A little distracted...

If it seems like I've been a little distracted lately, it's because I have been. In a way I feel like I've been living a lie. Almost 4 months are a long time to keep a secret when you are busting with excitement to share! Heck I couldn't even last 7 weeks to announce this pregnancy! Also,  I can't believe I'm even typing this and that everything I've ever wanted is about to happen.

We have decided as a family that I won't be returning to work in the Fall. It feels surreal saying that. I feel like I've been hiding a deep dark secret and it is such a relief to finally get it out.

There were many things that had to work just perfectly. That's part of the reason why we didn't announce it earlier. We wanted to be 150% sure that we could do this. We wanted to make sure all our ducks were in a row before we made this huge leap of faith.

It's a huge leap of faith because deciding to stay home with my babies also means giving up 45% of our income. There were times during this decision process (as we worked through our budget) that I literally got cold, clammy, and nauseated thinking about it. At my 20 week appointment the first week of January we were in the middle of deciding all this and my blood pressure was through the roof. There have been nights that I'm kept awake thinking of all the unknowns. Amazingly enough there is always a still small voice that sends a calm over my emotions and reminds me that life is never what we plan, but the Lord always provides for us what we need.

I've come to realize that no amount of money will preserve the preciousness of my children being babies. I knew the second I dropped Luke off the day my maternity leave ended (with a sitter who we GREATLY trusted with our lives) that it just didn't feel "normal". Why am I letting someone else watch his milestones? As we transitioned him to daycare there were more days than not that I drove away crying. He would be crying in someone else's arms and I would be crying during my 10 minute drive to work.

I must admit that as he got older, it got easier. He loves preschool. He loves his teachers and his friends. But I love him more and there is no one in the world who can take our place. Josh and I both said that if we could ever make it work for me to stay home, then we would. There were also practical reasons. Although both kids would only be in daycare for a year (together), that bill per month was going to be 1/3 of my paycheck. 33%!!! It seems ridiculous to be working my tail off and paying someone else 1/3 of what I make to watch my kids. Also the price of daycare per month would exceed our mortgage payment by $200- am I the only one that thinks this is ridiculous?!

Also, if I'm being honest- which I try to keep it real around here- I tended to give my family the leftovers of my emotions, my energy, and my love. It hurts to even type that- but it's the truth and many times the truth hurts. I know there will be many more exhausting days- I will no longer have the "full time job" excuse. Josh and I split our roles wonderfully while I worked full time and we really fell into a great routine during the school year- and I'm well aware that most of that will now be on me. There are many times he can keep a better home than me (keeping things organized, cleaning, keeping up with finances, etc.) but these are the days I will never get back. And these are the days that I will look back on when my children are grown and I want to have no regrets- no "what ifs"- no "why didn't we at least TRY to make that work".

By stepping away I became a statistic. 30% of new teachers flee after 3 years, 45% after 5 years. I'm  just now finishing my fifth year.  I have the rest of my life to work- and right now we feel an overwhelming calling to me staying home.

After alot of hard work paying off debt and busting our tails to make sure everything is in place we are ready to take the plunge. We began living off 1 paycheck in January which meant that every penny of my paycheck went/is going directly toward debt (car loan), daycare (since Luke will be there until after the baby is born), and tithe (since I still have a paycheck until August). When I say every penny was allocated some where, I mean every penny. Most months we are making a $1200 payment (although we only "had" to pay $350) to our auto loan. What a relief to see that debt paid down so quickly. We even asked ourselves- why didn't we live off 1 income and viciously pay off debt like this 3 years ago?? We figured that the more income we could free up, the less I would "have to make", and the more likely that all this would work out. We figured up a one income budget and stuck to it. No unnecessary expenses. No cutting corners. Sometimes it's hard to face the facts and just say "NO" to things we don't need. But if we are going to trust the Lord in this decision, we also have to hold up our end of the bargain... living within our means.

None of us know what the future holds. Things feel stable now, but I'm not naive enough to understand how quickly that can change. I know that I am quitting one full time job to take on another and that my days aren't always going to be filled with hugs, kisses, and rainbows. I've had a taste of that during the summers since Luke has been born. But I also know the time is right. I trust that the Lord would have slammed this door shut with everything that needed to work out just perfectly if it wasn't what we were supposed to do.  It feels weird to have my maternity leave smashed in with my resignation, but I am super grateful for the awesome benefits of the school system- like having health insurance until September and a paycheck until August.

I'd be lying if I said I'm "taking it easy" and "preparing for baby". The next few weeks will be a hustle to wrap up the school year, clean my classroom, sort through/move my personal belongings home all while being nearly full term with this pregnancy. I can't wait for this next step in the journey; at the same time I feel like it'll be a while before I catch my breath. But we're excited. I can't thank our families and friends enough for the support they've given us. I almost felt defeated to "break the news" to them because everyone knows how hard we have worked to be where we are today. All our plans have been met with overwhelming optimism and excitement for this next phase of life and for the first time in a while I can honestly say that I can't wait for what the future holds!

So until then, I'll keep fighting from the trenches...I am determined to finish this year strong!

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