Waxing Nostalgic: the thoughts of a recovering Stay-at-Home Mom

My Rock and dream maker

I was blessed enough to be a stay-at-home mom for 17.5 years. It was a time I could commit my time to family and home. It was a time that I cherish and as I sit at my desk, working, I began waxing nostalgic.

I now work for a church camp. Not only do I handle the marketing and communications for the camp, I am also the camp registrar. During this time of the year, I am busy inputting data, getting families and individuals registered for summer camp.

In the six seasons that I have been registering campers, I have never had the memories pop up as they have today. Today, I share with you, the joys of motherhood, being a wife and managing a household.  As in most memories, they are probably more glitter than actuality. BUT…

Our two children are presently 22 and 19. In less than two weeks, we will no longer have any teenagers in our home. We have been through many happy times and many trying times. Being a parent is not easy, but it surely is rewarding.

The church camp where I work, is also the church camp that our children attended. Camp Fontanelle, a United Methodist Church Camp, is located just 23 miles from our home. It is peace and quiet and yet full of activity. It was the place we sent our children to build on the faith lessons we taught our children at home and what they learned at church.

There are camping sessions starting in pre-school when a camper goes with an adult. Our son, started his camping journey when he was three years old. He attended camp every year, for 11 years, only missing twice, the year we were in Spain and his senior year because camp conflicted with his work at a Boy Scout Camp.

Our daughter started camp when she was four years old, only missing when she was three. She made up for it and attended two camp sessions her junior year and her senior year.

As I was typing in camper information for the 2018 camp season today, I started remembering and a rush of feelings came to the surface. I remember sitting with my children asking them which camp they wanted to attend (Not if they wanted to attend, but which camp.) I remember filling out the forms and getting the dates on my calendar. I remember trying to coordinate the kids going to camp the same week so I would have a break and a chance to get some projects done around the home.

I remember driving the kids out to the camp and standing in line to get them checked in, giving them a hug goodbye and knowing that they were going to have a wonderful time at camp. At camp, there is that opportunity to meet people you would never have the chance to meet; it’s a place where you can find peace and joy and love. One of my daughter’s best friends was met at camp. They never would have met if it weren’t for Camp Fontanelle

I am sure that over the 16 years I had children at camp, it was not always bright and sunny on check in day, but that is what I remember. I remember the sun shining and everyone so happy to be at camp.

Camp is a place for your children to learn independence in a controlled atmosphere. At church camp, it gives the campers an opportunity to learn about God and friendships in an atmosphere that is fun and yet very spiritual. I am so glad that we were able to give our children that experience.

There are many things I miss now that I work fulltime+. I miss doing laundry on my time, not just when I can fit it in. I miss the joy of cleaning the home and seeing the floors sparkle and the carpet soft from a fresh vacuum.

Now I clean the floors and vacuum the carpet out of desperation because it hasn’t been done for awhile. (I have never been one to wash windows, so I cannot bring up the glisten of a freshly washed window!)

I do take the time to bake and make a meal but it is a lot less frequent. My joy of baking and cooking obviously is stronger than the joy of seeing a spick n span home!

And how was it that I was able to stay at home for 17.5 years? It was because of the sacrifices that were made by my husband. He and I made the conscious decision to have me stay at home. That meant that he had a job which took him away from home. He traveled to clients. Right after our daughter was born, he started traveling every other week for two years.

Imagine the sacrifice of not seeing your toddler son ( 29 month old) or newborn daughter(2 month old) grow. But he felt it was worth having me at home, being the mother and not have our children in daycare fulltime.

When the kids finished first and third grade, we decided to homeschool. Homeschooling allowed us to take our children to museums and travel to places where their dad was working. It gave them the chance to see parts of the country that would not have happened if they were in public school. It was because of Kent’s sacrifice that we could homeschool.

Now, I may have been able to stay a stay-at-home mom but for two reasons: 1) I wanted our children to experience everything so I spent too much, got into debt and I needed to get myself out and 2) my husband was worried that if I didn’t find something to do before the youngest graduated, I would find myself depressed and not worth much, because I had not taken the time to fill what would soon be empty spaces in my life.

I have a love-hate relationship with my job. I absolutely love what I do and I know that I have a chance to make a difference in people’s lives by my work at camp. I enjoy the staff and the volunteers and the buzz of summer camp is life-changing.

But I miss reading for relaxation, making quilts and having a clean home everyday. I miss gardening and weeding and I miss canning the bounty from the garden.

The saying goes that you miss what you don’t have! It is true, there is so much I miss from my “previous” life.

I can never truly express how thankful I am for being able to be 100% focused on being that wife and mother for those 17.5 years. I don’t show my gratitude enough to my husband for all the he gave up so I could be at home. I have had a chance to live both lives and there are things in both that I relish.

I am coming up on my fifth year anniversary at Camp Fontanelle as an employee. I still have not been able to say that I have this life under control. I keep saying that some day I will be back gardening and canning. I keep saying that I am going to get these two lives meshed together so I can have the best of both worlds. That has yet to happen. I am still a work in progress.

As I get older, I find that I do not have the energy to work from sun up to sundown. I have to have down time. My husband will tell you that many nights, I fall asleep on the sofa before it is time to go to bed. There is just not enough time in the day and I do not have the stamina I once had.

I wish for everyone, the opportunity to live a dream-whatever that dream is. I did live my dream-I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I am now living a new dream, using my God-given talent to help people connect with God in nature. It is a ministry that warms my heart.

The next step is to find the balance between the two. But until that happens, I will wax nostalgic, bake/cook and clean the floors when it is out of desperation. Oh, and maybe I’ll start gardening this spring!

Christmas2002

2003 Christmas

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2017 Trip to Spain

 

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In Today’s World, Where do I fit in?

The election is done! The inauguration has happened and yet, people are still wailing and moaning and decrying that ‘This is not my president!’

This past weekend, the women’s march continued to separate our nation. If you didn’t support the march, you’re a Trump supporter (not meant to be a compliment), or against human rights, or uninformed.

Words which, at one time, were derogatory, are now a badge of honor. What has happened to us? What does our future hold when people are fighting so hard to show that they know more than you, or worse, that you know nothing?

Not that a college degree necessarily conveys intelligence, but I have a college degree, many life experiences, common sense and yet, I have had people speak AT me as if I had not a brain in my head. And generally, the people who speak that way to me are of a different political affiliation. Because I chose not to support Hillary Clinton, I am treated as if I am ignorant.

For the record, I am a strong woman, intelligent, well-informed about many things and I chose to not support Hillary Clinton because I viewed her as weak. I chose to not support Hillary Clinton because I believe she gave the sacrament of marriage a bad name when she chose to turn her head to her husband’s continued philandering. I chose not to support her because she supported a man who abused his authority and denied having sex with a White House intern.

I think there was a recent incident where a television CEO stepped down for sexual harassment, not sexual activity, but words! I am not condoning what this CEO did (it was very wrong) but he received a much harsher punishment than Bill Clinton. Some may say, ‘Well, that was years ago!’ You are correct, but Hillary Clinton remained married and publicly supported her husband when allegations were purported and his affairs continued.

I also chose not to support Hillary Clinton because I feared government would continue to brainwash people by offering them ‘the fish’, instead of teaching them to fish.

I believe government has worked to make people dependent on government support.

I believe that people should work hard to be independent of government handouts.

I believe the premise of smaller government.

I believe, that while we need immigration in this country, we need to know who is coming into the country and immigrants should be documented. AND, if you are in the country without going through the proper channels, you are illegal.

I lock my doors at night so people I don’t want in my home, don’t enter without my knowledge. And if you lock the doors to your home or your car, then you too, should want to know who enters our country. If you can honestly say you don’t mind who comes and goes from your home without regard, then maybe you can truthfully say you don’t mind not knowing who comes and goes from our borders.Think about it people!

But where do I fit in to this world? And this is maybe why people don’t think I have a brain in my head…my lifelong dream is to be the best mom, best wife, best housewife that I can be. While my life is not defined by these things, these are very important to me. And that seems to be a rare dream these days.

When I went off to college, my dad said to me, ‘I don’t care if you are going to college to get your MRS degree; one of the big reasons for college is to learn to be independent in a protected atmosphere.’ My mom said to me that it is fine if I want to be a wife and mother but I need an education to fall back on if something should happen and I never marry or my husband dies at a young age.

I met sexual harassment in my younger years when I didn’t get a promotion because I wouldn’t date the boss. I felt the stab of harassment when inappropriate comments were made about my breastfeeding by a superior. I felt betrayed when a supervisor looked at his superiors and blamed me for something that was not my fault. In private, he apologized and in his apology, he told me he wasn’t willing to take the heat, so he threw me under the bus. I left that meeting, called a friend and had another job in a different state before my lunch was over. Did I really want to work for someone like that?

So don’t think that I am uninformed or sheltered. What did I think about these experiences? First of all, I thought the men were idiots! Secondly, I was not scarred for life. I still think these men are idiots but I know that I am in control of my attitude and ultimately, I control my destiny.

In the different jobs I have had, there has not been the opportunity for me to experience unequal pay.Well, maybe, I don’t know, but I have never been unhappy with what I was paid. If I was unhappy, I took my complaint to my superior and presented my case for needing a higher salary. I feel like if you are happy with what you make, what difference does it matter, what other people make? If you were happy with your salary and then found out that someone else makes more, then all of a sudden your aren’t happy? If you were happy before you knew what someone else makes, why does knowing make you unhappy? (I know I am repeating myself. I am confused. If you feel valued and feel your salary is fair then that’s that. If you don’t feel you are getting paid what you deserve, then deal with that. What someone else makes shouldn’t matter. These days, it is pretty easy to find what the going salary is for any given career.)

I spoke with my husband about unequal pay and he has never seen that either, in his career. His career with the state and then in private manufacturing for 20+ years, had both men and women with equal pay for equal qualifications. So I am curious as to what careers, when qualifications are equal-equal, have men making more than women? In this, I can claim inexperience, because I have never seen it.

Remember…my family and home are the most important for me. So I don’t want to be married to my job. I want to look at my supervisor and tell him that my child needs me and I need to leave and take care of my child.

I need to have the flexibility, in my job, to take care of things which can only be done during regular business hours. I am the manager of my home and family. Even though my children are in college, I still schedule their doctor visits; I manage calendars, bill-paying and home cleaning. I am the one who generally handles getting vehicle maintenance done.  I manage the house and manage the family.

You can either pay someone to do those things because you are married to your job, or you have a career which offers flexibility. This may also may mean, you don’t make as much money! That is a trade-off which I am willing to have.

Remember…my family and home are the most important for me. I am married and so my situation may be different from others. I believe that, as a couple, decisions need to be made as to the roles in the home. As a couple, this is the role in which we have agreed; my husband is (kind of) married to his career, which means I take on almost all of the home responsibilities.

That meant that I was the one who stayed up with the kids when they were ill because I did not have to go to the office in the morning. It was my responsibility to get the kids to the bus stop. It was my job to do the grocery and clothing shopping. I was the children’s taxi, not my husband. His job was to make the money, so the home could run smoothly. I took over mowing the lawn until a riding lawn mower was purchased and the kids got old enough to mow. But, when I went to work full-time, outside the home, my husband started helping with household chores. That is what happens when you are married, you work together for the betterment of the family.

I do not believe I have experienced discrimination as a female, to the extent that I feel mistreated, dehumanized and/or devalued. Do I have the intelligence, stamina and ability to become a successful career person? ABSOLUTELY! Is that a goal in my life-ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I am ME! Don’t put me into some generic category and label me because you think you know who I am. I had a man tell me that, as a Republican, I did not believe in the welfare system or environmental causes and that I was all about what I could do for me! When I told him that I volunteered in the schools, and the community, and my church and that I donated money and items to numerous organizations (including my church) and that I recycled and have lived in an energy-efficient home since 1991, his only come back was that churches were awful places (with many expletives in his comments). He could only cuss at me because I was doing more to help my world than he could imagine doing himself. He was all talk and very little action.

You know, in the scheme of things, it doesn’t make much difference how I fit in this world or how other people view my life. Yes, I get frustrated when people try to peg me into their square hole, or don’t try to understand who I am. Yes, I get furious when I see people trying to see around the log in their eye to pluck out the splinter in my eye.

I try to be a good person and as I have gotten older, I have been trying to be more understanding of others and less judgmental. I think sometimes, I am more understanding and more accepting than some people who are trying to get that splinter out of my eye. (I know, that is being judgmental!)

But here is the deal, I only have to justify myself to God, not to my neighbor, the person down the street, or anyone on Facebook. I live my life as honestly and godly as I can and people are just going to have to accept it. If I don’t fit well in this world, maybe it is because I am trying to work towards an eternal life after this one is over, where we will all get along and there will be no need for protests, marches or presidential elections.

 

The Power of a Woman – Part 2

I believe that God puts you in positions, or provides opportunities, for you to learn. Like, for instance, a part breaking on a plane which frees up some time for a person to write a blog.

“I struggle every day with who I am…” those were my words on Monday as I sat in an airport, waiting for my plane to attend a United Methodist National Gathering of Camp and Retreat Leaders. I arrived eight and a half hours later than I was scheduled. I missed the opening worship service, but I found out I did not miss the lesson!

Because I arrived late and missed the first event of the conference, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anything else. I was up at 6:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. my time) to attend Morning Watch. I walked the short distance under the Spanish Moss laden trees to the little white chapel. Built in 1880, the small chapel is named Lovely Lane Chapel after the site where the founding of the Conference of American Methodism in Baltimore, MD, took place in 1784. It is significant in the life of the Methodist Church. But today, it was significant for me as it became my chance to move from my past, to the present and into the future. I did not even know that what I wrote yesterday would have such significance today. But that is the way God works.

The air was crisp as I walked towards the chapel. I opened the white-painted door to a small room filled with rich dark woods and beautiful, vibrant-colored stain glass panels. It was warm and welcoming. I was ready for newness.

I had spent much of yesterday, writing, re-writing and reading my blog. I wanted to make sure it was what I wanted to say. It was significant to me. After I was finished and hit the “publish” button, I kept thinking that the blog was not what I had intended.

I had meant to write about the fact that a woman has great power in no matter which position she holds in life. It is the right of a woman to determine her direction in life, whether it is being a stay-at-home mom or a business executive. I wanted to write that my parents had given me the power to decide my fate; I WAS to go to college; I WAS to get an education that would allow me to live on my own if that is what happened in my life; I WAS to have the chance to be independent and that would happen in college. My parents gave me the values and foundation to be whomever I wanted. That is what I meant to write about. I meant to write about the power women have and to not let anyone take that power away, and that power could be defined in many different ways.

That is what I meant to say. But that is not what happened. I cried that I missed my past life. I mourned for the person I was and I lamented my sorrow to the world.

It was actually on my mind as I entered the chapel. And then the pastor stands up to give the message. He cited Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God’s Word Translation says, “Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events long ago.” Apparently, that was the Bible verse that was cited in the opening worship service which I had missed.

I was dumbfounded! That verse was speaking to me; God was speaking to me. He was telling me to get over it and feel blessed with the life that I have and am re-creating every day. He had probably been telling me that for quite a while and I was not listening (I just typed lostening. How ironic that I wrote lost because that is what I am/was.)

If I had been at the evening service and heard that verse, I am sure it would not have meant as much to me. I needed to be placed in a position where I allowed myself to have a pity party. I had to put down, in words, my feelings of despair because then, and only then, would it manifest itself into the “aha” moment of this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I still own my words. I do miss being “that” person, but there are parts of my childhood and young adulthood that I miss. I do not mourn those times, I have recollections which have shaped who I am today, I must look at the past and take what I did and learned and use it in my present and into my future. I need to quit dwelling on my past and being mournful because dwelling on it makes me sad and I do not want to be a sad person. I want to be a happy person, an inspiring person, a person filled with love for God and family.

God gives us a chance to learn. Sometimes God needs to set things in motion that force someone to look at their life so they can quit dwelling on the past and begin looking towards new things, the future.

For my Morning Watch alone, I am a changed person. I may only say this once, but thank God for my canceled flight.

Complaining to complain

And, no, I am not going to complain…well, I guess I am. But I am going to complain about complaining, We all complain – about people, about situations, about our body, our job, and the list can go on. Sometimes, you complain (vent) just to get things off your chest. Other times, the complaining is because of an injustice to you, a friend or family member, a religion, on and on and on. Possibly, you complain about other people/situations to raise yourself (which does not work by the way). Maybe you are a Negative Nellie. Whatever the reason, complaining is a negative, not a positive and being negative only pulls other people down with you.

What brought this to my attention was I recently listened to a poem recited by three teenage girls. The poem talks about certain books being outlawed from schools (“Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”) while guns are not outlawed. And the girls recite the fact that the United States was built on the bones of the Chinese, the Native American and the African-American. The other item that comes to mind was the girls’ comment that the “Preppies” shop at thrift stores because it is cool, while others shop there because it is all they can afford. It was a bunch of complaining without any solution.

First of all, I hate generalities. Not all white people are racist, although everyone has an opinion. Not all people with tattoos or saggy pants are thugs. Not all rich people are snobs and not all poor people are lazy. You get the idea.

This poem was full of generalities and it propagates falsehoods. The high school students, in my community, read “Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the school does not allow weapons on property. And how can you generalize a “preppy” from anyone else? Unless you are that person, you have no idea their place in life. People are people. Do not pigeon-hole anyone into a category! If it is wrong to point out someone deficiencies to “say who they are.” It is also wrong to look down on someone or categorize them because of their abundance.

The character of a person needs to stand alone. It should not be determined by your race or ethnicity. Although, if you hang around a group of people of bad character, you will be categorized with that group, whether you have bad character or not-“birds of a feather, flock together” as the old saying goes. I may be naive, but I just abhor, any writing, speech, or allusion that infers a certain race/ethnicity/faith/political association are all the same.

Secondly, I love how the country is built on the bones of only minorities in the poem. Indentured servants from Ireland were treated worst than slaves from Africa. But because they are not a minority group, they are the forgotten group.  http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-irish-slave-trade-the-forgotten-white-slaves/31076. Specifically, the poem tied the Trans-Continental Railroad to the Chinese, inferring deaths during the construction. I just recently watched a television show called “America: Facts vs. Fiction.”  It stated that it is fiction that thousands of Chinese were killed during the construction. Once again, the Irish suffered more death than the Chinese for various reasons. Irish deaths. The Chinese did suffer deaths but many of them were due to Smallpox. Click on “perished” on the website.

But for now, enough about the poem.

I live in a housing development that is run by a resident association board. At one time, my husband was the president of the board. He would get phone calls day and night from people complaining to complain. My husband finally got to the point that when people started their rant, he would say to them, ‘Do you have a solution to your complaint, or are you calling just to complain?’ If they didn’t have even an idea to solve an apparent problem, he would tell them he was done with the conversation. He didn’t want to hear people complain just to complain.

I think that is what is wrong. People want to complain, commiserate on circumstances, and not look at solutions to situations. OR complain about the past, in which NOTHING can be done to change it!

Being effective is looking at a problem and looking how you can better the situation. It is taking a negative and positively looking at how the negative can be turned to a positive. Complaining about injustices does not work towards a positive solution; Reliving the past, does not improve the future. I know that when I look at things negatively, I begin to see all things negatively. Being pessimistic takes away positive energy and you find yourself with a dark cloud over your life.

I am sure these young ladies think that their poem is a positive force to the injustices in the world. The only problem is they are only complaining; they are not providing solutions, or looking to the positives in the world. Not only that, they are only providing part of the story and putting everyone in the same category.

Maybe these young ladies are coastal. I have found that, living in the Midwest, our families may not face the same situations. I can only speak for my family, but we are church-going, service-minded, active in the community kind of people. We understand that there is a correlation with consequences to actions and respecting individuals is huge. We believe that book education is equal to life experience and the size of one’s wallet does not define one’s character. We believe that hard work is better than laziness but hard work does not always equate to “big bucks!”

I have written this before and I live it everyday. Find something, every day, in which to be thankful. Whether it is large/important, or minute, find at least one thing to be in praise.

People complain. If you look deep inside and find that you are a complainer and not a solution finder, try to change. When you want to complain about something, determine the reason for your complaint. Are there steps that can be taken to improve the situation? Is it just an attitude adjustment that needs to be made?

If there is a legitimate complaint, what can be done to make things better? Is it an attitude adjustment that someone else needs to make? Is it something that needs to be brought to people of authority-people who can make a change? And if someone needs to be approached, try to make a positive spin on your feelings. I know it is hard,but in trying to make things better, you will feel better and let’s face it, the world needs more positive actions, the negative seem to be taking over and that causes fighting, bitterness and ugliness.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

I have set a goal to write every week. Some of my blogs may be frivolous but I hope that I can help make a difference. I am in praise that God puts situations in my life that I feel are relevant to real life. Today it is to be positive, next week it may be a recipe that I find fabulous. Whatever I write, I hope I make people smile, think, take action or just get away,for a short time, to another place in time or space.