Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rewriting Our Future

Welcome to the post I have been avoiding... mostly because I have no clue of how to say what I want to say or even the direction I want this post to take. Long story short (but rest assured, it will get long), Steven and I recently decided that I would be a stay at home mom and most likely home school the children. Now I say most likely because that is fully what I'm planning on doing now, unless for some reason we find at that time that it isn't the best fit for our children/one of our children. For example, if I had a child with some kind of disability who is better served at public school where they have specialists then I would of course submit to their best interestz and supplement what I could at home. Barring that type of situation, I am planning to homeschool.

This is a long way from where we were a year ago, or even a few months ago. We have always said that we would both work. I remember one conversation where we both said we wanted me to work; him because he didn't like the thoughts of him being the sole earner and me because I think I was just scared of losing myself if I didn't work. Also, I have a large student loan to pay off and can get over half of it forgiven in a 10 year forgiveness option if I continue working in public agencies/non profits full time for 10 years. All along, this had been our plan. He was going to find a job outside of his current grocery store job (customer service manager) to get a 9-5, conducive to family life type job, and I was going to continue working as a social worker. Well, little by little I began to get that tug on my heart that I really wanted to be home with my kids. I had felt that for a long time when I was younger, but it had gone away when I decided to pursue grad school. Now that it was back, I brought it up for discussion a few months ago. We decided that our only option was for me to go part time or stay at home after my 10 years are up for the loan forgiveness. Now, with a loose plan, that would mean my oldest child would be 5-7 years old when my loan was forgiven and I could quit working full time. It seemed kind of silly, even if there were another child or two that are younger, that I would quit working/go part time when one was school aged and one was very close to school aged. But that was where we were at for a while because we just couldn't find another option.

It's amazing how obvious God can make a vocation be when you are dense enough to try and plan around it as I was trying to do. It nagged at me more and more and more until I couldn't keep telling myself that there wasn't really any other way. I kept praying about it and last week it hit me; Steven has been applying for a non retail job for almost a year (in Jan/Feb it will have been a year) and nothing besides a few dead end interviews have come of it. Well, maybe there is a reason for that. The more I thought about his current job, which I have even used the word "hate" to describe, I realized how perfect that job is for a homeschooling family. Now this whole year he has made it clear to his boss that he doesn't want to move up in the company, because we knew he wanted out. But the more I thought about his schedule (ranging from 6am-2/3pm, 11-7pm, and 4pm to midnight shifts 5 out of 7 days of the week) the more I thought about how that schedule only matters to a family where the wife is working 9-5 and the children are in school all day. What a mess... the husband and wife sometimes don't even cross paths in the day, the dad is almost always working when the kids have extracurriculars/events at the school/fun things on the weekend. But then I thought about the stay at home mom/homeschooling family. No matter when dad is working, the wife and kids are always at home when he is off. So if he has two weekdays off and we want to go on a two day trip, we can. If he is working on the weekend and we slacked off playing when he was home two days during the week, nothing is stopping us from doing some homeschooling on the weekend. It doesn't really matter when he is working because his is the only firm schedule if the rest of us are home. Discovering that was so freeing.

The next step was bringing it up to him. We had always said I would work, so this was a huge change. It's all a blur now, but I think I sort of brought it up over a few days, throwing out my thoughts and ideas. He asked if I would be ok being a SAHM, if I would be ok not using my degree. I told him some things I would need (him to continue helping around the house, at least a bit, so I'm not working sun up to sun down while he is done in 8-10 hours, I want to do something to keep myself professionally relevant for when the kids move out like get on a board of directors, etc). I asked him if he would be ok knowing that we lose my loan forgiveness and will now be paying on that for 25 years, if he would respect what I would be doing in the home, and if he was ok with a future at his current company since he had been looking forward to the change. He totally respects it and understands the value, which means so much to me. He doesn't like the loan thing any more than I do, but it is what it is at this point. You know what? So far in all our conversations, it has all worked out. We have decided that it is the best decision for our family, so yes, there are some things we sacrifice, but we will get so much more back than what we are giving up.  A year ago, six months even, it only made sense that he would get out of his current line of work and find something else. Now, it only makes sense that he would continue so that he can be promoted and we can afford for me to stay home. He brought it up to his boss last week who said that, if he works hard, he could possibly have his own store one year after he becomes assistant manager. He told Steven that they would get together after the wedding (yeah, no changes beforehand please!) and make a plan of action. After that he will become assistant store manager, when the position opens up somewhere, and then  a year or so after, get his own store. He will be working like a dog while he is assistant manager, which will also coincide with our first year of marriage. We know it will be tough, but it will get him to the position he wants, and it will allow me to follow my vocation. After he is a store manager for a while, we can decide if we want that life for ourselves forever or if we want to see what corporate would have to offer, as corporate jobs are an option after he has 2 years of store manager experience. It's comforting to both of us that he will have those two options, so we can do whatever fits our family best.

There are lots of details to iron out obviously. And we have to know in the back of our heads that it may take me a LONG time to conceive, and we may feel like we are doing this for nothing if that happens, but it is what we feel led to do right now and makes the most sense for us right now, so we are going after it. I'm sure it will be the hardest, most rewarding thing we ever do. It's sort of ironic because Steven could have had the assistant manager job about 3 weeks ago when it was open at his store but told his boss he wasn't interested since we were still thinking he would hopefully be leaving there soon. He commented on that today and the more I've thought about it, the more I know that was God's timing and not ours. Had we decided 3 weeks ago, we would have gone after it. But who needs the (good) stress of an upcoming wedding coupled with the stress of a new position that carries 10 more hours of work a week with it? Not us for sure. Once we are married, we can go after that. God knows I like to pile things on because, once I know what I want to do, it's hard for me to be patient. But patient I must be and for the health of our relationship!

I have lots more to talk about, like why homeschooling over public school, how we will do this financially (because we will never be high wage earners), and how my family reacted when it accidentally came out over Christmas (let's just say I had a ranting post about my brother written but made myself save it instead of posting, and I'm glad I did because it didn't need to be posted).

And no, I'm not quitting work any time soon, and probably won't until I need to give my notice shortly before a future baby is born. Just in case you were wondering!


  1. Can't wait to hear the homeschooling vs public schooling post. We're planning on parochial school with our future children but I'm always so interested in how people make the decision to homeschool.

    So happy it seems that it's all going to work out. God is good. :)

  2. Isn't it wonderful how clear God's plans can be for your life when you look at it in through His eyes? Don't worry about what your family thinks, they will never agree with your decisions 100% and you know what is best for YOUR family better than anyone else. Sounds like you are planning a beautiful life together!

  3. Over the past few years I've learned more and met more and more people that homeschool and have thought about doing it also. Especially since I can't even find any jobs that make more than $10/hour.

    I just think there is SO much more you can do with your kids at home than a teacher can ever do. Although I'd also love to send my child to a good private school so I go back and forth. Part of it is I probably should have become a teacher but the idea of talking in front of a group of people EVERYDAY scares me so homeschooling would be good bc it's small groups (I've been tutoring kids for YEARS).

    I'm looking forward to the next posts on this topic :)

  4. Wow, I'm so in shock at all the changes that I don't know what to say! Not because of what they are, just because there are (seemingly) so many so fast. Although maybe it just seems that way because I'm not involved in your day-to-day life and just sort of get the recaps. Regardless, I'm so happy that you guys are finding the right fit for you as a couple and as a family.

    It can be hard when not everyone close to you understands--especially depending on how they express that! (*cough*Adam)--but you're doing the right thing by surrounding yourself with like-minded people from whom you can derive support and feedback. I like that your blog followers are pretty diverse--not all making the exact same choices you are--yet are all supportive of each other's individual decisions, without judgment.

    As long as you continue to focus it on your family and not use it as a way to look down on others' choices (yes, even though I know better, I admit that I'm slightly afraid of you viewing my children as poor public-school kids in a heathen city with two neglectful working parents!) then I am so happy for you and fully supportive. It's interesting to watch the person you're becoming, and I am comforted and made happy knowing that you are finding your way to YOUR right path and creating a life that fulfills you.

    I know we both want to give our families the best we can offer, do what we think will be in their best interest, and it's truly intriguing to me how different that is for each of us--and for anyone else, for that matter! I love learning about other people's schools of thought. Similar to how I view other cultures, religions, etc., I respect and learn from how others do things, even as I do what works best for me personally. I'm excited for us to raise our kids together and have them share their experiences with each other!

    I'm very curious what Adam had to say, I'd love to hear it if you want to talk privately.

  5. Rachel, the changes have sort of been fast, but in a way not because they have been tugging at me for a while now. But as far as making the actual decision- yeah it was pretty fast. It was a couple weeks worth of researching and talking, and I guess is just one of those things that feels so right that it doesn't require much more than that. Sort of like how I got my MSW I guess... up until September of my senior year I swore I wasn't going to grad school and was happy with my sociology degree. Then within a month I had thought about it, changed my mind, and applied. It just felt right.

    I actually address my view of others in a future post that is already scheduled :) but I will recap here... I am a product of public school and I think I'm a pretty good person, so my views are not about every family/child and public school. It is simply what we feel is best for us, but I don't feel like every family should or could choose that path, you know?

    I also address Adam's viewpoints in the upcoming blog post, in a much less emotionally charged way than I was originally planning lol.

  6. Is Adam your brother that you wrote an angry post about and deleted? I got confused there. Another thing I thought of is with social work you MIGHT be able to do some type of consulting work or per job work on the side to make some income. Just a thought.

  7. Yep, Adam is my big brother. Bless his heart, he just doesn't know how to approach things with tact, and thinks much more worldly than I do (not criticizing, but it makes for big differences between us). After I calmed down, I recognized that it wasn't coming from a mean spirited place, so I'm glad I didn't post it!

  8. I applaud your decision. Homeschooling magnifies your family dynamic, so make sure you have a joyful, healthy family dynamic. More children need to have that strong, loving family bond.

    I say this as a former public school teacher, who quit to homeschool. Back then, I thought I'd just homeschool for elementary school, but as the years went by and mo children came along, I really learned to love the lifestyle, the time with my kids, the things we learned TOGETHER, the chance to REALLY socialize them, the freedom we had to take "field trips" to DC, or the Lewis and Clark Trail, or the Pope in Canada.

    15 years and ten children latter, I can't imagine not homeschooling. My husband is a public school administrator, and while we live in an excellent district, we tell people we just wanted something challenging and Catholic for our kids. And once people meet our kids, in Scouts or 4H or helping community events, they are impressed with them.

    Frugal? Yeah, I've got to be as a SAHM. But (paraphrasing Chesterton) why is it a career to teach OTHER people's children about multiplication, but supposed drudgery to stay home and educate your own about the nature of the universe and the call to love each other?

    If God calls you, he'll equip you!

  9. Thanks for your inspiring feedback! We have been working really hard this last year to get our relationship where we want it; thankfully that has brought us much closer together and much closer to God. I know it will be a work in progress, but I'm excited to one day share that with my family.