I have not always been a stay-at-home, home schooling mother. I was still working part time up through my third child’s birth, then scaled back to only a few times a month and eventually into total retirement from the work force. That was thirteen years ago now. My husband took on a second part time job to help replace the gap of income and to this day, it’s still difficult to make ends meet. We haven’t gone on any official vacations, we rarely go out and eat and we watch every dime. Most of our savings goes towards education, both college and grade school, and upkeep of cars and home. More recently another chunk of our income goes toward therapy sessions for our special needs’ sons – co-pay after co-pay.
During the last decade and certainly in more recent years there were plenty of times I longed to leave the home and go out to work somewhere. Why? Not really because of fulfillment, but because of stress issues – feeling overwhelmed and over burdened with difficult choices. It made several of my old office jobs look like a piece of cake! In hindsight, the most fulfilling job I had was working for the governor of Utah back in the ‘80s in the state capitol building. I did not long for anything as I recall; I use to walk up to the marble floor offices that were the governor’s and get signatures and process grant money. I had my own apartment, paid my own bills and had many friends and the run of Salt Lake City at my call. I don’t look back in regret for how I was eventually led to a new location and met the man that would become my husband and the father of our four children. But I do know that when I made those wedding vows, my life would change forever. Children would add a whole new dimension to my “fulfillment”.
Me as a baby with my mom & dad, 1960
When a woman democrat in the news recently attacked Mitt Romney’s wife for having not “worked a day in her life” basically saying she had no understanding of working class mothers outside the home, I was glad that others defended motherhood across the board. The President’s wife, Michelle Obama responded with a Tweet: “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected,".....Indeed. Thank you for saying it out loud for the American public, and possibly the world, to hear.
Some women choose to stay home, like Mrs. Romney, some mothers have no choice due to health issues (Mrs. Romney is also stricken with MS)…no matter how you dice it a mother is a mother…like no other.
Being a stay at home mother, a home schooling one at that, has been the hardest position I have held on this planet so far. Being the sole responsible party for the primary care, upbringing and education of my children is no light job description. While other women are out pursuing and furthering their careers and getting their masters and building their pyramid businesses to achieve the level of Mercedes and pink Cadillacs, I am primarily home day in and day out, attempting to make a comfortable and rich family life, baking and cooking from scratch, rearranging furniture and decorating tables and adorning walls with beautiful artwork to create a pleasant and heartwarming atmosphere, and praying morning, noon and night……sometimes with joy, sometimes in desperation; sorting through books and lesson plans to tailor a strong and worthwhile education to each child, each passing year. When not at home you can generally find me only in three locations, the grocery store, the facility for therapy for my sons, or the church. On weekends, I give my all to my church and the children that attend there, because quite frankly, I can, and somebody has to do it, because so many don’t.
When I have a chance to help another mom become a stay-at-home mom, because she wants to, and sees the value in it, I try to help smooth the way. Some mothers like to have a home business to help with income, and recently I put one such young mother on my schedule to come to my home and show her products, not only to help her, but to help myself take a much needed break and indulge in something I would never otherwise indulge in. I am looking forward to her visit with a few friends and a relaxing evening (for a change!)
Because of motherhood being attacked recently, I am introspective as I take inventory of where I am in my life and how my life has morphed…taken on a life of it’s own in the last decade. Many times I have felt totally out of control, but I am amazed at the graces I’ve been given to pursue a tough road, with some difficult issues including autism and mental health disorders…I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for this, except a mother’s heart.
My dad on his mother’s lap, with brother, 1933