Three & A Half & Loving Life!

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down at my computer long enough to put together a blog post. My boys are really chipping away at my “me time” since they don’t sleep as much during the day anymore and we’re staying busy checking things off our Summer 2017 Bucket List. Plus it’s hard work staying on top of all the cooking, cleaning and never-ending laundry piles. But here I am to report that yesterday was Luke’s half birthday and he is already three and a half! These six months have flown by faster than ever with the weeks ticking by at an alarming pace.

The Big Question: Is Age 3 Harder than Age 2?

Everyone warned me that age three would be harder than two. I wondered how things could ever get more challenging than they were when we were smack dab in the middle of the terrible twos. For us, I am excited to share that age three has been remarkably better than two! A couple months ago it’s as if Luke transformed into a sweeter, more loving, easy going version of himself. He hasn’t had a tantrum in weeks!

How Did We Get Here?

I don’t know if he matured or if I just got more laid back, but we don’t face battles nearly as often as we did just a few months ago. Luke generally goes through the motions of life easily, like getting dressed, getting in the car, taking a bath and brushing his teeth. One of our biggest issues was always the dreaded nap time. Luke always hated taking a nap and I always thought he really needed it. By about his 3rd birthday I stopped even suggesting a nap, nor a quiet time, and instead encouraged some chill TV or iPad time after lunch. Since then our days have been much more pleasant and bedtime goes more smoothly too!

It could also be because we’re able to communicate so much better now. It seems like Luke is starting to really understand limits, and cause and effect, which have really been game changers for us. Now that he understands that if he takes a certain action there will be a certain repercussion, or once he completes one thing we can move on to the next often more fun thing, we can get through our days without major meltdowns. Two-year-old Luke would have thrown a tantrum after telling him he can’t have ice cream until he eats dinner but three-year-old Luke will whine for a minute or two and then accept it and move on (most of the time).

He’s also learning empathy, truly feeling bad when he makes a mistake. The other day I asked him to stop throwing toys. He didn’t and ended up knocking a drink over. It was no big deal and we cleaned it up together, but later that day he said “mama I’m really sorry for spilling that water” and my heart just melted. I felt bad that he felt bad, hours later, but it also felt like a little breakthrough for his understanding of the importance of listening.

I think another reason for Luke’s easy-going attitude these days is an bribery allowance system we’re using where Luke earns a quarter for good behavior, and once he has a certain amount saved he can buy a toy. The boy will do anything for a toy, so this has eliminated the need to use our former discipline go-to of time outs (unless he has really misbehaved). Praising the good all the time with something tangible, albeit monetary, has kept things much more positive as opposed to the spiraling negativity that would come at the mere mention of the words “time out.”

We Still Have Our Fair Share of Daily Tussles 

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a lot of struggles! We can’t get him to sit down and eat a full meal. He visits our bedside in the middle of the night needing company since he relies on us to help him get to sleep. He doesn’t like to leave the house unless he’s been briefed on the day’s plans well in advance. And the biggest downfall to age three so far has been the whining. It’s safe to say that temper tantrums have been replaced with whining, and while I’d take some whining over a temper tantrum any day, the constant, nasally “whyyysss” quickly get old.

All in all, three is off to a glorious start. We’re on the go more and are doing more fun things together that I’m hoping to share. I’m ready for time to slow down now so I can enjoy this phase a little more before it’s gone!

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Stay Little, Sweet Eli

My sweet baby Eli is turning one tomorrow and I’m just not quite ready for it. I’ve been enjoying his babyhood so much that I want to hit the “pause” button and cherish it a little longer.

IMG_7769Life as a family of four felt pretty natural as soon as Eli was born. My heart had never felt so full until the hazy postpartum days after Eli’s birth when I was so tired, my body so sore, yet feeling so fulfilled by holding both of my boys. Instead of experiencing the gloomy baby blues, my hormonal, postpartum tears were tears of joy, over the moon in love with our new addition and our new normal.

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Maybe it was because I was a second-time mom and I had adjusted my expectations of motherhood, or maybe Eli really was the calmest, happiest, easiest baby on the planet. Either way, I want to thank my sweet boy for so many things…

Eli, thank you for…

  • Breastfeeding like a champ! This was a HUGE stressor when I was a first-time mom and I didn’t even have to think twice about it this go-round.
  • Sticking to a schedule. You never asked to be fed. I just fed you on a routine and it became clockwork overnight. You were the epitome of a textbook newborn.
  • Enjoying sleep. You slept everywhere as a newborn and you never fussed when it was time to go down. Today as an older baby, you continue to rarely protest naps or going to bed at night.
  • Being comforted by my voice. You would calm down almost immediately upon hearing me talk to you. It made me feel so important and connected to you.
  • Smiling always and laughing hard. It doesn’t take much for you to crack a smile with your toothy grin and I’m able to get a good belly laugh from you simply from making a silly face.
  • Imitating sounds and gestures. This sounds like a basic thing that all babies just do, but I can tell  you from experience that some babies like to march to the beat of their own drum (one of whom’s name rhymes with Bluke). It is so rewarding to hear you say “a-nan-a” (banana) and “doo-doo” (cockadoodledoo) or watching you clap, wave and try to blow a kiss.
  • Never hesitating to make new friends. Anytime someone wants to give you a cuddle, you reciprocate and hug them right back.
  • Needing me. You’ll be happily playing and then suddenly crawl back to me as if to make sure I’m still there. Or, Cooper will startle you with a bark and you’ll put your hand on my leg for comfort.

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I also don’t want to forget about what’s going on in your life at this moment, so here’s a recap of what you’re up to at age 1:

  • You can say dada, mama, dah (dog), duh (deer), and hat. You’ll also try to imitate other words without really knowing what they mean.
  • You’re still a big guy, most likely in the upper 90s percentile-wise and wearing 18-month sized clothes.
  • You have 8 teeth and at least 6 coming in. This has been interfering with your sleep and general level of happiness lately.
  • Your favorite activity is playing with a ball. We roll it back and forth, you throw it, and you’ll even catch it sometimes.
  • You also love wrestling on the floor, bobbing your head to music, and taking baths.
  • You’re getting close to walking and have taken a few steps. You can navigate steps and rough surfaces pretty well and are even starting to climb.
  • You eat anything and everything!

We didn’t dote on each milestone the way we did with Luke, but we didn’t worry as much either. Gone were the days of asking Dr. Google hundreds of questions about obscure issues that really were not problems at all the way we did with Luke. We knew what we were doing, and we had faith that Eli would roll, sit, crawl, stand and meet every other milestone at his own pace. Since he’s probably our last baby, I held on to each stage and never wished for a certain phase to end.

However I have a little mommy guilt over not following all the new parent rules like we did with Luke. Eli watches TV, we don’t read to him as often as we should, I comfort nurse him back to sleep in the middle of the night (still!). But he gets a lot of love and so hopefully that balances everything out!

I know this next year has a lot of fun in store. Soon Eli will turn into a running, talking, wild toddler just like his brother. But for now I’m hoping my baby stays little just a little bit longer!

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Young, Wild & THREE!

Today Luke turns the big 3! It’s hard to believe he’s already been a part of our family for three years. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I saw those two pink lines and began to prepare for the arrival of our first baby.

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That first year was all about the milestones, and every time he hit one, Robert and I were so proud. His first smile, first attempts to roll over, sit up, crawl, pull up, walk and utter his first words were each such a big deal. We couldn’t wait for him to accomplish the next big thing, and before we knew it, he wasn’t a baby anymore!

In the moment, I was happy to transition out of the baby phase. I loved it, but the adventures of a one-year-old became so exciting! We replaced bottles with sippy cups, onesies with shorts and t-shirts, baby food with table scraps. We baby proofed everything, and then decided reorganizing our house would be easier than continuing to re-baby-proof everything that he outsmarted.

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He ran around without fear everywhere! Into everything. Climbing on everything. Drawing on everything. With that came lots of bumps and boo boos.

Toward his second birthday his love for golf and lawn tools really amped up. He would hit a golf ball and run to it just to hit it again. And he’d help Robert every Saturday with all the lawn work.

At age two his spirited nature really started to shine through as he grew even more passionate about the things he loved as well as the things he would rather not do. He became his own little person in the last year, full of his own opinions, likes and dislikes, and his own friends and experiences with other people.

View More: http://annabethkierspe.pass.us/the-pickett-family

 

To say “goodbye” to two, I’m capturing some of the things I don’t want to forget because I know that in a flash, he’s going to be four and I’ll forget this moment in time.

I don’t want to forget…

The way your eyes light up when daddy says he’s going to mow.

The way when I tell you to behave you say, “I’m ‘hayve'” while batting your eye lashes.

The way you never stop talking! You narrate life with such zest and charm. I think you’ll definitely be extroverted like your daddy!

The way you have taught me so much about lawn equipment, how to fix things, golf and Paw Patrol (a show on Nick Jr.).

The way your imagination has really taken off as you give your toys and tools a life of their own.

The way you line up your Paw Patrol pup figurines, kiss them goodnight and tell them you love them before going to sleep at night.

How you grab my neck and tell me you love me right when I feel like I want to strangle you.

How you come into my room early in the morning to report that it’s light outside and that I need to get out of bed.

The way we cannot walk out the front door without 1-2 tools in hand and we cannot walk around the neighborhood without doing work at every neighbor’s lawn we pass.

The way you line things up in a very particular order – first it was the golf clubs, then your tools, now your pups and their vehicles.

The way you always need to give me one more hug when I’m dropping you off at school.

The way you want to race and tickle around the house.

The way you needed the whole bag of gummy worms so you could share them with your pups (but you proceeded to admit you ate the whole bag yourself).

The way you say the wrong words like “hiccup truck,” (pick-up truck) “magic oranges” (mandarin oranges) and “soup-case” (suitcase) and how you think a hammock is a picnic and grass plugs are the equivalent of ear plugs for the grass.

The way you idolize your daddy and copy his every move.

The way you talk to your brother using the same words I use with him, like “no Eli that’s too small for you!” and when you tell me “Eli’s just a baby, mama.”

The way you call me “ma” and tell me to “come” or “come check this out with me.”

The way you correct someone when they misinterpret you by starting your sentence with “ackshee” (actually)

I’ll end my list there but there are many more adorable antics I’m sure I’m missing.

My hopes for age three are that our relationship can mature and grow stronger; that tantrums fizzle; that we go on new adventures and continue repeating the ones we love; that you keep helping daddy with the lawn and improve your golf swing; that you start playing team sports with success; and mostly, that you feel loved from me and the rest of our family and friends.

Happy third birthday silly Luke! Here’s to another wonderful year!

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Looking Back: A Rough Day in September 2016

I came across this draft, which I wrote about four months ago, or one month into being home full time. I was pretty stressed. Even though it’s a little dated, I wanted to share my story about our challenges in case there are any moms or dads out there currently in the same boat.

Here’s a look back at life in September 2016…

I recently opened up about how deciding to be a stay at home mom was a really tough decision. Now that I’m a month in to my new job at home, I’m able to report that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s probably been the most stressful month of my life. I knew it would be hard, but I wasn’t anticipating the type of frustrations I’ve been facing.

I feel a little bad as I type that my sweet 2.5-year-old Luke, who I love and adore with all my heart, is the source of my frustrations. I have thought twice about sharing this because of how he’d feel reading this, but this is life right now and it will be good for him to understand the type of shenanigans he was into as a tot.

Plus, we need to be honest about mom life! Everyone shares the good parts of life, leaving some of us feeling like we’re doing something wrong if we’re struggling.

To illustrate our daily conflicts, here’s a rundown of our current situation…

At 7:30 Luke wakes up, often in a disgruntled mood because he didn’t sleep well. He enters our room with a huff, slamming the door open and collapsing onto our floor. I go to him, ask if he’d like some breakfast, and I’m met with a groan. I let him be and get the coffee brewing.

He’s calmed by watching an episode of Mickey and is ready for breakfast. He has a dirty diaper but refuses to let me change it. I ask him if he’d like cereal or eggs (taking advice from countless parenting books on “empowering your toddler by offering choices”). If it’s a really rough day his response will be “mower.” Yes, I typed that right. When he doesn’t want to answer, which is probably half the time I ask him something, he tells me “mower.”

We eventually change the diaper and he gets up in his chair and I put food in front of him. Fortunately he’s been pretty good lately about getting into his chair and eating. I’ll say “Luke, food’s ready, come get in your chair,” and he’ll come over and say “Luke is listening!” while climbing into his seat.

After breakfast I’ll suggest an activity, but usually Luke has his mind set on something and resists anything else. Lately it has been relocating dada’s old golf clubs from one room to another, lining them up on the ground, and asking me to hit a ball with each of them, one by one. I oblige.

After a snack, more putzing around the house, and lunch, the mood in the house shifts as if a dark cloud is approaching. It’s nap time. Half the time, no one ends up sleeping, and everyone sheds some tears.

On days when I know he’s tired, naps are non-negotiable. I lure him into his room with a toy and let him continue playing with it for a few minutes before it’s time to start our nap time routine (diaper, books, light off). When it’s time to put the toy away, we enter tantrum town. All out flailing, kicking, screaming ensues. I let him know after his nap we’ll keep playing with it. Eventually he simmers down.

Taking advice from “Raising Your Spirited Child,” I will lay down with Luke and offer to stay with him until he’s asleep. However many days I cannot even get him to lay down. Now we enter the phase of “lay down or mama’s leaving.” He typically doesn’t lay down, so I leave the room and lock the door (I know this sounds bad, but I know he is safe in there because I watch him on the monitor!). He kicks and screams. I go back a couple minutes later and ask if he’s ready to lay down. If so, I lay with him. If not, I leave again. We can go through several rounds of this.

Eventually he lays down. But he’s still not settled. He’ll lay one way, then get up and lay somewhere else. We have a crib with the side down, a mattress on the floor and a blanket on the floor. He rotates around each of them probably 15 times.

By this point, it’s been an hour since we started “nap time” and Eli is on the verge of waking up. Oh, did I forget to mention there’s another child I’m caring for during all this!? If he wakes up, Luke’s nap just won’t happen. Fortunately Eli is an amazing sleeper so I can often count on him to continue resting peacefully while I work with Luke.

Luke may fall asleep, he may not. I can’t make the kid sleep and I can’t spend my entire day coaxing him into laying down. When he doesn’t go to sleep, I get really frustrated. I know he needs the sleep and that the next 6 hours until bedtime are going to be difficult if he doesn’t rest.

After, or in place of, his nap I’ll turn on Mickey and try to get some things done around the house. He’ll usually sit quietly for a few minutes, fortunately. But then it’s back on the horse!

Again I’ll suggest some activities – swimming, going for a walk, playing basketball – but again, he’s on a mission. This time maybe it’s with his mower – running around the house, chasing our dog Cooper (who does not like to be chased), running into things. I’ll say “Luke Cooper does not like being chased, you’re scaring him,” and he’ll say “No! He likes it!”

Eventually it’s time for dinner and I have about 10 minutes to pull something together. If the food prep takes too long, Eli may end up getting bitten or all his toys may be stolen while my attention is diverted.

After dinner I bathe Eli in the sink while Luke plays an then it’s Luke’s turn. I ask if he wants to bathe in his bath or mama’s bath, and his response? You guessed it! “Mower!”

I say “OK let’s bring the mower into mama’s bathroom,” and we enter tantrum town once again. I carry him to the bathroom kicking and screaming, undress him, and before I know it he has run out of the bathroom like a wild banshee on the loose.

I grab ahold of him again, plunk him in the tub and he’s happy. I get him clean, tell him it’s time to dry off, and what do you think he says? “No!! No drying off!” He wants to stay in the tub. erggggg. Eventually he gets out and we enter bedtime territory.

Each aspect of our bedtime routine, which entails putting on a diaper and pajamas, and going to bed, is met with resistance. Eventually, we accomplish each step and I sit patiently with him and wait for him to drift off to a peaceful slumber. I can always tell it’s safe to leave his room when I hear a little moan and his feet start to twitch. I am so happy he’s asleep and take a moment to admire his sweet little face.

After a couple overnight wake-ups from Eli, and possibly even a bedside encounter with Luke, it’s time to do it all again. No breaks. No paid time off.

Do I regret my decision to stay home? Not one bit. I know that even though these days are hard, I am making unforgettable memories and helping shape my boys to be the best they can be. We have a lot of fun together and I’m still ever so grateful for the chance to be home with them. I’m just being real here!

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So back to today, as I read through what we were going through four months ago I chuckle to myself as I’m reminded of fleeting moments in time that I’ve already forgotten about. We’re undoubtedly in a better place today, yet full of new tussles.

Today’s struggle will give you tomorrow’s laugh. Sometimes these phases go by too fast, and sometimes they don’t go by fast enough. But they will end and our babies will grow. That’s why I think capturing the “bad” maybe isn’t so bad after all!

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Solids Simplified: A Short Guide to Baby’s First Meals

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for baby’s first six months, it is common practice to start giving solid food anywhere between four and six months. With Luke we started at about five months when he showed signs that he was ready. With Eli, we started at four months because he was so big and he seemed to always be hungry. I was hoping it would help him sleep better, but as with Luke, it didn’t improve his sleep.

Although my hopes of sleeping longer stretches at night were not met, we’re having fun trying new foods. Yet as cute as it is to see baby’s mouth excitedly open up like a little bird when the spoon comes his way, it’s also a little confusing to know how to get started. Introducing solids is a bit of an undertaking and an evolution of your daily routine when you’re used to relying on nursing or formula alone. Plus there are a lot of schools of thought on what to introduce first, as well as tactics like baby-led weaning in which you skip purées all together.

Here are the necessities we used to get started, our approach to amount and frequency, and a few other things we’ve learned as we began our food journey.

The Necessities:

High chair – We use one similar to this Graco 4-in-1, which I’m really happy with because there’s a separate booster seat for Luke while Eli uses the main high chair. This one is on wheels, which is really convenient when we want to eat dinner outside or in front of the TV (only for important football games, of course!) For Eli’s first meals, I sat him on my lap and sort of cradled him in my knee so he was at a bit of an incline. He wasn’t a great sitter at 4 months and this helped the food stay in his mouth.

Bibs, bowls and spoons – I’m not especially partial to any specific types or brands of bibs, bowls and spoons. I do prefer cloth bibs rather than plastic so I can easily wipe baby’s face after meals, and spoons should be of the longer variety so they can be easily guided to baby’s mouth.

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Food!

Rice cereal is traditionally baby’s first food. However I try to buy organic for the boys and I didn’t see organic rice cereal at Pubix so I bought Earth’s Best oatmeal cereal instead. For Luke and Eli’s first meal, I simply mixed the cereal with some pumped breast milk. The consistency was extremely runny at first and I gradually added more cereal to make it thicker. I did this for a few days and then in Eli’s case, I realized he was starting to really struggle with his number twos. The problem with only feeding a baby cereal is that there is little-to-no fiber in it and it is iron fortified, which is a recipe for constipation, especially among breastfed babies who are accustomed to the easy-to-digest nature of breast milk. When I realized that it was having this effect on Eli, I started to lay off the cereal and introduce more fruit and veggie purées. I also switched to Happy Baby brand cereal with probiotics, but I haven’t noticed much of an improvement since we made the switch.

Fruit and Veggie Purées – We started with the traditional first foods: pears, bananas, avocados, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, prunes. I’ve been feeding Eli a lot of prunes and pears to help with his poops (P-fruits supposedly work best). I typically buy the Earth’s Best jars, and when they are buy-one-get-one free at Publix I really stock up! I use my Baby Bullet blender primarily for bananas and avocado since you don’t have to cook them prior to blending them. It’s really easy to just throw in the fruit with a little water and have fresh food. A nice perk of owning a Baby Bullet is that it has jars along with a freezer container so you can make a batch and save some for future eating.

Snacks – Teething wafers are about the only snacks available for non-crawling babies. At 5.5 months Eli is starting to get the hang of holding and chewing on them. We buy the Happy Baby brand or Baby Mum Mums. There are many more snack options available once baby reaches the crawling stage.

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How Often:

We started with one meal a day around dinner time and have just recently added a mid-morning meal. Eli seems to already be accustomed to getting his solids because I’ve skipped a meal now and then and he has been fussier. I’m a little worried about how it will affect my milk supply, so I don’t think I’ll introduce another meal for another couple months.

When:

Common advice is to feed your baby shortly after giving a bottle or nursing so the baby gets the majority of his or her nutrients from milk or formula. I tend to feed about an hour after nursing around 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

How Much:

Sometimes I’m amazed at how much Eli will put down. My understanding is that you’re supposed to offer food until they start to turn away from it, and as a result, Eli will easily go through 1-2 jars a night plus 2 tablespoons of cereal. I’ve been mixing cereal with a fruit or veggie and adding a little water so it’s not too thick. I am not really sure how that compares with what other babies eat, so I’m curious what others his age are eating (please feel free to leave a comment!).

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Overall we’re enjoying our ritual of trying new foods. I’m a little disappointed with the constipation that has resulted, and I’m hoping that as Eli’s digestive tract matures, he’ll be able to handle it all better. That’s probably one of the reasons you aren’t suppose to introduce solids until 6 months…oops.

What are your experiences with introducing solids? Please share some tips and tricks!

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The Truth About Becoming A Mom

Embracing life as a mom was no easy feat for me after my first son was born. I loved Luke immensely right away, yet I didn’t love being a mom. I was tired and felt vulnerable and exposed. I didn’t know what I was doing and I felt like I was being judged for it. Even though I prepared as thoroughly as I could, I realized caring for a baby comes down to a lot of guesswork and trial and error.

In the weeks after Luke was born, I researched postpartum depression. Although I didn’t fit the criteria, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just wasn’t happy. I felt guilty that I didn’t absolutely LOVE my new life as a mom.

Looking back I chalk it up to two things:

First, hormones are raging postpartum and feeling the so-called “Baby Blues” is a normal part of having a baby. It’s common to cry and feel overwhelmed.

Second, Luke was a very colicky baby. He cried so much that I would see the shape of his screaming mouth in my dreams at night. I’m not joking. I would look at his ear and it would look like his quivering lips.

As the early weeks of Luke’s life become more and more distant, I’ve learned that there’s a much more significant reason why becoming a mom was hard. And that is that your identity completely changes when you become a mom. Your sense of self changes so dramatically as your sole purpose shifts to meeting your children’s needs while often neglecting your own.

While I knew life would revolve around the baby when he arrived, and I was overjoyed at the thought of having my own bundle of joy, the magnitude of how this actually affects your life cannot be predicted. You can only guess what things will be like.

In my case, the early weeks had their challenges as we figured out our new life as a family. Things eventually settled into place and life with a baby became our new normal. But as time went on and we welcomed our second baby boy I realized that a little part of me is gone forever. The me who could spend a couple hours perusing Target with a Starbucks in hand without a care in the world. The me who could wake up early and walk the dog or go to the gym. The me who could play kickball every Thursday night with my friends. The me who can have a weekend getaway with friends and the only planning required is figuring out who will watch the dog.

Sure, I get glimpses into my old life once in a while, but life will never come close to what it was before kids. The things that used to bring me joy are replaced by the joy I get from my children, and my heart is so full of adoration for my boys that it literally aches when I’m away from them or even when I think about them growing up.

So when my friends thinking about having kids ask me if it’s worth it, I tell them the truth. A part of you will be gone forever once you become a mom. But the person you will become is stronger, fuller, more loving, more patient. You’ll be tested a lot and you’ll certainly lose your temper a time or two, but you’ll persevere, and you’ll get a big lesson in what it means to be selfless and humble while you’re at it.

I can happily say that I have grown to absolutely love being a mom. I love the slow pace of my life, the easy meals that consist of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and boxed macaroni and cheese, the laughs over the silliest things my toddler says and does and the wide grin I get from my baby whenever I look his way.

It’s a different life. But it’s better. It’s full, it’s meaningful and it just feels good. There are bad days when I want to go find a rock to crawl under, but that’s life. With the good comes the bad, as with anything.

It took me some time to settle into mom life, but now that I have, I don’t miss the old “me” one bit. I’m learning that life offers up a series of identity changes, and some take more time to embrace than others. For me, motherhood took some getting used to. But now that I’m getting the hang of it I wouldn’t trade this “me” for the world.FullSizeRender

The Moment It Hit Me & My New Job Title

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment it hit me. I was sitting on our back deck in the new IKEA chair we’d just bought. It was a morning in May, so it was hot, but not too hot. I was about a week away from returning to work from my 12-week maternity leave. Luke was running through the yard asking me to chase him. I was holding Eli, who was gazing lovingly into my eyes as he always does.

I don’t want to stop doing this, I thought.

My heart was aching at the thought of going back to work.

Luke was growing up so fast. Eli will too. So I started toying with the idea of staying home.

Previously it was not really in the cards from a financial perspective. As a result I’d talked myself into the idea that I loved my work (which I did), and that I was happier and a better mom when I was able to break away and do my own thing each day (which I was starting to question). I thought being a stay-at-home mom would mean life would just be an endless cycle of house work, cooking, changing diapers and calming toddler meltdowns.

But Robert had just gotten a new job that included a pay raise. Childcare for two kids was more than we had initially planned for. I started factoring this into the fact that I was actually enjoying my time at home, maintaining the household and being there through thick and thin.

I knew it would be harder to be at home all day compared to going into an office where you can drink your coffee in peace, have adult conversations with your colleagues over lunch, and actually complete a task, uninterrupted, in a timely manner. But I was feeling up to the challenge.

I started talking to people about these thoughts running through my head. I felt like my mind was already made up, but I wanted to hear what other people had to say. Overwhelmingly, everyone said I’d never regret the decision to stay home with my kids. I heard this from older women who took breaks from their careers when their kids were young and successfully reentered the workforce when their kids entered school. I heard it from new moms who had recently started staying at home, giving up a little of their family’s financial security. It was unanimous.

I think the reason the decision was hard for me was because I’d built this persona around myself that I was a career woman. As a child, I was not the type of girl who couldn’t wait to get married and have kids. I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids until I met my husband. Being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t who I was, so I was uncomfortable with it.

But the more I thought it over (I’m a thinker, if you haven’t figured that out yet!), the more I realized that jobs will come and go. Money will come and go. But these years are short and I can’t ever get this time back. If we can make it work financially, I would regret not taking a break from my job for a few years to mold my babies and be there for every moment. I can always go back to work (I hope!), but I can’t get these years back.

So three days before I was scheduled to return to work, I asked my boss if we could talk. I literally cried walking into my office. But I kept telling myself, I’m saying goodbye to one family to spend more time with my real family (no offense to my former colleagues – I love you guys 🙂 ). I ended up working part time from home for the next two months, which brings us to today. My last day of “work.”

I’m excited. And a little nervous. This new chapter will surely bring challenges that can’t be resolved through an email trail and WebEx call. I’m armed with parenting books, baby wipes, Pinterest and yoga pants. The true essentials for life at home! I’m ready to add another title to my resume: “Stay-at-Home mom.” My most prestigious title yet!

As moms we have a lot of tough decisions to make. And though it was a hard choice, I’m grateful that I even had the option to consider staying home.

I am planning to do some contract work in communications when I can, and maybe that will turn into my next career. Or, maybe in a few years my company will  be hiring. There are a lot of “maybes” and only time will tell what the future holds. The only thing that’s certain is I’m going to embrace my new role and be the best mommy I can be!