Reader Alert: This entry is destined to be a downer. I'm feeling a bit lousy at the moment and have a nagging desire to throw a pity party, so pull up a glass of wine, or whine, and come drown in my sorrows.
I was raised by a stay-at-home mother, but she never really talked to us about why she chose to stay home. She was just...there. I never questioned why my friends' mothers worked and she didn't. I didn't think about it at all. And I didn't really appreciate my mother, either.
Jeff and I got pregnant with Mattie the summer right after I graduated from college. I turned 23 exactly 1 week before she was born. Up until the very moment the doctor laid her slimy body on my chest, I fully intended to be a working mom. I had a full-time job as a caseworker for families with developmentally delayed children ages 0 to 3 years old. Jeff wasn't quite finished with school. For that time in our young married lives, I was the (measly) breadwinner. It didn't matter that something broke loose in my heart when Mattie was born. It didn't matter that the thought of leaving my precious baby girl at a day care center made me want to throw up. It didn't even matter that my shirt instantly became soaked with breast milk at work when I heard another mother's baby cry. We had a house payment. And utility bills. And a truck payment.
Fast forward 5 years to the birth of our 2nd child, Jenna. Jeff had his degree and had been working in ministry for several years. I wanted to quit working and stay home with the kids full time. We had some pretty tough conversations about cutting our family income in half, oh, and by the way, I wanted to try homeschooling. But we did it. I got homeschooling out of my system after 4 years, but I've been a stay-at-home mom for the last 11 years. Sometimes I loved it, other times I hated it. Sometimes I felt like I was important to my family, other times I felt like a wad of chewed-up gum. Every day for the past 11 years Satan told me I was being selfish and lazy by staying home and that I was putting too much financial burden on my husband. However, I have always been confident that it was the best choice for our family. Since Mattie and Jenna, we have added Elijah, Daisy and Ruby to the mix and in just a few very short weeks, my baby Ruby will start Kindergarten.
And the door is about to slam shut on the baby years. No more toddlers straddled across my hip as I stand in line at the grocery store. No yellow spit-up stains on every single one of my shirts. No more diving into a kid's mouth to fish out June bugs or dog food or safety pins. No more diapers or pull-ups or plastic mattress covers. Sippy cups, monstrous diaper bags and strollers have all been sent to Goodwill. I will forever have Goodnight Moon memorized, but the kids don't request it at bedtime as often as they used to. And I am not sad about it. Not really. Except maybe I got a little sad just now when I typed it out in cold, hard letters and then had the nerve to read it back to myself.
The truth of the matter is that I don't have time to be sad about my babies growing up. There is softball practice and slumber parties and homework and they broke their bedroom door off the hinges...again. Will someone please explain to me why there is a cat handcuffed by his neck to the leg of the table? I take a deep breath and know that I am blessed because this is the way it is supposed to be. The noise, squabbles, laughter, screaming -both happy and angry- all signs of life. A life that I am glad to have. I can't be sad that Mattie only has 2 years left before she leaves for college because she is learning to drive and taking her SAT's. I can't morn the fact that Jenna is finished with elementary school because she is learning locker combinations and wearing mascara. Elijah has outgrown another pair of jeans, but he held the door open for me today. Daisy graduated out of her car booster seat, but she still delights in making mud pies and playing in the rain. Ruby is leaving me for big school in a few weeks, but she is learning to read and got her very own library card.
Life in motion is a good thing. It's just that it's changing right now, right before my eyes, and sometimes I wish it didn't have to change so much. or so quickly. When Ruby starts school, I will be going to work. I'm going to ease into it with substitute teaching, but I'm a little anxious about how I'm going to handle it all without melting my family's faces off, Indiana Jones style, when the pressure starts to get to me.
Tomorrow, Jeff and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. I'd be lying if I said we haven't had times of wondering if we made the right decision; that I've never been selfish or irrational; that he's never been crass or unreasonable. All of those things have happened, and more. But I love him a lot. There's no one else I'd rather walk through this life with. I think we'll stick it out together a little longer. You know, until death do us part. The end.