Guest post from our friend Katie – wife to a bearded musician and homeschooling momma of 6 beautiful children. We are so excited to partner with her for this post, and we can’t wait to see what she might have for us in the future.
“Here is your penny. Throw it in and make a wish.”
My mom would say this to me every time we visited my favorite restaurant that happened to have a fountain outside of it. And every time, it was always the same. I would close my eyes and throw in my coin in and say to myself, “I wish for a husband who loves me and healthy kids.”
Even as a young girl, my dream was to have a family someday. Nothing else mattered really. I just knew that eventually, I would be married and have children and all would be right with the world.
I always seemed to do things a bit earlier than many thought I should. I fell in love with my husband when I was just 16 years old and we were married when I was 19. Young. But right.
When we married, I didn’t realize that I would want children so soon, but not long after we said, “I do,” something inside of me changed. Or perhaps just deepened. The desire for children turned into a longing. Suddenly, thoughts of pregnancy and babies flooded my brain.
I was still in college working towards my degree and certification to teach, so logistically, starting a family did not make sense. But we had already proven that we were pretty good at throwing logic out the window.
After 18 months of not conceiving and then three miscarriages, we found out we were pregnant with our first daughter. Nine months later, I waddled across the stage and graduated from college.
I had such grand plans.
I was about to start my career as an educator and had already applied for graduate school. And I was about to become a mom. Some would say that I was about to have the best of both worlds. At the time, I would have agreed.
Our daughter was born in June, which gave me several weeks before I started a new job with the local school system. I quickly realized in that time that graduate school was not going to happen. And I didn’t even care. I was soaking up life as a new mom and enjoying all of my time with my baby. Suddenly, taking care of her was all that mattered.
I was still excited to embark on my teaching journey, but something inside me was beginning to change again.
I was finding myself torn between a job and a child.
Once I began working, I found that I enjoyed my job, but everything in me was screaming, “Don’t leave your baby today!”
It wasn’t that we did not have good child care. We did. In fact, we may have had the best sitter anyone could ever hope for. She loved our child as her own and I knew she took fantastic care of her. I knew she sat and rocked her through the day as I would want to at home.
But that was part of the problem.
I was jealous.
When I would hug my baby after work, I smelled the warmth of her caregiver. And that caregiver wasn’t me.
When she was fussy, I would call the babysitter to see when she last ate because she was the one who knew her schedule for the day.
I was missing all the “firsts” that parents anticipate, and somebody else was getting them (thank you, babysitter, for not always telling me when she did things at your house before I could see milestones with my own eyes!).
My daughter was happy, but every mommy bone in my body was telling me that I was supposed to be home with her every day.
I was the one who was supposed to be rocking her for her naps and taking care of her needs.
But like many other couples, we could not afford to live off of one income. It just was not possible.
So I accepted a new position within the school system and we found out we were expecting our second child. I suppressed the desire to stay home, telling myself that the new position would distract me from my belief that my baby needed to be home with me.
Not long after I took the new job, we had our second child. We then bought a larger home in a nicer neighborhood and a minivan (because, you know, two kids). Our bills were higher and now it was an absolute impossibility that i would ever be a stay at home mom.
I accepted it. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it.
After all, if God wanted me home with the kids, He would make a way.
But after a year of inconsistent sitters (ours had to quit to take care of family members) and poor structure for the kids, I was at a breaking point. I went to pick the babies up one day and was told our current day care provider (our third in one year) would be moving. I remember calling my husband and saying, “Sometimes things happen, and you just know.”
I knew it was now or never.
So I went home and dropped to my knees and begged God for help. I knew I was supposed to be home, but had no idea how to make it work. So I just said, “God, please, make a way. If this is what you want, make a way.” And you know what He did?
Nobody showed up with a bag full of money. No mysterious checks came in the mail. The bank didn’t call to tell us that somebody had anonymously paid off our cars.
Except that there was, and God did do something.
He said, “Do it. And trust me.”
So after hours upon hours of conversation and budgeting, my husband and I finally decided to just do it.
It didn’t make sense, really. On paper, there was no way we could afford to pay our bills and still eat if we were only living off of one income. But somehow, we knew it was right.
Because sometimes, God really does give a peace that surpasses all understanding. Because sometimes, He doesn’t make a way, but He shows you He is the way.
That decision was made seven years ago and in that time we have added 4 more kids, survived with only one car, began our homeschooling adventure, and learned what it means to “live off rice and beans”.
People often ask me how we do it, and the truth is, I don’t know.
What I do know is that God always provides.
In times of great need, He has given me children to babysit or sent extra students to my husband for guitar lessons.
There were times he gave me peace to be still and stay home from certain events just to save money on gas.
I wish I could tell people, “Oh, we just stick to a budget,” But truthfully, until recently, we haven’t even had enough money to make a budget.
We just didn’t spend.
Any splurges (and by splurge, I mean a hair appointment for myself or extra clothes for the kids) came out of our tax returns that we used to supplement our monthly income.
We don’t have cable or satellite, we kept internet only so that I could tutor online, our kids wear hand-me-downs much of the time. I have learned to cook with minimal ingredients without sacrificing our heath.
We have had to make cut backs and sacrifices and decisions that I never thought we would make. We have had to swallow pride, but we knew that we did not want to look back one day and say, “I wish we would have tried harder to make it work”. And we have no regrets.
It’s true, sometimes I envy my husband who gets alone time in the car every day on the way to and from his job. And sometimes I wish a big yellow school bus would come pick up my kids and take them to school. And many times I have wished that we had just a little bit more money so that we could afford _______.
But I know that in the grand scheme of things, none of that matters. What matters is that I am spending my days with my children. I am living my life just as God has called us to, and have learned to let go of everything else.