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

IMG_3657

2017 Trip to Spain

 

Searching for my life

I start writing this without a title. In the time that I began blogging I have learned so much and feel so inadequate in what I know. The reason no title? I keep thinking SEO; what should I write in the title to get more people to my site and reading “all the relevance” that I can give to the world? (ok, tongue in cheek!)

There have been so much that has been happening in my life over the last month which is probably why it has been that long since I last wrote. The thoughts in my mind are churning and it seems impossible to somehow organize them into manageable verse. But today I decided to jump in and just write. I hope that through Divine Intervention my words will give inspiration, or insight, to those that read but maybe more to myself.

I have to be honest and say that there are just some things that I will not write. I will not write about things that would be embarrassing to my family, immediate, extended, my husband’s family, etc… Although if I did, WOW! You would be amazed! But my grandfather always said, “Don’t share family secrets!” Even if it was a disagreement amongst spouses or children, he felt it was inappropriate to share with “outsiders”. I believe that. I don’t want to write or do anything that would lessen the value that people hold for my family members, whether I am close to them or distant. That doesn’t mean that I won’t speak with my friends concerning family matters; I have to be able to vent. I just can’t do it publicly. NOW ON TO TOPIC.

I have had tremendous highs and lows over the past 31 days. I have learned a great deal about myself and I know that I am not invincible.

In my lows, I realized I do not take rejection well. This rejection took place in personal and professional situations. Maybe because it happened in multiple situations and within a short time period, I was able to learn about myself. While I would not recommend this for anyone, it was very insightful and I now know how I react. Hopefully I will be able to handle situations better in the future. What do I do? I just want to give up, walk away and forget that it even happened. I won’t share family secrets so you won’t hear about my personal rejection but the act is not the point; It is the lesson.

Professionally, I was hired to ghost blog for websites. Website owners hire BlogMutt to write weekly blog posts based on topics that they provide. The customer approves, asks for edits  or rejects the post. There are hundreds of websites out there that are having blogmutt.com write their blogs.

The owner of BlogMutt says that there is about a 10% rejection rate and that you just need to let the rejections roll off your back and move on. Well, my first rejection ticked me off because it was well-written, original and factual. The website owner rejected the post saying that is was “factually wrong and not original”. One rejection lead to another and another. Before long I was over the 10% rejection rate. One rejection even received 5 stars (the most you can receive). How can you like something enough to give it 5 stars and then reject it!!!!

I was very hurt and, even now, it is hard for me to write for fear of rejection. But I weather on. Just like any writer, you must write to get paid. If I did not write and submit posts, I would not be paid. And if I want to get paid, I must write. I realized that this would be a difficult career, as payment is based per blog purchased. And you have no direct comment with the website owner and have to take their criticism and move on. Don’t get me wrong, I do like writing for BlogMutt and hope to continue even when I begin a full-time job.

A high point – I was hired for a full-time position as the Camp Coordinator at Camp Fontanelle, a United Methodist Church Camp in Fontanelle, Nebraska. It is a brand new position so I will learn more of my duties when I begin April 1.  This was also a learning experience for me. My family is very familiar with the camp. We have volunteered there for years; Our children attend camp there (since age 3); My husband was on the board for six years and chairman for five; my son is employed as the laser tag “guy” during the fall when the corn maze is running. So we know camp.

But I don’t know that I was considered when the position was created. Four people interviewed for the job and I was probably twice the age of the other three applicants. What I brought to the table was a great deal of experience. I was a perfect fit for the job but there were some really hard feelings. There was at least one other person who felt they were a perfect fit.  After I interviewed I lost sleep as to whether I would take the position if it was offered me. I worried about the person that felt the position was perfect for him/her. I had just been hired by BlogMutt and I thought that is what I wanted to do full-time. So many things running through my mind.

One day, in my stress, I prayed to God. I said, ‘God, guide me in the direction my life is to go. I want to do Your Will.’ I had decided that if I was offered the camp job, it was meant to be and I would accept it. When I told my husband that, he questioned me as to my reasoning. For a short time, ok, maybe 30 seconds, I wondered if I was wrong to say I would accept the job if it was offered. Was I not being discerning enough? But no, I had given it to God and after I did that, I felt great. I would take the job. (Soon after I had accepted the job, I began receiving post rejections. Maybe a sign confirming I was doing the right thing?)

I know that I have not had a rough life. I have never been without a home, or food, or clothes. I have always had the love and acceptance of friends and family members. (Not every person all the time. But enough to know that I am loved).

I have struggled with trying to find a job. And even this recent venture only took 3 months to find a full-time job. Not bad for a woman who quit working full-time when her now 17-year-old son was born. And not only did I find a full-time career but I have a writing job that will bring in a little extra spending money.

I have had personal failures. I have disappointed people I love and I have been hurt by those same people. There have been times in the last four months that I wasn’t sure that I have made a difference in the world, that I was doing what I was meant to do, or be the person that I could be.

But through all of the highs and lows, I have tried to have faith – faith that it would work out and I would be able to shine. I think I forgot that I don’t need to be in control all of the time. My first step was to give it up to God. While I know that there will still be disappointments and I will disappoint, these last four months have given me some great perspective and maybe patience. It may not seem much to you, but I get to play at camp for my job. There will be long days and hard work in the summer but I know it is what I am to do because I, for once, didn’t need to be in control of my future. I now have the job of taking this gift that was given me and doing my best.

I guess now I am trying to figure out the purpose of this blog. Today was writing just to write; More cathartic than informational or inspirational.  My head is still spinning because my life is taking a new direction. I hope I continue to write this blog and find direction to be meaningful  and worthwhile. Bare with me as I evolve into the new me.

Just added a title – not very SEO – but SEO was not the purpose of this blog, come to find out!

Having a blog named “a little caffeine”, I figure I should probably talk about my coffee. Every morning I make my stovetop espresso, heat and froth the milk and add my flavoring choice of the day. Today, my choice was Gingerbread. Since my home is not in town, it just made sense to me that I have enough flavorings (sugar-free) that I can have a variety of latte’s available. I use a fabulous website, lollicupstore.com that has reasonably priced coffee flavorings. They have a good choice of sugar-free flavorings that really allows me to have flavored coffee that matches my mood for the day.

I had my flavoring figured out before I woke this morning because today was going to be a busy day. One of the many things I do is direct our church youth choir. We had taken a break last year only to come back this year revitalized. We got excited about singing. We decorated our music folders with multi-colored and patterned duct tape. We were laughing and having fun. WELL, this was our Sunday to introduce our congregation to the new look. We celebrated with a song, “Two Hands, One Heart” by Claire Cloninger and Don Moen. When we finished, the pastor grabbed my upper arm and told me how great they were, how totally awesome we were. I could feel the energy from the congregation. I had two teens that wanted to join our choir after hearing us praise God!  What a great way to start our Sunday! We sang again at the second service and it was the same feeling. The year we took off was worth it. We are a much better choir. We now have the power and energy to serve God the way we should.

After that miraculous service, I got ready for my second stint for the day; volunteering at the Camp Fontanelle corn maze. This corn maze is sponsored by Camp Fontanelle (campfontanelle.com) and helps support the United Methodist Church Camp in Nebraska. Our family is heavily involved in this camp. My husband, per the by-laws, must take a year off from being on the board of directors. Prior to this year, he was the chairman of the board. Our children have gone to this church camp since they were 3 years old.(They are now almost 17 and almost 15) I am the writer for the newsletter and am the grant writer for the camp. My husband also runs a youth hunt camp on opening rifle season for deer. This camp teaches safe hunting and is an opportunity for a youth and parent to work together and bond in this manner.

Besides what we give financially and time-wise, I felt I needed to do more in the fall. Last year, I began volunteering every Sunday during the corn maze season, about 7 weeks. I work the ticket booth and have a chance to talk up the camp and everything that the camp offers during all seasons. We have been open since September 16. Like last year, this weekend was the weekend that saw our numbers greatly increase. Today, there were over 500 paying patrons to the camp. Yesterday there was over 450 paying. If you take into consideration the people who come to the camp and take advantage of the free things going on at the camp, it is estimated that there were as many as 1100 that visited Camp Fontanelle this weekend. Not bad for being open 12 hours over the weekend. Next weekend is the big weekend. On Saturday, there is the haunted corn maze and on Sunday there is Search for Treats in the maze. It is estimated that as many as 1,000, will be there on Sunday alone.

I know that we are to take time off and rest. It is commanded by God. And while I do not want to go against God, today was a day of praising Him. It was done through music at my church and it was done through the beauty of His land in the afternoon and evening out at camp. I can’t believe that He would be angry and thinking that I was going against Him by Praising Him ALL DAY!

I am really trying to be a better person, a better Christian. I know that I don’t always think with a Christian head or a Christian heart. I am trying to be better. I think that being in a Christian community is important. Just like those of other faiths are in their own communities, I feel it is important to be around people who share a general belief. We have a mission at our church and there is a mission at Camp Fontanelle. I hope that we can do our best to meet that mission. And I guess what I like is that both missions talk about being good to all people and making people feel safe. It is important to be good to people, to all people. And if we can make someone feel safe, at least in the church or out at camp, when they can’t feel safe at home, then we have achieved a great thing.

I look forward to our choir starting new music next week to get ready for Christmas and I look forward to dressing like Tinkerbell for the corn maze next weekend. My soul is at rest because I know that what I am doing is taking me on the right path. AMEN!

Sunday, a day of rest?

We All lead Busy, interesting lives.

Today, I was up before 6:00 a.m. to take my daughter to school to load a bus for a volleyball tournament. I headed back home to shower, iron some dress shirts for my husband as he was leaving for 4 days to a conference in Denver. I then made my latte (It was black cherry chocolate today ) and put it in my 24 oz. mug, toasted some bread, added a tomato and then walked out the door to get to the volleyball tournament. I spent 5 hours at the tournament and watched my daughter play the best I have seen her play. Her serving was almost flawless which means a lot since at the beginning of the season, she could barely get the ball over the net. While I don’t know her stats, I would say her serving was better than 90%. While we were in the “big city” we hit a few stores on our way home to get things that we can’t find in our town of 8000 people.

When I got home, I relaxed a little, then grabbed a bite to eat, read the newspaper, checked FB and then got to work again. I am the product sales coordinator for the fall Girl Scout product sales for our county. The sales ended on Thursday so I needed to get online, input my troop’s order (My troop is my Senior Girl Scout daughter. After 10 years of having a busy troop, it was decided that they were too busy in other things to continue), check all of the other troop’s orders as part of my job. I then sent out an email to the troops doing a follow-up to make sure their order inputs were correct. Then I needed to work on the Girl Scout overnight that is set for next week-end that I am organizing with a friend. I sent out confirmations and weekend details.

And here I am now, blogging, something that I need to be committed to doing every day. I need to work at this and make it happen. What a Saturday!!!!

I guess my point is, we are all busy in our own way. Even if being busy is just staying at home. I can’t believe the days that go by when I am home, I am kept busy all day, and at the end of the day, I feel that I have gotten nothing done. I actually haven’t felt that way this week. I have been busy and productive.

There will never be enough time in the day to get things done that should get done. But God only gives us 24 hours and day and hopefully we have made sound decisions and get the important things done. I have a laundry basket full of clean clothes sitting right next to me. They have been sitting in the basket for a couple of days. Should they be folded, Absolutely, YES. But have there been more important things to do this week? Again, Absolutely YES! Do I have clothes that need to be ironed, YES. Does my husband ever go without an ironed shirt, NO. I do it when it needs to get done. Should I really get through the ironing pile and also do the touch up ironing? Yes! But as the saying goes, the laundry will wait. I only have one chance to see my daughter play volleyball at today’s tournament.

I seem to find all kinds of things to do. I marvel at the women that have a full-time paying job and then come home and need to do the things that are my job. But I have always said that all of my volunteering is to help those that can’t volunteer because they have paying jobs outside the home.I volunteer at my church, volunteer out at the church camp which we are involved, do a lot of running around for my husband since he is very busy with his software consulting business.

I would not change anything in my life even though I am constantly busy. It helps now that my son has his driver’s license and my daughter has her school permit for driving. She actually took my car to school three days last week. It is so nice not to have to add all of those miles to my vehicle by needing to make multiple trips to take her and pick her up from school. Not needing my car is very freeing and if I don’t have a car, I have to stay at home.

Whatever you do and however you do it, I hope you can be like me and know what is a priority and work to do what is right for you, for your loved ones, for your community, for the world. My laundry can wait. It is clean. It is not wrinkled in the basket. It is just not put in the drawers. My home is clean and I don’t need to be embarrassed if someones stops by but it is not spotless. Once again, my family is more important.

Tomorrow, after church, my son and I head to the Camp Fontanelle Corn Maze. He has a paid position running the laser tag area. I am a volunteer and work the ticket booth. Is it worth it, YES because it supports a fabulous church camp. Will my laundry take priority, NO. Who knows, maybe I will get it put away after I publish this. Let’s hope. Maybe I will get a glass of wine and relax while getting the laundry put away! That is a great incentive.