Friday, June 26, 2009
I did not write this story.......
But it is a good one for all you stay at home Moms that feel a little down on yourself.
Just a few years back my grandson asked me "why I didn't work." Although I think he was only concerned with me not having enough money to buy this or that for him when we went shopping, or concerned about the time I spent alone here at the house.... it really hit me hard. After all, his Mom, my daughter, held down a full time job and was raising 2 boys and a husband.
The truth is I didn't have any idea where I would fit in another job. And when the holidays came or their Mom needed a sitter.....who would take my place....the house, the bills, the yard work were all mine. And when you become employed....they more or less own you. They tell you when to work and how long....your energy is spent on that employer's needs and family gets what the money can buy and the time that is left.
Don't get me wrong I worked outside of the home for years....I had to. Just like a lot of you have to....but I made a decision a long time ago that I was called to be a Mom first and foremost. So, I did. I never looked back. I have done part time work....I took care of others children. I took care of the elderly's homes.....did demo's in the grocery stores. As for a career, my home and family was my career and still is my career. It isn't the same now that my own children are grown but I am still there when she calls, Mom I need???? That is ok. I have no regrets for I was called to be a Mom. I think I was, and still am, a pretty good one.
Now for the story:
The phrase "working mother" is redundant.
It was the kind of splendid September day when sending kids to school just feels wrong. Fortunately, that year I was home schooling and calling the shots. Plus we were living in California, an hour from the Pacific Ocean. For all I knew, it could have been the last day of summer, and we wouldn't want to miss that. So it was off to the ocean with five children under eight¯Josh, Matt, Ben, Zach, and Sophia.
Together, we cleaned up from breakfast, prepped the car, and then gathered beach blankets, umbrella, towels, swimsuits, diapers, sunglasses, sand toys, first aid kit, sunscreen, a cooler full of snacks and drinks¯ay yi yi yi yi! Hello, motherhood; goodbye spontaneity. I loaded the assorted car seats and strapped, snapped, and buckled five wiggling bodies into Big Blue¯the 1989 Suburban we outgrew only a few years later. We were on our way.
With everyone else in school, the whole beach was ours. I staked out our territory close to the water, hauled everything down from the car, and set up camp. For five hours I served as personal valet, sunscreen slatherer, weather advisor, recreation director, swim instructor, lifeguard, EMT, food concessionaire, manners consultant, bus boy, interpreter, peace negotiator, psychologist… not to mention keeper of the lost-and-found.
Finally, I hauled everything back to the car, strapped, snapped, and buckled five sunscreen-and-sand-coated-but-no-longer-wi
ggly warm, limp bodies back into Big Blue and headed for home. The sun through the window was soothing, and the car was full of contentment. It had been a wonderful day and I was pleased with myself as a mother. Then, from the back seat, I heard Zachary clear his throat, and in his deadpan four-year-old Eeyore voice ask, "Mom, when are you going to get a job?"
"This is my job," I said, somewhat amused and just a little edgy.
Homeward bound with the kids falling asleep one by one, I was left alone with my thoughts. I began to see the beauty of Zach's question. Somehow¯even though it could be hard work and even though I had my testy moments¯my kids didn't think of motherhood as a job.
And I decided that was a good thing because it's not really a job at all, but a calling. And callings just don't look like jobs, because they require more of a person than a job requires. This is particularly true of stay-at-home mothers whose days are spent conquering mountains of laundry, creating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and kissing owies.
We live in a world where success is measured by progress, as recorded on report cards, sales reports, performance reviews, pay raises and symbolized by ribbons, trophies, and merit badges. In our lifetimes, our husbands and children will bring scores of these items home and make us proud. We'll put them in scrapbooks, sew them on uniforms, frame and hang them up for all to see.
But I don't know of any special awards for teaching a child to tie her shoe or come to dinner when called. No raises or praises when a mother drops everything to drive someone out for poster board¯"your project's due tomorrow? But it's almost eight o'clock!"
Every day this goes on with everyday moms doing everyday things¯sometimes struggling with feelings of inferiority or even worthlessness¯just being obedient to their calling.
But while motherhood can look easy (after all, it certainly is not rocket science), the irony is this: while lots of important people in important places conduct lots of important business every day, the truly most important work in the whole world is really going on at home, where the CEO is mommy.
I guess if we got disgruntled enough from lack of appreciation, we could start a Mommy Power movement with bumper stickers that say, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."
We could sue people who put us down at parties and maybe even become a protected minority.
But that wouldn't be very mommy-like, would it? Because there's something about mommies that should be soft where others are hard, kind where others are cruel, patient where others can't wait. We may not start out that way at all, but there's absolutely nothing like motherhood to change anything about us that needs to be changed.
At least, that's how it's been on my motherhood journey. I set out to make a home, to grow a family, and to help my children reach their potential.
The most amazing thing is that while I was helping them reach theirs, they were helping me reach mine.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I miss my Dad today. He was a good man, who worked hard to raise six kids. He could do anything with his hands. He loved God and taught us faith and prayer. He was patient, kind but strong; strong enough to cry when things touched his heart. He was my hero. Today I thank God for him.
Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.
This is a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul. I liked it and thought I would share it with all my Spark Friends.
My father raised me mostly by example. He was a doctor who also had a farm in the Midwest on which he raised cattle, horses and hunting dogs. I learned by watching how to work; how to handle animals and the kinds of unforeseen events that are so frequent in the life of a doctor's family.
My father took things as they came, dealt with them and, as he used to say when some obstacle had been overcome, "Let's move right along." He had a few precepts I was expected to live by, and he always referred to them by their combined initial letters: DL! DC! SDT! And DPB! They stood for Don't Lie; Don't Cheat; Slow Down and Think; and Don't Panic, Bud! I was amazed as a boy how often he found occasion to say one or another of those things.
He thought animals were splendid teachers, and he taught me to watch them carefully. One winter, a squirrel invaded our house around Thanksgiving. We never saw or heard it, but I found stashes of nuts hidden under the cushions of the couch and almost every chair. The fascinating thing is that the nuts were always one of a kind. Acorns in my father's chair. Hickory nuts at one end of the sofa and almonds in their shells¯stolen from the holiday bowl that my mother kept on the coffee table.
I thought the squirrel was very smart to sort out his larder that way. My dad said the squirrel was even smarter than I had imagined and gathered only one kind of nut at a time. And that would be much more efficient than gathering a mix and then having to sort them out.
That kind of teaching did not alter much even when I was a grown man, even to the day he died. I was thirty when he became ill on Christmas Eve. We buried him on the third of January, his coffin draped in an American flag. The United States soldier who received the folded flag from the bearers handed it to me without a word. I clutched it to my heart as my wife and I left that most sorrowful of places for the long, forlorn drive to the airport.
The world seemed darkened by his absence. There was an emptiness so great that at times I thought I could not bear it. At his funeral, the minister told me that all he had been to me still lived. He said if I listened I could hear what my father's response would be to any concern I needed to bring him. But after I left the small country town where he lived and returned to the large city where I was making my way, I never once heard his voice. Never once. That troubled me deeply. When I was worried about leaving one job for another¯something I would have talked over with my dad¯I tried to imagine that we were sitting in his barn having one of our "life-talks," as my mother used to call them. But there was only silence and the image of me alone, waiting and profoundly sad.
Although I worked in the city, my wife and I bought an old farmhouse on a few acres of land some forty miles away. It had a pond where I could teach my son to fish and a meadow where we could work our dog.
One day during the same dreadful winter that I lost my father, I set out with my young son to do a few errands. We drove out into the country to look at some antique dining room chairs I was thinking of buying as a surprise for my wife. I said we'd be home by suppertime. We had gone a few miles when my son saw deer grazing just beyond the edge of a parking lot that belonged to our country church. I pulled in the lot, turned off the engine and let the car glide as close to the deer as I could without spooking them.
A buck and three does rummaged in the snow for grass and leaves. They occasionally raised their heads and took a long slow read of the air. They knew, of course, we were there. They just wanted to be certain they were safe.
We were as still as we could be and watched them for some time. When I took my son's hand and turned around to leave, I saw a pall of smoke coming from under the hood of my car. We stopped in our tracks. Oh God, I thought, the engine is on fire. And I am alone with a child in the middle of winter in the middle of nowhere. I did not have a cell phone.
I told my son to stay where he was, and I went to the car to investigate. I opened the driver's door, pulled the hood latch and went to the front of the car. Gingerly, I opened the hood. As soon as I did, I saw that the right front of the engine was aglow with fire, and smoke was coming out of it at a pretty good clip. I closed the hood without latching it down and went to where my son stood in the snow, excited and amazed.
"Daddy, is the car gonna blow up?"
"No. But I sure have to do something, and I don't know what...."
"Snow will put it out," he said.
"Snow might crack a cylinder, too." What could be the matter? I thought. Engines just don't catch fire like that. My mind began to move irrationally. I would have to find a house along the road, call for help. I would have to call my wife, frighten her probably. There would be the expense of the tow and probably a new engine. Then as clearly as I ever heard it in my life, I heard my dad say, "DPB!"
I am still astonished that I was immediately calmed. The frantic racing of my mind ceased. I decided to see exactly what, in fact, was burning. I retrieved a stick from a little oak and went to the car, opened the hood and poked at the glowing red place on the engine. Coals fell from it, through to the ground. I could see then, sitting on the engine block in a perfect little circle¯a small collection of acorns, cradled by the shape of the metal.
I laughed out loud. "Come here," I said to my son. "Look, a squirrel stowed its treasure in our car. And when the engine got hot, his acorns got roasted."
I knocked the acorns and the rest of the glowing coals off the engine, closed the hood, put my son in his car seat and got in beside him.
When we drove away to finish our errand, I knew¯for the first time since my dad died¯that I could get on with my life. For on that snowy day in the parking lot of our country church, I discovered that his voice was still in my heart, and his lessons would be with me forever.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I don't know if this is going to talk to everyone....but there is no one who sings like Nat King Cole..... I just did a Done Girl Dance to song "Love" ...and it was a work out. Enjoy.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This is another good read from "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Since my DH just went back to work...this story spoke to my heart. Hope you enjoy.
Friendship isn't a big thing¯it's a million little things.
It wasn't that I was embarrassed my husband was out of work. The situation was what it was. It's just that we are private people and don't share our problems easily with others. So when he lost his job, we just acted like nothing had changed and no one seemed to notice.
It didn't take too long, maybe two weeks, and my kids' friends noticed that Kyle's dad was home a lot more. When asked about it, I told my good friend and neighbor, Tammy, we were out of work and looking. She then told me that her husband had been applying for graveyard shifts all over town because his company was going under. I was shocked! We were constantly doing things together and I hadn't a clue they were struggling.
I didn't feel like we were the only ones going through this anymore. I always knew that others were struggling with the economy in a downturn, but now I had a comrade to share my woes with.
Knowing what they were going through, I wanted to help them, even though we didn't have much ourselves. So, I became the reconnaissance shopper. I scour the coupons and ads, and match things up to pay half-price for many items. I call Tammy when I get done with my planning session and offer to pick up things for her at the discounted price. It seems like our money goes even farther because we are willing to share.
It goes the other way too. Tammy and her husband have given us enough wood to heat our home this winter. They have the tools to cut firewood and they did extra for us. It has been a huge help to reduce our gas bill to almost nothing.
There are other examples of helping each other. I taught Tammy how to make bread and rolls; she watches my kids when I go to job interviews; I make dessert for Tammy's family party; she drives my kid to the bus stop in a snow storm… and the list goes on.
I don't have much to give but I can give of myself. I can have charity, love, and hope in my heart, and the more I give those away, the more I get them back.
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