Posted by: amamasblog | September 5, 2007

Am I Lucky?

*********WARNING*********

The post below is what it took for us to have me be a stay-at-home-mom.  I know that isn’t everyone’s choice or circumstances.  I am not judging anyone for their choices in this post- but it is my frank and honest thoughts, and experiences.  I wanted to “warn” anyone who may have torn feelings about not being able to stay-at-home, what this post is about.  I have listed some benefits, and observations on staying home that have been true for us.  I don’t want to accidentally make anyone feel bad if they read this post, not knowing what it is about.  If you are still interested in reading the post, please continue below. Thank you. 

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We had a lot of family events this summer, where I constantly heard, “You are so lucky,” in response to the question you always get asked at parties: “What do you do?”  Of course my answer was, “I’m a stay-at-home-mom.”

The first few times I heard “You are so lucky,” I nodded my head and agreed.  However, once I kept hearing it over and over, I started to wonder, was I really lucky, and how do you define luck?  Webster’s defines luck, lucky, and so forth as: 1: having good luck, 2: happening by chance, 3: producing or resulting in good by chance.  It also says lucky stresses the agency of chance in bringing about a favorable result.

After reading these definitions, I decided that I am not lucky because I am a stay-at-home-mom.  I know these people were just trying to be nice and make conversation, but the more I heard “You are so lucky,” the more annoyed I became.  Obviously, luck is random.  It is not something that you can plan for, and it usually just happens. 

That is the total opposite of what and how Joe and I planned for our lives as parents.  When we were dating, we both agreed wholeheartedly that we did not want to leave our children in daycare.  We know some people don’t have an option, but at that point in time we did.  That was a very important priority for us, so we planned our lives around this belief.

We didn’t spend beyond our means.  We didn’t take elaborate vacations, building up debt.  We both worked full-time jobs and tried to save as much as we could.  We didn’t go out and buy every new electronic gadget that came out.  We never charged anything that we couldn’t pay off that month.  Both of our cars were older; I finally got a new car a few months after we found out I was pregnant with Ryan.  We bought a year old used car, and my previous car by that time was 11 years old and had over 150k miles on it. 

Joe worked his way through college after high school, lived at home, and he worked full-time.  I wasn’t fortunate to go to college after high school, and didn’t start attending college until I was 25.  I paid as I went, never taking out one student loan, because I didn’t want the obligation of being in debt for years.  It took me 4 years of working full-time and attending school at night to complete an Associate’s degree, and I finished that when I was 8.5 months pregnant with Ryan.  Not the educational path most choose to take.  I do hope to complete my Bachelor’s degree one day, but in the meantime I have no student loans I have to pay back.

When Ryan was born, I was able to take four months off, and return to my job part-time.  Joe’s schedule allowed him to be home when I went to work, so Joe watched Ryan when I was at work.  In February 2005, my job ended when the company I worked for was sold.  Thus, I entered into being a full time stay-at-home-mom.  Did that all happen by chance?  Was it just pure luck that I found myself unemployed, and didn’t need to rush right out and find another job, so we could make ends meet?  Well no, frankly, Joe and I planned for this moment, and we lived our lives for six years, being able to achieve that plan. 

As almost any family living on one income knows, it is hard.  You have to be careful and watch your nickels and dimes.  Not to say that Joe and I don’t spend money, because we do- we are planning on buying a new house in the near future, but for day-to-day, we watch what we spend it on, and try not to get sucked into the media’s version of what they tell us we need to be happy.  We don’t need a new car every few years.  We don’t need an iPod, or an iPhone.  Yes, I would love new gadgets, but making those little choices on how to spend money today, allows us to keep the lifestyle that we value tomorrow.

So, when I hear, “You are lucky,” it bugs me.  We are not lucky, but self-disciplined, and have made sacrifices so we can afford to have me stay at home.  It was hard for me to give up Starbucks whenever I had the whim, getting my hair highlighted and cut every six weeks in a cushy salon.  It was hard not buying new clothes, when I wouldn’t have thought twice about it when I was working (I like to shop), and new things for the house, when I stopped working, and we no longer had a dual income.  It is hard when we have to shell out money for unexpected expenses that we haven’t planned on.  It means we have to watch our money that much closer.  

However, being at home and being with my babies right now, while they are young is priceless.  No house, car, gadget, or vacation, can compare with knowing that we are doing what we feel is best for our children, which is my being home with them.  My friend, Amy, wrote once on her blog something to the effect that she may have lots of regrets in her life, but she knows that choosing to stay home with her children will not be one of them.  I echo that.  Money, and material things only go so far.  If I give up this precious time with my children to work full-time, I know one day, when they are grown up and gone, I will wonder what it would have been like to be at home with them, for this short window of time.  I know I will regret it. 

So I am not lucky that Joe and I planned and worked hard so that I could be a stay-at-home mother.  However, I am fortunate, blessed, and thankful, that Joe and I had the foresight to realize years before we had children, that we wanted them to be at home with one of us.  Not everyone realizes that, and when they do, they may not be able to work out circumstances to stay at home. 

Having said all of this, I am lucky there are so many choices for stay at home mothers today.  I am extremely fortunate that a very part-time job found me.  Today, I go back to work one day a week, at an accounting firm.  At some point it may work out where I can work a half-day as well on Saturday, and Joe will be able to watch the boys.  Because of my wonderful in-laws who will be watching the boys, I was able to accept this opportunity that will allow me to keep my skills current, and to keep my foot in the door in my industry.

Joe and I talked about it a lot, and we feel because his parents are watching the boys, it was too good of an opportunity to pass on.  The boys will still be with family, and we know they will still have the environment that we wanted for them.  I get to have some hours every week where I am using what I already know, and learning more for my career.  If and when we decide the time is right for me to increase the amount I work, like when the boys are in school, this firm has already told me I can do that.  Ryan and Cole get to spend a full day every week with their grandparents, who they absolutely adore- who really are like second parents to them.  I could not have asked for more.  Now that is being lucky!

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Responses

  1. You know I agree with you!

    I was just reading the title and thinking about how people will say to me “you’re so luck you married an attorney!” I find this so condescending. A) there was some choice involved here….on both sides B) He was a student when I met him and I supported him until he got settled in his career, C) he’s a public employee so we’re not talking John Edwards here! and D) we both work hard to make this happen.

    How was your first day?

  2. i totally agree.

    i used to hear “you’re so lucky” from a friend of mine. of course she said she HAD to work – but that’s because she CHOOSE the huge house, the brand new SUVs every couple years, and to otherwise keep up with the Joneses.
    jody and i had to give up a lot so that i could SAH. having 1 car can be tough, but thanks to pretty good public transportation we’ve worked it out. we don’t go out to eat very often (though more than we should lately). we rarely buy new clothes for ourselves. we want a bigger house but will have to stay put for a while longer as we pay off more debt. there are a lot of sacrifices, but they are worth it. 🙂

    hope your 1st day went well. looking fwd to hearing abt it!

  3. I’m now going through some old posts I missed of yours. I LOVE this topic. People tell me all the time, “You are so lucky to stay at home”. Well, I do believe I was lucky to be born in the USA instead of a poverty stricken part of the world. However, luck has nothing to do with my family situation. My husband and I have NEVER owned a new vehicle. As a matter of fact, the newest vehicle we own now is 9 years old! We don’t have cable and we save every last penny we can. Thanks for this post!


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