from that. I was feeling like if my business didn’t prove successful, I’d failed. I had so much pride in myself and my own ability to ‘figure it out’ that I didn’t really, honestly go to the Lord and ask Him. Thankfully God is sovereign over all and I am not.
God’s Next Door
There was a position open at a cancer center in town that I knew about for months. I’d even spoke to one of the RDs who worked there and talked to her about the position in November, didn’t feel a strong inclination to apply. But, in January my husband and I decided that this position could be a really big blessing to us at the time. I applied and felt really at peace about it. I was offered the position the day after the interview and felt really excited about accepting it. It was just part-time, 24 hours per week, so it still allowed me to be with my kids more and work on my practice as often as I could. I was thinking, ‘this is the perfect balance! I could do this for a long time and feel really satisfied.’
This position was a huge blessing. We got insurance again (my husband doesn’t get benefits through his job), my coworkers are just the most caring and smartest RDs I’ve ever worked with, and the patients touch my heart.
AND. I started to feel worn. I felt so emotionally drained when I got home each day, even though I got home with the kids like at 3:15pm- not like I was working super long shifts. But, I was irritable, ragey at times. I felt like the majority of my energy was going to my patients and their needs, and whatever I had leftover at the end of the day was what I could offer my kids as a mom. I felt a tug about that.
In June I started to feel this pit in my stomach. My husband has been so supportive through this all. I’d always been open with him about my struggles and guilt and he’s always a source of practical and supportive wisdom. He told me that he’d love it if I would be happy to stay home with the boys, we’d just need to make some financial choices in order to make that happen. So, we prayed.
Trevor wrote out our spending habits over months and budgeted multiple times to make the numbers work.
I wish I could say that there was a grand moment where I knew God’s answer, but I didn’t have that. Instead, I felt peace. I felt a peace about the future and a peace about being home. I felt no pride in my job, for the first time, maybe ever? I felt an immense joy in being able to disciple my kids more and find the joy in taking care of our home.
Another thing that gave me clarity was preschool. We had enrolled Theo in an in-home preschool program, just 4 hours a week. I was so stressed about it before we made the decision to stay home because I could not find transportation for him. We looked into other preschool options in our area and it was so expensive to switch up the current plan. Making the decision to be home allows me to bring Theo to preschool those few hours per week and it’s been a huge blessing.
I feel so much peace about our plan. I feel peace about our finances. Not because we have tons of extra cash, we don’t . But, I feel a peace about being exactly where God has me right now. I’m home with the boys and their needs come first. I’m able to be more involved in our church, more attentive to our home. I’m able to see clients when it works for me and I’m able to accept that my business doesn’t determine my success or my worth as a dietitian (something that took me a long time to actually believe).
This isn’t a post to shame working moms. This isn’t a post to try to convince anyone else to be at home. I don’t think that’s the plan God has for every mom right now and that’s okay. But, I can see His hand in our every day and it’s made me pray more, praise more, and rely on Him more. Those are all good things!
I look back on the several opportunities I’ve had to be home with my kids over the past 4 years. I could have stayed home with Theo right out of grad school in 2020. I could have stayed home after the pandemic hit in 2020. I could have stayed home after the layoff in 2022. I used to think that I’d really made a mess of things when I avoided what God was calling me to do, but now I think of it differently. I see God’s hand and God’s guidance in each of those things. I see now that he was softening my heart toward being home and being a mom. He was humbling me. I’m thankful for that! So much work to do in this heart, but I’m praising Him for what he’s done today!