The maternity leave is ending. That was expected. There have been times during my leave that I have toyed with the idea of transitioning from a professional career to a career at home. There were other times during my leave when I was practically clawing at the walls for a chance to leave the house and be among adults. But no matter what my mood of the day was, I always knew that I would be returning to work. My running joke while I was pregnant was that I still have bills to pay once the baby comes. So…Momma gotta work.
People keep asking me how I feel about returning to work. There is a part of me that wants to feel more anxious and horrible than I do. But…I don’t feel that way. And it isn’t necessarily for the reason that I expected.
My eagerness to return to work isn’t so much about the actual work. Sure, I enjoy my job. Working with older adults as a social worker has been something that has always fulfilled me. And I have worked very hard to learn and grow in this field so that I can unquestionably be the best social worker possible for my residents. But I can’t say that I have actually missed working. I have missed my coworkers, I have missed critical thinking, but I don’t know if I would be returning unless I felt like I had to.
Which leads me to why I have to.
I have spoken a few times about our debt-free journey. We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at our church just a few months after we got married in 2017. Ever since then, we have been focused on paying off our debts. In that time, we paid off our cars, credit cards, a few other things, and one of my student loans. Once we found out we were pregnant, we started hoarding cash to help fund maternity leave and baby-having costs (nothing humbles my adult ego quicker than trying to figure out what my insurance does and does not cover). With my income returning, we have enough to pay off two more of the loans by the end of July and we should be able to pay off a third by the end of the year.
For those blessed to not have student debt, let me explain why I have 17 different loans. When you apply for financial aid, they offer you a total amount that is actually comprised of several small loans. I have no idea why. And they all have different interest rates. Go figure.
Paying off the remainder of my student debt has been consuming my spare thoughts lately. I feel this sense of urgency to be rid of that burden. Maybe it is the birth of our son. I’ve heard children can reshape your priorities and how you view money. But I think it goes beyond sweet Jefferson.
While we were visiting the great-grandmothers in South Carolina earlier this month, Bradley and I took advantage of the eager arms and had a date night. We were sitting at a bar, drinking from crystal glassware, and talking. We started talking about what our home would look like if we could build. We looked at floor plans and blueprints online. We even saved a few…just in case. It was so fun to talk about and dream about.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want those blueprints to be “just in case.” I want them to be realized. I want the land we have been dreaming about. I want to have a home that serves as roots…that is the place where our current family can grow. And as our family grows, I want them to keep coming back to our dream home. I want holiday gatherings. I want sleep overs. I want my parents to be able to visit for days and weeks when they retire. I want a sanctuary that calls my children back home when they have been away for too long. I want future generations of Lowes to have a place they look forward to coming to. I want every single bit of that.
One of the things that has been hardest for me since moving to Virginia is the homesickness. I long for Carolina. I gave my heart to Chapel Hill, and I’ve not asked her to give it back just yet. This dream of land and a home and cattle and goats and God knows what else feels like a promise to me…a promise that I can build new roots in Virginia if I want it badly enough.
That’s why I’m not anxious about returning to work. It is necessary right now, because my income helps us pay off those loans quicker. And when they are gone, we can start saving for that piece of land. And we can start saving for animals. And I can start dreaming about what I will do with my own little five acres. Every eight hour workday leads me one step closer to turning those dreams into reality. And I deserve that reality.
If Jefferson ever reads this, I hope he reads it from our dream home. I hope he knows that I left the comfort of his nursery so that I could accomplish this for our family. I hope he recognizes that I made sacrifices during his early childhood so that I could give him a home – or better yet…roots – that will serve him for his lifetime.
So, no. I’m not anxious about maternity leave coming to an end. I’m ready to start paying off my loans again. I’m ready for what happens when that is done. I’m ready for more.