It was over 22 years ago now that my wife, Nora, and I decided to have our first child. We had been married about 5 years already, but yet we still didn’t seem properly prepared for what was to come. To say we had high anxiety would be an understatement. We remember discussing and imagining how our life would look in about 9 months – and yet we really had no idea. We knew we were stepping out in faith that God would look after us.

The financial plan was for Nora to go back to work. There didn’t seem to be any way around it. So, we did our homework and looked around for a babysitter that we could trust with our new bundle of joy. We were fortunate enough to find a wonderful woman who only had a couple other little ones she looked after. She was only a couple miles from our home and on Nora’s way to work. It seemed like a perfect scenario – that is until the first day my wife had to go back to work. Looking back now, I should have been the one to drop our new baby, Justin, off. You see, I didn’t anticipate just how attached my wife had become to him, or just how badly she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

Nora came home from work that first night, after picking up Justin from the sitter, and she was an emotional wreck. So as a husband, what do you do? There is no way we could afford to have Nora leave her job. It was impossible! Or was it? Looking back, I don’t know what provoked me to say what I said next, other than it had to have been God speaking for me. “Quit your job, and stay home with Justin. We will figure it out. We have to trust God will provide”. There was much discussion after I uttered those words, but ultimately she went back to work and at the end of the week she put her notice in. God was now in control.

Years later, we now have three boys, with the youngest one getting ready to go off to college in a couple years. Nora recently went back to work full time as a way to help get our kids through college. It took quite a bit of discussion and prayer before making the decision. It has been quite an adjustment for her, but she is settling into the new adventure God has placed her into.

There have been many times when people ask if we would make the same decision to have Nora be a stay-at-home mom, and the quick answer is a resounding “yes”. The more expanded answer contains caveats that I learned over the years. One is that we need to not only pray more and ask God for guidance, but we need to listen to him better. Secondly, we needed to prepare more. Yes, there are times, when things are suddenly thrown upon us, and we need to make quick decisions. However, that wasn’t the case for us. We waited five years and should have better prepared ourselves financially. When we started our conversation of having a baby, we should have adjusted our living to prepare for what was to come. Thirdly, and just as important, we needed to have more open conversations with each other. The answer was always there for us, but the assumptions we made about each other’s feelings and our financial capabilities were clouded by our lack of clear communication.

It is impossible to ever truly be prepared for the first child; and I think the same is true for marriage and retirement. That being said, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for the things we know are coming.

“A prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” – Proverbs 22:3

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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