March 13, 2011

Guest Blogger: A Simple Twist of Faith

Welcome guest blogger Mary, from A Simple Twist of Faith!  In today's post, Mary describes her journey towards motherhood and her decision to leave her successful career at the age of 45 to be a stay-at-home mom.  

The author with her family
~ Christmas 2010 ~
In February 2006, my husband Rick and I traveled to Guangzhou, China with nine other families to adopt Ladybug, our oldest daughter.   Our experience in China was a positive and enjoyable one. Ladybug is an especially beautiful child, and she received a lot of attention as we explored Shaman Island near the White Swan Hotel. The experience of becoming parents was amazing; our lives will never be the same. I cannot describe the joy I felt when Ladybug was placed in my arms.  It was like I was complete as a person. 

When we returned home, I took advantage of FMLA and stayed home with Ladybug until May 2006. It took her about three months to adjust to her new surrounding and Mommy and Daddy.  She always slept well; she was a quiet, somewhat shy, and sweet baby. I thoroughly enjoyed being a stay at home mother albeit only for three months.   At first, my neighbor, a professional educator, provided child care for Ladybug.  Her daughter is one year older than Ladybug, so they were perfect playmates with each other.  Later, my neighbor returned to teaching. At the time, our church opened a new daycare facility so in the fall of 2007, we enrolled Ladybug in the two-year-old program.

When I reluctantly returned to work, I realized my focus had definitely turned towards my child first, career second.  I worked as a merchandise planner for a government buying office.  I was responsible for managing the budget of buyer to ensure they were not overspending.  The climate at my office was not as family friendly was I would expect it to be.

Fortunately, over the summer months, a job opportunity presented itself for a manager position in the Merchandising division at the corporate headquarters of a Fortune 500 company.  That fall I joined the company, and I’m very glad I did. I managed the merchandise assortment and inventory for all new, expanding or relocating stores. Later, my responsibilities also included managing the order processing for over 3,000 stores nationwide. My supervisor always said family comes first, and her belief was demonstrated not only by words but also by actions.  I was never made to feel guilty at staying home with a sick child, or taking the afternoon off to participate in a school activity. The job change was a great move for my family.

I had a great team of women who worked for me.  I was well respected in my job, and enjoyed my supervisor and her attitude towards family. However, I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom.  One day, I hoped to achieve that goal.  My husband and I had been very careful with our finances. We had no outstanding debt other than our house, and a small student loan.  Rick wanted me to quit my job; however in the present economy, I felt it would be prudent for both of us to work outside of the home.  

Three years went quickly by. On the weekend of my 44th birthday, in January 2009, we got a call. My father-in-law called regarding our 18-month old niece, Bumblebee. At that time, my in-laws had legal and physical custody over her. My mother-in-law was very ill with cancer, and they really needed some help with caring for the baby. He spoke to my husband, and said if we were interested in adopting her, this would be the time to act.

By then, Ladybug was three years old and was getting ready to start pre-kindergarten at a progressive private school.  She is very excited about her new school, and the opportunity to learn to write and read.   She was and still is a tomboy, who loves cars, trains, and Spiderman.  She also loved her Chinese baby doll named Baby Mei Mei.  But most of all she loved her baby, Bumblebee.  My husband and I love her too.

The adoption process was a slow, arduous 15-month process. During this time, Bumblebee lived with us and called us Mommy and Daddy; however we had no legal right to her.   At the same time, my mother- in -law was dying of cancer.   The entire experience really made me take a hard look at my own life, and the choices I had made. Although, I was working over 50 hours a week, I really desired to stay home with my children.  Although, I enjoyed my job, I felt I was missing out on my children’s lives.  I had waited so long to become a mother and I wanted to enjoy my children.

I felt that if the adoption were ever finalized, God was calling me to “not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.”  He was calling me to realize my dream of becoming a full-time Mom.  I had no argument from my husband in staying home. In fact, he always felt I should never go back to work after the first adoption.  But, I was afraid.  My income represented over 60% of our household earnings.  My job had great benefits: affordable health and life insurance, annual performance bonuses, stock options, and an excellent retirement plan.  My husband works for a small family owned company.  The pay and perks I enjoyed at a large corporation are just not available at his job. 

Over the summer, Bumblebee’s birth parents signed the consent-to-adopt form, and we contacted the adoption agency to update our home study so we could proceed with the adoption process.  In December, shortly before Christmas, my mother-in-law died.   It hit me that I had been afraid for all the wrong reasons.  I was worried about money, college funds, and retirement accounts.  My mother-in-law’s death made me realize life is short, and the time I need to spend with my family is now. 

That Christmas, I started investigating how we could actually afford to live on one income.  But that is a topic for another post…
China, 2006: First Family Photo!
Ladybug and Bumblebee

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