It is a Saturday afternoon, and the last thing I want to be doing today is cooking. It is a hot, humid Nebraska day, and it only gets hotter when I am working on freezer meals and lunches for the coming week. I would much rather be reading a book or sitting on my porch (where at least there is a nice breeze) or relaxing at the local coffee shop with my Bible and some good worship music. And yet... even as I would rather be anywhere but in this kitchen smelling the strange mix of cooking smells that comes from preparing lots of mismatched foods... this is also exactly where I want to be. Not because I want to cook, but because I want to spend my weekdays staying home with Aiden and this is one way I can ensure I get to do that.
Living on one income can be tough. Right now, thanks to some unexpected bills, it is even tougher than usual. Every time I start to take my focus off the fact that I completely believe that I am called to stay home with my child, I start to slip into a pattern of doubt. When those unexpected bills distracted me for even a second recently, I instantly jumped to the conclusion that I need to find a job. It wasn't too far to jump, because my mind wanders in that direction now and then. I think about how if I just worked part time we could plan a real vacation or buy a new mattress (oh, how I would love a new mattress!) or take more little day trips to Lincoln. So, when I found myself doubting our ability to make ends meet this week I found myself making plans to start working outside the home again.
If I am being completely honest, it isn't just those bills that had me tempted to give up my stay-at-home status. Aiden's birthday has also been pulling at my mind... making me think he will missing out on something big if I can't come up with the money to throw a great party or buy big gifts. Thankfully, all I have to do is listen to him to know that isn't true. When he talks about his birthday, he talk about cake and ice cream and balloons... but mostly he just talks about the people he wants to celebrate with. So, I take a deep breath, invite his little friends to a playdate with cupcakes, and remember that what Aiden wants more than anything is just to be loved and be with his people. That precious gift is one you can't put a price tag on.
When I stop to ask God what HE thinks about me returning to work (you know... after I had already been planning my return to the workforce for a while), I don't get a loud definite answer. Instead I get whispers and nudges from unexpected sources. Like remembering Matt coming home from the store one day talking about the amazing price match lady in line before them (who happened to be a homeschool mama I know) that made me realize how lazy I have gotten about our grocery budget. Or I find myself drawn to places in His Word that remind me to treasure simplicity and trust God to provide. I read books that remind me to guard my time and talents so that I can give my best to the people God has given me to care for. Eventually, all of these little nudges and whispers calm my heart and remind me that I am where I am supposed to be, and if I am a good steward of the resources provided I can continue to count on God to help me figure things out.
So, instead of searching for a job, I am tightening our purse strings. I am reminding myself that Aiden loves to be at home or at local parks and I am not cheating him out of anything by not renewing our zoo membership or taking him on Lincoln adventures every week. I thank God that I can make our everyday life an adventure by just treasuring his imagination and providing attention and love. I also remind myself that the way we live now will set the tone for how Aiden expects to live as he grows. Teaching him now that the simple things in life are what we should treasure is a good thing to focus on.
I am also thanking God for the beauty of our outdoor space and the flowers that grow around us instead of buying cut flowers for inside our home each week. After all, I would rather be outside anyway! I am counting it a HUGE blessing that I thought ahead enough to get all of our homeschool curriculum for next year back in February so I can rest easy knowing that we have that covered. And I am spending my Saturday making freezer meals, and thanking God with every single onion that I have to cut that I can use my time and talents to care for my family in a way that allows me to stay home. (Quick side note about how easy it is to get lazy with the food budget... a few weeks ago instead of the 99 cents I paid for 3 lbs of onions I would have paid 2 dollars for a container of cut onions with about 1/3 the amount of produce just because I hate cutting them... and I use onions in everything... so it really does add up!)
These choices we make haven't been easy, but I know that I am right where I need to be for this season of my life. That is worth much more than any extra income I could earn by going back to work. If at some point I determine it is my time to start earning an income again, I will be open to that reality. If nothing else, knowing that is always a possibility should make me treasure each day at home even more. Even the days spent dicing onions.
Saturday, May 16