thoughts on daily life within our family of SIX....each child in her own phase of childhood....

Saturday, March 29, 2008

This is Why I Am Not Currently Employed

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.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let Me Introduce You to My Beautiful Daughter....

Once, when I was eighteen or so, someone told my mom that I wore my hair and clothes this way so that I could be the polar opposite of her. I think that person was slightly mistaken on my reasoning, but whatever the case, sometimes a mom just has to wonder where their daughter got that funny DNA! (At other times, we know darn well where; we're just hoping that nobody else knows where!)

So now I have my own pre-teen daughter. Thank goodness she is not yet into make-up or "dreamy boys" (at least out loud) or any of that other stuff. (In fact, I frequently have to send her back to the shower to wash her hair better or to actually let soap and water touch her armpits. My daughter still loves dolls and loves to play outside on the swingset and trampoline.

But, things have begun to change ever so slightly. Last week, she denounced the color pink, saying, "I just don't get what little girls see in pink!" (Of course, pink, purple and peach used to be her favorite colors.) In the past couple of days, she's posted this notice on her door: "Tomboys Only". In the lower corner, she's written, "tea parties....ugh!"

Just a little while before I noticed this sign, I overheard a conversation between her and her 6 year old, girly, sister.

11 yo--I love blue and green and brown. Rebecca loves black. It's good to be a tomboy and do things that boys do.
6 yo--Yeah, I'm a tomboy, too.
11 yo--Tomboys like to play outside and get dirty and all of that stuff.
6 yo--Me, too. I like that stuff.
11 yo--We don't like pink.
6 yo--Yeah....
11 yo--And we definitely don't like tea parties....
6 yo--Well, I don't know...I really like tea parties.

And that let the 6 year old out. She so wanted to be like the big sis. But, that tea party bit. She just couldn't concede to that. So, I guess the little one is my girly girl a little longer.

Back to the introduction. My daughter is now a tomboy. And, while I am certainly no clothes horse, we definitely have very different senses of style. If I enforce my "must wear a dress to church" rule, which I usually do, she's very likely to come down in her fancy black dress with the net underskirting, white bobby socks and black mary janes which have been tattered and torn from repeatedly tugging at the straps to get her feet out and which have no heel due heel-walking across the blacktopped parking lot at church. Oh, and from wearing them to school and being a tomboy. On the playground. The finishing touch is the white, warm-up suit jacket with the navy blue piping. (Once, when she came down wearing another equally amusing outfit, I took a picture of her to save for later. You know, when she has her own children and she just cannot imagine what they were thinking when they put that on. But then, my computer crashed and that picture was forever lost. Hmmmm....)

Something else has changed in her personality, and this is big. No, I mean this is really BIG. Just two days ago, she threw...I can barely type the words....she the wind. PRINCESSES!!!!!! TO THE WIND! We were driving home from school, and as she was sitting next to me (she can sit next to me now because she's almost as tall as I am!), and she actually told me that she didn't really like princesses anymore. Followed by a very dramatic, "They're always saying, 'Oooohhhhh, look at me!!'" What is THAT???? (I thought that was my daughter's mantra, by the way.)

Then, last night? Last night, my hubby was working, and I took the kiddos to the movies. We saw "Alvin and the Chipmunks", which the older two had already seen, but you know...the experience of the theater (dollar theater)....ahhh, the experience (buttery, sticky floors, squeaky seats, hand sanitizer....) We all sat together enjoying the experience, but during the movie, I looked over past the little guy toward my oldest daughter. Where was she? In the dark, in that sea of little people of varying heighths, I saw the silhouette of my tall, beautiful daughter who laughed just as much as all of the others there, but who really is no longer one of them. She, blissfully unaware of this fact, ate popcorn by the handfuls and guzzled her rare treat of a Coca-cola while mesmorized by the screen. But her mother...I couldn't turn back time. I already knew what I'd like to forget...for just a little longer.

Wordless Wednesday

Our own little classroom....This lesson? Mmmmmmmm and not mmmmmmmm.....