I turned 30 last week. Generally, I’ve been excited about my 30s.
It’s the decade my children will start school and my real stay-at-home mom duties begin. You know, the soccer games and the class trips.
It’s the decade our finances won’t completely hold us back from the fun we’ve imagined for our family. You know, the dinner parties and the beach vacations. The opportunity to finally choose a home we love and not settle for a house “that’ll do for now.”
The chapter where we create a family closes, and the chapter where we raise that family and build a forever together begins.
Thirty, Flirty and…Thriving?
It was all very glamorous in my head…until it happened.
Yes, I’m 30. I’m a stay-at-home mom. My husband’s a doctor. But we have a long way to go. He’s currently in his second year of residency, making just above the median household income here in Louisiana. While we can’t complain about a technically-above-average salary, physicians literally pay a high price to do their job these days, and that includes sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical school debt.
While I do work very part-time (about 10 hours a week) from home for a remote company I love dearly, a full-time salary would do wonders for our family. For our stress level? I don’t think so.
When I grow up…
Care.com says more than half of families report they spend at least $10,000 per year on child care, which is “more than the average annual cost of in-state college tuition ($9,410) per College Board.”
Clearly, childcare costs have increased significantly over the years. My salary from my full-time job in advertising before I had my girls would pay for their childcare — sure. It would pay for their childcare, but it wouldn’t pay for much else.
I just couldn’t stomach paying someone else to take care of my kids if there was any possibility we could make things work with me at home.
So, I became a stay-at-home mom. Not because we don’t need the extra income. Not because it’s convenient or the most financially responsible decision. I became a stay-at-home mom because that’s what I wanted to be.
My dream job doesn’t pay
We’re told all our lives to go after our dreams. I suppose we often assume those big dreams come with big checks, but it’s just not true. Some dreams are made of forts in the living room and picnics in the backyard. My dream was my family, and they’re here now. They’re here, so I’m not going to wait until my husband’s paycheck says I can keep dreaming. It’s not easy, and I do get frustrated being so limited when it comes to things we can do, things we can buy. Still, it’s worth it.
I’m not alone here. Forbes had a great article on millennial mothers and our desire to stay home and make it work.
It says, “The lack of proper maternity leave, the rising costs of childcare, unsupportive or nonexistent family policies and the ever-present wage gap lead millennial women to take their futures by the reins and preside over their homes as SAHMs, making money and fulfilling life for their families, as best as they’re able to, even if that means pinching pennies.”
“For many millennial women, staying at home is both a desire and a convenience, but it’s not about having your cake and eating it, too. Taking care of a child is a full-time job and these women add more work on top of it so they can do more than simply survive and subsist.”
We really are redefining what it means to stay at home, and while pinching pennies doesn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy at night, the priceless time I’m getting with my girls right now sure does.
I got $225 in Amazon gift cards on my birthday and spent about $200 of it on birthday gifts for my almost three year old. That’s motherhood for you.
I finally realize my mom was being one hundred percent genuine when she emphasized, “I don’t need anything!” every Christmas. She really didn’t care. She just wanted to see how excited we’d be when each gift was opened.
Now, I feel the exact same way. And while staying home may prevent me from buying all the gifts I want to buy them in this phase of our lives, they have absolutely no idea money is ever an issue. They’re happy, healthy and they have their mama around 24/7. I think that’s a pretty cool gift, as well.
So, yeah, follow your dreams. Go big, but know it’s absolutely okay if your dreams lead you right back home.