God’s provision for the hearts desire of His daughters is as luxurious as it is sufficient. His interest in meeting our deepest needs is intimate, specific and perfect.
I should begin by saying that I was certain I never wanted to be a stay at home parent. Never wanted to own a minivan and never thought I would have three children in three years. Three boys, one Honda Odyssey and the second anniversary of my vocation as full time mother reveals how wonderful it is to be wrong. When I survey the landscape of my life at this moment and consider my days spent with my sons, I am humbled by the satisfaction I feel even in the midst of rampant chaos, diapers, trains, messes and superheroes.
Maybe it is in the ‘nevers’ that God reveals His creativity and also His gentle hand. He rarely forces us to move, but waits patiently as He authors change in our lives, softly nudging us in the right direction. The truth is I had a completely wrong and probably immature vision of what it meant to be at home and this vision was colored by fear. Specifically, I was afraid that I would become unimportant or invisible or one dimensional or worse – that my children would know I wasn’t satisfied being with them and wanted more. What if it wasn’t really ‘different’ when they are your own kids? What if some women are just made to yearn for motherhood and home life and I wasn’t built like that?
The reality of having my first two children 14 months apart and working full time was absolute madness. Pumping before work to ensure the baby had enough to get him through eight hours of daycare and then again four times daily in my office, hiding from the glass door separating my modesty with the outside world. If either boy fell ill, the catastrophic ripple effect caring for them had on my business schedule seemed like the end of the earth. The ridiculous image of my evenings with my boys makes me shake my head and laugh in near disbelief. Perched on our kitchen stool, I would hold the pump to myself with one hand, balance the baby on my knees with a bottle held to his mouth by my chin, and periodically chuck bananas chunks onto my toddlers neighboring highchair tray. Roughly 90 minutes a day was all I had to cherish them in and this time was filled with dinner, bath and bed, then it was off to answer endless emails, plan events and travel. I could never savor any moment with them because each minute was a task and segue to the next to-do on my list.
Ten days before I was to return to work after my second son was born, my heart caught in my throat as I considered the approaching date. It was out of nowhere as though all of a sudden I realized I would have to again part with this small one I had just met. With my first, I was so caught up in the learning of parenting and balancing work and daycare and pumping that I didn’t have to feel the separation. I ignored the feeling this time around, passing it off as cold feet, but in the months that followed even my coworkers could tell I wasn’t really myself anymore. 40 plus hours in office, night programs, travel and so much email to devour me every night. My oldest would come home calling me by the daycare providers name and though she was dear, she simply wasn’t me. One night at swim lessons, my husband and son in the pool, I watched two women chatting on a nearby bench and felt a foreign emotion – envy. They were stay at home moms and I envied what they had – time. I couldn’t fathom having a third child – a hope of ours – when I could barely spend time with the two we had. I was loosing heart. No one ever says when they’re old that they’re so glad they had less children and spent more time at the office. Was this really the story I wanted to live?
Every ‘coming home’ story entwines itself with a ‘staying put’ story. Our God is the ultimate multi-tasker working revision and refinement in the hearts of all family members impacted by a mother’s decision to spend her days raising tiny humans. Mine is no exception. Months passed before I sat my husband down and said, “I can’t do this anymore. Please could we consider a part time option?” I’ll never forget the look in his eyes – fear. He spoke to me with a tone of ‘how could you do this to us’ in his voice solely because his desire to provide everything our family needs is so strong. We both had felt that dual income and having a life outside children was best and now I was standing on the edge of the boat, making a jump to swim for shore, and changing everything. This completely rocked the foundation of our family structure. Months of talks, prayers, and tears revealed that there would be no part time option. And this gave way to the most intimate of moments in our marriage. He looked me in the eye and said one the bravest things he may ever speak, “I want to give you what you want. I’m just scared.” My strong man, my superhero, shaken to his core as God called my heart to come home and beckoned him to stay his course, man his post and be the sole provider for our family. My respect for him deepened beyond measure that night as it has for all men and women who uphold the needs of their families with their time, talents and energy.
I left my office on June 3rd, 2013, and standing there on the front steps, every cell in my body felt deep freedom. Finally, how I spent the minutes of my life would match my heart’s priorities.
These two years at home have been many things: rewarding, desperately painful, satisfying, deeply lonely, refining and adventurous. Building relationships with my children, carving out a rhythm that nourishes, defining us as a family and myself as a mother are all journeys in their own right. Yet even at its worst, God steadied my heart and not once did I consider coming home a mistake. When my third son was born in 2014, something was noticeably missing: a ticking clock. This was the first time a new person was welcomed to our family and the deadline of work’s hostile takeover wasn’t a threat.
We possess a brilliant brevity in our souls – this short burst of time God has given us to dwell and thrive on this earth. Owen, Graeme and Colin, and their daddy, William, have my heart and my days. And now I have new ‘nevers.’ I never question the value of my presence in their lives. I never wonder if anyone else could care for them better. I never think my time could be better spent elsewhere. I am home. My Father granted my hearts desire beyond my asking.