When people hear that I quit my teaching job to be at home full-time with my daughter, they often respond, “You are so lucky that you can afford to do that.”
I indeed feel very lucky. I know I’m blessed, and I’m thankful for it. Contrary to what people might think, however, I don’t stay home because we have piles of money just sitting around. I don’t live in a situation where we have so much money that I decided I might as well not work. In fact, my husband is a full-time student. Not only do we not have piles of money, we hardly have any. We make it work, though, because me staying home always been a priority in our family.
Our decision for me to stay home means we don’t do some of the things other couples our age are doing.
We don’t own a house, yet, and won’t have enough money for a down payment for quite awhile. Some people might call paying rent a waste of money, but I’d rather waste my money than miss out on my daughter’s first months of life.
We don’t go out on dinner/movie dates often. Some may say we aren’t taking care of our marriage if we don’t go out on a regular basis. I respond with, “Eating a good home-cooked meal and renting a movie while our daughter is taking a nap is just as romantic to us – and a lot cheaper!”
We like to be fashionable, but we do it in a different way. I don’t get my nails or my hair done professionally, rather I’ve learned how to do my own nails and my own hair. We don’t buy clothes whenever we want, and we don’t buy them full-priced. However, we hit the clearance racks at the end of each season and find very nice clothes for a fraction of the price.
We don’t go on elaborate vacations. Instead, we fly to visit our family members, where the food and lodging are free. We camp instead of staying in hotels. If we need to stay at a hotel, we shop at grocery stores for food we can prepare in our room instead of going out to eat.
Some people may call these things a sacrifice, but we don’t view it that way at all. If I ever start to wish we had more money, I try to fast forward to when I’m eighty. When I’m eighty, I won’t look back on my life and think, “I wish we’d gone out to eat more,” or “If only I could have gotten my nails done every week.”
In contrast, if we decided today that I should go back to work so that we could afford the things we do without, I am fairly certain that when I’m eighty, I’d have regrets. I’d wish I had spent more time with our children.
The bottom line for us is that people are more important than things. We love that the first thing our daughter sees every day when she wakes up in the morning or from her naps is one of our faces. We cherish being able to rock her to sleep. Giving our daughter the consistency of always having a parent at home means more to us than anything money can buy.