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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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!