I will never be a stay at home mom. I remember thinking that, saying that, and rolling my eyes at the thought of any sane person who, after spending years in school and thousands of dollars on a college education, would just up and decide to abandon their dreams and goals to sit at home feeding their baby all day. And to a point, I have kept that promise. I am not a stay at home mom; but now my long-term goal? To be one.
If you met me five years ago, you’d find a very different woman. I had my “dream” teaching job at a school our staff called “Disneyland”, I was completing my Master’s in School Administration, I owned my own home and spent the weekends downtown with good friends. What else do you need at 26? I was content. I had goals of becoming a school administrator and following in my parents’ footsteps (both work in school administration).
Then, I met my husband and just like every cheesy Hallmark movie, you find yourself head-over-heels in love and your priorities change. I decided to leave the amazing job and sell my house for love–and to this day I would not change a single aspect of that decision.We were married on June 16, 2017 and celebrated with the most amazing week in Jamaica, followed by a “familymoon” with my step-daughter, Aubrey, to Disney World. Life was great!
As the suitcases were unpacked and stored and school began, we switched our focus to adding to our family. While we had Aubrey, we only had her 50% of the time with the shared custody agreement, and as much as I saw her as my daughter and loved her as my own, I still would never be “her mommy.” I had wanted to be a mommy since I received my first baby doll. I wanted to carry a child, love on that child, and be there for each new memory and moment. Little did I know, it wouldn’t be that easy. My past medical history (a post for another day) made it difficult for us to conceive. As I was given rounds of medication to help the process, I also began digging into bible verses to help me keep the faith that God was a part of this process. Justin and I prayed together each night, and we read bible verses related to conception and trusting in God’s plan and timing. Six months. That doesn’t seem like a long time–especially to others who I know have tried, without success, for longer than that to conceive. In our sixth month, our doctor referred us to a fertility doctor. I was crushed. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office–feeling so empty as I listened to my doctor go through the information and “next-steps”. I vividly remember thinking that maybe this was why God led me to Justin and Aubrey–that maybe I would never get to be a “real” mommy, but I’d still go through the joy of parenthood with him through raising Aubrey.
As the holidays approached, I tried not to think about the news-–but my mind focused on the “what-ifs”. What if we can’t afford these appointments? What if we find the money and the procedures don’t work? A million questions swirled and occupied my mind. My husband tried to take my attention away from my fears, planning a birthday month countdown for my 29th birthday. Christmas Day came–my 29th birthday. My only wish? A positive pregnancy test. I woke up early that morning to sneak one more test in–hoping for a Christmas surprise. Negative. I hid my disappointment and enjoyed the next few days of celebrations with our family.
December 29th. Three days until our appointment with the fertility doctor. On a whim, I decided to give it just one more go for this month and picked up a pregnancy test to take while Aubrey napped that afternoon, splurging just one last time for the digital ones. Two LONG minutes and I sat in our bathroom, crying again. Except this time, in disbelief, staring at a small, bold “PREGNANT”. My mind raced. I didn’t have time to Pinterest “cute ways to tell your husband you’re pregnant.” I FaceTimed Justin right then and there–in the bathroom–and 39 weeks later, we welcomed our sweet Kellen Robert Ray.
What’s the point of this story? It took us six months to conceive our sweet boy– pennies to those who have struggled longer, or those who continue to still struggle. Those six months were some of the hardest of my life–filled with self-doubt, sadness, frustration and fear that my husband would be disappointed in me for something so very out of my control. I felt broken. My heart aches for those who are still struggling, for those who suffer through a miscarriage, or those whom lose their child.
Most importantly, those six months taught me why momma’s struggle with the “back-to-work” or “stay at home” decision. They have waited so long to have a child– their WHOLE life in fact. Then, when they finally meet their child—their WHOLE world– they have just weeks or months to decide whether they will leave their job and the financial stability it provides, or leave their WHOLE world in the care of someone else. It’s hard. I am in month three of my maternity leave and it’s constantly in the back of my mind. What do I do? What is best for my family? What will I miss? What if….?
So don’t be like me. Don’t be quick to judge the stay-at-home mommas who left careers to devote their life to their children. And stay-at-home mommas, please be slow to judge the mommas who can’t stay at home–know their struggle is also real. It’s difficult to leave their child each day in someone else’s care–knowing they will miss out on some milestone or “first” along the way. Instead, encourage, support, and lend an ear to both of them because in the end, no matter what type of “momma” you are, it is a hard, yet ever so rewarding job.