Part of my decision to homeschool my children also meant (by nature of the job) that I am committing to remain a stay-at-home-mom, a position I quietly wrestle with from time to time. I think almost every American woman feels that tension between child rearing and going back to work because we are, in some sense, expected to do both or else we feel like we are not doing enough. Yet at the same time, trying to do both almost always makes us feel like we are not doing well in one or both areas. It is never an easy decision.
For me, I’ve really, really enjoyed being able to stay at home with the kids thus far, seven years in and counting. However, the thought of continuing to do so now for the next 10-15 years while homeschooling has me coming to terms with burying any possible hopes of a real career in the sand.
That is somewhat difficult to swallow.
Well anyways, this week, my children and I attended our summer homeschooling practicum (a sort of training week) to get ready for the year, and one day, the car was in the shop. Thankfully, the practicum happened to be less than a mile away from our house and it was a beautiful day, so the kids and I decided to walk.
We strapped on backpacks and lunch boxes, and on the way, I had lots of time to think about this whole being a stay-at-home-mom gig.
With the three kids skipping, running, prancing in front of me, I tried to envision my life moving forward and the questions kept coming.
Was I really ready to commit to this?
Then one kid stopped and threw off her shoes, fussing about the dirt that got in.
Could I really do this everyday?
Two began to bicker about who was faster.
Can’t I be more useful somewhere else at a more sophisticated job?
Another tripped and fell, causing a little blood to appear on his knee.
Yes, applying band-aid after band-aid and diffusing fight after fight, this is my life.
Then we turned a corner, and I looked up to see each little walking miracle continue on before me. The older so naturally took the younger one’s hand when getting close to an intersection and the other child hummed one of their favorite songs. They looked so big all of a sudden, so much older in a blink of an eye.
I couldn’t help but to marvel, and right away, I began to repent for downplaying the most beautiful job I have ever been given.
To be honest, I’ve recently come to dread the question of, “So what do you do for a living?”
An innocent and standard inquiry, I know. Yet somehow over the years, I have subconsciously taken this question to be a measure of how much value and worth I carry (maybe because of my insecurities) and it frustrated me. I know no one is trying to size me up by asking me what I do, but somehow I have always walked away feeling a little less-than for “just” being a stay-at-home-mom.… (although ever since I started working as a doula, I can say, “Oh I’m a doula!” and feel a little better about myself than being “just” a stay-at-home-mom).
Well, I just want to take a moment to publicly repent (and also apologize to my children) for ever feeling any sort of shame or inferiority about staying home with my kids. I confess that I have subtly felt that way many times, but I only realized this while at the homeschooling practicum where I was surrounded by tons of other stay-at-home-moms who are so passionate about what they do.
It was absolutely freeing to be there, and by feeling this way, that’s when I realized it. I felt how relaxed I was, how I did not feel the need to prove or defend myself, or how I was not ashamed of not having a paid job or some “real” profession recognized by society or my kids’ friends or I don’t even know who else.
More than anyone, however, I knew it had been my own voice telling myself that I couldn’t be THAT proud of “just” staying at home. Sure, many people praise me and genuinely affirm me about what a noble task mothering is. Yet somehow, it has always felt a bit like lip service–almost like how one might feel for being praised for being the garbage man or the person who cleans dirty toilets. Sure, they get credit for doing the dirty work, but are they truly respected?
Well, since I’ve realized how distorted this way of thinking is, I just want to say…
CHILDREN, YOU ARE NOT DIRTY TOILETS AND YOU ARE NOT GARBAGE.
I’m sorry for feeling like spending my days with you was not good enough for the world, and I’m sorry I couldn’t always be so proud of the magnificent honor of simply being with you, and I’m sorry I ever wondered if what I was doing was worth it to anyone else. That doesn’t even matter.
My children are my TREASURE… they are pure GOLD to me. I am thankful that I even have the option to be with them everyday. Not everyone does. Not everyone has that choice. But I do. I get to choose being with them and I am SO PROUD of this high honor. It will forever be my greatest “job”… to put my hands to the plow and plant seeds all day and every day in their lives, in their minds, in their hearts and to be able to see them all grow before my eyes. I really don’t know if it will be one more year or 15 more years (God willing), but for as long as I am given the time, they will be the most magnificent work I have everhad.
Now excuse me as I begin my first steps to climb this huge rugged mountain called homeschool. I’ve counted the cost and I know it will be one of the hardest things I will ever do. But I also know that when I reach the top, that I will look back on life and behold the most breath-taking, wonderful views of memories so precious and rich that it will have all been so absolutely worth it.