It is sooo nice to be appreciated.
After three decades of parenting a basketball team of boys and their little sister cheerleader … After years of being a stay-at-home mom guaranteeing our children never had too much time at home without supervision … After putting aside a lot of activities and items I personally might have enjoyed, but the budget would not permit …
After all that, my daughter called me last month to say, “I am beginning to understand what all you did through the years. My brothers will never understand – their wives will – but they won’t because they are not the ones who will stay home with the children.”
Last year, my daughter and her husband crossed the line from being DINKs (double-income, no kids) to being parents with a stay-at-home-and-watch-the-kid mom.
That first week, I stayed to help her adjust. I thought I would hold the baby while she dressed one morning, but I could not find him.
“Where is the baby?” I asked.
She called back the strangest answer. “Oh, he is hanging on the door.”
She had put him in his baby hammock (which is worn like a shoulder-strap purse) and hooked the strap on the door knob where she could keep an eye on him. Inside its deep pocket the little feller peeked out and in turn watched her.
That was the beginning of her transition from the a career to constantly being tuned into her child.
Now that he explores the world on his own two feet and she is baby-sitting, she finds time a precious commodity.
She called wondering how I found time for devotions when I had a house full of children. I blithely told her that I did not clean house very often.
She said, “but you kept a garden and did canning when you had little ones.”
Yes, I did do a lot of canning during 10 years with four infants – and gardened with her father … and we remodeled a house inside out and made clothes and read lots and lots of books together.
She found the whole idea incredible. The little ones she baby-sits arrive early in the morning. She feeds, plays and talks with them, changes diapers and puts them down for morning and afternoon naps and then wonders about occasionally letting them simply entertain themselves while she does housework.
I told her that the weekend our granddaughters came in from camp, my sister was visiting. We watched as they pulled out toys, Barbie dolls and doll houses, sat down in the hall and began playing, ignoring us in their complete absorption with play.
“I guess they will be all right,” I had commented as I headed to the laundry room to wash camp dirt out of their clothes.
“They just need time to play by themselves,” she had agreed.
“And, it will be okay if you don’t play with them all day,” I told my daughter. “I used to park small babies nearby in an infant seat and talk with them while I worked. As they grew older, I gated the kitchen doorway to the dining room with a wooden chair and kept an eye on their playtime while I prepared meals.”
She does all that and in spite of being overwhelmed some days, she is managing – but she feels the social degradation of women who stay home with their children.
Not so long ago, she sat down by another woman and conversationally asked, “what do you do?”
The woman sighed, “I hate to answer that question. I stay at home with my children.” She has three pre-schoolers, including a baby. My daughter welcomed a comrade-in-arms in the home.
Another woman overheard the two moms, turned to them and identified herself as a teacher. “Never discredit what you do. I can tell the difference in the classroom between the students whose parents are home and supervising them and those taken to day care. You are the ones who make the difference – no matter what anyone says to denigrate your work.”
Right now my daughter knows the isolation and the lack of appreciation of motherhood. But, give her a couple decades and she, too, might have a daughter calling one day to say, “I never realized everything that you did.”