Yesterday I went for my first “getting-up-in-years” mammogram. (Everything was normal.) But at the front desk, the checker-inner asked me, “Are you still a [slight, almost imperceptible pause] stay-at-home housewife?”
I could see she struggled a little bit knowing how to politely ask that question in such a way that it sounded, I don’t know, you know, nice and non-judgmental. I wonder if the term selection is very, very mildly reminiscent of choosing the appropriate word for “black” colored-skin. We want to choose a word that isn’t “loaded.”
I smiled graciously and said, “Yes. That doesn’t entirely describe it, but I am.”
About four years ago I was asked that same question while checking in for a doctor’s appointment, and I squirmed and writhed so badly inside I thought my Medusa snakes would crawl out the top of my head. (No. I am NOT a stay-at-home housewife, I am a DOCTOR. You know. Just like the person I’m about to see…) Yesterday, I didn’t even notice any Medusa snakes. Nice, baby. You’re doing great!
I do not regret quitting my job to homeschool. I’m typing fast today, so I’m just going to list some thoughts in no particular order. I’m letting the editor (that’s me) have the morning off.
I like my kids. I honestly like who they are. I like challenging them to grow as people in their world. I like challenging them to express themselves and their gifts. I love hearing their thoughts, and as they get older, it is even more and more fun. They’ve learned things I don’t know and get to tell me about them. They’ve grown into their sense of humor and make me laugh; each one has a different kind.
I love sharing. I have lots of things I want my kids to learn before they leave my house. How to cook. How to fold towels. Who Lucy Ricardo is. Who Jean Valjean is. What their mom thinks about marriage and friendship. I have so many things I want them to know. So many things in my head and heart I want to share with them. This is my chance. MY chance.
I love to learn. Although with the toddler (18 months), I’m not learning alongside them as much as before, I still enjoy catching some Spanish, Latin, poetry, history and grammar skills.
This is it. They aren’t growing smaller. They’re growing older. I want them to have the peace and security of our home and love.
But what about me? This IS a hard part. I am NOT my children. My children WILL leave, and when they do, I do not want a shell of me. I want ME. So, right now, it IS hard to cultivate me. I do feel selfish for carving out time to read and write. (That’s what I like to do so much.) I do feel like a babysitter a lot of times right now, chasing the toddler around and cleaning up the kitchen floor about six times a day. THAT is hard. (I’ve never liked babysitting. Believe it or not, I’m not a kid-person. I just like people. To me, kids are people.) I am giving up a lot of myself to do this, but I cannot even explain to you how I am growing. When I recognize these feelings and emotions, I don’t sit on them and stew. That would be so bad for me, my husband, and my kids. Oh, no! I go read what I can. Find others who have been in this situation and what their perspective is. Library books, Googling the topic, reading blogs, finding books on Amazon, and talking with other moms gives me so much insight to myself. I never miss an opportunity to use uncomfortable emotions to GROW myself.
My husband rocks my world. The house is my office. My husband gets that, and he totally respects how I run our house and homeschool. (Don’t think he ALWAYS thinks I do things right. We have plenty of discussion on differing viewpoints. I don’t always win. We compromise together.) He loves me and adores me, and I can feel that. He is 100% part of this mission, and he makes that very clear to the girls and me. We’ve learned to speak each other’s love language and we both make our marriage one of the “toppest” priorities ever. With his love, support, and respect, I feel valued and legitimate. I have to admit, without this exceptionally stable, supportive relationship, I think I would have trouble homeschooling. (I also must mention, it was VERY difficult to transition to my husband supporting us 100% financially. There were a lot of “what-ifs” in my mind, and being completely “dependent” on one person disturbed me greatly. Even now, I make sure that if something should happen ever, I am ready to get back in the ball-game.) I think working on a marriage is maybe THE most important gift parents can give children. I’m still mulling that idea.
I’ve found an expressive outlet to pursue that I really, truly enjoy. Discovering my joy in reading scientific literature, summarizing it, and my joy in just writing in general has given me an identity and outlet outside of my kids and husband. The challenge, however, once I identified that, was/is finding time to do it and letting my guilt about it go. That’s still a work in progress.
Learning to tread water. Sometimes, especially when the environment becomes out of my control, I get in a hurry. I want to rush on. I want to do SOMETHING–but I simply can’t. These are treading water times. A friend presented me with this image of treading water. She describes it as an important waiting time. A time where the Powers That Be are tying up loose ends in other people’s lives so you can do what you’re supposed to do in yours. So you just have to sit tight in this boring time–this time where you wonder what’s supposed to happen next. Just tread water till it’s time to swim. I’ve found when it comes time to swim and stop treading, I know it!
Finding ways to produce order. Do you get a sense that I’m very much an orderly, controlling person? Yes, I am. A tidy house is important to me. A well-run homeschool is important to me. There are times when this all eludes my household, but I try to work with my kids, myself, and my hubby to find a rhythm and system we can honestly use to provide this needed security. Sometimes we have to try several techniques before we land on one that works. And then, a year later, that may not work anymore and we have to regroup.
I like who I am. I like who you are. I’ve become much more accepting of who I am. I’ve become much more aware of my own insecurities and the insecurities in other people. I’ve become aware of when I’m doing things for me versus doing them for some kind of show I think I’m in. I don’t have anything to prove. I’m simply here to learn to love, share, enjoy, and give, while also learning to preserve my own inner strength and core and draw it closer to God.
I will close now. Mostly, we love homeschooling. However, staying home all day, every day with the kids can grow tiresome; one sometimes starts “looking outside” the situation for what they’re missing. Society’s disrespect for child-raisers and children can weigh heavy on a homeschooling parent’s heart, especially one who “fell” from a place of power and control and respect in the workplace. Explore your heart. Take on your deep thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. Find out where you really stand, then move forward in peace.
Have an absolutely wonderful Thursday.