On Babies, Debt & Big Dreams

It’s been about a year since I got pregnant. This spring weather has me feeling so nostalgic for those few weeks where I was pregnant and totally (shall I say, blissfully?) unaware. Every day I can’t wait to read my little Timehop app and see what I was doing and it just makes me giggle. Sweet Kellie. No idea about the little person in her belly just growing away. Drinking so much coffee because she was so sleepy. Oh, the giggles. 

Finding out we were expecting a baby was a total surprise, and –in total honesty– a little bittersweet. We had just paid of the second of five of my Sallie Mae loans after paying off all of Marshall’s. We were in the home stretch of our snowball (or as Marshall saw it, more like a giant ice mountain) and I was working face to face teaching elementary school Spanish. I switched to this job from teaching high school for several reasons: less planning required since I was teaching essentially 6 lessons a week (instead of 15), less grading (okay, no grading) and no extra duties other than the occasional open house. The switch made it possible for me to use my nights and weekends to work extra jobs online to add income to our debt snowball. 

Marshall had been the driving force  (In Dave Ramsey speak: The Nerd) behind our debt-getting-out-of-palooza and he, understandably, had lost some steam after two years, paying off his car, his loans, cash flowing a ton of house projects and the down payment on a house. It was like we had worked and pinched for so long and then turned a corner to see a mountain. It was discouraging. Paying off that second little Sallie Mae loan though, was just what I needed to pick up where he left off and I was SO motivated! We literally stayed up until 3am one night in early April just talking about life and we decided that we would definitely wait to be out of debt before having kids and then, we may even try to adopt first. Decided. Done. Cool. We were powering through the next two years to pay it off, a time investment now for a future of our dreams. 

Fastforward a few weeks, and that pregnancy test took all advertised three minutes to flash “pregnant” and our plans changed. The debt snowball came to a halt and that money was thrown into savings and spent on baby things. We needed to replace the flooring to make our upstairs livable for a tiny crawling human. We needed to stockpile cash for labor and delivery costs and got the rest of the stuff off of our baby registry that we didn’t get from showers and hand-me-downs. I savored every second of my pregnancy, from the onset of first-trimester nausea, baby kicks and rolls in the middle, all the way to my swollen feet at the end. I was just filled with so much joy as we made the transition slowly from newly married to becoming a family of three. Yet, as I watched our savings grow to a number I had never seen before in a bank account that carried my name (I am ‘The Free Spirit’ of our family) I felt a twinge of remorse and starting wondering “what if”. What if we had made just one decision differently, what would our financial situation be like? Would we be out of debt even sooner? This of course prompted an onset of undeniable “mommy guilt” which I’ll save for another day…

So, now. Lincoln is here, four months old, healthy and sweet as can be. I remember putting him in his crib one of those first few weeks and looking at him, so teeny and tiny in that big boy crib. All of a sudden it was like my whole life was staring me in the face. I felt a little nudge that seemed to say: this is it. This is where it counts. I had heard people say that they didn’t remember life before their kids and at the time I could not fathom such a feeling. But now, with my new perspective, I totally get it. 
For me, it is not that I don’t remember life before (although at times I truly wonder if sleeping all night really was a thing I did for twenty seven years) but it is more like that previous life was a practice run. The stakes are so much higher now. I want every minute to count for something. I want every second to be filled with joy. I don’t want to spend my days working, working, working, just to get a paycheck just to pay my bills. I want a life.

Whereas before, I really believed our life was changed for the inconvenient, I see now that it is so much better. I now find myself dreaming with a fervor like never before. This is it. This is my life. Time passing was just dates on a calendar before, but this growing, thriving little babe is my daily reminder that time is indeed passing. Every new trick he shows me, holding his head up, rolling over, smiling, getting stuck in his crib– is time flying by! God has given me so much in this little babe, so much perspective.

The last four months have been wonderful. They’ve been difficult. They’ve been exhausting. But I wouldn’t have changed a second. I think the hardest part (besides the sleep deprivation) is just the whole transitional thing, and not really knowing what to expect. I am leaving my face to face job to teach online full-time so I can be at home with Lincoln. This is amazing. I feel so grateful to be able to work from home. Making this change throws us into some uncertainty in terms of income and cashflow, as most job changes do, and my motivation to get out of debt is stronger than ever. Since meeting Lincoln, I have been daydreaming day after day, wondering how I could bring in extra income to get this thing done. 

This brings me back to photography. I love photography. My parents got me a little Kodak film camera for Christmas when I was 8 years old I spent all of Christmas day blowing through the rolls of film they gave me. I set up different backdrops with my American Girl Dolls and took pictures of them. I could not wait to get those pictures developed! I loved a summer camp, or birthday party or family vacation that meant getting a disposable camera to take with us! And now in the digital age where number of pictures doesn’t matter? Even better! There is just something so special about life being captured in photos. I remember getting our wedding pictures back from Nancy Ray and just being in tears, reliving our sweet wedding day. Even now, I can go back and flip through our wedding album and I just feel the jitters and anticipation leading up to the moment of walking down the aisle to my now husband. I can feel the sweet breeze on my face and the nerves in my belly that made it impossible for us to eat anything. I feel the complete and utter joy of having our closest friends and family all in one place, celebrating our love. 
Now, having Lincoln and the whirlwind that was his labor and delivery (that seemed an eternity long) I am so grateful my sister was able to be there to take some pictures of the first few minutes of his life. The look on Marshall’s face while holding his son for the first time. Our first few minutes as a family of three. These images represent the biggest or happiest seconds of our life that I want to live in forever. I want to save these moments for others. I want to give them images of their happiest minutes that they can look at and savor forever. 

So, photography. I’ve tried to start a “business” before. I’ve tried having websites before. I’ve tried before. I tried to be bigger than I was ready to be. I’ve tried to be like other photographers. This time is so different. This is about being genuine. Being myself. Doing things right. Doing things slowly. Being honest in business and with myself. Doing what fires me up.  Taking pictures. Blogging. Creating. Writing. Being a photographer. I am a photographer. 

Dreaming these dreams and taking the steps to make them a reality, I just think about little new Lincoln in his crib. I want him to be proud of his mama. I want him, at my age, to look at me and my life and see that I spent my days doing something that mattered, not only to me, but to others. I want him to see that it is possible to take a dream and make it real with discipline and wisdom. I want him to see that I took a chance, and maybe I didn’t get it right the first time, but I learned, and changed and grew. I want him to know that there is nothing between him and making whatever fires him up a reality but creativity, hard work and patience. I want him to know that life is about being true to yourself, honest, genuine and hardworking. 
So, photography details are forthcoming. There will be a post outlining all the goodies that are in the works– giveaways, collaborations and more! I am so excited for all of it. Once released, details and pricing will live at the top of this page under that little ‘Photography’ tab. I am so excited. Did I say I was excited? I am excited. So thrilled to grow this little space of mine. I have so many talented and creative friends that are going to be a part of this and I am positively giddy.

Dream big, today! 

One thought on “On Babies, Debt & Big Dreams

  1. I tried to comment but I don't know if it went through… I just wanted to welcome you again to The Peony Project!!! ❤ Your son is SO cute! My little guy is almost six months old so I love finding other mamas in the same stage of live.

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