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These two girls need a lot more from their mother than most kids do, so I made a conscious decision to quit work and become a stay-at-home mother to give them what they deserve.
Mary Ann Calzada

Family Values

Mary Ann Calzada had a moment of clarity when sickness struck. She realizes her relationship with her daughters has suffered due to her career ambitions. With the support of her husband Felipe, she becomes a stay-at-home mother.

Mary Ann and Felipe Calzada had a moment of clarity when sickness struck. In February 2008, Mary Ann was hospitalized with Guillan-Barre Syndrome, a rare yet curable neurological condition. During six days in the hospital, she thought about the direction of her life.

“When I was sick with the neurological disease I felt I had to reassess what my priorities in life were,” she said. “My career as a school teacher was interfering with giving the attention my daughters Katie and Maria needed.”

Mary Ann and her husband decided she would quit her teaching job to be a stay-at-home mom, just as 5.3 million other mothers in America did in 2008. The decision meant a $60,000 loss in household income and medical benefits.

“I used to bring in over $3,000 every month,”she said. “We always had money and did not have to stress over how much money was in the bank.”

Felipe Calzada decided to get a second food prep job at Panera Bread on top of his Olive Garden job. His five-day workweek swelled to 70 hours.

“I miss my family but I know our choice is for the kid’s best interest and there is nothing I would not do for them,” he said.

A 2007 Pew Research Center survey showed more at-home moms today (48 percent) consider being home full time more the ideal situation than they did 10 years ago (39 percent).

Mary Ann’s new job as a stay-home-mom can be just as demanding as her teaching job.

Her day begins when she wakes the kids before 7 a.m. She makes them breakfast and prepares the kids for their tests or quizzes that day. Three days a week, she watches her neighbor’s kids. On those days she drops four kids off at school – she doesn’t let them take the bus.

“Sometimes all the kids can be a handful,” Mary Ann joked. ”My day just does not end. At 3 p.m. it is time to pick up the kids from school and more trips back if they forget something.”

Mary Ann also has taken on an active role in her kid’s schooling and all her children’s teachers know her. This year she has requested several parent-teacher conferences to talk about roadblocks in her 12-year-old daughter Katie’s schooling path.

“I have had problems with my oldest daughter’s resource teacher not wanting to help me hold her accountable for her failing grades,” said Mary Ann. She wanted the teacher to reward Katie’s achievements but also keep her focused on school.

Two years ago, Mary Ann’s other daughter, Maria, 10, was having a hard time understanding her teachers. Mary Ann had a hunch something was wrong.

“We needed answers so we had her tested,” she said. “Finally in September of 2011 we found out she had Central Auditory Processing Disorder and all she needed was a specific therapy to help her overcome this roadblock.”

This year Maria has had the greatest year of her life. Her grades are exceptional and she found a passion for karate.
Mary Ann Calzada chose her family over money and she has never looked back.

“The right thing requires exceptional sacrifices by parents,” she said, “but the outcome is a more positive future for our children because of our decision.”