Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life by vanessa laurnoff

Part of cultivating a good life is not letting society or other people’s beliefs determine the right path for you and your family.

I tend to go with the grain instead of against the grain. I have gradually been shown during my adult life that it’s ok to take the path that’s not necessarily the popular choice or one that maybe people think is the wrong path for you.

After graduating from college and dating my would be husband for a bit, we got married. Then we shifted our focus to buying our house because that’s what you do after you get married and before you have kids, right? At least that was what our friends were doing and what seemed acceptable to society. Next, we had our babies. We wanted them planned — two years apart — and I was not going to be a stay-at-home mom because I worked so hard for my degree and that’s just not feasible for one parent to stay home anymore. Right?!?

Wrong!! After my kids were born, I began to see things in a new light and realize that I didn’t want to live like “everyone else.” I wanted to do what was right in our family. I went back to work for three months after our oldest was born and hated every single minute of being away from her. I know it was probably more traumatic for me than it was for her; however, I hated it. I couldn’t even talk about her for the first few days at work without tearing up. I loved my job, but I loved my baby more, so my husband and I made our first big decision to go against what we “thought” we were supposed to do. I quit my full-time job to be a stay-at-home mom. It was scary. We were losing an income and all of my friends who were becoming mothers at the same time continued to work either out of necessity or because they chose to. For me, it also felt amazing to be able to be home with our daughter all of the time and to finally make a decision that was made for just our family and what was best for the three (eventually five) of us. 

The amount of decisions we make daily is enough to overwhelm you — it does me! But knowing I’m trying to do the best I can with what I’m given for MY FAMILY only brings me peace. Many of my decisions now revolve around the kids, as that’s the stage of life we are in currently, but there are so many choices these days with how you raise your kids. There is also so much judgment. 

Many families are preparing to send their kids to multiple summer camps and activities — that are most certainly not cheap — because they want more structure to their days and want them to learn. My children will not be attending summer camps for two reasons. I want to spend the summers with them, making memories and, honestly, with only one parent working full time, we just can’t justify the expense. And that’s ok. It’s ok to not follow the crowd or do what you “think” should be done. Instead, do what your heart tells you is the right decision for you and your family. 

I have made some decisions in my life where I really wish I would have gone against the grain. Instead it ended up not being a great decision for me or my family, but I’m quickly learning how much better my life is when I make decisions based on our needs and what we desire instead of what society’s beliefs are.

Just a disclaimer. I’m not looking to start a debate on summer camps or working vs. stay-at-home moms. These were just some recent examples of going against what seems to be the norm for families in our area. What we do as a family is obviously and should be different from the way each family operates and the decisions you make based on your values and beliefs.

Vanessa is a part of our 2015 Creative Team. She and her husband Rob currently live in Maryland with their three children, Savannah, Camden, and Sawyer.

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12 Responses

  1. Tiffany says:

    What a great story! I myself am learning this through adulthood as well. High school – college- marriage- etc etc. After finally finding myself miserable at traditional jobs over and over even with a degree I now have found a happy medium and expect to be home with my kids when we decide to have them. Family and moments over things works best for my heart and family as well.

  2. Robin Gibson says:

    We too, have learned this lesson the hard way, and are taking steps to be where we want to be, have (only) what we truly need or want to have, and be doing what we want to be doing. Not what anyone else’s idea of what we ‘should’ be doing/having is. It’s very rewarding & liberating…even when it means letting go of some of those who can’t see that living these truths allow us to be our true selves.

  3. Laura says:

    I completely understand! My husband and I made the decision that he would quit his job and stay home 11 years ago after our first was born. We now have 3, ages 11, 10, and 8. We have gotten many strange looks for our decision. I especially admire my husband – he has done a fabulous job and gets a lot of odd reactions when he says what he does, especially from men. But our decision was absolutely the best for our family despite being very unconventional.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Leilanie Madriaga says:

    Love this! I’m at the point where I’m where you are. Upset I’m missing my kids life. But I know for my family we need to incomes, so I’ve decided to leave a demanding career I’ve known for 13 years for a less paying job but a flexability that allows me to be at home with my kids more and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thank you for reminding me it’s okay to do it for my family.

  5. Sue says:

    God made our decision for me to stay home – I was 3 months from having our 2nd son and returned to work one day when our 2 yo was diagnosed with leukemia. Life changer and we just started building our “dream” home based on both our incomes – but God provided and we never missed a beat. It did take me several years to find the peace that comes from being able to stay at home – but now my sons are 17(and cancer free) and 15 and I love being home when they come home from school. Trust me, teenagers need us just as much now as they did when they were little. Great share!!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have made some hard decisions about letting go to some people who were in my life. They were always quick to let me know what I was doing wrong. I have been a single mom for 6 yrs now. During that time I finished my degree, found an amazing job, and my oldest will be attending Penn State this fall on a scholarship. I guess I did something right :) It was a hard decision to go against the grain, but I believe I am a much stronger person today. With each decision I pray and I know God will show me the right path.

  7. Audrey V says:

    I am a mom at the other end of this story. My children are now 17 and 19. I was miserable when I went back to work after our first child, so I made the same decision that you did. Now, with one child in college, and one a senior in high school, I can say with complete confidence that we made the right decision. I would never have traded all of the time and memories that I had with my children for more income from a second full-time job. We have lived frugally and taken modest vacations so that we could still save for college. I consider myself rich because of the quality of our life. And we have taught our children how to budget and save money and spend wisely, a very good skill if you ask me.
    Good for you!! You did the right thing!!

  8. Peggy R says:

    Excellent life experience! I have a similar story, but on the flip side, I am now an empty nester. I still feel guilty (I’m not sure if it ever goes away!) 22 years ago almost exactly to this day, we made the choice for me to stay home and be a mom. My husband and I are blessed, and we’re fortunate to be able to make this family decision. I have never taken that for granted. Did we make the right choices? I have learned to never compare.. That was always a very hard concept to believe. I used to say I’m JUST a mom… Now I know I was, and always will have the title of being someone who raised two incredible human beings. I’m Kyle and Holly’s mom!

  9. Ruth says:

    I’ve been a SAHM for 8.5 years and I have no desire to re-enter the world of paid employment again. I have found my contentment … and yet I still feel embarrassed to tell people that I am a SAHM and that I love it. Other people’s expectations bring a lot of pressure and it’s time I learnt to say what I do without adding a qualifying comment or two. Bravo, you!

  10. Susan says:

    As a physician having my first child 28 years ago, I had no role models of women taking time off to be with their children. But the book “Sequencing” (by Arlene Cardoza) helped me realize that there are different seasons to life, and being home with our three young kids was a priority to us. I was later able to work one day and much later two days a week. I also changed to a less taxing specialty so I wouldn’t have to be on call. My husband also cut back his hours, earning less but being home more. This worked for our family. Find what works for you, and don’t look back.

  11. Amy Van Eeuwen says:

    This works for us with any kind of decision. Whose family to spend the holidays with? Do we spend the night somewhere or not? Do we participate in activities just because friends or family are doing it? It is hard to do whats best for one’s family when it goes against the grain. My husband and I are our own supporters.

  12. I agree about summers, we do not do swim team or any other huge , time consuming event, we spend all our time together, I want summer to be about us, I don’t even want them to go away for camp, I love our lazy mornings and just being home. The two older boys will go to camp this summer, but I would be just as happy if they did not, so while they are gone, the two little ones and I have planned a great adventure.