Updated: May 13
As someone who has been earning her own money since the age of fourteen, I've always taken pride in being able to provide for myself; so when I met my husband, got married, and started a family, staying home with my children was the furthest thing from my mind.
My husband grew up with a stay-at-home mom and I always commended her for deciding to be a homemaker and raise four boys. On the other hand, my mom worked outside of the home. I was always so fascinated by her ability to balance her work schedule while still cooking dinner, helping with homework, and finding time to form an awesome bond with my sisters and me. The strength of a mother is unmatched, and I have the utmost respect for the selflessness and care that so many women put into their children, and families.
When I had my first child, I was 10 years into my career and living in NYC so I didn’t even think staying at home with my child was an option. However, by the time I had my second child, I was no longer passionate about my job and felt that if I was working this hard, I should be working for myself. I took a leap of faith to bet on myself, and figure out what I truly wanted out of life.
It wasn't easy by any means, but once I found acceptance and made peace with my decisions, it made the journey that much sweeter.
Here's what I learned along the way:
Know when your cup is empty
I remember getting stressed any time I got a call that one of my kids was sick, and I needed to leave work to pick them up early. Work was stressful enough. I’d panic if a coworker had one more question for me at the end of the day, and the possibility of that small inconvenience causing me to have to run to the subway, and risk picking my children up late from daycare. The anxiety of occurring a late fee is a whole other animal.
Thankfully, my husband and I worked as a team; managing our kids in two shifts. He had the morning shift which included: waking the kids up, feeding them breakfast, getting them dressed, and taking them to school/daycare. This allowed me to get to work early so I could leave right at 5 pm in time for school/daycare pick-up. With the evening shift, I was responsible for dinner, homework, and most nights, bedtime routines even though we’d take turns if my husband didn’t have to work late.
We were a well-oiled machine but as time went on, I started to feel more like a candle burning on both ends.
During the couple hours I had with my children in the evening before bedtime, I was not my best self. I was exhausted, sometimes irritable, and constantly thinking of the work I needed to get back to once they went to bed. Most nights, I’d work my “second shift” replying to work emails and completing unfinished work tasks from 9 pm to 12 am.
As I mentioned before, I have always taken pride in working and having a career but was I supposed to feel this depleted at the end of each day? We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and especially as a black woman, I had the tendency to think I had to do everything for everybody. But I knew that I needed to start to fill my cup back up not only to be my best self for my husband and kids but to be my best self for me!
Manifest and make it happen
I have always had a creative entrepreneurial spirit. Throughout my career, I had the urge for side hustles or starting my own business. I also always had all the excuses in the world for why I couldn’t really get started with my own thing. "I would work on x, y, and z if I had more time” or “I’ll focus on x, y, and z once “blank” is done”. But in 2017, I began getting serious with my journaling and really manifesting a lifestyle where I had more freedom and flexibility. I wanted to be more present when spending time with my kids without feeling like a zombie and to have the mental capacity to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors.
I would journal about my successful business and being my own boss. I would think thoughts of joy as I imagined myself and my family traveling stress-free with no worry of sticking to a strict work schedule. I was visualizing the life that I wanted for me and my family, and calling in that positive energy into the universe.
It’s one thing to write out goals and manifests what I wanted in my head, but I knew I also needed to take action. So I took a bold step in 2018 by requesting to take on a new role that had fewer hours and responsibilities and aligned with the direction I wanted to go professionally. Fortunately, the move was approved and I felt great! All of my journaling, meditating, and manifesting through my thoughts for a change in my career was finally happening. I had advocated for myself and put my well-being first. It was so exciting to see the desires of my heart coming to fruition...at least that’s what I thought.
After being in the position for a little over 4 months, they let me go. I had been with the company for over 8 years! I was devastated, and heartbroken. I felt like a failure and an idiot for stepping down from my previous role in the first place. My whole world was turned upside down.
I had so many questions.
Would we be able to pay our mortgage? Could we afford our own health care coverage? How will our current lifestyle change with only one income?
Turn a loss into a gain
I learned a lot about myself during that crazy time. I immediately started combing through our finances and creating spreadsheets to further analyze our family budget. My husband and I had already started looking into our finances before I requested a change at work, but now that I wasn’t going to have an income, I started to really take a deep dive into all of our expenses. Turns out, there were so many places we could have been saving more money. I discovered that with the ridiculous cost of childcare in NYC, a huge chunk of my income was going to childcare. It was eye-opening to realize that I was pretty much working for the sole purpose of having someone else watch my kids, and that was mind-blowing! I had never contemplated that our family could maintain our current lifestyle (with a few minor tweaks) with me becoming a stay-at-home mom, but we made it possible.
So when the tears dried up and I started to come up from my haze, I realized two things: one, I needed to be laid off from my job or I might have never left. I needed to be pushed out the door from a career that I had outgrown. Two, I manifested what was happening. I had been asking the universe for a lifestyle where I could spend more time with my children and have time to focus on my entrepreneurial goals. When I was laid off from my job in early 2019, I was in a place where I had no more excuses. I was done having babies (the factory is closed, haha), we were financially stable, and I was bursting with new creative ideas and knowledge from my experience working in the creative department, even though it was short-lived.
Without even realizing it, I was conspiring with the universe on almost a daily basis on my way to dropping my little ones off at school. For most of 2018, I would repeatedly sing the Beyonce line from The Carters BOSS song, “I be ridin' round with my seat reclinin'; Droppin' my daughter off at school every morning,'' in my head just about every day. In no time, my life had changed drastically, and in ways that I had never imagined.
Accepting what I asked for all along
It was one thing to manifest the lifestyle that I wanted for myself, but it was another thing to accept the lifestyle change when it arrived. I was able to get some freelance consulting work soon after being laid off, but there was the feeling of it not being enough, and that I still needed to have a “job” to contribute to our household. When the freelance work started to dry up at the end of 2019, I began to really face the truth: I wasn’t working and I was a homemaker. It was a hard pill to swallow. I was grateful for the time with my kids and had fun learning new dinner recipes that impressed my husband, haha. I enjoyed being more engaged in my son’s school community and meeting more parents that had their own businesses or flex schedules, but something still felt off. I concluded that mentally, I was fighting my new lifestyle. I made it seem like everything was fine, but I had a hard time accepting what I had asked for all along. Mind you, this is now getting into the beginning of 2020 - yeah, that 2020.
One night in the thick of the pandemic shutdown, my husband and I were talking about how we were handling paying for something and I just lost it - I broke down into tears. All the negative thoughts and emotions I’d been hiding and holding in just poured out. I started talking about how I was a failure and not contributing income to our family. I explained that though I love our kids, I missed having work or a sense of accomplishment. Being the awesome partner he is, my husband just held me and let me get it all out. When the tears slowed, he reassured me that I wasn’t a failure and that I had the hardest job between the two of us, by staying at home with our kids. He reminded me that even though I wasn’t contributing an income, I was contributing so much more. He let me know that he didn’t know how our family would be able to function without me. That night marked a crucial change in my journey. I had to change my perspective and be open to the idea that I'm worthy of the lifestyle that I worked so hard to get. I am deserving of everything that I want out of life, and it's truly a blessing to finally experience the lifestyle that I asked for, in real-time.
Looking back on 2020, I now recognize that the lifestyle I’d been manifesting for myself made 2020 more manageable for me and my family. All the things that happened, happened for a reason, and in the timing that they needed to happen. I can’t imagine how I would have handled my previous career while sharing work-from-home space with my husband and remote school for our kids.
When life brings changes, it is important to be aware of what we’ve been putting into the universe and that can be positive or negative. What I’ve learned from my lifestyle change to becoming a stay-at-home mom, is to be aware and open to what the universe is bringing my way based on what I’m asking the universe to bring to me. I never underestimate the power of my thoughts, and how important it is to be very intentional about what I think, and how I show up in the world. I am also beginning to trust the timing of the universe.
I recently found a beautiful quote from Literature professor and writer Joseph Campbell that states, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
I am learning to let go and welcome what I manifest, even if it doesn’t arrive the way I expect it to.