Sometimes God has to get my attention through a whack on the side of the head. For me, that whack came in the form of our one biological daughter, who was born seventeen months after our first daughter. We had two babies drinking from bottles and wearing diapers. The oldest was barely walking and the new baby had colic. We knew we had been blessed, but sometimes in these early months, we felt too blessed.
Some women adjust splendidly to the rigors of being a working mom. I did not. I tried to have it all, but it felt like I had nothing. My family was suffering. (I don’t want to ignite a mommy war. Any choice a mom makes is a good choice for her. I talk about my experiences because some moms long to be home, and it is that mom who I seek to encourage.)
As if God wasn’t sure I had heard his message to be a stay-at-home mom, he sent me another whack on the head – a major job change for my husband. The offer was one he could not pass up and involved moving to a great community some eighty miles away from my law practice. After a few months of arguing, praying, negotiating, and praying some more – we moved.
It took a few months to wind up my cases and I commuted a few days a week while doing so, but soon everything was completed and I found myself plopped down in my new life. I had no idea what to expect, and I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know anyone in our neighborhood. No one knew me or my former profession. No one called me “counselor”. I became just another mom on the block with a couple of kids.
In those first few months at home, I felt close to panic most of the time. I would look around our tiny, messy house at our tiny, messy children and think, “What happened to my life?”
When the panic receded a bit, that thought was replaced by, “How in the world am I going to manage this?”
Mothering was not in my skill set. I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I always assumed that when, and if, I had children, I would take a maternity leave and be chomping at the bit to return to work. One of my sisters had a pre-baby dream that I had a baby and put her in a shoe box in my closet and went back to work. I had also always assumed that the emotional division of my life would be that simple. Not so.
With one child, it was easy. Two parents getting three people out of the house in the morning was simpler arithmetic. Two parents getting four people going in the morning is more than doubly complicated.
First, there was the fatigue factor. Because I cut my hours back drastically after the adoption, I always had the energy to have fun with our first daughter. But children need quantity time, not just quality time, and the more children you have, the more time it takes.
When the second child came along, it was so exhausting to just meet their physical needs after meeting the demands of clients all day that our time together as a family suffered. After working all day, dropping off and picking up children, preparing dinner, giving baths, and doing some housework, all I wanted to do was crash on the couch.
There was too little time for quantity time and too little energy for any quality time.
Because I had reduced my schedule after the adoption, I don’t think I missed any of my daughter’s first milestones. But I did miss the fun (and the aggravation!) of full-time, day-to-day life with a child. I missed eating meals together, reading multiple stories on demand, kissing her little hurts, and affirming her on a daily basis.
When I quit my job, many colleagues and friends told me, “You’ll go crazy staying home!”
Some said, “How could you waste all that education?”
But I didn’t go crazy and my daughters gave me a whole different kind of education. I learned to pay attention to the beautiful, small details of life. I learned patience. I learned to relax and enjoy the too-short passage of childhood through the eyes of two wonderful little people with wonderful insights.
As for practicing law, there will always be acrimony and avarice. It was all still there when I was done raising a total of four babies, with various foster kids in the mix over time as well. Since they have been older, I have been able to do some meaningful things with the law that I’m not sure I could have done had I remained in the grind of private practice.
In the legal profession, my days were full of seemingly weighty issues and hard decisions. When I became a stay-at-home mom, days were filled with small joys and wonders.
I had settled in my heart that God had given us a great gift and that full-time mothering was the highest and best use of my time and talents.
For more on becoming a stay-at-home mom, read my book, Coming Home to Raise Your Children.