I am a millennial through and through. I grew up between the generations when it was common to have a mom at home, the one where divorce was becoming increasingly more common, and moms going to work was normal and expected. My mom was a stay-at-home mom to me and my six siblings. She had wanted to go to college but life had different plans and she would say over and over how she didn’t regret one second of raising us even if it cost her the opportunity to go to college or have a career. My friends all had working mothers. My mom was their mom too. She filled that role for many of my friends growing up. But I also grew up longing to have a career—to make something of myself when I left my large family. Many of my siblings stayed close when they graduated high school but I wanted to get on a plane and see the world. I loved my mom but I didn’t understand how she could be content with the life of a stay-at-home mom. Adoption changed my perspective.
I did leave the country and had many adventures as a young adult and though I wanted to study abroad, I settled for out-of-state. I worked hard in college and loved the late-night study sessions. I loved the hustle and the Ramen and the amazing friends I made. I met my future husband my Freshman year though it would be much later that we would date and marry. When we planned our future, I was clear that I wanted to adopt and that I wanted to continue working after we married and I became a mother. Many people of my generation and younger are opting to not have kids at all. That was never my hope. I just wanted both a career and a family. I had worked so hard to get my degree that I didn’t want to waste it. But I believe that God doesn’t waste anything and that motherhood is laying down our own desires to do what is best for our children.
My husband and I are happily married. I was still finishing school and we lived in the smallest apartment with no money and no problems. We reveled in the simplicity of the season of our lives. We had each other and that was all that mattered. And we could afford better than Ramen at this point. I was one of the first members of my extended family to graduate college and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. We had a party and planned the next steps. We would leave our small college town and move on to bigger and brighter futures. My husband and I both started careers in our fields and were able to land modest but good jobs. We both excelled and I even got to return to my alma mater to give a speech and presentation just two years into my profession.
Years passed and we were comfortable and established in our careers. We had money in the bank and we purchased our first home. No more renting. Those 1000 square feet were all ours. The first night in our new home, after my husband had fallen asleep on our mattress that was just sitting on the floor, I walked through the quiet, empty house. The rest of our furniture would come the next day and over the next years, I imagined the house full of people, parties, and, of course, children. I heard their little voices in the quiet house. I imagined a tiny pitter pater of feet. I wanted it all.
It would be many years of painful waiting, upended plans, and unexpected obstacles; but after nearly four years of the adoption process, we got the call to bring home a little girl. In all our paperwork, and all our planning I had intended to go back to work after a long maternity leave. But then I met my daughter. After four years, five adoption agencies, two countries, hundreds of papers, and hours and thousands of dollars, I finally walked into a small orphanage in India and called out my baby’s name. She was tiny and beautiful and she looked at me and knew me too. I held her for a very long time after that. The journey was hard. We were only supposed to be in India for two weeks and it ended up being seven. We had originally planned to adopt from Ethiopia but political unrest closed the country weeks before we would be matched with a child.
But God had worked it all out so that when I met that little princess my heart would be ready. My life would be ready for her. You know any parent will say you are never truly ready to be parents and, while that is somewhat true, I was certain while holding my daughter and weeping tears of joy, that this was it. This is what all my life had been leading towards and I was ready. It wasn’t a promotion. It wasn’t career success and awards. It wasn’t accolades and paychecks. It was her. It was always her. I finally understood what my mom was talking about. The most important job, the most important work was motherhood and I would give anything of myself to be there for my child.
I never went back to work. Three years later I am still happily a stay-at-home mom. I still fight the urge and want to have a glamorous job like many of my friends. There are many moms who work and are there for their kids. I just knew I had missed two years of my daughter’s life and I didn’t want to miss another minute. I sometimes get jealous when my friends have money to travel because they have two incomes. I push away the envy of my friends accomplishing things in their careers and making a difference in their jobs.
I am so blessed that my husband provides for our needs so I can stay home and even pursue my passions like writing and podcasting. Check out my motherhood and adoption podcast called the InstaMommmas if you want to know more. I get to be fully present for my child who has many needs both physical and emotional. It is not glamorous changing diapers or cleaning out closets. Folding the same tiny pairs of pants over and over can feel so unimportant compared to my old job. But I am doing the most important work. I always respected the stay-at-home moms, but I never thought I would be one. All that changed when I became a mom and now I can’t imagine it any other way.