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I Chose Home

It came when my daughter was three months old: an email containing a
proposal from a counseling center in the city my husband and I would be
re-locating to in coming months.

I Chose Home

The email expressed interest in networking with the private
counseling practice I had founded in 2005 and presented me with a
proposal to do some part-time counseling in their offices. This would be
in addition to the counseling I would do in my own office location.
This very specific proposal came because I was the only Christian
counselor in this particular city that dealt exclusively with eating
disorders and adolescent issues.

Up until that point, I was still on an extended maternity leave that I
had been slowly acknowledging either needed to come to an end or needed
to become a permanent stay-at-home situation. In the hours following
the entrance of this email into my inbox, I let my mind travel down the
pathway of being well-known again as a counselor (the only one in my
area of specialty for that matter!), dressing up and going to an office
atmosphere daily, and supervising other counselors under me, all while
earning a second income to help support our family. It was an enticing
pathway of purpose, prestige, and financial security, and I traveled it
for about 2 hours.

Just as I was caught up in the middle of a daydream about accepting a
Nobel Peace prize for my groundbreaking work on eating disorders. . . .
Ok, well, maybe not that, but at least the daydream of being thanked
profusely by a client and her family for the hours of sacrificial work I
poured into her situation so that she could find hope, healing, and the
abundant life, my daughter woke up from her nap and began crying. I
made my way to the nursery, still caught up in the moment of being
important in the counseling world. As I came to the side of my baby
girl’s crib and looked down at her, she looked up at me, her crying
stopped immediately and a smile came to her lips that lit up her entire
face, crinkling her beautiful, blue eyes.

It was in that moment that I knew with startling clarity what my
decision would be. It was not only what I knew my decision needed to be,
it was what I knew my heart wanted my decision to be. I would not be
returning to the world of professional counseling, but would instead
fully embrace the role of a stay-at-home wife and mother from that
moment on. It came as a bit of a surprise, as I picked up my daughter
and she snuggled deep into my neck, that as much as I loved being a
professional counselor with a private practice and longed to go back to
that world, I loved being at home with my daughter and being her world
even more.

As I held my daughter and wiped away the tears that were still on her
cheeks, all the while saying, “Mama’s here, baby girl. Mama’s here,” I
came to a clear crossroads in my life. Not all women are this fortunate
to come to such a distinctive decision, but I was. As I stood at this
crossroads, I could see either path that I could choose to walk and the
mile markers along the way. Both journeys held a certain appeal to me,
but ultimately I knew that only one path was the one my heart truly
longed after.

It was a decision that would not only take my life in a clear-cut
direction, it would also take my husband and daughter in a clear-cut
direction. This was not a decision that could be made in isolation from
them, but was instead something that would profoundly impact their lives
as well.

Later that evening, after talking it over with my husband, I
responded to the email and told the Counseling

Center that I would not
be returning to the professional world of counseling once we moved to
the city.
It was a momentous step for me to receive an offer like this and turn
it down, all within one afternoon – especially when I had put almost 10
years into building my counseling career! As I sat for a few moments
staring at the computer screen in front of me before hitting send, I
felt as if I was about to make a life-changing decision that would
forever affect who I was as a person.

When I finally sent the email, I felt a sadness and loss mixed with
triumph and excitement! I had clearly been given a choice between a
career path and a stay-at-home mom role, and I had firmly and
consciously chosen the stay-at-home mom position.

The sadness came from the finality of a chapter closing in my life.
The sense of loss came from the knowledge that, as time passed, I would
no longer be known as the only Christian Counselor in that particular
city that worked with adolescent issues and eating disorders. People
would no longer know who I was and request my counseling services.
Instead, I would be well-known to only two people in a small world – my
husband and daughter in the small world of my home.

The triumph came in that I had once wondered if I would actually
choose full-time motherhood if ever I had a child, because once upon a
time I simply could not imagine giving up what I had worked so hard to
build.

To realize that I was willing to give up years of sacrifice and
labor in order to give all I could to my husband and daughter was
nothing short of triumphant for me. It showed that my heart’s desires
had gone from inward, all about me and my wants, to outward, to others
and what was best for them.

The excitement came as I anticipated creating a future full of
precious family memories with my daughter and helping shape and nurture
her into a young woman who would later go out and impact her world.

Making a decision like this has affected many aspects of our lives as
a family. It means not having the money for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, it
means buying clothes only when we absolutely need new ones, it means my
daughter may not have the latest toys that light up and make all sorts
of cool noises, and it sometimes means struggling to pay our bills on
time.

It means vacationing closer to home, cutting back on what we do when
our anniversary rolls around, missing out on the latest movies that hit
theaters, and making birthdays and Christmases very simple affairs.

It means learning to shop and cook on a tight budget, extend the life
of leftovers, do the hard work of growing and putting up our own
vegetables, and taking the extra time to bake things like cookies and
bread instead of buying them prepared in the store.

It also means seeing all my daughter’s firsts; her first smile, her
first crawl, her first words, her first tooth, her first steps.

It means being the one to pick her up after each nap and being the
one she smiles up at and cuddles against as she finishes waking up.

It means being the one that she can run to when she is hurt or sad or scared.

It means sticky-armed hugs and crusty-mouthed kisses.

It means days of non-stop crying and temper tantrums where I long for meaningful, adult conversation.

It means days of delightful playtimes and amazing discoveries as I see the world through my daughter’s eyes.

It means days of horrendous poop explosions, when I just stare down
at her and myself, who are both covered in a huge mess and wonder what
the first step should be in cleaning it up – all while the potatoes on
the stove boil over and the hamburger threatens to burn.

It means being able to have a home cooked meal for my husband when he
walks through the door at night, hot and dirty after a day’s work as a
stone mason.

It means having the time to take his phone calls in the middle of the
day when he needs to vent about something on the job site instead of
saying, “Sorry hon! Can’t talk! I have a client walking in right now!”

It means being able to give my husband my all emotionally and
mentally at the end of the day, instead of being weighed down with work
concerns.

A decision like this means a new role for me. It means assuming a brand new identity as a woman.

It is a new direction. It is a path I wasn’t planning on walking in
my 20’s as an ambitiously-minded career woman; a pathway that at one
time I would have felt was boring, stifling, without purpose, and even a
tad bit terrifying.

My heart no longer belongs to the world of high heels, high
visibility, high income, and influencing the lives of young men and
women as they walk through the door of my counseling office.

Instead, my heart now belongs to a world of jeans and stained
T-shirts, being known only to my husband and daughter, living with tight
finances, and influencing the life of my husband, daughter, and
[hopefully] the lives of all our future children.

I am a Stay at Home Mom!

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