I've been a stay at home mom for thirty five of my fifty seven years of life. In that time, I've been in the process of raising ten children. I've fostered more than fifty. My life has been anything but dull.
But most of all, it's been wonderful. I have never wanted to do a single other thing than stay at home. I don't understand people who think they have to work to be fulfilled. I do understand that circumstances can force that, although I firmly believe that making the right choices early on can prevent circumstances that make a second income necessary in almost every case. What I don't understand is people who make the choice to have children, then put them in day care because they don't want to quit their job. Yes, I've had people try to explain it to me, but it's like a foreign language. Just like I'm sure me trying to explain that being home 24/7 with my children is all I want in this imperfect world (except love the Lord, which to me, is what ties this all together) is also a foreign language. We just have to have mercy on each other.
I do love to write. I crave it all day long. My fingers itch to be at my computer, my brain swells with things I want to write. At the same time, I feel guilty if I spend too much time writing and the kids come in to find me on the computer all day long. So lately, I have taken to going to bed early, and getting up each morning around 5:30. This gives me about two hours to write before my family starts to get up. It's working well!
So this morning, I was up - well, okay, just a bit later than 5:30, but I had time to write for a while, then I took a shower. When I got out, I knew my three youngest boys - ages 17, 6 and 3 (insert smiley face here, if I had one) were up because I heard them. But when I went looking, the two youngest weren't in the house. I looked out my back door, and here is what I saw:
I'm at a loss to tell you why this affected me so profoundly, except that most mothers will understand. These two little guys, very best friends, were up before breakfast, out in the dirt, making tracks for their cars out of planks from the wood pile. Tommy's turned up shirt tail is filled with cars he had lugged outside from his room. As I watched them, it just occured to me that if I were a working mom, they wouldn't have had this time. We would have probably been in the midst of trying to get breakfast eaten and clothes changed and lunches packed so we could get out the door. This would also be true during the school year if I were not a homeschooling mom. The leisurely pace of their childhood would be interrupted by the necessity of being here or there by the clock. I'm so very grateful we don't live like that.
Even before breakfast, Tommy helped me herd chickens back into their pen so they could lay their eggs in there instead of all over the place.
We finally made it back inside, and they ate a breakfast of what Tommy calls "egg in toast" and what I think my Mennonite friends call "bird in a nest". He ate on homemade bread with eggs from the chickens in the picture above; eggs that had just been laid that morning that we found while shooing the chickens back into the barn, where they will stay until 2 this afternoon and we release them again to eat bugs and grass.
Another benefit to being a stay at home mom: my two youngest girls are sick. And I didn't spend my morning trying to find sitters while I went off to work, or worrying about my job if I stayed home. Instead, I left the youngest alone in my bed where I found her curled up, along with one of her favorite blankets:
My older one was able to spend a few quiet moments on the computer while I searched for medicine to make her sore throat and achy head better:
Yes, this messy place is where I sit to write to you all...my walls are filled with pictures and drawings and little presents I am showered with by my children.
It's not sweetness and light all the time, I will admit that. Yesterday, the little ones decided to make a tent on the back porch. In the process, they used my expensive mop bucket son Max gave me, and it fell of the rail and a wheel broke off, pretty much making it useless from now on. They also used a little jar of wood stain that I recently stained my dining room table with as an anchor, and it also fell, lost it's lid and stained a small section of the porch...
That did not make me happy, but neither did it make me bemoan my life. I remember in my pre-child days, when I did work outside my home, and the stresses that happened then very much outweighed the little things children can do or mess up.
Staying home means my fourteen year old can practice her baking skills whenever the mood strikes her:
And we like it when the mood strikes her, because we get to eat the very pretty things she makes.
It means packing up and going to grandma's to practice what we learned in swimming lessons:
This is something we need to do more of!
Staying home means doing what God made for me to do. And nothing feels better than knowing you are doing what women were made to do, keeping your home.
When I'm seventy three my youngest child will be twenty...unless the Lord blesses me with more. I think seventy three is a good retirement age. No need to get a job outside my home then, right?