Becoming a stay at home mom was was something I had not even considered.
“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.” – Marilynne Robinson
When the baby of our family was born over nine years ago, I had a seven-year-old and a four-year-old.
With seven plus years of motherhood under my belt, I’d learned a few lessons about letting go, chilling out, and realizing that it’s all going to be okay. In light of this hard-won Zen version of myself, I decided to enjoy my third baby like nobody’s business.
I would not fret. I would not pursue unnecessary work or projects. I would bask in this last brief season of babyhood as a stay at home mom and love on my darling boy whose very name means “mercy.”
Mercy. That’s what he meant to my husband and me.
For a very long season, I assumed that I wouldn’t have another baby. My marriage had almost ended. I was working full-time. Life was terribly messy.
And then, it wasn’t.
God breathed compassion into our story.
Our third child represented the undeserved gift of new life for our family and I resolved to enjoy his babyhood in a way that my angsty, younger-mom self wasn’t able to do with my other children.
Today he is a curly-headed, third-grade boy with a perfect sprinkle of freckles across his nose. He’s much too big for me to carry and he talks like a teenager, compliments of his older brother and sister.
I’m sure his babyhood seemed like a long stretch of time when we were in it — short nights, ear infections, teething, smeared pureed food in his hair. I can barely remember those episodes now. What I do remember is that I received that short season of my life as a gift.
I devoted myself to adoring him.
Much of my life’s work up to that point seemed irrelevant. My education, my career, all the books I’d read, the ambition I’d cultivated — I didn’t technically need any of those things to be an adoring mother.
Sometimes I wondered if I’d wasted the gifts I’d so earnestly stored up.
I’ve been many different moms over the last sixteen years.
Grad school mom, part-time working mom, full-time working mom, homeschool mom, stay at home mom, work-from-home mom, single mom.
I don’t feel like I’ve ever gotten it quite right.
As I look back across my story as a mother, the one chapter that feels most “right” to me is the one I just told you about — that one to two year season when I cherished my last baby with lavish intention as a stay at home mom. I did not call it wasteful. I called it beautiful.
Lest you think I’m someone who believes motherhood is my highest calling and the one thing I was put on this earth to do — I assure you, I am not that person. Though I’ve always longed to be a mother and I was over the moon about each one of my babies, reconciling family with personal ambition has been one of the greatest struggles and missions of my life.