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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Parenting 101: the facts, as learned by me

I don’t have a degree in child psychology or education. My “facts” come from the wisdom of others and on-the-job training. This blog will share the opinions and experiences from me, a Midwestern conservative Christian. I will not necessarily bring in my faith except that our life is based on our Christian life. BUT…what I write could be followed by any person of any faith or someone without faith.

First of all, children should be conceived out of love, not lust, PERIOD! If a child is brought into this world because of lust, there may not be the commitment by both parents to see that their child is raised in a loving and giving family. Now, I am not saying that a child will not be loved when it is conceived due to lust (a one night stand, an oops on a vulnerable night, or a rape) but a child has a definite advantage being wanted, even before conception.

Even before the child is conceived, make sure the person you are with today, is the person you want to be with tomorrow, five years from now, 30 or 50 years from now. This means being truly committed, even during the difficult times. Our society is a throw away society but we need to realize that people are not things; people are not meant to be used, but loved and cherished. I know it is hard, but if you can’t see yourself with that person 15 years from now, maybe you should not be having a child with them. I have taught my children from the time they could understand, that marriage comes first and then children.

So you are now married and want to have children. Don’t forget that you were a couple first. My mom always told me to remember to be a good wife; Take time to be with your spouse. If you aren’t a good spouse, you can’t be a good parent. I know that your life revolves around your children for many years but they will grow up and leave the nest. If you do not stay connected with your spouse, then when they leave, your marriage will suffer. Your children are there because of the love you had for your spouse. That loves need to grow and continue throughout the growing up of your children.

Let your children know that your spouse is really number 1. Once, when my son was being disrespectful to me, my husband said, ‘Do not speak to my wife that way!’ Sometimes, the children forget that you are more than a mom (or dad). It goes back to remembering that before children, there was a different dynamic in your relationship and it needs to continue to grow and develop.

Wisdom from my grandpa, ‘Your life revolves around your child the first two years and then their life needs to revolve around you.’ What he was telling me, in my opinion, was that your child cannot take over your life. They need to learn that a child is not the controller of life but it is the parent who decides what will and will not happen. That doesn’t mean that you don’t go to the soccer games or dance lessons; it means that the parent is in charge, not the child.

Stand firm in your parenting. Say what you believe and believe what you say. As I said above, I have told my children from day one that you marry, then have children. I have not changed my stance. What my children decide to do is their choice, but I cannot change my morals and values because they are no longer five. In addition, I have told them if they are not mature enough to walk into Walgreens and purchase condoms, they are not ready to have sex. Purchasing condoms is easy, compared to raising a child.

Many years ago, my husband gave me a radar detector for Christmas. At the time, I was driving 1,000 miles a month for my job and he thought I might need one. Well, I was driving with him and speeding. He said to me, ‘Why are you speeding?’ I said, ‘You gave me a radar detector. If you gave it to me, I would only need it if I was to speed, so…’ That is why I will never purchase condoms, or put my daughter on the pill. It is an easy excuse to have sex before marriage.

I do not like the comment ‘I am not your friend, I am your parent.’ I am first a parent but that does not mean that I don’t want to be friendly with my children. Even though my daughter is 17, she is someone with whom I am most close. But I am still her parent and will always be a parent first. I am there to be the guide and role model for my son and daughter. I expect them to speak with me respectfully. While they may use language that is a little more loose than I would use with my mother (like saying crap and sucks), I do not allow them to swear in front of me or use any type of derogatory language.

Speaking of language, I have always told them that they should not tell stories or write things that they would not tell their pastor. I know that there are people who do not have a pastor, priest, rabbi, etc…so the point is to be careful what you say or post so it does not come back and bite you later in life. Because what you do as a teenager could affect opportunities when you are in your 30’s or 40’s. (That is another post about how my college grades came back to haunt me 29 years after I graduated!)

If you have the opportunity, take your children to museums. What they learn at a museum is sometimes more important that what they learn in the classroom. We had the privilege of taking our children to the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Durham Museum, the Omaha Symphony and the Rose Theater on a regular basis. We gave our children a variety of experiences which have allowed them to communicate in a mature manner with adults. It also taught them how to behave in public.

Make them eat their vegetables. My daughter called herself a ‘Meataterian’! She hated fruits and vegetables. We would sit with her at the kitchen table while she refused to eat. My husband and I got to the point that we would do the ‘one for one’ game. We would get a spoonful (or forkful) of fruit or vegetables and we would eat one for one with her. While it may seem cruel, it is important that our children have the proper nutrients through food. It cannot be achieved through junk food. I would always tell her that I felt sorry for her children because they would have such a limited diet if she only fixed the food she liked. She now eats all kinds of fruits and vegetables. If we did not make her try a variety of foods, who knows what she would be eating now. I had to tell her that there is an in-between love and hate. I would say that if the food would not make her throw up, she needed to eat it.

Teach your children how to live in the world. We homeschooled for six years but kept them involved in the community. I always said that we needed to teach them to be strong, confident and faithful to survive in a world that will challenge them daily to compromise their morals and values. While it would be nice to have a compound for our family where we could protect them, the reality is, they need to live in the world.

Teach your children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I know it is old-school but boys should open the doors for a young lady or an older woman. Both men and women should have a firm handshake and be confident enough to have eye contact when speaking.

At least when they are young, limit their exposure to electronics. When we were homeschooling, unless they were doing school work, anything that had to do with electricity (except lights) were off-limits until 4:00. And that only was in place a few days a week because we had many activities which took us out of the home for educational purposes.

Teach them that there are consequences to their actions. Whether it is as simple as not following simple instructions to breaking the law, let them know that they need to own their actions and be willing to pay the price for their error(s).

It is important for your children to know that the world is bigger than they are. They need to learn that their community and world is only as good as what they put into it. Volunteering and giving service is very important. Giving to those who are less fortunate humbles a person to appreciate what God has given them.

Always be grateful for what they have. They may not have the nicest home, or the current fashion, but you need to teach your children to be thankful every day for what they do have. It may not be much, but to even have life is a miracle and something to be thankful.

Be an example for your children. Show them that working hard and being the best you can be will be a prize in itself. You may not be a millionaire, but being proud of what you have and what you do to contribute to the family and society is worth more than anything. Not everyone can be a millionaire. Not everyone can be the valedictorian but that does not mean that you shouldn’t be proud of what you do or what you have. Work hard to own what you have. It is probably the best feeling in the world to know that you are not beholden to anyone; that you do not live off of the government but you help others when they are struggling.

There is so much more I could write about being a good parent. I feel I have hit the top ‘facts’ for parenting. By far, the most important thing is to love. Loving is giving your children rules and sticking to them. It is giving them expectations and helping them reach their goals. Provide them all of the opportunities you can, while you can and be there when they struggle. Be a good parent and part of that is being a loving a forgiving spouse.

My children are still growing and I am still evolving as a parent. But I will tell you that my children are intelligent, respectful, courteous, kind, educated and a joy to be around. While there are many things that may have not gone as planned, there is so much more that has gone according to plan. What you put into your children is what will help be their future. Don’t you want their future to be bright?

Don’t think that parenting is simple. I had pretty good parents and I am sure they wanted better for me. Well the same goes for me. I think I am a pretty decent parent but I want more for my children. I want them to learn from my mistakes and my rules, lessons and life experiences to be a beacon in this world. I think their future is bright!