When I started my photography business my intentions were not to simply make money (although that aspect is life changing and I will touch on that) but to reach people. My goal was to connect with people in a real, authentic way. Use my “platform” as a photographer to open the door to have real life conversations with people. It was never about the money. It was always about doing something I love and sharing my life, my story with people. I never wanted to grab a check from someone, take their pictures with minimal conversations, leave there, edit and then email their album with a generic “nice to meet you.” That may work for some people but to me, as an individual I wasn’t serving well. Maybe it is the deep desire to feel something, hear people’s stories of their pits and their peaks and feel something. Carry that home with me and pray for them, think of them often and truly care for them.
This is why I have started to blog. To share with people, my own real struggles and real triumphs. Be transparent in all that I have experienced.
This blog today is for my mamas out there. This comes from a real place, a really deep rooted pain I dealt with for months.
Growing up I always had my mom there. She packed my lunches and waited for me on the porch when I got off the bus. She worked with us on our homework and made dinner. She made sure we had everything we needed and she was ALWAYS there. Same thing for my husband. His mom stayed home as well and even home schooled them for a few years. We both had our moms there for us at all times and we knew we wanted that for our kids. This by no means is my way of making a working mom feel guilt at all but this is to reach my moms that feel this deep desire to be home and are afraid.
Girl, I was you. I was so afraid. How can we financially achieve this? We can’t pay our bills with one income. Girl.. you can. You so can. Here is my story on how we lived off of less than $36,000 a YEAR!
In 2010 when my daughter was born, like any mom I was instantly instantly in love. We had toured daycares and as nice as the facitlites were I never felt the urge to enroll. I convinced (I say convinced because initially it was we will help a few times a week and turned into full time I LOVE YOU GRANDMA) my grandmother which would be Lila’s great grandmother to keep Lila full time. So at only 6 weeks old, I sobbed handing off my baby to my grandmother to care for. I had it great though. My family keeping her safe, no germs to be exposed to, free childcare and it was literally within walking distance of our home.
Perfect right? I was working as a nurse in a private practice M-F full time hours. I rotated hospitals that I was at throughout the week influencing my travel time to and from work.
We were living off of a good amount of money, free childcare and everything we could ask for in someone to take care of our child. It was on paper, perfect.
But I cried at least 2 times a week. Not a little cry, I sobbed. I wanted to be with my baby every single day. I would drop her off at 7am and drive to Hernia Doctors Hospital (40 minute commute) and work until 5:00 or so. I then would sit in traffic turning my 40 minutes home into 60+ minutes. I would pick her up, give her a bath, nurse her and put her to bed. Wake up and repeat. In the beginning it wasn’t such long hours because my husband was off at 3:30 but unfortunately he was deployed when she was 9 months old. Therefore everything was on me. Pickup and drop off. And all that was in between.
I remember one day vividly, I was listening to worship music as I sat in bumper to bumper traffic and it hit me. As if God straight up left me a post it note on my dashboard. Alysha, just quit. Quit your job and you will be okay.
But God you don’t understand, I make 60% of our income. I can’t. We own a house. We have bills and two car payments. God I can’t do this.
Yes, you can. And you know what…I did. I quit. My husband called and I said “I put my notice in and I am quitting.” You would think he would be like WHAT THE HECK I AM IN ANOTHER COUNTRY AND YOU ARE MAKING LIFE CHANGING DECISION but instead he said “good. How was the rest of your day?”
If that isn’t reassurance that I was doing the right thing then I have no idea what is. I gave up my career. And I put on my stay at home mom hat.
First I decided to sit down and crunch numbers. What is a necessity and what are some things we can get rid of. House is a necessity and 1 of his 2 checks paid solely that. So I knew what we had as a remainder to live. I knew some things had to go. Keep in mind once he was home he would get off at 3:30 and home by 4:00 so making some of these choices were a little “easier”. We have to sell a car. We have to be a one car family and put the amount we spent on both towards the remaining vehicle and pay it off.
I sold my SUV and we had one car. We lived within walking distance of a park and my friends would pick us up to go different places like the zoo, children’s museum, pool, whatever.
I knew cable had to go. Although I loved all my shows, I knew this wasn’t a necessity. Insert antenna. We had 5 channels and that was totally fine with us.
Cloth diapers would be a large initial investment but long term would save us month to month. So cloth diapering was what it was. Wet bags, hanging diapers to dry… the whole thing.
We menu planned and cut coupons. We only went out to eat when our families were picking up the tab and honestly we appreciated the aspect of going out to dinner so much more.
Looking back at these years, these were ultimately the best years of our lives. We lived on the essentials, we trusted God with our entire situation and we were so smart with every penny we spent. We didn’t have extra but our hearts were SO full.
It wasn’t until a year or so later that I launched my photography business. That was really hard for me because I knew in that decision I gave up my nursing career. I let my license expire and as upsetting that was (because lets be real nursing school and taking your NCLEX=death) I felt so much peace in that decision. And here I am now.
I am speaking to you through my blog and you may be me 5 years ago. You may be sitting at your desk feeling unfulfilled and hurt. The guilt of dropping your child off every single day is too much to even carry. You have things you can cut and change, you could make it but you are so scared. I hear you. I had this same conversation over and over and over again in my own head.
When I quit I knew as much as I lost (income, career, my own vehicle, etc), I gained much more. The years at home with my kids have been the best years of my life. I won’t sugar coat it because some days are so hard and draining because being a parent is. But the days that are full of laughs, a messy playroom and an assembly line for meals are the BEST. We are able to do crafts, meet friends at the park and have a blast. Now that my kids are getting older and in school I feel nostalgic. If only I could rewind back to the days we were just making it and my friends would have to pick us up to go to Chickfila for a play date/lunch. Man, those were the days.
Now I look back and I see how all this lead to where I am now. Without that decision being made I would NEVER EVER EVER OWNED A BUSINESS. You guys, this business brings me SO much joy! When I quit this wasn’t even on the radar, and I feel so much excitement now to know that this business that came from nothing is blossoming more every single day!
I want you to know that no matter your choice: to work or to stay home you are an amazing mother. Your kids adore you. They love you for who you are and all the ways you provide for them. You are the BEST MOM to your amazing kids! You rock!