I’m excited for Bekah to share today in our working motherhood series, because on one hand, she and I are on opposite ends of the parenting spectrum, just as we live on opposite coasts. She is the crunchy, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, elimination communicating organic sort of mom, while I sleep-train, can’t stomach kombucha, and had to google what elimination communication was (but then thankfully, Bekah wrote about it here!). We have babies close in age and when we were describing our ideal birth experiences to each other – they were direct opposites. But Bekah is a great mom, and the way that she talks with confidence and joy about her parenting decisions reminds me of the beauty to be found in households that look different than my own. I admire her intentionality in creating a home environment that is counter-cultural and I was so pleased that she agreed to share about the choices she has made to make it happen.Hi all, I’m Bekah. Wife to Jeremy for almost four years, Mom to Harrison who recently turned one, cat-mom to three kitties who are varying degrees of crazy. We all live in a one-bedroom apartment close to Venice Beach in Los Angeles. I often chuckle about ending up in Los Angeles, because I am a very quiet and practical person- two words not commonly used to describe LA and its assumed lifestyle. The culture Jeremy and I have been focusing on in our family has a sort of gentleness and slowness to it. As we have made parenting and family decisions over the past year, the deciding factor has been finding ways to keep our family very close together and growing an attachment-style household in the way we are raising Harrison. Bed-sharing, baby-wearing, nursing on demand, elimination communication, etc- it is with the mindset of these ideals and more that Jeremy and I knew we didn’t want to seek outside care for our children. Even before we had Harrison, it has always been very important to us that one of us would stay home as the primary caregiver.
Jeremy has a consistent full-time job in a company he’s been with for over five years; I am a birth and post-partum doula with a work history of nannying and babysitting for many, many families. When we were first expecting, our loose idea was that I would stay home for a few months, and then build up a small post-partum doula business and find a babysitter who could watch Harrison a few hours a week, and potentially be on call if I was to do birth doula work. This was partly due to my passion for being a working doula, but mostly because we could not afford to live off of one salary. I ended up exclusively staying home with Harrison for seven months- being a stay-at-home Mom is something I find immense value in, and a role I have always wanted to fill. But Jeremy was at one point working three jobs so that I could stay home, and that was not sustainable.The more I have grown into motherhood, the idea of having someone else care for Harrison, whether it be a few hours a week or full-time, has become more difficult in my heart. He is my little buddy and we have rarely been separate over this past year. When the necessity arose for me to contribute to our household income, it made more sense to find babysitting jobs- and so for the past five months now, Harrison has been coming to work with me! I am very thankful to have found a few different families open to me simultaneously caring for their children and Harrison. I have been working very part-time, just two or three hours each weekday, Jeremy is back to just one full-time job, and our family has fallen into a very nice work-life balance. We will be changing things up again come July, when I will be going back to work full-time with Harrison, nannying for a family that I worked for when Jeremy and I were first married.
Given the choice, I will always choose to stay at home with Harrison and any future children. During this season of our life, however, making that choice is not financially feasible, and I am beyond grateful that we have been able to find the next best scenario for our family. Taking Harrison to work with me has had its fair share of difficulties; earlier this year especially it was often incredibly stressful because I was constantly having to wake Harrison up to get to work on time, or he was missing a crucial nap because we were in an unfamiliar place, and by the end of the day or the end of the week he would be a disaster due to lack of sleep. I felt very guilty that he was acting out as a direct reaction of my life getting in the way of his needs. I also initially felt guilty that Harrison needed to share my attention with other children- it is something we both have been learning together. But we are five months in now, and with that time everything has become a bit easier. Harrison and the different kids I am watching have become much more self-sufficient, and many of my babysitting hours are now spent observing them playing together, and finding delight in watching them make each other laugh, or chase each other around the house, and forming a special bond. Starting the full-time position in July will have its own set of initial difficulties, especially because there is a 10-month age difference, but I am looking forward to watching Harrison grow over the next year and form a brother/sister relationship with this new baby.
These jobs have all been a blessing- in a concrete way they are helping us pay off debt, but it’s been more than just practical. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Harrison learn what life is outside of our little apartment. Whether he’s tearing through toys at a friend’s home, or sharing a swing with a friend at the park, or passed out in my lap because he’s now truly learned how to sleep anywhere- he’s experiencing life differently than he would if we had no obligations during the day, and we are experiencing it together.
That togetherness is everything I hoped for while pregnant and dreaming of what life would be like once Harrison was born. It looks different than I expected, but there is a beauty to it that suits our family well, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve over time. So for now, I am essentially a work-at-home Mom, because that is what we have found to be the best for our family.