By Mary Elder-Criss
Copyright © October 2003
Growing up as the youngest of three sisters, I never had much experience around younger children. The ones I had been around didn't leave much desire for me to have any of my own. My aversion to them was well known. In high school, I could have been voted "Most likely never to have kids." My own mother was a stay at home mom, and I didn't really hold her career choice in high regard. Wiping noses and changing dirty diapers didn't hold an enormous appeal for me.
God, however, seemed to have a sense of humor about that idea, as today I am the mother of three children. Ranging in age from my twenty-year old son, to twelve and eight year old daughters, I've had more than my share of noses (and behinds) to clean. Thankfully, he changed my outlook regarding them, also. I not only love my children, I like them as well, for the individuals they are.
I was a visual merchandiser for a large chain of exclusive department stores before quitting work to stay home with my kids. I have always been a creative, artsy type of person, and I enjoyed this job tremendously. It was fun and exciting and allowed me to travel. My home store had two large display windows that held mannequins, and it was often a hilarious undertaking changing their outfits in front of whoever happened to wander by at the time.
The only drawback to my job was that I did not get to spend a lot of time with my son, who was five years old at the time. His father and I had recently divorced, and I wished to provide more stability for him than I could while working. A year later, I met and married my present husband, and I gave up my job to become a full time stay at home mom.
When Jon was seven, his baby sister, Emily, was born, and all thoughts of ever returning to work were put on the back burner. Four years later, Erin came along. I worked out of my home for a while, with a small business I started, in which I created floral arrangements and small craft items. I also created and sold personalized calendars and scrapbooks which I made using a special program on my computer.
As my oldest daughter reached school age, the Lord began to impress upon me His desire for me to home school her. I was unsure of this whole process, as I did not feel qualified to teach, but the Lord assured me He would provide the needed abilities. Eight years later, I am still teaching her, as well as her younger sister, and I can honestly say that He has kept His promise.
Do I ever regret quitting work and becoming a full time stay at home mom? I would have to say no. Oh, I am human, and there are days when I find myself throwing my hands up in the air, and asking God exactly why I am doing this again. There are also days in which I think how handy an extra income would be around our home, as financially it does get a little difficult.
I suppose the hardest part is that I sometimes find myself being treated as inconsequential in the working world. I have occasionally been looked upon with a condescending attitude because I am not employed outside the home. It is during those times, I ashamedly remembered the lack of respect that I gave my own mother when she chose to be there for us. I now know that she gave us quite possibly the greatest gift she had to give; herself, and her time.
What really bothers me the most are the options available in which to describe what I am choosing to do with my life. The old term "housewife" really grates my nerves. As if I exchanged vows with my house. Although the term "homemaker" is a little less grievous, it is still not how I would choose to define myself.
Filling out forms at the dentist’s office recently, I came to the employment section, and under "Occupation" I had the choice of either, "unemployed" or "other." Aggravated that "mom" was not a career choice, I filled in the blank with "secretary, chef, personal assistant, chauffeur, nurse, teacher, and child development expert." In parenthesis, I wrote, "full time-mom."
I get the most aggravated with the whole situation when other people choose to not understand. Well-meaning friends and relatives have said that my children are too sheltered, and that they will never know how to function in the "real world." I have also been advised that perhaps I should put my children in public school and return to the workforce to help provide for our family.
I admit, there have been times that I have gone before the Lord seeking if that could be His will, so that things would not be such a struggle. I always walk away from those sessions with perfect peace, however. He assures me that I am in His will for my life, and He reminds me that there is never a need that He does not fill.
Although I may never have a set of initials following my name to testify to a degree, or be world renown as an expert in a certain field, I do know that I am leaving a legacy for my children. I am fulfilling the most important job that the Lord has for me at this time in my life. I may never reach the standards of the Proverbs 31 woman, but I will continue with His help, to do the best that I can.
I will continue to respond, with perfect peace, when questioned regarding my career choice, by gleefully penciling in, "Occupation: Mom."
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