What’s It Like?

This past week marked one year of copyediting with the publishing company I am working with.  What started as a way to save some extra money for the baby has since turned into a part-time job that has allowed me to stay at home with her now that she’s here.  I don’t think I can express how grateful I am for this opportunity.

In honor of that anniversary, I realized I haven’t offered much about the transition to working from home here on the blog, although many have asked.  In addition to my new full-time job as mom, doing some online editing from home has been the greatest blessing and SO ideal for us.  I’m able to bring in a part-time salary for our family, while getting to be home with her and not have to pay childcare.  On deadline days, I can edit while she naps and in the evenings.  It’s an opportunity to use a completely different side of my brain, and (weird, I know) I really enjoy editing!!

Is it difficult sometimes to have a part-time job while also full time taking care of her?  Yes.  Babies don’t always have great naps and great evenings.  But we make it work.  It’s humbling to ask for help from family (major thanks!!!) on occasions when I have a 24-hour deadline — those days when I have seven publications to edit (publications, not articles, many of which can be 20+ and 30+ pages of content apiece), days when I cannot physically take care of my child.  Other deadlines (six total per month), usually I have two- and three-day timeframes to get the same workload done, and usually it works out just fine.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s been great for us.

I’m cheering for my friends who are also working part time from home, selling products for a company, nannying, or any of the many ways people make it happen.  I’m cheering for my friends who are working moms, and I’m cheering for my friends who are full-time stay-at-home moms.  I’m cheering for moms who are homeschooling, and I’m cheering for moms who wouldn’t know what to do with a homeschool.  We’re all making it work in a way that makes sense for our families, and we’re all in this together.  I couldn’t be more grateful to have found something that works for me and mine — something that perfectly fits my personality, strengths and skill set — all while allowing me the opportunity to stay home.

Staying home.  I’ve had so many people ask what it’s been like for me.  Some have said they knew all along I would stay home.  Others said they could never imagine me doing anything other than working in missions at church.  To that I will say, God really gave me an incredible, beautiful season that I am so thankful for when He gave me five years on staff at church.  I look back now and still can’t quite believe the opportunities I was able to have — to travel literally around the world, many times; to be part of something so significant as the overall mission of reaching people and helping them walk with God; and, to be honest, way up high on the list, the opportunity to work with such remarkable people, staff and volunteers.  But I knew if I could possibly stay home with our little one, that’s what I wanted to do.  In my heart, that was my number-one hope.  God has given me that opportunity now, a new season.  And my mission field did not shrink.  (In fact, its opportunities have only expanded!)

Side note: I’d love to do a post sometime on how being a parent is like being on a mission… Talk about being out of your comfort zone, having to be flexible, and not being able to communicate! :D

Being home with our daughter has been the biggest blessing — and in some ways I look back and can’t believe the past seven months really happened.  Something that has really surprised me has been this new sense of time (or lack of).  My previous job seemed to structure time around a particular season, upcoming event or mission.  Not to say that every day at home is just the same ol’ same, but without that certain structure of time, the days seem to slip away unchecked, suddenly loosening weeks and months at a time underneath you.  That has probably been the biggest surprise: the strange sense of time warp and just how fast it goes.  I was astonished when our newborn was suddenly an infant, as I’m just as struck when someone says that something near the end of my time on staff seems like forever ago (when, to me, it seems like it just happened!).  Kind of scary, but it makes you all the more intentional to treasure the moments and days.

Another side note, speaking of a new structure to my day: Being an introvert (meaning someone who gets their energy from periods of being alone rather than being around other people), one thing I have learned to do for myself is set my alarm to wake up before the baby.  I’d like to say it is a really noble attempt to get a head start on the day, get housework done, etc… To be honest, it’s more like the chance to sit down and eat breakfast quietly, catch up on reading and what have you.  To me, having that extra hour to myself in the morning does more to recharge my battery than even sleep (some days I question my sanity on that more than others!).  I think you just have to know yourself and do what you gotta do.

I try not to ever say “this is what it will be like” to friends without kids yet.  Even the word “hard” is relative.  There is a whole new context for what qualifies as hard — as well as what motivates you.  Sure, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had; but that sentence just falls flat when you think about how it minimizes motherhood as a whole.  (And not to devalue that it can be hard.  I mean wow.)  But I would never expect any job to come without sacrifice — especially one of this much worth.

One thing I’ve learned personally is that every bit of it, every single day, is all GRACE.  Hers with me, me with her, God’s for both of us.  Ours for others.  Mine for myself.

I think the best advice I ever received was “every baby is different,” and I’m convinced that’s about as prepared as anyone will ever be.  The only thing I would add to that is that every mom is different, and every situation is different.  When you hear people say, “You’ll want to do this” or “You’ll feel like this,” they are only speaking from personal experience.  (And that’s ok!  I think it’s important to share our experiences.)  But going into it knowing that may or may not be YOUR experience takes two things out of the equation: comparison and expectation — two things that will rob you dry in any season of life.

I think it would be an understatement to say I have absolutely loved staying at home with our daughter.  I have loved learning her (which has in turn taught me a lot about myself).  The early days were “hard” (again, relative), and it can still be hard — and there is still nothing I’d rather be doing.  It’s crazy to think how different life is now, and how quickly it changed.  But I’m really grateful the transition to working at home was as smooth as it was.  It’s a big transition, a huge transition, but I can remember spending every day of the first week that my “adoption leave” was made “indefinite” looking at her and thinking, I cannot believe I get to be here with you right now.  Dream world.  There are moments I feel like we might get bored and days when I don’t see how I will get it all done (sound familiar, desk job?).

When it came down to making our decision, looking at hard numbers and sacrifices, asking ourselves if we could really do it, what it would take, and what we believed about our decision, we simply did what we felt like was the right thing for our family and gave it to God.  He provides.  He has provided in unexpected ways, both financially and in our increase of trust in Him.  It’s a faith-filled journey, to be sure.  I don’t know if I have ever felt so elated and at peace as when we made that decision (not to be confused with easy or knowing exactly what it would look like).  That very week, our pastor said something in a sermon series we were on at the time that became somewhat of mantra for us: “Sacrifice isn’t what you’re giving up.  It’s what you’re making available.”  (Working moms, you might feel the exact same way on the other end — I hear you!)

As a stay-at-home mom, I hear all kinds of different things that people struggle with in the same role as me.  They are valid.  Some struggle with feeling alone or lonely, others with losing their worth/purpose with the loss of their title or career.  There are lots of things that change with a baby, and change is hard.  I didn’t necessarily struggle with those specific things, but they could have just as easily happened to me.  My biggest struggle since the beginning?  This is no joke… eating!!!  That probably sounds so absurd.  There are some moms who get to 2:00p.m. and realize they have only eaten half a bagel all day.  That never happens to me.  Being a Type 1 diabetic — having a chronic disease where eating is not only scheduled but necessary — there have been many times when she and I would practically have a staredown when we both arrived at our times to eat… at the same time.  (Baby always comes first, if you’re wondering.  Which sometimes means mama gets a snack before anything else.  I’m no good to her in a coma on the floor!)

In the early days of just surviving and trying to figure everything out, I know there’s constant questioning.  I’ll never forget a quote someone shared with me on or around day 3 of being a new mom:  “If you’re worried about being a good mom, it means you already are one.”  I took that to the bank and cashed it.  I also don’t think I ever fully appreciated my very own God-given instinct as I did at that time.

When she was a little older, maybe somewhere between 2-3 months, I can remember one of my biggest struggles was trying to figure out how much of the time I should let her entertain herself and how much to interact with her.  Bonding with baby is so important in any case, but it is especially emphasized in adoption.  We spent a lot of time working on that through skin-to-skin contact, baby-wearing, and just being really intentional about it.  After nine months learning the smells, sounds, and movement of her birthmother, then the lady who kept her in interim care two weeks after she was born, she was quite literally just getting to know and trust me.  I read all the time where trust is established by meeting needs immediately.  So I would find myself wanting to constantly interact with her.  But as she got a little older, I remember letting her play by herself anyway because I knew it was good for her (haha — and me!).  I had to remember that God didn’t choose her for me or me for her by mistake.  He had set who her mama was in her heart — and neither of our idiosyncrasies or irrational thoughts in the moment could change that.  And at the end of the day, that’s where I’d hang my hat.

These days, as she constantly changes and grows and develops, I’m realizing that as soon as one season comes, it goes, and you roll with it.  We just clawed out of made it through a really difficult season of not sleeping at night, and suddenly, today, I’m wondering if I need to go check on her because she’s been so quiet.  And when did my baby start sitting up??

We were and are over the moon with her.

Is it worth it?  I feel like that’s not even a question.  (But it’s valid — you might be wondering for yourself.)  I’m thankful every day for the ability to stay home, a chance I didn’t know I’d get to have.  There are days, even challenging ones, when all I feel is an overwhelming gratitude — even an almost a guilt for the pleasure of such a tremendous role and blessed life.  That I get the honor and stewardship of my beautiful daughter?  That God chose her for me and me for her?  It’s just too much.  Seriously.  Too much.  The love I feel for her as my child is not something I could have EVER prepared for…  I think any mom in any working role can vouch for that.

I am leaving out so much.  Soooo much.  I haven’t even really addressed what it’s been like being a first-time mom in general these past almost seven months — just the staying home part.  I wish I had the time and articulation to do that.  I wish there were words in the English language.  I suppose some things, like Mary, have to be treasured in a mother’s heart.

All I know is that God has given me a season, an extremely beautiful season, that He equips me for daily, that I cannot do without Him, that is the “hardest” and greatest privilege I will ever have.  I look at her today and still think, I can’t believe I get to be with you right now.  

And that’s just it.

Thank you, dear Lord, thank you — for today.

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