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

 

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The Power of a Woman

I struggle every day with who I am. I am a traditional person. I like the idea of “The Man of the House” and me being the “housewife”, or mother, or domestic engineer (Okay, not so much the domestic engineer title). I dream of winning the lottery so I can truly be at home and taking care of my man, my children and the home. If I won the lottery I could give money to the non-profits I support and volunteer to my heart’s content. I was lucky enough to only have very part-time jobs for 17.5 years. My husband worked (and still works) his tail off so I could be home with the children.

Because of his sacrifices, we homeschooled for six years. I was a full-time volunteer, always available to run errands for my husband and be “that” mom who was heavily involved in her children’s life. Because my husband travels with his job, there were frequent flyer miles and hotel points so we enjoyed nice vacations.

I am employed, outside the home, full-time now because of circumstances in our life. I made choices that precipitated my full-time employment sooner than I had expected, but we also have a child in college and one who will be in college in the next year and a half. We decided that our children should come out of college debt free and so there are sacrifices that I now need to make. (Did I mention before that I like nice things? Oh yeah, I did. Once again, another reason why I am full-time)

I love what I do. I have the best full-time job, outside of the home,  that a person could have. And while I love what I do, my heart still breaks a little (a lot) when I get home and realize that I still have my home responsibilities and that I am not as available as I was. I am a traditionalist. I liked being available, at the drop of a hat, to run errands for my children, or my husband. I liked being that person that could be counted on to bring food to school for the teachers, or homemade treats for the dance class. I liked quilting and making Halloween costumes and making homemade bread for the family. I liked being able to can the vegetables from the garden and shovel the driveway, for the exercise.

I hope that people did not think that I was an unintelligent woman when I was a stay-at-home mom. I hope people didn’t think that I “settled.” I love it when I can give of myself to people. The gift of my time and talent was the best gift I could give someone; especially when time is so precious these days. I was not dependent on people. I am a very independent person but I loved being “that person”.

Years ago, I received an email that was a dig on being a good wife. And while I laugh at some of the things that are presented in this email, I have to say, that I would think our home would have been happier if I would have done more of those things. That independent part of me did not allow me to follow through on some of these things.

Good Wife…Directions

1) Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2) Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3) Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4) Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dust cloth over the tables.

5) During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

6) Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate the noise of the washer dryer or vacuum. Encourage your children to be quiet.

7) Be happy to see him.

8) Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to see him.

9) Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first-remember, his topic of conversations are more important that yours.

10) Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

11) Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.*

12) Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

13) Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

14) Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

15) A good wife knows her place.

* Don’t know that him staying out all night, should not be questioned.

So as I read through these things, I think to myself, how lovely it would be, to be all of these things to the man I love. This is a total commitment to be a good wife and manager of the home. And, in turn, your husband would be respectful to his wife and appreciative of all of the things that she does for him. This is the true definition of being a good wife. In the Bible (Ephesians) it talks of being submissive. It does not mean to be lesser than, it means allowing the man to be the ultimate say in the household. Believe it or not, someone needs to be the boss; someone has to have the final say.  It brings tears to my eyes to think that I have been too opinionated, too forceful in my ways and not submissive enough.

There are needs in a household. Someone has to clean the house. Someone has to cook the meals. Someone has to cart the kids around before they are able to drive. Why does society look down on those people who have made that decision to take on those responsibilities? Do I feel less of a person because I was that person for so many years, absolutely not! I would say that I feel less of a person because I am outside of the home, not being there, doing the things that need to be done in the home.

I honor and respect those women who are able to always be at home, unless they are at home for the wrong reasons. If you are at home, you should be trying to do things to make life easier for your spouse, who is out making the money to sustain your household. If you are home out of laziness, shame on you. If you have sacrificed your career, to be available for your spouse and children, I applaud you and have no greater respect. What a greater sacrifice to give, than to put yourself last and all others first.

For years I wore a necklace that had the acronym JOY: Jesus first, others second, yourself third. Now I wear the United Methodist Cross 24/7. It helps define who I am. I like to think that I still live in JOY but the others (my family) may not feel that they have me as they had me at one time.

I still hope that maybe I could still win the lottery. I do buy tickets every once in a while but I need to accept the fact that my life has changed. I can no longer be “that” mom who is always available. I am finding that my volunteer life is not as easy as it once was; I find that my free time is different. I have not quilted in almost two years and I have unfinished projects begging for attention. My family does not receive homemade meals like once was; sometimes I just look at them and tell them they are on their own.

I know that my husband has sacrificed a lot to provide for our family. He is a man who likes to be busy but I don’t know if that busy-ness would have to be for an income, if it weren’t for the likes and lifestyle that has been established in this family. Some may feel that I sacrificed by being at home for so many years. I would tell you that my sacrifice is being away from the home and not available.

Maybe I was wired for a different generation. I hope that there are women out there like me. I hope that there are people out there who want to live their life making other’s happy in an unselfish manner. I am not an unintelligent woman. I am independent, but want to be a people pleaser.

For those people out there, who are who I used to be, God Bless you! For my husband and children, I love you and know that this is where we need to be in our lives. In a perfect world, I would be at your call 24/7, available for you whenever you need me.

Ephesians 5:22-23

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, …

You need to be where you need to be; your sacrifices are your sacrifices and they may not seem like sacrifices to others. Sometimes, okay maybe more times than not, you need to look outside of your world and figure how you can be best used in the live’s of others. I mourn that I am not who I was and I have still not accepted who I am now. But, with God’s Help, I will find my way in this new life, embrace it and live life abundantly.

I am who I am…a pontification on a changing life

I am Jane Van Horn. While I am always a mom, my life changed 11 months ago when I left my career as a mom/wife/volunteer and became a full-time employee for a Fabulous church camp. I have struggled over the past 11 months trying to juggle the mom/wife/volunteer and employee “balls”.

The volunteer ball dropped. I could no longer handle that aspect of my life. I guess, luckily, one of my volunteer jobs was out at Camp Fontanelle, where I became employed. I took a diminished capacity in my Girl Scout volunteering. I went from being a leader and a volunteer leader manager and a product sales coordinator to just a product sales coordinator. My volunteering for my church almost completely stopped. Life Changed!

My children, being almost 16 and 18, do not need me in the same capacity as before. While, at least for the next 26 days, I have to drive to my daughter to non-school activities, my children are very independent. They handle doing their own laundry; they drive to school activities; they are able to prepare their own breakfast and lunch and can make dinner if I am not around. Life has changed!

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I always felt that I could be doing more. My home could be cleaner. My ironing could be done in a more timely manner. My files could be better organized. I was always cooking and baking and I was heavily involved in my volunteering and the lives of my children. I ran all of the errands for the family and felt I was the manager of the house. It was what I dreamt of all of my years as a youth and young adult. I was (am) a traditional woman. I wanted to be a “housewife” and mother.

What I found out after I started working full-time was that I was doing a great job as a housewife and mom! While I was not as organized as I wanted, life ran fairly smoothly in our household because my life revolved around making sure everyone was where they should be, on time and they had what they needed to get their job done, whether it was school, extra-curricular items or anything for my husband. WOW, how life has changed.

What these past 11 months have taught me is that I truly loved being available. I loved being the person that people could count on being there, doing “this” and organizing “that”. My going back to work, in an employment capacity, was always discussed. I think I was in denial that it would ever happen. When it happened, I thought I could handle it all.

I couldn’t/can’t be the person that I was for 18 years. I have not adjusted well and I am a work in progress. My new reality has not been a smooth transition for me, my husband or my children. I have let things drop. And my going to work full-time did not mean that they could pick up the things that I previously, did because they live busy lives as well. Life has changed and we still don’t know how it will evolve.

For those stay-at-home moms out there, keep doing what you do and now that you are making a difference in the lives of your families. Be confident in what you do, but don’t take lightly your responsibilities, you never know when your life may change.

I was blessed to be able to have time to spend with my children. I had six years where I was the homeschool mom. It was time that I will never forget. Our children are who they are, strong, independent, intelligent, well-rounded, of strong moral character partly, because I was there to guide them and be that positive influence. While I have not been the perfect wife, I tried to be available to make sure that my husband’s life ran smoothly. I was his secretary, sounding board, friend and lover.

While my circumstances have changed, I am who I am. I am still confident, interdependent, a strong believer and a person who wants to be the best I can be for the world. As my life evolves, I will see how this thing called life plays itself out.

Eleven months ago, I quit writing because of my life change. On this Ash Wednesday, my Lenten “give up” is not giving up but giving back. It is time to start writing again and trying to make sure my life evolution is directed by me and not a reactionary change.

Please be patient with me as I work on being the director of my life. For these 11 months, I have been reactionary. It is time to take back control. So while my writing is a little rusty, at least I am writing again.

Find your Lenten give back and work to improve your life!

Politics

Okay, I am kidding. I am really not going to write about politics, specifically. I am going to talk about kindness, consideration, responsibility.

First of all, I have not watched any debates and have never planned on watching anything like that. And, believe it or not, I am very politically minded. I don’t watch them because I know how I am going to vote and I know that watching the debates would just get me frustrated and stressed. I hate how comments are twisted and something that seems common sense to me is interpreted by another party and it takes a whole other personality and then causes confusion. I hate how people stereotype and how polarizing politics has become.

So let me write about what I believe. I hope that you do not put me in a category or stereotype me. I am sure by the end of describing who I am, you can guess my party. But let me tell you that I do not agree 100% with my party. What I believe is what I believe. I just so happens that what I do believe fits primarily in one party.

Maybe you haven’t read anything of mine before so let me tell you a few things. I am a stay-at-home mom who has a couple of minimal paying jobs. I am a church handchime director for youth 7-10 years old. I also direct a youth vocal choir. The members are from 11-18. I receive less than $1500.00 a year for these two choirs. I am a substitute teacher but am limited to 40 days a year as I do not have a teaching certificate. I have taken classes to be able to sub and I can sub K-12. I do like subbing. I volunteer for the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, my church, the school, a church camp, My children started out in public school but because my husband traveled with his job, we decided to homeschool so we could travel. The children were homeschooled for six years. This is their second year back in school. We have a son who is a Junior (who was just accepted in the National Honor Society) and a daughter who is a Freshman.

I have a degree in mass communications and met my husband two years after I graduated from college. We have been married 23 1/2 years. We lived in Spain for a short time, almost a year, when our children were 3 & 5.

That is a little about me. Now about what I believe.

I BELIEVE…you have to believe in something bigger than yourself. For me, it is God.
I BELIEVE…My husband and I are responsible for raising our children. It is our job to teach them morals, responsibility, and to guide them in a way that they can be independent, self-sufficient, Christian minded adults.
I BELIEVE…that we pay way too much in health insurance and taxes. With my husband being self-employed, people don’t realize how much we have to pay out.
I BELIEVE…that unless it is physically impossible, you should do some kind of work. If you are on assistance, get off your tail and volunteer if you can’t find a job.
I BELIEVE…that welfare was not meant to be a program that was long-term.
I BELIEVE…I should do everything possible to help our Earth. We recycle, live in an energy-efficient home, have a solar panel, are conscious about using our yard to filter out any chemicals that might run into the lake from the residents uphill.
I BELIEVE…that too many children today feel entitled and do not show enough respect to authority figures.
I BELIEVE…that if schools can teach about Kwanza, Hanukkah, they should be able to talk about Christmas and Easter.
I BELIEVE…that the Ten Commandments are good rules to follow, regardless of your belief. I mean don’t we want to people to not steal, cheat, kill, covet, etc…
I BELIEVE…You should teach your children that they should get married before they live together or have sex. (what they do is their business but I would not teach my children anything different)
I BELIEVE…if I have to pay for your children, I should be able to tell you how many to have.
I BELIEVE…that we live in the greatest country in the world. Having lived in Europe, I have seen how others live and the freedoms that we have are phenomenal. Many Americans do not appreciate what they have.

If you cannot guess my political party, I am not going to tell you. But I believe that you have a right to disagree with me. And I will not call you names. I can tell you that people from another party have called me clueless, a f***ing idiot, racist, and I could go on. I would never talk that way to anyone.

I also can’t believe that this country would not want people to work hard, to make all the money they can, so they can put it back into the economy, or save it for their retirement, or give it to not for profit organizations to be able to help those that are unable to help themselves. I can’t believe that we, as a society, want people to be dependent on government for their survival. How sad is it that we are teaching people to be complacent and not be engaged in their own life.

If someone disagrees with my statements, I am sorry. I like to think that I have it right. If you do not agree that people should want to be independent, that we should be concerned about our environment, that my husband should be allowed to provide for our family by hunting deer, antelope, etc…, that we should be allowed to make money so we can help others, then you must not be a member of the party for which I am a member. BUT I do not like controversy, so I will not tell you which party it is.

That is the beauty of this country, we have the chance to be a part of different political parties. That is not the case in other countries.

I guess you can decide if my statement that I was not going to write about politics was accurate or not. Maybe tomorrow I will write about bread pudding!

Oh and BTW, my coffee was a take off of the Magic Bar, chocolate, butterscotch and coconut. It was Nummy!