Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Deciding to Stay Home, Part Five

This is part five of a five-part series about how I went from working gal to stay-home-mom, back in 2002. You can read the other parts by clicking: PART ONE, PART TWO, PART THREE, PART FOUR. (The pictures in this post are current pictures of our family, because I have virtually no pictures from 2002 in digital format.)

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As I began sharing last time, when we made the decision for me to be home with our baby, it wasn't because we were in great financial shape, or because my husband had a plum job & we could afford it. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We had student loans aplenty, and had just racked up more than $17,000 in medical debts because our son spent his first week in a NICU that didn't accept our insurance. We moved back to Texas to be near family, but had no job, no insurance, and had saved just enough money to get through a couple weeks (at best).

Everything rested on my husband's ability to pound the pavement and our God's ability to provide.

Doug applied at a wide variety of places, dropping his resume at virtually every place that would accept it, and filling out applications anywhere that he was able to do the work (i.e., from Home Depot to the Dallas Museum of Art). After a week or two, Doug got a call and was hired to work at Kohl's, the department store. He made a slightly more than minimum wage, and received a discount in their stores. We grocery shopped carefully, almost never ate out, lived in a one-bedroom apartment, made it work with one car & one cell phone (no landline), and used his discount to get nicer clothes for him for future interviews. If memory serves, he worked at Kohl's for 2-3 months.

A friend of ours at church told us about a mortgage company in the metroplex that was often looking for people for their bankruptcy department, and so Doug went through the process there and was hired. He worked hard, going in early (he would often leave at 5am to get a jumpstart on the workday and avoid traffic), and we were so thankful that he had a job, with an adequate salary (though I know some people think it's tacky to talk about money, I don't particularly care about "tacky"... I'm writing this story to encourage other families out there with our story, to give you hope that you can "do it", too, if you sense God's leading to stay home). He made $30,000 plus benefits.

We were thankful for his job, and it gave us enough as a young family. We didn't expect to have a designer house, and Ethan almost entirely wore clothes and used baby things that we were given or that we'd gotten at thrift stores. I didn't update my wardrobe, and didn't have a dishwasher or a 2nd car (so I literally "stayed home")... but despite lacking these external things that our society tells us we "need", we were so happy! I was so glad to be with this little person who was fascinated by everything and was, himself, so fascinating. Our new son & I spent our days together, friends came over to see us from time to time, and I tried my hand at cooking more than I had in our pre-baby days, with varying degrees of success. I still think back on those early days and am so glad we sacrificed so that Ethan and I could be together.

It's not a popular thing to say, but it is true-- in our very wealthy nation of America, it is almost always possible for a woman to stay home with her baby if she wants to. If you don't want to, that's your decision. But for those who do want to stay home, and are wondering if you can do it, or thinking that it's impossible, I want to encourage you that it is possible. Like we did, you might need to move to a less expensive city. You may not have "luxury" items, or even what other people expect as "normal". Like mine did, your husband may have to take a job (or jobs) that are outside his area of expertise. But you can make it work, and in the long run, you won't regret making hard choices, or even sacrificing, in order to enjoy these special moments with your baby, and give him a loving, stable, and connected start in life.

From one mom who's been there, you CAN stay home if you want to, and it is so precious to share those days together with the new little person God has put in your family.

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