Today is my mother’s birthday. Fifty-seven years ago my grandmother gave birth to her. These days I think about birthday’s a little differently. After going through labor and birth myself this past year, birthdays take on a new meaning for me. And this birthday is extra special because it’s my Mom’s. My Mom is a reading specialist at a local elementary school. She loves her job and you would have thought that she had been doing it for years upon years when you see how fantastic she is with the children. But, she’s rather new to the whole teaching scene. Before teaching she stayed at home with us. She stayed at home for over eighteen years, raising four children into adulthood. I asked her the other day if she regretted staying home with us. If she ever pined for time away, in an office or doing something other than changing diapers and making playdoh? She told me that raising her four kids was the best career choice she ever made. She wanted to be there for every milestone – every tear and every laugh and every smile. She explained that of course it was difficult to only live off of one income and she tried her best to bring in money here and there when she could (like selling Avon and taking in other people’s children). But she brought us into the world and she wanted to be the one to care for us throughout our days and years. She didn’t want to miss a second of watching and guiding her children’s growth. And she didn’t.
When I was growing up I wanted to be a veternarian and then a director and then a speech pathologist. I didn’t want to stay home with kids. The media and the mainstream made staying home seem weak. Women had to do it all and so I would. As luck would have it however, I ended up working at a childcare center during my college years. I loved it. I loved working with the children and I decided to pursue a career in caring for children. Other people’s children. I became so passionate about caring for children I ended up getting a masters degree in early childhood education. But, throughout all of this education and experience working with children, I began to realize something. Something bigger than anything I had ever felt before. I would call my Mom regularly after my classes and tell her “we just learned about such and such and it reminded me of what you used to do when we were kids.” I would call her after work some days and tell her, “I used your playdoh recipe today” or “I told the kids that story you always used to tell us about the cats and they laughed so hard some of them cried.” I was slowly realizing what I really wanted to do with my life. I realized the importance of being present with children and being gentle with children. I realized how much a parent could miss when they weren’t there. I was there for many firsts in other people’s children’s lives and I knew that I didn’t want that for my own children. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be like my mother, and stay home.
I gave birth to my first baby last year. I quit my job and have started my next career- full time stay-at-home mom. It’s tougher than I expected it would be but it’s also so much more than I thought it would be. I realize being home with my daughter that you don’t have to do it all, the career and motherhood. At least I don’t. It’s hard enough being a mother and watching these baby years just fly by without having to worry about a job getting in the way. I am a stay-at-home mother and I’m enjoying the wonderful times and the rough times. I’m not sure how my own mother pulled it off with so much patience and grace, but I’m finding my way. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a career outside the home. I find times to be creative. I find times to be me. But I’m also doing what I think is best for my daughter. I get to be there for everything. I love that. Some may say I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps. And I like that. Because I think that, yes, I hope I’m following in her footsteps. She was and still is an incredible mother … and just like she knew, I know, I’m right where I should be…home.
Happy Birthday Mom.