Saturday, April 7, 2012

to stay home -- or not... reflections on raising children

I did not always stay at home with my children. I worked part time most of my life until all of them were in school. We each make our choices for a variety of reasons. I can't tell anyone else the best choice for them, because we all have different needs and different situations. I can only share my view from this side of the street.

Many women struggle with choosing between staying at home with their children and working outside the home. I have done both, and I know I made the choice to work because I needed that money to take care of them. In a way, I was glad to get out, too, to get a break from the many responsibilities I had, and sometimes just to be able to have a conversation with another adult.

If I had realized then what I know today, though, I think I would have looked for another way to try to stay home with them more. Now that they are not small anymore, I realize how much each of us, both mother and children, missed out on.

The years do go by quickly. No matter how interminably long the days can seem when you are taking care of small children, they meld and become one short moment in time, and suddenly they are gone, and there are no do-overs. We cannot go back and make up the lost time. We cannot call the minutes back to give them that last bit of advice or experience those precious moments that happen serendipitously when we are together.

I suddenly see that I don't know everything about them anymore. They are moving on, and they share what they choose to. They begin to make their own paths, and build lives of their own, as they need to do.

If I had known, though, that the last time I spent a late night with my daughter, sitting up talking about anything and everything...if I had known that it would be our last time before she moved and began to attend to the details of her own life, I would have savored it, I would have cherished it more.

If I had known that my son was not going to live in town nearby, that he was going to get married and move away, if I had known that, I would have been completely present with him the last time he was home, instead of being so distracted with the many tasks I was trying to complete that day. I would have looked into his eyes and listened to his heart. I would have absorbed all of his essence that I could.

If I knew that my son wasn't coming back when he moved "for the summer," instead of letting my mind travel so I wouldn't cry when he left, I would have let the tears fall down. I would have hugged him more tightly. If I had only known it was the last time he would live here for such a long time...

I am grateful that I have children who, in spite of my inadequacies, still love me fiercely and allow me to pester them with my requests for some of their time. They have turned out to be wonderful friends for me. Although my choices have not always been wise, and sometimes have caused them pain, they have still forgiven me. They (and my sweet husband) are the best things that have ever happened to me.

2 comments:

Becky K. said...

Beautifully said.

I'm already dreading the day next year when Chelsea gets on a plane and heads to Australia. That is the day that her whole life will change and her heart will open to all kinds of new things and experiences. I know that my little girl will be changed when I next see her months later.

Nezzy said...

Oh honey, if only we all had that kinda incite!!!

I'm sorry ya didn't know 'bout those last time moments but I'm sure you as we all did our best.

I too worked. I did take the first few years off with the babies but went back to teachin' when they were 'bout five. You do what ya have to do.

Sounds like ya did a fine job raisin' your brood sweetie. Please have no regrets.

God bless and have an extraordinary week friend!!! :o)