On “Staying at Home”

I’ve been a stay at home mom (SAHM) for almost 6 years. Before that I had an incredibly unfulfilling job/career track that had a fancy sounding name, decent salary and an itemized budget that included lunch meetings and coffee outings.

I grew up with both of my parents working outside the home (pops is a CFO and moms a woman who put her master’s degree to good use as a high school guidance counselor before retiring a few years ago) so there was always pressure-though never expressly stated and probably more internal -to get a good job and stick with it. My siblings have both done very well at that, my big sister is a Pharmacist (she’s actually the pharmacist in charge at her store) and my brother the very best chiropractor in the biz (see!).

So it surprised me and everyone else who knew me when I announced I was leaving my “good” job to stay at home 6 years ago. I can’t say for sure what led me to that decision but I know for certain it had a lot to do with how miserable I was at that job. It also had a lot to do with giving birth to Dailah and having to drop her and Trysten off at the daycare where the other women would tell me how it looked when she took her first steps and Trysten got his first real injury. We were adopting Tariku later that year as well and, after reading all the things that could go wrong with an adoption, I was committed to pouring all my time and energy into healing his young heart.

I would say my first few months staying at home were really eye opening for me. Though I would’ve sworn up and down that I loved having a to-do list and thrived on being busy, the opposite was actually true. I really loved my mornings spent watching Trysten play and Dailah eat her Cheerios. I could feel the tension between living how the culture wanted me to live (succeed! make money! upward mobility!) and how I wanted to live (raise healthy children! leisure! live a life of contentment!). In the end, I found teaching a few hours at the Y each week was best for everyone. It gave me a little adult time every week and gave the kids some new friends with whom to wrestle. Though I was/am “working” I, in fact, don’t really even make enough money to cover the gas it takes to bring me into town so I’m not sure it qualifies in the way most would describe the term. 🙂

Now that all 5 kids are in school full time I would say the number 1 question I get asked from people who know me semi-well is, “So now are you going to get a job?”

So weird, right? Because for me, my job hasn’t stopped. My #1 goal continues to be raising healthy, loving, respectful, responsible young people and though I have so many friends and family who also have that as their #1 goal and manage to have full time careers as well, I still feel like home is quite literally where my heart is.

I’ve told Zach I’m now in this new phase of life in which I have lived in a space and time where I was doing exactly what I was “supposed” to do but was completely miserable there. I genuinely feel like those were the darkest of my years. Though I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the actual job, I also remember crying at my desk some days looking at pictures of my sweet babes. But I’ve also lived in a space and time where I was doing something that seemed so wonderful it felt almost counter-cultural. (hallelu I’m actually still there.)

I’m currently reading Brene Brown’s, The Gifts of Imperfection. Man, I love her. Though it’s not my favorite of hers (that title currently belongs to Daring Greatly), there are still some great gems inside. I think if anything it has reminded me that there is nothing to be ashamed of when I’m living my life in such a way that brings me and those around me lots of joy. Even when the people pleaser in me starts to put on the pressure to find a job so others can be proud of me or so I can contribute to the family’s bottom line I need to remember, “No one can define what’s meaningful for us. Culture doesn’t get to dictate if it’s working outside the home, raising children, lawyering, teaching or painting. Like our gifts and talents, meaning is unique to each one of us.”-pg.112

For those of you living out your great passions in whatever capacity you are, I salute you! It is not always easy but it is always worth it.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

 

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The goings on

Some of my favorite moments since we last spoke…

We’ve been getting lots of bonding time with my nieces and nephews. Dailah, ever the little mama, takes it upon herself to walk the babies when they need it.

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Before it became common to experience -45 degree windchill here in the ole’ Ioway, this was how Trysten chose to shovel our drive. Good ole’ Iowa born and bred, baby.

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The kids got to meet a few Santas. The first was just after I was asked if I was a daycare provider. Good times.

 

 

 

 

 

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The theme for the big 3’s Christmas was definitely sports. They each have their favorite teams and will argue to do the death on which is better. Surreal that they know stats and game times. Aren’t they still 3-years-old?!?!?

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We toasted to Jesus, each other and joy.

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Speaking of sports…

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I was also able to capture this priceless reaction when they opened their new Xbox One.

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Dailah was more interested in Nutcracker goodies (she was able to go to our local dance company’s production with her grandpa) and American Girl Doll accessories.

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Even more than that? Hanging with her bestie (and cousin) Elihu.

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We got to visit friends from California when they were back in town. Kyle’s niece was born 1 month before Trysten. They’ve spent time together through the years. If they ended up married it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. 😉

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We hosted Ethiopian Christmas at camp. Tariku helped me make loads of Doro Wot, shiro and the like. This is how we combat teary eyes from cutting so many onions. Love my special time with him!

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Have been spending lots of time with good friends. Dailah can’t get enough of sweet Lucy and we can’t get enough of sweet Lucy’s parents.

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Camp hosted it’s very first winter camp. All 5 kids went (and stayed 3 nights) which meant we had our first New Year’s Eve together sans kids for the first time in 10 years. Man, I just really love this guy. Editor’s note: let’s just take a moment to thank the dear sweet baby Jesus that Zach has shaved off his ‘stache. 

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Basketball season is upon us again. So much fun coaching both teams. These 4 constantly ask to be benched at the same time. Best friends, cousins and siblings. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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We had a wedding! Zach officiated the wedding of one of his oldest, dearest and best friends. I was honored to serve as a bridesmaid. The kids made us proud on the dance floor that night and then Zach and I got to spend the night in a hotel room by ourselves thanks to his parents. It was a spectacular night!

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We got to celebrate the 4th birthday of this little Princess Sintayehu. Hard to believe the little one in which Jake and Leslie yearned for so many years is already 4 years old. She is hilarity and spunk and energy and joy and I just couldn’t possibly love her more if I tried.

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The days pass quickly and yet each one is marked with enough love and life to make me the happiest mama/auntie out there.