Back in 2008 or so, I started my work-from-home journey. It was slow going, it was hard work, it was a whole new experience for me. Up until then, I had just been “a mom”, and had held a grocery store cashier position for a few months before quitting when my hours were severely cut. Being a young family, fresh out on our own, we needed those hours. I needed to do something and the Internet held many possibilities so I dove in.
Since then, I’ve been a champion for working from home. I’ve seen the good, the bad, everything. I’ve helped others realize they, too, can work from home. I’ve helped them find jobs by pointing them in the direction of quality and trustworthy job posting sites. I’ve been featured in magazines for working from home, received dozens of emails following each one from other women wanting to work from home, and have flexible schedules that work for their families.
It’s been a crazy journey, one that I love and so appreciate. Even the bad days, the bad jobs and clients, I’ve loved it all. But you know how life goes. When an opportunity comes along that you can’t pass up, you jump in. That decision meant more financial cushion, a steady income rather than the hustle to fill hours and charging hourly rates from multiple clients.
It was great.
Then a switch was flipped and things happened that I can’t disclose, but I went from having a flexible schedule, something that worked for my family, to having to work 40 plus hours a week. I worked through dinner (hell, we’ve ordered more dinners the past month or so than I want to admit), I worked until midnight, I worked on the weekends. I didn’t cuddle my babies. I didn’t get to play Barbies, I didn’t help with homework.
I basically became the mom that I never wanted to be. I wasn’t present and I was always working. The laundry was piling up, the dishes almost falling out of the sink, it was a mess.
That’s not what I wanted. That’s not the dream that I had.
(that’s me, the small one, with my sister, mom and grandma. I was freaking adorable.)
I grew up with a mom who was always there. She kept the house clean, our clothes washed, something always cooked for dinner. I understand that having that these days isn’t always an attainable goal – having two incomes is much better for our family than just one. It’s hard to raise three kids on a single income! But I know that deep down, one of the reasons I wanted to work from home so bad because I wanted some part of my own mom to shine through. I love when the laundry is done or when the kitchen sink is empty and shining. I love when I get to cuddle before bedtime. That’s my job. I’m a mom first, literally. I didn’t have my first job until I was 18 and already a mom.
So because of the work situation recently, and having to put in some ridiculous hours to get things done, I was given a choice. I could hire someone to come to our home five days a week, and watch the kids during corporate hours of 9-5 while I sat in my office with the door closed. While my kids were feet away, playing with someone else. Or I could go back to my original position within the company and back to the more flexible schedule. Fewer hours. Less pay.
I weighed my options. I’d be giving up the opportunity for advancement but gaining back my version of working from home. I never imagined a 9-5, sit in my office all day type job. Hell, if I could, we’d be traveling the country or the world while I worked!
You know what I chose?
I chose my family. I chose my children, who are already 11, 5, and 4. They will all be in school next year and I’ll have that freedom and quietness every mom dreams about. I chose my family because they need me. I chose what I’ve championed for, what I’m known for, what people come to be for advice about. It felt wrong to turn my back on that. I felt like I would be betraying people.
I get it, I chose a path that led me away from raises and growth within the company. That’s a hard pill to swallow and I know someone is going to say I’m crazy.
But it has only been a few days and I can already tell you my family is happier. I’m happier. My heart is happy with this decision. We’ll figure out the rest. But for now, my stress level is down and I’m not working awful hours.
I chose a path that for me, made sense. You might be reading this thinking I’m crazy, how could I chose my family over raises and opportunities?! It wasn’t hard. I listened to my heart. I need to be happy to make the dream work. And my dream and the season my family is in? Is this. Right here.