this post, when I asked you how do moms do it?*
I wrote it at a point when I felt completely overwhelmed by the prospect of working from home with a toddler who had dropped his second nap and would destroy our house if I took my eyes off of him for more than 30 seconds. It felt impossible to get anything done - let alone run a small business - except during naps and at bedtime, which still wasn't enough time. Long gone were the days of sewing purse after purse while he napped in his swing next to me.
So we began to pray about it, seek counsel, and look into a few options.
We knew that I absolutely had to work. Several of you wrote and suggested extreme cost-cutting measures to keep me from working at all, and for us right now, some of those just aren't feasible. (I'd elaborate on some of those suggestions, but I don't want to offend anyone.) Shawn is working in his dream job, we absolutely love Raleigh and feel like it's where we are supposed to be, and I have to work to make sure we pay our bills. There's just no way around it, as frugal as we can possibly be.
I've said before that being a stay at home mom (who doesn't have to bring in any money) is a luxury. I don't mean it's luxurious. It's far from that, and I realize what hard work it is. But for many mothers around the world, it's simply not an option to stay home full-time with the children. So in that way, it feels like a privilege - not a right - to have one income that's large enough to support an entire family. For us right now, that's just not the case. And that's ok.
Also, I love to work! I adore my roles as wife and mother, but I also feel fulfilled outside of those roles and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. In many ways, I feel like a better mom and wife when I've stepped away to do something creative and challenging that also supports my family financially.
So we pursued several options...
- I interviewed for a part-time nursing job at a pediatric clinic, and was offered the job. If I took this option, I would stop working from home altogether. Ultimately, the hours they needed me to work were completely opposite of the childcare hours I already had in place (including 12-hour shifts on Sundays which are Shawn's busiest days), so I'd be starting from scratch. I know many working mothers who face this, but had I paid for each and every childcare hour that I was working, I would end up making minimum wage and being away from Liam a whole lot. It didn't feel like the right answer to me or to anyone whose counsel I sought.
- The other option for me is working from home. As you know, I have a busy Etsy shop, and I also paint part-time for a company out of my home. But it kept coming back to the question... when do I ever get work done as a full-time toddler mom?
Enter: the most wonderful woman from my church who has volunteered to hang out with Liam twice a week. It's almost too good to be true. She picks him up from our house at 8:30am and drops him back off at 1pm, happy and exhausted. He calls her "Auntie" and adores her, waking up in the morning and asking for her.
Let me tell you... these two mornings a week have Changed. My. Life. No exaggeration. I feel like a new person with these times set aside to focus on work.
By the time she shows up at 8:30am and I usher Liam out the door, I try to be fully dressed, have already eaten breakfast, have my tea ready, and hop into the sewing room. Unless it's to go to the bathroom or get some water, I literally stay in that room and work for the entire 4 and a half hours that Liam is away. I try not to run any errands during this time as it really cuts into my work time. I just listen to sermons, cut fabric, paint, package bags, answer a few emails, and tend to whatever needs to be done.
Most weeks, those two mornings a week are still not enough. I still work during naps and after bed many nights a week. And on Fridays (Shawn's day off), he and Liam hang out all morning so I can concentrate on work again.
It's a juggling act. It's always changing, some days much harder than others. To be honest, I've never worked this hard in my life. Not as a full-time student and a part-time nanny in Chicago. Not in nursing school. Not even as a nurse in the hospital. But isn't that just true of motherhood in general?My work never feels finished, and that's the most exhausting part about it. There are always more purses to sew, canvases to paint, emails to return.
Is this a long-term solution for us? No. Add another kid to the mix or take away our childcare help, and we have to make some major changes.
But the trade-off is this: spending (nearly) every waking moment with my Liam. He and I have the closest bond humanly possible, and our days together feel like a fleeting gift that I don't want to miss. So during those late nights and early mornings and all the in-between frantic work times, it's worth it. At least for me. At least right now.
*Your response to the "Calling All Mothers" post, through email, was so far beyond what I expected. When I copied and pasted all of your emails into a word document, it exceeded 100 pages! At some point, I hope to sort through and do a blog series about what I learned from you. Right now is not that point. But seriously, thank you for your encouragement, your insight, and your time.