When I was growing up, I wanted to be a vet. And then a psychologist and an author. I never wanted to be a mom who stayed home with her kids. In fact, in my mind, that was for women who had nothing else to offer. Except wanting babies. And that seemed like a real weakness to me--to want babies more than any other accomplishment in life. I mean, really. I wanted to DO SOMETHING. Something that MATTERED.
Then I finished growing up (physically, anyway) and woke up to find myself a teacher. I really enjoyed my job and spent myself totally on it. I worked hard and often stayed 'til 10:30 or 11:00 at night making things to help my students learn better. It really was the definition of who I was. The closest thing to a miracle that I could do was to teach a child to read. And it was an amazing feeling!
But then we had our first child. Talk about a miracle! And leaving her to teach other people's children was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do. I wanted to be there to teach my child things that only I could and to love her the way that only I could. I wanted to be at home doing something that MATTERED most. But there was just no financial way that I could stay home with her then.
However, since my second kiddo arrived on the scene, I've been able to be home to raise our children. And it's been because I've been blessed enough to have a wonderful husband who believes in that gift to our children, too. I'm not perfect at it. And sometimes I get really sick of doing things like laundry and cooking and picking up and telling somebody to do something fifteen times. I mean, Holly Homemaker I am not. And sometimes, I miss the accolades that I got from parents and co-workers. But now I'm home to love my kiddos and teach them as only one who loves you this much can. And hugs from little arms and cries of, "You're the best!" are infinitely better than my "Teacher of the Year" award or perfect evaluations.
Now, sometimes I substitute in my daughter's class. When I sub, Little Guy (2) goes to child care downstairs. Mid-morning, his little group goes outside to the playground right downstairs from the 5th grade classroom. I get the chance to look down and see my little man in action. A couple of months ago, I looked down and saw him amidst a sea of two year olds. He was crying. Red-faced, hand to the mouth crying. He stood next to the teacher who made no visible attempt to comfort him. He stood next to her and continued to cry for the entire time that they were outside. He needed his mama. I know that some would say that he'd toughen up. He'd get used to being away. But I'm glad that he doesn't have to. One of the best gifts I can give to him is a solid foundation of love. One day he will have to go out to slay dragons, bring home the bacon, and all of those things where he will, undoubtedly, encounter people who are "not nice". He'll have to take care of himself. But he needs that foundation of knowing that he is not alone in this world. His mom, his dad and his entire family are for him.
I'll leave you with a sappy little poem that I received on the Mother's Day before I delivered my firstborn. The poem has hung on my fridge since then. It's a little corny, but it always reminds me of my purpose when I start comparing myself to someone who is amazingly successful in this world. I can never finish it without tearing up.
There are certain dreams I cherish
In the channels of my heart
That somehow seem more important
Every time a new day starts.
It's a feeling that comes to me
And can always top all others---
How to make myself successful
As a good, outstanding mother.
I may climb life's highest mountains,
I may gather wealth and fame,
They may list me with the greatest
Of the well-known, highbrow names.
But it all would have no meaning
If the test I didn't pass
And I failed to be successful
With my little lad and lass.
They are precious gifts God gave me
Just to make my life more bright,
And 'twill be my best ambition
That I set their footsteps right.
It's the one job that I dream of
And the biggest of all others
That I've got to be successful
As a good, outstanding mother.
Ruth J. Baker
In some ways, my life has changed 180 degrees since childhood. Somewhere during biology class, the dream of being a vet faded away. My B.S. is in psychology, but the closest I ever came to that was some very unimportant social work. And, well...I'm certainly no author. I'm not sorry that I didn't do any of those things that I dreamed of growing up. God has blessed me with another, bigger dream. But I do live the most important part of the old dream now. Every day, I get to do something that really matters. I pray that I am successful.