Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The daily grind...I mean the daily gratitude

My Mom’s Spiritual Spa group is reading Katie Brazelton’s Pathway to Purpose for Women: connecting your to-do list, your passions, and God’s purpose for your life. Chapter 3: "Do What Matters Today" really hit home for me. I put my very fulfilling career as a middle school Language Arts teacher on hold, not because I didn’t like it, not because I had this deep desire to be at home to raise my kids. In all honesty, when I taught, I’d be there over an hour before school started, and often wouldn’t come home until after 5, and then when home I’d do more school work, and plenty more on the weekend. Doing so made me a good teacher. And since my husband worked all the time, it kept me busy and preoccupied. When I decided to have kids, I knew I couldn’t do it all. Okay, I could do it all, but I couldn’t do it all well. And that to me is what’s important. So I stopped teaching.

So to continue with my complete honesty, I really have felt that in these six and a half years as a mother (minus the two when I worked part time), I was being made to sacrifice my career for my kids. Instead of enjoying what I had in front of me, I was looking to what I was missing out on as a teacher, and longing for the day when I could somehow return to the classroom. I was only concerned about my teaching gifts that God gave me, and not my mothering gifts.

But Chapter 3 helped me to view my situation differently. The first page stated, “Some women stumble because they try to hop over this stepping-stone in their rush to pursue a more magnificent, profound purpose…Their daily roles are such an arduous, unapplauded battle that they just want to shake their first and shout to the heavens: “Enough! I want to do the fun, rewarding stuff—now!” They may be too worn out to see that today’s pressing roles are already brimming with a purpose that brings glory to their Creator. They don’t realize that their day-in, day-out efforts are extremely precious to the heart of God” (p. 45).

And that is exactly what I was thinking every day I dragged myself out of bed to get my kids breakfast, to wipe the table for the 4th time that day, to pick up their toys, yet again. These boring tasks just consumed me (and this is WITH having a nanny and a cleaning service, so I am quite aware of how easy I really do have it compared to others). And I could think nothing but what I could be doing instead in the classroom!

The chapter goes on to say. “It is not God’s plan for you to spend today chasing after your future one thing when your many things are right in front of you. You were born to make a Christlike difference in hundreds of ordinary ways, not to ignore or avoid the present opportunities while looking for a bigger, more noticeable project” (p. 47).

This was so important for me to read and understand. I often think of my friends who “do it all”…awesome career, keeping the house, raising kids ,etc. and wonder why I can’t be more like that. I would be angry with myself, angry with my circumstance, and well, just plain angry about everything…despite the beautiful opportunities to mother my children sitting right in front of me.

Now this is not to say that I’m just giving up on returning to the classroom. Oh no! I know that God gave me that talent and purpose to touch the lives of those crazy teenagers in our world today (and the book is not about telling women they should stay at home….the author herself worked all through her life, even with young children…I’m just applying the words to my circumstance). And when all this cancer stuff is done, I will pursue my teaching career. But I don’t have to be bitter about my choice to stay at home. It is my choice…and one that I am embracing and learning to enjoy.

The author continues: “Once we begin to appreciate the treasure of today’s roles, we begin to experience the stress-reducing benefits of peace and rest. Once we believe that God values our today, we can stop looking for the greener pastures of more grandiose or broad-reach assignments. We can let go of all the things people say we should be doing. We can rest in the knowledge that every day (yes, every task) is locked safely in God’s heart. We can hold on to the dreams God has given us about the future without the pressure of having to make them happen right this second!” (p. 48-49).

Besides waking up with a more positive attitude, wiping that table with pride, heating up that oatmeal with a smile, making that lunch without groaning, I’m also trying to seize opportunities to do more with my kids. Okay, I’ve always done things with my kids…but really try to ENJOY doing things with them.

So the other day, when I saw some marshmallows in the aisle of the grocery store, I thought that it would be fun to make some Rice Krispie treats with the kids. Before, I would “dread” making anything with the kids. They’d argue and fight over who would get to add the ingredients, who would get to work the mixer, who would get to taste it. Seriously, it would drive me CRAZY, and I just wanted them out of my way so that I could finish what I was doing in peace. But my newfound attitude led me to embrace this “cooking opportunity” with my kids. Now it is no secret that I am no Julia Child, or Emeril Lagassi, or Rachel Ray…or whoever the latest and greatest chef-of-the-day is. But Rice Krispie treats….how simple can that be!?! We were going to make them as a family…and it was going to be fun!

And it turned out to be fun. I gave each of the kids a tablespoon of butter for them to unwrap and add to the bowl, handed them each a measuring cup for them to add marshmallows and the cereal to the bowl, and “cooking” we did. Fun we all had…and I didn’t even have to yell or get mad!

Except, despite the microwave directions that I followed directly from the Kellogg’s website, this very simple treat, turned out disastrous. Somehow the marshmallow/butter mixture got too hard…there was too much cereal to mix in, and nothing mixed together right. I couldn’t even really press it into the pan as described in the recipe. What cereal did manage to adhere to the marshmallow mixture turned out hard as a rock.

I ended up making the stovetop version by myself while Cameron played Lego StarWars with his dad, as Max and Ella watched a movie on TV. Just to be sure, I added extra marshmallows and butter, and this version turned out much better!

But the point was, the kids and I had fun.

My next idea in embracing God’s plan for the moment….Christmas baking.

Should be interesting!

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At 6:12 AM, Blogger Fantastic Four said...

What a great post! I, too, often regret quitting work to raise the wild bunch! I will now pick up those toys, wipe the table, make breakfast, wipe the spills off the floor, do a million loads of laundry, break up the fights...all with at least trying to SMILE=)

At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Jaye said...

Thanks so much for sharing your heart as you do. I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I HATED leaving my kids to go to work, but being a single mom, I had no choice. I had to make every moment with them count, but going to work was such a hard thing to do, knowing that I would miss out on things when I wasn't there.

You remind me of the "virtuous woman" God speaks about in Proverbs 31, especially verse 28, "Her children arise up, and cll her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."

You are a great teacher - a former student is one of Keiko's best friends and gushes over you everytime I talk about you. Right now, you are doing the most important job - raising your three beautiful children. And, despite what you think and the circumstances, you are doing a stellar job! You can take your experiences in raising your children to the classroom, making you an even better teacher (and those "crazy teenagers" will need that!).

Just remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh. 8:10)! You are His best!

Love & hugs!

P.S. - I will email you an easy and fun recipe for you to make with the kids. I did it with our Kid's fellowship last year and we had a blast!

At 8:24 AM, Blogger wiferhood said...

Thank you for sharing this post. As women, we struggle with this very issue all the time. You know my situation and how hard it is for me to sit at home when I feel that I could provide a better life for my daughter and new baby if I were working.

Personally, I always do it all. I am expected to, so I do. When I work, I give it 750% just like you. I know that NyCee would not get my attention if I were working and putting myself through graduate school.

I don't complain about picking up after her as I know that it is expected. (But don't misunderstand, she is 19 months old and we have clean up time every nite.) But I hate the fact that I can not find a job. I hate the fact that I have to depend on others for the simpliest needs. I hate the fact that my bank account is empty and my savings--well, what savings? I hate it.

But what I will take away from your post today is that God is in control and He will not let this time go unrewarded. He sees the hurt and scarifice. He also knows the desires of our hearts.

I long to return to work to have a sense of purpose and fulfillment. But that sense should could from God and seeing the smile on my daughter's face, the laughter in her voice, or the pep in her step as she runs through the house.

Today, I have decided that I will not concentrate on what I don't have but focus on what I do have and learn to enjoy this time in my life.

At 3:08 PM, Blogger RosalieG. said...

As one of Katie Brazelton's Certified Life Coaches, Google caught your blog for me.

Thank you for your story. It is very encouraging and important for me to hear what impact the process of Pathway to Purpose for Women has in a woman's life. I would love if you would either do regular updates on your blog or email me your further learnings. It would be interesting for me to hear from someone not in one of my PTP groups.

I've walked in your shoes, leaving a job to fulltime parent too. I really feel that is God's choice for some of us and we are really blessed to be able to have a husband who supports us to do so. Yes, all you are doing today matters.

What you may want to think about too is how you ARE using or WILL use your teaching skills with your children. All gifts and abilities are transferable in my opinion. This time right now, your own children are your students.

Dare I point out as well, that God has allowed you to walk through something huge that I've read on your site - breast cancer. May God grant you strength on this journey. Be encouraged, however, that there is purpose there too. You may never fully know the purpose, but "what matters today", is this as well.

What you will learn about in the chapters ahead is that what we walk through in life are pieces of the puzzle of our greater life purposes. These days will all be used for good.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger mi said...

This is such a great message. I have the flip side- resenting every moment my necessary job takes away from my kids. I have been working on appreciating the benefits of working, as there are many. I have also been working on truly enjoying my boys when we are home together. Life is a journey indeed.

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous elyce said...

Ilove you aunt keep your head up

Ilove you !!!!!!!!!

At 9:40 PM, Blogger IrishMommy said...

Thank you for putting all your thoughts in writing on this chapter. Perhaps you can do this each week for our small group!! he...he
You are an amazing writer, teacher, wife, mother and friend. Thanks for your inspiration.

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Caro said...

What a lovely and thoughtful post. I confess to dreading doing things with my kids. It seems it is more work than fun.

I will try to have a better attitude about it.


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