As I wandered around my house this morning making beds, opening curtains, collecting up the dirty laundry and emptying bins I was musing to myself about how important those functions are. No, of course they don’t make a successful home, you can easily get by and be perfectly happy with a half-full bin or an unmade bed but for someone like me who likes order and tidiness they are important.
Yes I could make the kids do all those things and sometimes I do but in the main I like looking after my family. That is one way I show them how much I love them by tending to their needs and even pre emptying their needs. Being a stay at home parent is hard work and really valuable work and it has taken me some time to fully acknowledge this for myself. I’ve always hated the rivalry between parents that choose different paths, those who work outside the home, do paid work at home or stay home without any remuneration at all and I choose to champion all causes. Like everything in life I feel you need to do what suits you, what really makes you feel grounded and content, not what society expects or you push yourself to do and certainly not what pays the most money.
Over the last thirteen years of being a parent I’ve taken on each of those roles and what I have discovered is that they each have their own unique challenges and there is no one right universal choice. We all have to make the choice that suits us, our personalities and our circumstances. I personally found working outside the home the hardest by far but that could be because I did it when my children were younger and I also still undertook voluntary work and looked after my home without any help too.
At the moment I have the joy of being home, dabbling in a little paid work, doing lots of voluntary work and really having time to develop my relationship with the Lord and my children. I don’t often have to feel compromised anymore like I did four or five years ago when it was my of the kids assemblies, but I was due to be delivering a training course and then I realised I had forgotten to book their lunches too! Those times were just overwhelming, when I would race home after work to pick the kids up from after-school club, chuck some food in the oven for them, bombard them with spellings and timetables questions whilst I cooked and then race out the door again to Cubs, gymnastics or Rainbows.
Yes the change to a slower paced life has been really good for me and for my family too but it has taken me near three years to fully accept that it is OK for me to sit in the morning and read my book for an hour or to enjoy a coffee alone on the return trip from the school drop. Those snatched moments of peace and reflection are when I am renewed and ready for whatever the kids present that day. Let’s be honest, it’s not as if I get to sit down in the early evening, everything keeps going until eight or nine at night and the smaller ones are finally tucked into bed.
Thank you Lord for bringing us into circumstances when I can start to learn that I am loved for who I am and not just what I do. Even if I have ticked nothing off my long list all day I am still valuable as I am your daughter and I have taken the time to do the small things that the day has demanded, things like –
- Toasting a bagel as my boy had got up late and needed to run out the door
- Making small trees for the girls Cub Scouting camp shoebox dioramas
- Organising all the cards and gifts for the next month ahead
- Printing off photos for a friend
- Speaking words of affirmation to my kids
- Kissing and hugging my hubby
- Steam cleaning the floor in the little toilet for the 800th time as the nasty smell just won’t lift
- Changing the kids bedding to light summer duvets
- Walking round the lake and stopped to marvel at how awesome the sight is
- Checking our bank account and made sure bills are being paid on time
- Speaking sweet words to a little lady who couldn’t get to sleep because of the heat
- Cooking lasagne and banana bread as that is what small people fancied
- Contacting a local family to see if they want to meet us at Church on Sunday
Yes I have been present in the day and have enjoyed it and that is far more important than ticking things off a list and allowing life to whizz past me.
Thank you Lord that you have made this path for me, I feel as if I am in the right place, doing the right thing. Mich x