****This is not a post about whether moms should stay home with their children or go to work. Please do not read into it that way. This is just me, Traci, sharing a little piece of my life with you. My struggles and my joys. And how God has brought me to this place in my life.
“I’m broker than a joke, and I couldn’t be happier!”
I tweeted that phrase a couple of months ago, and when I did, I immediately thought, “I can write a post about that!”
Why did I tweet that?
Because I am no longer working right now, and I am BROKE!
If you have started following my blog since the beginning of this year, you may not know that I was teaching full time last semester as a long-term sub at my boys’ school.
I taught third grade.
I love third graders!!!
My degree is in Elementary Education, and I was planning on teaching again one day when all my boys were in school.
Right now, Jonathan is in fifth grade, Luke in third, Adam in first, and Eli is home with me.
I taught for 6 years before Jonathan was born, and I truly loved it.
Teaching is a passion of mine.
I love to love on kids.
But when Jonathan was born, my husband and I decided I should stay home with him. It was not an easy decision, because on paper, we could not afford for me to stay at home.
So we prayed hard, asking for God’s help.
We sold our cars and got cheaper ones.
I tutored some in the evenings.
And we even qualified for government assistance. I used WIC coupons for about six months to help us out.
It was humbling, but necessary.
I loved being a stay-at-home mom at first. I loved the freedom and all the extra hours with my precious son.
But when I was pregnant with my second son, Luke, staying home was not as easy. I have to be honest that I felt overwhelmed, unimportant, and defeated half the time.
As much as I wanted to stay home with my boys, I kept thinking that I would be happier if I worked. My husband would even say that at times.
I just kept thinking the grass was greener on the other side.
If I worked…
I would have money to buy things for me and the kids.
We would be able to buy a nicer home and cars.
I would not have to wear sweatpants with puke on them everyday.
I would feel important and get things accomplished at work, and people would say, “Good job, Traci!”
After Luke was born, I dealt with a little bit of depression.
I was really struggling with finding contentment in being a stay-at-home mom.
And then I felt guilty for not being content! If I was a good Christian mom, shouldn’t I be excited to be home? Shouldn’t I be baking cookies, and skipping from room to room cleaning and doing laundry with a big huge smile on my face?
Well, I definitely wasn’t.
So I decided to start working part time at a day care nearby. That way, I could teach, but my boys would be right there with me. I would feel like I was still with them. (less guilt)
I loved it.
I loved teaching.
I loved the kids.
I loved the little tiny paycheck I got each week.
I loved it so much, I even ended up opening and directing my own childcare center that next year.
Cross my Heart Preschool and Childcare
It was a Christian childcare center located in a little church and parsonage that my husband and I renovated. We adored that place.
(Miss Karen during reading time.)
We kept children from 6 weeks of age up to preschool. My pastor’s wife and my sister-in-law worked for me. It was a precious place to be.
We had chapel every morning, and the children feel asleep at naptime to instrumental hymns or praise and worship music.
(Jonathan at the Library Center.)
It was a good year.
Jonathan and Luke loved being there and interacting with other children.
Then I found out I was pregnant with Adam.
Running the daycare, as much as I enjoyed it, was difficult on our family at times.
I worked long hours, like 6:00 am – 6:00 pm.
The kids at the day care were getting more attention from me than my children were.
That was the year we also found out that Jonathan was hearing impaired, and he had to get him hearing aids.
It was also a financial struggle to keep the daycare open.
After a year, we knew we had to close.
It was a heartbreaking decision.
I found so much comfort in what one parent said to me. She said, “Traci, God does everything in seasons. This season was just shorter than you thought it would be. But God still used you.”
It was a short season, but it didn’t mean that God did not bless me and others during that time. It was such an honor to share the love of Jesus with those children and parents each day.
My third son, Adam, was born in 2003. I had my hands full with three wonderful boys!
I was still struggling with being content as a stay-at-home mom. My mom would constantly try to encourage me. She reminded me of how important those years with my children would be. She wanted me to love the opportunity I had to stay home with them.
She would tell me I was still a teacher, I just had a classroom of 3! :)
Money was still tight.
Every penny of every one of my husband’s paychecks was accounted for.
I would make and sell ornaments around Christmas time to help pay for Christmas.
Goodwill and garage sales were the only places I shopped for clothes.
Luckily, I could pass a lot of the clothes down to the next son! ;)
Shortly after Adam was born, I started working two days week at a Mom’s Day Out program at a local church. My boys got to attend there for free, and I got to get out of the house and make a little money.
I did that for several years. Those were precious times. All of my boys with me in the car, driving to work.
They got to play with friends, make crafts, learn God’s word, and sing praises.
The ladies I worked with became some of my closest friends.
I was becoming a little more content with being a part-time-stay-at-home-mom.
Then I became pregnant with my fourth child.
It had to be a girl, right?
God gave me my sweet Eli.
I cannot describe how much joy this child has brought into my life!
He is the cherry on top of our family!
I continued working at the Mom’s Day Out program two days a week until this past year.
Last August, I began a 16 week, long term sub position at my boys’ school.
I wanted to see what it was like working full time again.
And I was looking forward to the money!
I would be getting regular teacher’s salary, which meant my husband and I would be making the most money we had ever made since we were married.
The money was great.
I was able to shop at the mall and buy NEW clothes for me and the boys.
I was able to buy some big items for our home and help pay for our laundry room addition to the house.
We had money to eat out whenever we wanted.
I had extra money for the boys to buy from their book orders or add to their baseball card collection.
I was able to buy everything I on my Christmas lists.
If I wanted to buy name brand food, instead of generic, I did it! Woohoo!
If our family needed something, I had the money.
It felt great.
But on the other hand….
Mornings were stressful. I had to have myself ready, my kids ready, lunches ready, backpacks ready…
And I was usually yelling my head off at them to hurry up so we wouldn’t be late.
Afternoons were stressful. I had been with kids all day, and the last thing I wanted to do was deal with more kids…even my kids.
I would get home and rush around the house trying to get caught up on laundry and pick up the house.
I usually didn’t have anything planned for dinner. Who had time to plan dinner?
I would rush the kids through bath time and bed time, because, “Mommy had to get her lesson plans ready for the next day….SO GO TO BED!!!”
And I didn’t have time for my husband, because I was always working on school work.
Plus, I am a perfectionist. (And maybe a little anal.)
So everything was a big harry deal to me.
Now I need to let you know that I LOVED teaching! I loved being back in the classroom! I loved my students! I loved the teachers I worked with!!
My boys go to the greatest school ever!
When I would get to work each morning, I was happy and in my element.
So please do not misunderstand me and think I am saying I was unhappy teaching.
I was unhappy with how working full time affected our home life.
I only have a few short years with my boys, and they were not getting the best of me.
They were getting my leftovers.
So I was so happy to be back home full time after Christmas.
I am a stay-at-home mom again.
And I am broke again.
And I couldn’t be happier.
I feel rich when get to take Eli to Target in the middle of a Tuesday morning and share a popcorn and coke with the change I found in the couch.
I feel rich when I can read books with my boys and watch tv at night because I have no lesson plans to get ready the next day.
I feel rich when I have dinner ready and get to sit down around the table with my family. (Even if it’s only beans and cornbread.)
I feel rich when I can go to Goodwill and find my boys some clothing or shoes.
And I am content.
Losing my mom to cancer really opened my eyes to what is really important in life.
And how precious life is.
And how short life is.
I am just trying to soak up every moment God gives me with my family.
I may still go back to teaching in a few years when all the boys are in school.
I will have to pray about it and see what God has planned for me and my family.
If you are a working mom, I want to say how much I respect you. You are amazing! Some of you are working because you have to and some of you are working because you want to. It doesn’t matter. I know you love your children as much as I love mine!
We all walk different roads in life, and we all face different struggles. But no matter what, God loves you and He is by your side.
As my mom always told me, “God has a soft spot in his heart for mothers because He knows all that they do to love and care for their families.”
Mom was right.
God has a soft spot in His heart for YOU!