… but I think I’ll stay home and hang out with my kids instead.
Because I obviously don’t have enough to do in the laundry, kitchen, and homeschooling departments, my sneaky little mind has lately been trying to convince me to jump on the sign-painting wagon. You know how people are really into those cool wall-hangings that boast cheeky or inspirational sayings? Well, for some reason, ideas for making my own wall-hangings keep popping into my head. Because every stay-at-home mom needs a business she can run on the side, my eye is constantly scanning the junk piles around here for rustic old pieces of wood or metal that would look intriguing if screwed into the wall and painted with some fabulous words. (I can picture the signs in my head; I just have no idea how to make them.)
Various words and quotes that seem important enough to hang on a wall and present themselves daily to our family and our guests keep churning in my brain. Usually the words and quotes that are most satisfactory on any given day reflect what’s most recently on my heart. And that’s how the quote (quoting yours personally, by the way) in the title was born:
I’m so awesome I could go out and save the world today… but I think I’ll stay home and hang out with my kids instead.
I’m not saying it’s good. I’m not saying it’ll ever be painted on a sign. But it does attempt to summarize some thoughts I’ve been thinking.
Some of my mama friends and I are starting to be suspicious that we are stay-at-home moms rearing kids in a world that believes child-rearing is a tedious job best left to folks who can’t do anything else.
Now, I know the working mom works outside the home for various reasons: she’s a single mom who has no choice. She’s a highly-educated mom who uses her talents to serve her community and/or bolster the family income. And, let’s be honest: some gals just plain struggle with being tied down by apron strings. They and their kids are best off if they’re not all locked inside the same house all day long.
Some of the women best-remembered in history are those who dared to be different: to ride, to shoot, to entrepreneur, to chop their long locks and secretly fight as soldiers. And you know what? A lot of them managed to raise good kids, in their own unique ways, on the side.
But I would submit that a good portion of the “child-rearing is for those who can’t do anything else” thinking can be blamed on feminism and our culture’s new way of indoctrinating little girls: Susie and Sally are encouraged from the earliest age that they can be anything they want to be, and furthermore, they’re expected to declare a major at the tender age of 17, often locking themselves into “important” careers that are not motherhood before they totally understand what life is all about. (You’ve heard the one about the pretty young dentist who fell in love with and married a young rancher who will probably never leave the middle-of-nowhere-Eastern-Montana family ranch, right?)
The trouble with feminism, of course, is that our culture has forgotten that men will always be better than women at some things. And women will always be better than men at other things. Because we’re two different critters. Not an accident; God planned it all.
But that’s an argument for another time. The point is, I’m afraid we’ve raised up enough generations of both men and women now who are so convinced that women should be making something of their lives that we’ve undermined the simple, age-old importance of raising kids. I know some young mamas who throw off the chains of motherhood at every opportunity, and others who make themselves miserable straining against those chains. All because a little part of each of us believes we should be doing things more important than tracking down a dry pair of underwear in the middle of the night and reading the same simple book over and over and over again.
But is there, really, anything better a mama could be doing than staying home? Providing stability, gifting hours spent watching ant piles, and teaching quietness of the soul? I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I don’t stay home with my kids because I am incapable of other things. I don’t choose not to ride with the crew today because I don’t know a thing about horses and cows… but because somebody needs to be with my tiny kids, and it might as well be me, their mother.
I don’t choose not to spout off all my opinions on how a ranch ought to be run because I have no thoughts on such things… but because there are already plenty of egos weighing in around here, and also because I’ve come to the conclusion that real life is about waaaaay bigger things than this ranch.
Please don’t think I couldn’t kick the motherhood gig tomorrow and go right back to pursuing the top cowgirl award part of my heart still yearns for. It is, in reality, probably the biggest insecurity of my life: Here I am writing about being this tough, ranch-raised cowgirl… yet where is my top hand buckle to prove it? And while we’re at it, why am I not a better roper? Why do my husband and his friends not want me on their ranch rodeo team?
The simplest answer, of course, is because I don’t practice. At this stage of my life, and I remind myself it is only a stage, I ride only a couple times a year — and then usually with a baby in my arms. I can’t jump in and prove myself to be a hand in the branding pen because, again, the baby in my arms. Also because something terrible happened to my pelvis in the process of that first (natural, I’ll have you know) birth. The point is, I would argue that it’s not because I am incapable of anything but holding my babies.
Sometimes I consider that I am giving up the last of the physically prime years of my life in order to stay inside and nurture kids. So if I ever do go back to training for that top cowgirl title, once the kids are grown, it’ll have to be in the senior citizen division. Basically I am sacrificing a dream I once thought I had because I believe there is nothing else I could be doing right now that might be so important as being here with my kids. I am thankful every day that I get to be a stay-at-home mom. That I live in a country where we can homeschool. I so appreciate my husband for encouraging and allowing me to stay at home and “not work,” and I try not to take a single day for granted because I know that life is precious: something crazy could alter our lives on any given tomorrow and I could lose this pampered freedom to be a mom… just a mom… which I enjoy right now.
Just think of me as an olympian who gave up training for a few years in order to stay home and watch Disney, clean up spilled grape juice, thwart eyes-poked-out-with-pencils, and take nature walks in the yard. Because I, believe it or not, think these things are more important than any success I personally might achieve.
Greater love has no one than this: than to give up her life for another.
(Is it just me, or is that some serious sign potential right there?)
© Tami Blake