Happy New Year! I have been MIA for the past few weeks, taking time to enjoy the holidays and winter break with my family. After all the prep of presents, traveling, and meals, it seems that the holidays just simply fly by! I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to soak up a few days with the ones I love!
The impending holidays also brought a hard decision for my family and I–to extend my maternity leave to the end of this year so that I can stay home with our sweet little man until he is almost a year old! I am so blessed and excited to have this time with our son–time that I truly believe I can never get back–but it was also a very emotional and difficult decision for me.
For the past eight years, all I have ever known is teaching. I have poured my time, heart, and soul ( and let’s be honest, pocketbook!) into teaching. From the moment I received my first classroom in North Carolina in 2007, I knew that teaching children (especially elementary) was what I was made to do, the gift that God had blessed me with. I loved every minute of it–even the hard days when I wasn’t sure anyone had learned a thing from me that day! I decided to begin graduate school when I was 25 to earn my Master’s degree in administration, so I could one day be a school principal and extend my reach beyond just the four walls of my own classroom. Education ran in my blood and I had huge aspirations to make a difference in the lives of children.
Then, on August 27, 2018 at 9:00 pm my priorities changed. For the first time, I laid eyes on my sweet Kellen Robert Ray and everything in my world looked different. My priorities changed. I wanted to see every smile, hear every giggle, and witness every milestone that my little man would have in his first year of life. To me, four months just wasn’t enough. I loved teaching, but the thought of being away from him for seven to eight hours, to return home exhausted and with only a few hours before baths and bedtime, set me on an emotional rollercoaster. My heart was telling me to soak up this time. That my career path would always be there, but my little baby would not.
My head, on the other hand, reminded me that we had car payments, a mortgage, groceries, and other expenses each month that needed paid. We planned for a four-month maternity leave, but not a full year off. I have always been a planner. I have always lived with a safety net for my finances. I have always had a plan. Thus, an internal battle between what my heart was telling me versus my head began. My husband and I decided to lean on God to guide us, just as we had just under a year ago when we found out we were expecting our little man.
As the deadline for my decision neared, I was still undecided. And then I looked at the calendar and I saw the end of December glaring back at me, sweeping me back to the memory of last Christmas. Last Christmas where I woke up early to take a pregnancy test–praying so very hard that it would be a positive. That the past few months of doctor’s appointments and medications would be worth it. Praying that I would be able to call the fertility office to cancel our impending appointment at the first of the new year. Staring back at a negative, feeling devastated, I put on a brave face for Christmas morning (and my 29th birthday) with my family.
I looked at the calendar again, seeing December 29. Again sweeping me back to that day last year when I decided to be brave and take just one more test. The day I cried in the bathroom and FaceTimed my husband because I couldn’t believe it. The day he left work early so we could get an official test done at the hospital to confirm that yes, we were pregnant. The day where I was told that we would still need to visit the fertility doctor–that we would be seeing him for the first 12 weeks of our pregnancy. The LONGEST 12 weeks of fear, excitement, and anticipation. Looking at that calendar, thinking of how much I had prayed and waited for the moment I would meet my little man, confirmed that it was time to follow my heart and not my head.
And that leads us to the present. I am currently sitting at home on a Friday morning, watching a five-year-old play school and a four-month-old peacefully nap (well, he woke up before I edited this!). I am soaking up these moments, because I know how blessed I am. I know that by the end of today, I will have stressed about finances and have been plagued with the guilt that I am not working a multitude of times, but I will continue to lay both those onto God in prayer. We trust that he will provide for us during this time.
Happy New Year and may God bless you and your family this year!