One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says to me (or Mr Awesome) "You are SO LUCKY to be able to stay home with your kids". Usually I just smile and nod, but it really gets to me.
See, luck has nothing to do with me staying home with the boys. It was a conscience decision made my Mr Awesome and I when I was pregnant with Ayden. We worked out the numbers of daycare versus me staying home and decided we could do it. At the time the decision was made, we essentially cut our income in half. It wasn't easy, especially for the two of us who are big spenders and big givers, but we made (and continue to make) the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. We both agree that it is better for the kids and very much worth it to be raising our kids ourselves.
Some of those sacrifices are certainly not easy. We don't have cable tv, we don't go out to eat for dinners, we rarely have a "date night" or go to the movies. We survive with a single vehicle and make the best out of free or very cheap things to do in our area. We don't have new furniture and still use many of the dishes from my "first apartment" stash. We don't go hang out with our friends at the bar, or travel like many other couples our age do. Normally our "hanging out" tends to be at our house or our friends' house - though definitely more at ours because it is easier with Ayden.
Speaking of Ayden, I can't imagine where he would be if he had been in daycare. Heck, I'm not sure many day cares would have taken him at 18 months, I know I was pulling out my hair and I am his mom! It worked out for the best that I was able to work with his therapists and then work with him on things they instructed me when they weren't around. The 1-on-1 care and therapy he received from me and his therapists was just invaluable when it comes down to it, and certainly not something that would have been as effective if I was working all day then coming home and doing it - Ayden's worst time of the day still is between 5 and 7 pm!
We lived for a few years under an on-call schedule for Sherief that more often than not consisted of us having delayed or ruined plans and at least 2-3 times a week we would receive middle of the night "emergency" phone calls. During those years, it was rare that we all sat down to dinner together or really had much free time at all, but the company Mr Awesome was with took care of us, and we will be forever grateful for that. At the point it became too much, Mr Awesome took a large pay cut to begin work at a more stable work place. The new place, where he continues to work now, offers a lot more advancement opportunities as well as being more stable - so in the end, we made a decision that was difficult at the time but a good step towards where we planned to be in the future.
Of course there are other things we sacrificed, but this is just a small taste of it. I look at those people who say to me that we are so lucky, and can be jealous of their new cars, leather furniture, huge houses, and being able to go to movies and out to eat every week but instead choose to cuddle with the boys as they watch tv in the morning, read books to them, or sing songs with them and dance. I am there when they get up in the morning and when they go down for naps in the afternoon. I have never missed a milestone with either of the boys and was even able to video tape Issac's first time crawling to share with family. I know being a stay-at-home mom isn't for everyone and I certainly don't think less of anyone for working and putting their children in daycare. I just know that this is where I am meant to be, and raising my children is what I'm meant to be doing right now and worth every single sacrifice we make. All those things I listed above, they're just things, but the time I am spending with the boys right now is something I'll never be able to do again, and something I'll treasure for the rest of my life.