Choosing to leave behind a career to raise a family can be a challenging, terrifying, difficult decision. The financial uncertainty, the need to create a new identity that doesn’t involve working in an office and the feeling that you are not as valued to others once you no longer have “a real job” can sometimes prevent mothers from being willing to consider it as a viable option. In this series we will explore mothers who have made it never having to drop their kids off in a day care and here to provide inspiration to those of us who want to stay home, but feel somehow that we can’t or shouldn’t. If you need proof that it can be done, read on and stay tuned for more like this!
Cherie Riley is a successful SAHM with three children from ages 15-22. She was able to create a solid and stable home for her two boys and daughter while earning money to help the household income stay afloat while never once having to enter into the standard workforce or put her children in daycare. She is a rare breed these days, someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to stay home with her children and the first in what will hopefully be a long inside look to some of our mamas who have made it work while not working. Here’s her story, as she tells it:
“Ok, so here’s my story.
I became a mom to a beautiful 4lb 12oz little boy in 1991 at the age of 23. 18 months later his sister was born. Married at 22, being mom to two within three years was not my ‘plan’; but God knew better and had a plan of His own for my life. I had gotten married with the intention of finishing school, getting a degree in theatre and performing for a few years before we started a family. When my son was born my husband started working for the Sheriffs Dept. This was a great blessing to our family. We now had insurance and a regular income. My daughter was born only 18 months later. Even with the stability of my husband’s job, finances always seemed to be an issue. I never wanted to work outside the home but felt I needed to do something and my husband couldn’t work anymore than he was. My mom watched my two small children, as I worked a Christmas season. By the end of the season taking into consideration expenses and time away from home, it was clear that working outside the home was just not worth it.
By this time my daughter was 2. Another factor in our lives, was my husband was a Riley and his family owned an operated Riley’s Farm & Orchard and Riley’s Log Cabin Farms in Oak Glen, Ca. Being a part of a family farm gave me the opportunity to run a bakery during weekends at my husband’s family farm. This was a seasonal business and began as a weekend commitment. My children came with me dressed in costume, watched by a ‘nanny’ on the farm. This was a great option to the traditional workplace. I was able to be with my children every day. We began to homeschool and ‘Apple Season’ was our ‘Summer’.
In 1997 I became pregnant. Our God-timed family planning made it impossible for me to work the hours required for managing a bakery. By this time, it had become a 40-60 hr. workweek and with my husband in his own career away from the farm, it was impossible for me to continue to work the bakery and ‘stay home’ with my children as I believed was imperative. It was very difficult to turn over the business but I knew leaving was the best decision for my family.
Over these few years in my free time I was taking costuming classes, and sewing lots of little costumes and clothing. My goal was to make historical clothing for my family to wear at our farm events. Theater performance was always part of my life, so the melding of historical clothing with theatre costuming seemed natural. Instead of being asked to perform in local theatre I was being asked to costume historical theatre productions. At first this was purely part time and done by project. My children would accompany me to rehearsals, theatre costume shops and became the ‘mascot’ children of many productions. I realized right away that the costumer actually was a paid position, even in small local theatre. This meant I could make a few extra dollars to help with the family budget.
Another part of this story also includes teaching. As I mentioned before, my husband and I were committed to homeschooling all three of our children from K-12. This was just a part of our lifestyle. I took every opportunity to make an educational lesson out of life. When my oldest son was in Jr. High I was asked to teach homeschool drama classes for a homeschool campus. This was a part time job, two days a week for 6 hours each day that afforded me the opportunity to teach classes for all ages, bring my children to the campus with me where they also participated in the classes.
In 1999, I opened a cottage business in my home where I could make custom clothing and costumes for private clients, theatres or groups. This has been a very slow growing business but as my children have gotten older I have been able to dedicate more time to my business. When my oldest son started college I started an online program and within two years finished my BA in Organizational Management with a concentration in theatre.
Finishing my BA has enabled me to work as an adjunct professor at Cal Baptist University and Mt. San Jacinto Jr. College.
Today my oldest son is a senior at Biola University, my daughter is a 4th year sign language student and is working on her interpreter’s certificate, and my youngest son is a freshman in high school. I design costumes for Cal Baptist University and teach as needed. Still only working away from home 2-3 days a week for anywhere from 2-6 hours each day. Some weeks I do have longer days but I work longer days in order to work less days. The work I commit to is by project and very flexible.
The most important thing to remember is that no amount of money can replace a minute with your precious child. As they grow their needs will change but they still need you there, to talk, listen, share, and experience life with them. “
Do you have a story to share?? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me at The Cautious Mom on Facebook to share your story and we can post it as a guest blog! We NEED more stories from mothers who made this happen for them to show others that it’s possible.
Update – Cherie Riley has continued to follow her entrepreneurial spirit by shifting from making wedding gowns to making weddings! She is now focused on building her wedding coordinating business; Cherie Riley Weddings. Check her out HERE.