Dear kids, 

A long time ago, I had a decision I needed to make in my life. Actually, a lot of decisions. I want you to know more than anything, that these decisions all brought me to you. You, my children, were my guiding light even before you were born. 

A lot of mothers are asked these questions. What do you want to study at college? What kind of career do you want to have? Who do you want to marry? Where do you want to live? How do you want to live? 

I was recently looking at LinkedIn profiles of former co-workers. Many of them have become leaders in their careers. They have titles like Senior Account Executive or Vice President of Marketing or Director of Sales or some other fancy title.

My title? Stay-at-home mom. 

That sounds so . . . underwhelming. 

Chef, maid, driver, homework prompter, bum wiper, laundress, and more. 

The work is not rewarding (if I’m being honest). 

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Cleaning pee out of the couch cushion for the 59th time can’t go anywhere on a resume. It won’t win me a raise or even brownie points for the person I’m cleaning up after. 

Sometimes I think I could go back to work and get on that career ladder. I’d move up just like my friends did. 

But . . . there’s just one thing . . . four things, actually. 

Four very cute boys for whom I have already made thousands of life choices that lead me back to my family. 

It hasn’t always been easy, but looking back, I realize nearly all my life choices were for you, my children. Even before you were born, I planned my life around you. 

When I chose a companion, I chose one who was kind and funny. One who would lift his children off the ground and laugh with them upon his return from work. I chose your daddy, who stays true to his faith even though it is not easy or popular to do so. 

When I studied at college, I chose a field I thought would be family-friendly. I chose to teach and develop talents for calming children, empowering them to learn on their own, and empathizing with them through the challenges of adolescence. 

Even when I left to teach English in South Korea for a year, I made sure I knew what would happen if I had to come home early pregnant. 

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When it was time to start a family, I learned I would need massively expensive fertility treatments to get you here. Your daddy and I both found jobs that would help bring you here. Our dreams of traveling and writing took a backseat.

You came first. 

I took hundreds of shots with those fertility treatments. Shots in my belly, shots in my backshots that would allow me to bring you to life, to hold you and comfort you in my arms.  

I quit working so I could watch over you with all the protection a mama bear can offer. I quit working so I could raise you myself. I quit to be with you.

I even had this thought that I needed to keep myself fit for you. I wanted to give you any health my body could offer. I wanted to play with you, whether it be running on the track, jumping on the tramp, hiking through the red rocks, or dribbling a basketball. I wanted to be involved and share my life with you. 

I learned how to cook from scratchand on a budgetso our family could have delicious, homemade meals. 

We didn’t move into a big, new home. You were our priority. 

I nursed you as long as I could (despite the pain) to give you every health advantage. 

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For some of these decisions, especially the career ones, I did give up a big part of me that I deeply value.

And I would make those decisions over and over again. You are what I value more than anything. 

I don’t have the titles, but I chose this life long ago. I chose my children. I chose my family. 

I may be jealous of the worldly accolades I see others receive. And someday, perhaps I’ll be there again. 

But for now, I choose you, my children. 

I always have, and I always will. 

Alene Laney

I am an LEO wife and mother of four fort-building couch ninjas. On a mission to spread empathy throughout the world! Come on over to my personal finance and travel hacking blog to say hi. Https://PenniestoParadise.com