This is a super long post and not entertaining and mostly unimportant to others but it is something I wanted to put out there because three weeks ago I experienced an awakening that I believe has changed me forever.
For as long as I can remember my goal in life was to be a mom and I wanted to stay home with my children. When we decided to start trying for our first we knew that I would be staying home with him or her. We also knew it wouldn't be easy. My last day at work was January 2nd 2007 and Allie was born at the end of April so I had almost 4 full months to sit and worry about our financial situation. It isn't to say that we didn't think about it being tough to survive on one income before we decided to conceive we just knew that somehow everything would work out.
Unfortunately I have this hard core work ethic no doubt passed down from my Dad and I couldn't just sit there and hope for the best so I did the only thing that I knew how to do. I jumped on the computer and googled "work at home jobs". I was going to do whatever it took to be the best stay at home mom ever AND bring in income equal to the amount I left behind. Um, nobody told me how much garbage would come up with that search term! After much trial and error I ended up doing some phone work from home then I started up a party business for children and an online boutique. I did both of those for two years and they helped provide some extras.
Then in Jan 2010 I found Macaroni Kid and decided that would be perfect for me. I love to write and it was all online something I could do at any hour which was great now that I was mom to a 2.5 yr old girl and almost 1yr old girl. What I didn't realize was publishing a weekly newsletter was a whole lot more work than I ever dreamed it could be. You see I like to do things, well, perfectly. So I would spend hours perfecting my lead article and working on crafts and recipes to share in the newsletter. All of that was fun and something I really enjoyed but it was taking me away from my sweet girls that begged for my attention.
Pretty soon this wasn't a job that I was only doing after bedtime and during nap time. It turned into something that I was doing way after bedtime like until 3am more than four nights a week and during nap time and during play time and during dinner time and on weekends. It was taking over and when you work from home on your own business you never leave the job. I kept telling myself that things would get easier and I would get into a routine. I spent the last year waking up promising that this day was going to be different and I was going to shut off the work part of my brain and just be mom. Until, of course, I checked my emails "just real quick" and saw a lead for an advertiser or something that needed to be fixed or an event that needed to be added to the newsletter and the cycle would start over. I would say "just one more minute" for an hour and before I knew it it was lunch time and the most I had done for the girls that morning was feed them breakfast and clean them up and send them to play. And the guilt would set in.
I know I am not the only mom to feel guilty about this sort of thing or the only work at home mom that has trouble finding balance but I felt really, really alone in this. I felt that other moms I know that work from home surely know how to balance it all and something must be wrong with me if I can't handle it all properly. On the outside and through pictures I would post on this blog or on Facebook it would seem as though I was super mom working, doing crafts, making dinners, hosting parties but really the making of crafts, dinners, and other fun things were once a week if that. I became obsessed with looking for advertisers and perfecting my media kit or doing hours of research on how to make the newsletter the best that it could be that it really took over everything. When you are the only person writing articles, posting events, doing Facebook blasts, responding to current advertisers, reaching out to potential advertisers, creating graphics...the list goes on, it isn't easy to shut it off. It got to the point where Allie would ask if I was going to be working all day again or would I have time to play with her. I am tearing up just typing that.
I guess I should mention my drive behind it all and the reason I was pushing so hard to make this work. My sweet husband works full time but he also goes to school at night. He is working on his basics but he is working hard to get into Pharmacy school and when that happens he will need to leave his full time job. OMG! So as someone that desperately wants to plan for the future and pull my own weight I searched for something that would replace his income in 2-3 years. That's when I found Macaroni Kid and that is why I pushed so hard to make this work for us because I knew the potential and it kept me home with the girls which was still my ultimate goal. But really, what good was I doing being home with them if I was totally preoccupied on the computer all the time?
None of this is to say Macaroni Kid is horrible. I believe Macaroni Kid is an outstanding way for moms to work from home but what I finally realized was that it just wasn't right for us right now and it was time to put my kids first.
I had been thinking this way for a month or more but my awakening as I call it came about a week after my birthday this year which was on Feb. 3. My dad gave me a new book to read written by Mary Beth Chapman (wife of Christian recording artist Stephen Curtis Chapman) the book is titled Choosing to SEE. I couldn't wait to get home and start reading it because I grew up listening to Stephen Curtis Chapman's music and having been to at least 5 of his concerts I sort of felt a kinship to his wife and family.
The book is heavily based on the death of their youngest (adopted) daughter, Maria. She had recently turned 5 years old when their teenage son tragically and accidentally hit her with the car in their drive way as he arrived home one afternoon. She died immediately. The Chapmans have three birth children and three adopted daughters. The book gives the details of what led them to adopt in the first place (the constant encouragement of their first born daughter) and the events leading up to and during their trips to pick up each of their sweet adopted daughters. The book also gives details from the day they lost Maria.
It was late at night as I read the words that described the day Maria went to be with Jesus. I sat in bed sobbing my heart aching for the pain this family went through. Reading a fellow mother's account of the days immediately after made it hard to breathe. She describes missing being able to smell her daughter to kiss her chubby feet and to feel her slobbery kisses that it feels like she is going through withdrawals not being able to do those things. Things that I have done countless times. Things that I could have done so much more over this last year.
It was like God was speaking to me that night as I sat sobbing reading the words written by a heart broken mother. He was telling me "don't take this life for granted. Don't wait until you lose someone you love to wake up and realize that time goes by in the blink of an eye. You only have today, today. Tomorrow today will be gone. Just a memory. What will you remember of today? Will you be proud of it?" Before I knew it I had been sitting there on my bed with the book closed now just crying and speaking out loud to God for 10 minutes. Begging Him to take me back. To make me new. A new mother. A new wife. To let me make things right. To take the guilt from me. Then I went into the girls' room where Kenzie was sleeping so peacefully and I knelt beside her bed and kissed her hair and breathed her in. Her smell is intoxicating to me. And again I started praying in a whisper over her. I prayed that she would know me as a loving mommy and not someone that had been too busy to play with her for the last year. I prayed that He would take the guilt from me so that I could let go of that and love openly. I prayed that she would forgive me and I prayed that I would never ever lose her. I did the same thing with Allie. Then I went to the bathroom and washed my face. I said another prayer before I finally laid down to try and sleep.
When I woke up in the morning I felt peace for the first time in a very long while. I knew then that I was meant to read this book at this very time in my life when I was questioning the decisions I had made over the last year. I didn’t connect with the book in the way of losing someone but it spoke to me in a different way. A way of letting me know to live for what really matters in life. I knew that I needed to let go of what was causing so much guilt in my life and for me that was working from home. I was scared because I still felt like I needed to do this for our future. But at the same time I felt Him tell me to trust Him and know that He would provide. That everything would be ok. That I needed to love my loved ones now and love Him now and have faith in Him who provides for His children.
I grew up going to church every weekend. I went to a private school. But in all of my years of being a Christian I had yet to have my break through moment. The moment that most Christians remember as the time they really felt saved or the time they openly called for Jesus to come into their heart. I felt like up until now I was going through the motions of how I thought a Christian should act and the words I thought Christians should say. But in that night at my most vulnerable moment I felt peace and I felt a change inside.
Reading Mary Beth's account of losing her daughter did something to me. It was more than reading a tragedy and feeling bad for that family and praying for them. It touched me so deeply and opened my eyes to the painful realization that we are not here forever and our days are numbered. Every second we are closer to saying our final goodbye here on this earth. And as depressing as that is, it is reality. It is unavoidable. It is unchanging. It is out of our control. But what is in our control is how we spend the days that are given to us. More importantly how am I spending the days with my girls who were given to me and my husband who was created just for me. They were given to me, by Him. They are gifts that I prayed for my whole life. And they are beautiful and so smart and so fun and all they want is me. They were given to me and I was given to them only I have held myself back from them and I won't any longer. I choose to SEE them. Every day. I choose them. And I know that everything will work out because I choose to trust in Him. I choose to let Him shine through me. I choose to remove the mask I have worn for so long and show that I am not perfect and I will never be perfect but through Him I can be more than enough for my children and my husband. I choose them.
I was reminded of a song that describes how I feel.