I grew up in a kind of generation blender of sorts. Being the youngest of 13 children, my oldest sibling is 19 years older than me…oddly, he’s the same age as the woman who is now my mother-in-law. My oldest sister, Mary Jane, got married when I was 2 and had her first child when I was 3. My nephew and I grew up essentially like brother and sister. I was always at my sister’s house during the summer and felt like her boys were like my little brothers. My parents are the same age as my husband’s grandparents. They got married in 1953 and got right to the business of starting a family. Back then that’s what you did. As a woman you had 2 choices when you graduated…get married or be a spinster. My mom got married.
Needless to say I wasn’t raised with the same values as my peers. I was very much raised in a household where there were the “man jobs” and “the women jobs”. Men didn’t do laundry and women didn’t chop wood. It was as simple as that. My sisters and I took care of the “women jobs” and my 8 brothers took care of “the man jobs”. Fast forward to 1992…the year I graduated high school. I had a lot of decisions to make that year. I knew I wasn’t ready to get married straight out of high school. College was more my thing. I had the “I’m gonna get outa this small town and show them a thing or two” attitude, but I had no way of paying for school. My family fell into that invisible window in the financial aid world where my dad made too much for me to get assistance but not enough to pay for my school. So I applied for a 4-year Army ROTC scholarship and got it! I was on my way to The University of Toledo to figure out what it was I was supposed to do with my life.
The first day of class I walked into morning PT at the armory and met a young man named Tom Warner. He wasn’t very friendly and really didn’t talk much. Whatever, right. Well little did I know on that day that in just 2 short years I would be married to that boy and on my way to adventure #2 of my life: marriage.
Now, when I was raised the mom stayed home and raised the 100 kids and the dad went to work. That’s how it was…and so that’s what I did. It was about the time we moved to Alabama for my husband’s flight school that I started meeting women who were indeed married and had children but worked too! They didn’t stay home! Wow! That concept was foreign to me. I remember thinking, “How can they neglect their families like that? Who raises their kids when they’re at work? How do they get all of the things done that I get done during the day?” Then I found out their husband’s helped them! This was a super-mindblowing concept because now not only were the women not staying home but the men were venturing into the “woman job” world. Unheard of! Somehow couples were managing to work together and make all of this craziness work! But I still wasn’t buying in. Fast forward to 2002, our oldest was old enough to start school. So I homeschooled. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I homeschooled my children. I wouldn’t change that for anything, but looking back I think my choice to homeschool came more from a sense of obligation(the “that’s what you’re supposed to do” syndrome) than from a deep-seeded sense of absolutely needing to homeschool. Like I said, I’m glad I did it…but I’m just as glad to have them in public school now. The transition for us happened at just the right time and with the absolute most perfect school. So here I am now…went to college, got married, graduated from college, had 7 children, homeschooled for a bit, enrolled the kids in public school and………hmmmm, now what?
My kids are getting ready to finish up their first year of school. Initially upon sending them to school I cried…for about 3 days. My life as I had known it had just gotten on a bus and had gone to spend the day with strangers…and they LIKED it! How dare they? What betrayal! And what happiness I saw on their faces when they brought home their art projects and talked about their friends and teachers. It was then that I realized it was time for me to put on my big girl panties and get over it. Move on. Find something constructive to do with my life and stop moping. This was God giving me an opportunity to do more and to be more than I had previously been. Time to step it up. So I took a few months to read a couple of books I’d been putting off, got my hair cut at an actual salon, and started working out. I volunteered at the school and have met some of the most precious children imaginable. I have also made some wonderful, life-long friends. You know who you are. (wink, wink) And recently, I started working from home. With all that going on, call me crazy, but I still have this nagging feeling that I’m missing something.
My mom always used to talk about “those women”…and she still does…”those women”; you know, the selfish ones. The ones that go out for lunch with their girlfriends in the middle of the week. The ones who, heaven forbid, get thier hair colored or spend $5 on a cup of foofy coffee just to spoil themselves a bit. See my mom is of the mindset that if a woman takes time to do anything for herself she is taking time away from serving her family and that is the epitome of selfishness. At least that’s how she came across when I was a kid. So here I am now, stuck between the women of 1953 and the women of 2011. Quite a contrast! My friends now say “If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else! If you don’t get your rest, you can’t possibly be up and ready to go in the morning for your husband and kids.” I like that. It was hard for me to grasp at first but now I finally get it! I DO feel better after a good night’s sleep, even if the dishes didn’t get done. I AM a better mom to my kids when I let their dad watch them for a few hours while I go running or lock myself in my bedroom and read for a while. I don’t believe those things are selfish at all. I believe everyone needs some “me time” to reflect and to recharge. I’ve been on the “completely wiped out, exhausted, totally spent, so tired I can barely wiggle” end of things and I’m here to tell ya, it ain’t pretty. I have some big plans for this summer. Life-changing kinda plans. I have the resources to reach a few goals I have had for many years and have just talked myself out of actually putting forth the effort it takes to get to where I want to be. Well not any more. I will be posting everything here on my blog so stay tuned! And once things get under way if any of you locals wanna join in, you know where to find me. I’m the crazy lady with “all those kids”.
More to come……
- Official Count Your Blessings Day!
- What Do Sara Evans, The Beatles and Jesus Have In Common?