Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To be, or not to be?

And the answer for me is: To be a stay-at-home mom.

I have a confession to make, one I hope that doesn't offend anyone. Before I had children, and maybe even after Kennedy was born, I thought stay-at-home moms were lazy. I had this horrible misconception that these ladies were sitting on their behinds, allowing their children to watch television all day and night, all while I was busting my butt at a job, cleaning house, cooking supper and running my child to and from various activities.

Fast forward to 2006 when Preston is born. I had to make the tough decision to go back to work or stay home. I cried as I searched for child care and declared I wasn't going back to work, but I couldn't let go of my pride and three months after he was born, I went to work. I quit that job soon afterward to, in my mind, compromise and find something that allowed me to spend more time with my children while contributing to our household income. I did find something - a job at the local college, where I had a schedule that allowed me, at first, to be off each Friday, and the last couple of years I adjusted my hours so I could leave early and pick up my children from school and run, run, run them to their respective activities.

When I became pregnant with Bennett, Ryan and I were faced with the reality that child care expenses for three children and the time I would need to spend away from home to complete my job at a level with which I would be satisfied, wasn't worth the extra income. And this month, I turned in my notice at the college where I worked for five years.

I can't begin to explain to you the relief and joy I felt from this decision, which certainly wasn't an easy one for me. I blame growing up with a single mom, but until I had children of my own, I never aspired to be a stay-at-home mom. I pride myself on my independence and the thought of not contributing to our household income has always bothered me. And I will admit, I have always had big goals for myself and for my career, that I have yet to reach and may never fulfill. This has often been a source for disappointment for me and has caused me to ask myself on many occasions (only with regards to my career), "Why can't you do any better than this? Aren't you smarter than this?" Oh, and I thought that staying at home was me being lazy (I chew on those words every day - I'm more tired today than any day I spent at my desk).

It wasn't until last year while having a conversation with my friend, Sara, that I came to realize what is truly important and that maybe the goals I set for myself aren't exactly the goals that God has for me. I was telling her about how each time I plan to further my education (i.e., return to college for a graduate degree), I find out I'm pregnant. Her response to me was something like, "maybe this is God's way of telling you that your job is to be a momma."

{Gulp.} What? Just a momma? For the past year I have thought about our conversation numerous times. It has taken me a while, but I now realize that this job, my position as a stay-at-home mom, is exactly the one for which I have been searching. Once I gave up my pride as a do-it-all, working mom (at least I tried to do it all), I have found this to be my most fulfilling role yet. It feels so good to be the one teaching life's lessons to my children, changing my baby's diapers, providing meals (and not McDonald's, much to Preston's disappointment) and cleaning my own home (seriously ... sort of).

Today I find myself extremely thankful for the opportunity to be at home with my children. I am grateful for my conversation with Sara, and for Ryan, who realizes just how important it is for me to be with our children. And I share all of this with you, why? Because I am sure there will be days that I will need a reminder of just how grateful I am and should be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to school

It seems that each year, as the new school  year begins, I am reminded of just how "big" my children are becoming, but this year is a little different.

Kennedy and I had a conversation last week about the see-saws at school and in my mind I was thinking, "Why do you want to play on the see-saws? Aren't you too big for that?" But reminded myself that she is only eight years old. With a new baby in the house it is so easy for me to forget that she too is just a babe. This morning I watched her, a third grader, walk into her school beside a fifth grader, who appeared to be a giant beside my little girl. Kennedy looked so small and I almost burst into tears thinking about my "little" girl and how fast the past eight years have gone by.

I often take for granted her independence and maturity. She helps so much with Bennett and Preston - from buckling the baby in his car seat to helping Preston with his shower, and for these things I am so grateful, but I hope that I can encourage her to enjoy being "only eight" at least until she is "only nine."

Preston started kindergarten this year, which isn't much different from last year's pre-K, but still serves as a reminder that he is growing up. I am so grateful for the little things that show me he isn't completely independent, even though he demanded that on the third day of school I drive up and drop him off at the door ("just like you do for sister"). This morning I had to tie his shoes for him (a lesson I failed to teach this summer and must do very soon) and every night he asks to be tucked into bed with three songs and a prayer. Is it wrong to say I enjoy the 30 seconds it takes for me to tie his shoes, which he spends with just me during the hustle of our morning routine?

I admit that I am often wishing my children would hurry up and learn to do something, lots of times it is such a petty need, that makes them more independent. This year I am making it my goal to slow down and enjoy the little things that make them who they are and encourage them to not grow up too soon. I feel certain that it won't be long before I miss being needed to complete what currently seem like mundane tasks.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our Beach Vacation

Last week we packed up our things and headed south to the beach. We all had a great time and enjoyed some much needed quality time with Ryan. Bennett was excellent on the beach and in the car. Now we're counting down the days until we can go back.