Parenting with purpose is the compass that guides you on the long road of motherhood. The moment you find out you’re pregnant the decision making starts. Where do I want to go for prenatal care? Will I stay home or go back to work? What should I put on the baby registry? Do I want to use disposable or cloth diapers? Finally baby arrives and it’s off to the races. The older our children become the harder the decisions seem…How will I respond when my little one throws a tantrum? Will I let my kids have screen time? What are healthy expectations for my toddler, preschooler, kid, teenager, young adult!?! Parenting requires constant decision-making but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind we lose our way. Instead of acting with purpose we often simply react to what life throws our way.
The most life-altering decision I’ve yet to make as a first time mom was deciding whether to be a stay at home mom or return to work. When I got pregnant my husband and I spent countless hours discussing our future family and the dreams we had for our baby. We knew our choices now impacted not only us, but also our child. While I was sad to leave a job I absolutely loved, we both knew it would be best for me to stay home for the first year. My husband just finished grad school and accepted a fellowship position in a new city. I couldn’t imagine being a new mom, in a new city, starting a new job, and putting my new baby in daycare! Besides who could love and nurture our boy better then his mama? Having a plan and purpose helped me weather the many ups and downs of that first year.
Fast forward… My husband completed his fellowship and was offered his dream job so we moved out of our city apartment and into our first house. Life was a flurry of activity with hubby adjusting to his new position, our thirteen-month-old son becoming a busy toddler, and me trying to make the new house and this new town feel like home. As the dust settled I found myself feeling lonely and dissatisfied as a stay at home mom. On the surface my discontent made absolutely no sense. I had so much to be thankful for: a healthy baby, a good marriage, a lovely home… Still I couldn’t shake these restless feelings.
Finally one day as I was prayer journaling it hit me. Rather than acting with purpose I had been reacting to life’s many demands. So much focus was on the move, my husband’s new job, and my ever-changing toddler that I lost sight of my purpose. Instead of deliberately choosing to stay home, I had absent-mindlessly continued to stay home. The problem wasn’t what I was doing but why I was doing it. Parenting out of habit or convenience is a dangerous practice. Life’s hustle and bustle blurred my vision, making me near-sighted and the weight of my drifting burdened me more and more every day.
As you, you children, and your circumstances change it is so important to pause and reflect on your parenting decisions. After revisiting the issue of work vs. staying home my husband and I agreed that right now the best thing for our family was for me to stay home. Being a teacher, I love knowing my objectives, setting goals, and implementing strategies for success. If I could do this in my classroom, what was stopping me from being this purposeful with my decision to stay home and how I used my time there?
Making a purposeful decision once again to stay home liberated me from my feelings of discontent. While I didn’t change what I was doing day to day, knowing why I was doing it made a world of difference. With the burden of discontent lifted I could walk with confidence. Now I know my long-term objectives and each day I’m mindful of the purpose behind my parenting.