Someone said this to me the other day. And it lit a fire under my butt.

“Congrats on your ‘lifestyle’ choice.”

I am a mom now, and many of the hopes and desires I had before motherhood have changed. I still want to pursue my career and have my own identity. But in this season of my life, my favorite title is “Oliver’s Mom.” Since my maternity leave ended, I have had a strong desire for that to be my primary role.

After a lot of deep conversations, prayer and many big choices, my husband and I were fortunate enough to find the perfect situation to allow us to move back to Nebraska near family and friends. At this point, the plan is for me to work part-time or from home so I can spend more time with Oliver.

We made the announcement that we were moving, and I happily shared that I’m planning to stay home more with Oliver. I had received nothing but well wishes and remorse from friends and colleagues that we are moving. Until that one person chose to “congratulate” me on my lifestyle choice. Sarcasm dripped from his voice as he said: “Congrats on your lifestyle choice, I guess? Because you don’t have a job, right?”

I should have defended myself, but instead I stammered out that I’m going to work; I just haven’t figured out what yet. But I shouldn’t have had to defend myself or to have felt shame because of this person judging my “lifestyle.”

Why does it matter if I want to stay home with my child or work full-time? Why are we so critical of other people’s choices? Before even considering the circumstances or even really knowing a person, we immediately jump the gun and make assumptions about their life. What is best for my family may not be best for your family. And that’s fine! Are your kids healthy? Are they happy? Yes? Good. That’s what matters.

In my experience, it is an incredibly difficult decision for moms and dads to decide what is best for their family after having a baby. Do we want to cut our income in half so one of us can be home with our child? Would it be better if we both worked so we are able to give our child everything he wants? Will he be better in daycare where he will be able to socialize with other children instead of hanging out at home all day? Trust me, we have thought about it and agonized over this decision.

Honestly, I still am not completely sure how this will work out. I wonder if I’m cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, and if we can actually afford it. We have gone over our finances and are planning to make sacrifices in order for this “lifestyle” to work. I hope it does, but if it doesn’t and I choose to go back to work full-time, there is nothing wrong with that. I grew up in a household where my mom primarily stayed home with us, but she still worked part-time or babysat to add to their income. Both of Brett’s parents worked full-time when he was growing up. And I think we both turned out to be pretty darn awesome.

I’m a person who takes the little things to heart, and I constantly wonder if I’m making the best choice for my family. But as I have connected with other moms, we are all in that boat. I still feel pretty wobbly on my new mom legs, but I’m learning to turn my heel and ignore the naysayers while I embrace the trope of people who are cheering me on.

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Ashley Bebensee

Hi! I’m Ashley, a Nebraska girl living in Wyoming. I grew up on a farm in western Nebraska, graduated with a class of 28 and ventured to the middle of the state to attend the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It was there I met the love of my life and husband, Brett. He is the most romantic, kind and intelligent person I know. And he makes me belly-laugh (truly the best kind). We have two cats and two dogs that are spoiled rotten. I am a content manager at a weekly newspaper, where I get to spend my days reading, writing, editing and designing a newspaper. British television shows, wine and caramel apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are my guilty pleasure. Shopping with my mom, going to the movies with my husband, long phone conversations with my dad and spoiling my nieces and nephews are just a few of my favorite activities. While I try to plan out all the details of life like the good control freak that I am, God is always throwing in curveballs. And so far, each of those curveballs have given me a bountiful amount of stress and love, adventure and joy, and more blessings than I could have ever imagined.

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