Thursday, May 19, 2005

Creating a "Home-Centered Lifestyle"

When my son was born 4 years ago, I never imagined how important home would become to me and my husband. After years of experimenting with various ways of incorporating more home into our lives, our family has found a radical solution that works well for us. I call our answer a "Home-Centered Lifestyle" and it incorporates home education, home worship and home business. I certainly do not claim to have all the answers about exactly how to make this work with your family as we are still a work-in-progress. But we have found a certain peace with our way of doing things despite some remaining details to be worked out. I hope that those of you who are looking to expand the role of your home in your life find some inspiration. Here is our story.

After my son was born, my husband and I realized how much we wanted family to be the center of our lives. I had recently graduated from medical school and my husband was a photographer so we felt that our family choices were very limited. Regardless of how much I wanted to stay home and no matter that my husband fully supported my desires, we could not see a way to make that a reality given the educational debt that I had accrued. So I resigned myself to return to work full-time after some time home with my new baby. But the Holy Spirit kept tugging at me, challenging me and deepening my desire to stay home with my baby.

I decided to request to return to work part-time. My request was turned down and we decided that I would not return to my old job. What would we do? We decided that I would look for part-time work and Sam, who mostly worked on weekends, would stay at home and watch Chase. We tried several variations on this theme as I took a variety of temp jobs in my field. The pay was good and everything should have been fine only it was not. I felt such a strong desire to be at home that I could not enjoy my work. Leaving my son felt like torture despite the fact that I knew he was in the excellent care of his very loving father.

The problem was, we realized, that no one could replace me as Chase's primary caregiver. My professional mommy friends who worked outside of the home admitted this to me and basically told me to "get over it". "No one will ever parent like mommy so don't even bother to look for such a person." Was this what I had to accept for my life? I decided that I needed to try to accept this fate for me and my family. It was so hard for me! It was as if I had a mommy-shaped hole in my heart that could only be filled by claiming my mommy role as my primary one, not a role secondary to that of career woman. But I felt so hopeless. I did not know what to do. I started to wonder if God could feel my suffering or if he even cared.

What had I done wrong to deserve such torture? Was choosing such a demanding profession outside of God's will for my life? Was getting married and having a child all a big mistake? Did I misunderstand what it was God wanted for me? Were the years and tears and prayers that I spent discerning what God's will was for me in vain?

I had many more questions than answers. I was falling into a sea of self-pity and self-doubt and as much as I was questioning God, I knew that he was the only one who could move me out of my current situation. I got down on my knees and started to pray. "If leaving home is so hard, why don't you try working from home?" was the answer that I got immediately.

Of course, I could not believe what my heart was saying. There are no work-from-home jobs for psychiatrists, I thought. This must be another mistaken interpretation of mine, I worried. But then my mind went back to the time that I had taken off after the birth of my son. During that time, I remembered a promise that I had made to God long ago, the promise to use the writing gifts that he had given me to glorify him. I made this promise back in college when I was choosing between a creative writing concentration with an art history major and biology/pre-med. I chose pre-med because I was told that was so much more practical with my skills and experience. I did promise God though, that once I became established in medicine, I would get back to my writing.

I had forgotten about this promise until after my son. But once I remembered I began to write and write and write some more. It was almost as if floodgate had opened up and all the pent-up praise I had for God, renewed after my experience of awe at being given the gift of new life through my baby. I had not written seriously since medical school when I belonged to a creative writing group. Was God calling me to pursue writing as a career? It made sense in light of the urging that I felt to stay home as a writing career could certainly be launched from home. I definitely felt there was much for me to write about. With my husband's blessing, I embarked on a career in freelance writing.

Thus the home business portion of our "plan" was hatched. I use the word "plan" with some hesitation because not much planning was involved. Some things fell into place and we as a family changed course. The addition of home worship and home education would enrich our family life in ways we could not yet imagine. More about those in upcoming installments in this series.


Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

How God is glorified through the writing of your testimony! Thank you!
Ann holyexperience

Deana, TFHSM said...

Fascinating! I'd love to introduce you to my readers - won't you consider participating in my feature "A Common Bond"?