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Work-at-home moms: Challenges and rewards

Cathy Alvarez, owner of Genna V Photography

Cathy Alvarez

Cathy Alvarez lives in Texas with her husband and two sons, and is the owner of Genna V Photography. She was a teacher, but started to dread day care drop-off after a few years. “Don’t get me wrong, I loved the women who took care of my babies, but after my youngest was born, I felt like I was missing everything,” she shared. She began to think about everything she was missing out on — feeding meals, singing songs, witnessing firsts and kissing boo-boos.

The couple of hours a day she was with them, plus the weekends, just wasn’t enough anymore. And when she sat down and crunched the numbers, she realized that with just a little extra income, she could stay home. As a teacher, she didn’t have a high income, and she was bummed to realize that $1,800 of her monthly budget — or most of her paycheck — went to day care. If she could dream up a way to make even $500 a month, she could stay home with her boys.

She had always loved photography and began to wonder if she could get to the point where she was getting paid to take pictures. She started out giving free sessions to build her portfolio and hone her skills. Soon, people were calling and requesting photo shoots. She began charging a little and she set up her website, and it has turned out to be more profitable than teaching was.

She soon realized that even though she wanted to work and build her business, she had to make a choice — stay home with the boys or have a very successful photography business. Of course, she chose her boys, and she photographs on the side for now, while they are still small. She utilizes naptime, nights and the weekends, and relies heavily on her husband. “If it weren’t for my amazing hubby, Genna V Photography would never have happened,” she shared. “He keeps the kids while I work in the evenings a couple days a week. He is super understanding about my desires for my business, but also my balance of being with the boys during the day. He never asks, ‘Why didn’t you do this during the day? You were home all day.’ He is my rock, financial planner and sounding board. I couldn’t do this without him, period.”

Finding time is one of Alvarez’s biggest challenges. She also really misses teaching. “I miss my colleagues and my classroom… those little faces,” she told us. “I feel like I swapped students for my own babies, though, so that gets me through.” And the rewards, again, are amazing. She is so grateful that she is getting a chance to be with her sons during these precious early years.

“I wanted to be there when they woke up from nap for some extra snuggle time, and be able to take them to the park some other time than a busy weekend, hear my little one’s first words accompanied by the twinkle in his eyes when he learned them,” she shared. “These things far outweighed being in my career right now. Will I go back to teaching? Honestly, I would love to see where this takes me. The road is mine to pave, and that is the exciting part.”

Up next: Read Jessica’s story >>

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