I used to live in a big house, I was a working mom while hubby stayed home with our daughter, and I spent money on anything and everything.

What in the world happened to me?

Reality, I guess.

I loved working at my job until my daughter was born. After that, I spent everyday wishing I was home with her instead of at work. I didn’t care what it took, I wanted to be home with her. And here I am. 1500 miles away. A lot less money. 2 kids. A simple life. And a lot more happiness than I ever imagined.

I have to remind myself sometimes of what life was like then. I got up at 6:30 everyday to be at work and I was home by 5 to see our daughter for a few short hours before bedtime. I had to hear about first roll-overs and first smiles and first steps and first words from my husband. I had to miss so many things.

While I was missing those things, I was filling my life with other stuff I thought I needed to be happy. I shopped all the time for new clothes, I spent a lot of money on food, travel, whatever my heart desired really. I thought all those things were making me successful, envied, wonderful, fabulous and happy but they weren’t.

I lived in a big stark house with white walls that I didn’t have the time or energy to decorate and put any effort into. I just went to work and came home for dinner and sleep.

Today, I have found that not only being with my daughter and now my son too, has brought me the happiness and fulfillment that I expected, but I have found so many other wonderful things along the way.

I now live by the beach. I used to hate the beach. All that icky salt water? Not for me. I grew up vacationing at a lake in Upstate NY and spending my summers in Algonquin Park in Canada. I was a lake girl. No need for the ocean. Now, here I am living just a few short miles from the wonder that is the Atlantic Ocean. I love that I have within my reach something so vast and amazing. I love that I can go somewhere that immediately feels like a sweet escape even if it’s only 3 miles from my home.

I live in a small house, one that oozes love and charm and character because I have the time, energy and desire to make it that way. I have learned from this home to appreciate so much, and that living simply is living beautifully.

I am not who I was 2 1/2 years ago when I left my job. The job that made me feel important. The one that paid our bills. The one that was entirely thankless and I was forgotten the day I walked out the door. The job I do know is very much a thankless one too, but I think in the years to come the kids who don’t know it yet will appreciate all that their parents do for them today. I am fortunate enough now to have a hubby who is pretty good at telling me how lucky he is to have me raising our kids and making sure they grow up happy and healthy.

So much in life is unexpected. My life today is completely that – unexpected. But appreciated and valued. It’s worth more than any paying job I could do.

So, what happened to me? My kids happened. This move happened. This house happened. And I couldn’t be more grateful.