I just hung out with Tabitha most of the day and had a pretty good time. We stopped by several thrift stores, went through some stuff she's been meaning to go through, and talked. A lot.
As an aside before I get into the meat of this blog, my friends Grace and Jacob had a little baby Friday. His name is Daniel. He's in the NICU. He's three weeks premature. I haven't gotten to see them or him.
Tabitha and I talked for hours today. We haven't done that in a while. Oh, we talk. But this was different. We were discussing things we had deep, emotional opinions on. Things like the value of a stay at home mom or the "childhood obesity epidemic."
I want to be a home school mom. Like many, many moms I want to stay at home before the school years. And during the school years, I want to teach my kids. I will be a teacher. I will teach them their alphabet, to read, to spell. I will teach them about science, math, and art. I will make sure they learn a second language and I hope they will learn to play a musical instrument (I still haven't, though I keep telling myself I'll learn to play that guitar in my bedroom). I will teach them their colors and why the sky is blue. I'll get to see the wonder in their face when they get it. I'll get to see the frustration when they don't. I get to take them outside on beautiful days, take them to field trips whenever I want and it's feasible. I'll introduce them to Jesus, teach them and show them that He is the pearl of great price that is worth all we have to give. I will share with them the love of the Body of Christ, the peace of Spirit, the joy of the Lord. I'll also teach them to be kind, to get along, to value animals and people. I will teach them to gaze in wonder at everything around them, and to see the beauty in all people despite color, culture, or size. I'm not saying other mother's can't do this, but I'll get to do it in a way that other mother's simply cannot when their child spends seven or more hours a day in another person's care. I get to be on the front lines of my child's life. It may not be possible, but if there's a 'career' for me, it's home school mom. I figured that out years ago. It doesn't pay in cash, it pays in priceless memories, moments, and in the enrichment of my children and my lives. It pays in what is valuable, what endures. ""All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:6-8 All achievements with money and other material things fade away. But love endures. It's not that you can't give love through other means or that way is the only way. I would never imply that. But the time invested in love by a mother to her child is of irreplaceable value. You can make up any money losses with time. You can never make up time lost.
To me, it is the ideal way. If God has other plans, and I can't do it, I will trust him. But even if it requires sacrifice, I am willing in order to gain what is of valuable, which is the best upbringing for my future children I can provide. No amount of money or daycare service can replace the attention and care of their parents. It's just not possible.
Like I said, God may have other plans for me. If you've no idea who I am, I am not married, and I have no children. I am talking about my dreams for the future. It may not work out like that, and if so, I will manage. Many have. If my kids have to do daycare and public education, they will survive.
But Tabitha didn't understand. She didn't value staying at home and she talked about being useless, and was aghast at the idea of asking my husband to do chores if I've been at home with the kids all day. I tried to explain to her that kids are a 90 or 100 hour job, so even if my husband is working 60 hours a week, it's only fair, but she just looked at me like I was crazy. Ah well. I admit I ideally would like to be able to take care of the kids and the chores. But I know if I can't, then to ask him to chip in would be better then it not happening at all, which is how it often happened at my house growing up. I don't want to live like that.
Now, I do think it would be great to also work. Not a full time job. I think to work a full time (that is, more than 20 hours max) would be a disservice to my family if I have made that commitment to be the one that will 'be there'. But I have lots of ideas for part time jobs that I could do, and I even get excited about them. Tabby was asking about me working in the area of my college degree (Theatre) and I was explaining to her that I majored in it because I really enjoyed it, but that I never could picture myself working 40 or more hours a week for like five or ten years in ANYTHING I could major in. But what I didn't elaborate is there was tons of things I could see myself working part time in.
For one, I'm an artist. I've sold art before, though never enough to make any real money. But if I devoted more energy into that I could. I also craft. I could sell stuff on etsy. I've considered it right now, but there are some considerations that make it impractical (not having a set aside workspace is the biggest-- I could see selling something and before I get it in the mail to sell it a dog or cat destroys it. That would be a disaster). But if I have a spare bedroom in the future, it could be a workroom/guestroom. I also think I'll babysit/do daycare for a few kids when my kids are young, before homeschooling. Once I start homeschooling, it'll be too much. But for the first five years of parenthood, I could do what a pregnant friend of mine (yes, not Grace or Tabitha-- it's like pregnancy season!) is doing and take in a few kids. I would keep it under the amount of kids you can have without being a daycare, probably (I think three or four?), or maybe just get a daycare license. My friend is charging $75 per kids, so even if it's three, that could be $900 a month. Heck, even one would be $300. I also am considering doing tutoring. My friend Lydia did a program that certified her for free in exchange for her volunteering to tutor an under privileged kid for a year or two. You can charge $10-$20 dollars an hour tutoring. So if I spent 10 hours a week tutoring, one hour being the free hour, I could make 90 to 180 a week, or up to $720 a month. I also have writing skills. I could freelance doing writing jobs-- $20 for an article here or there, things like that.
And there are tons of other options, like selling something like Avon.
And truthfully I'll probably do some variation thereof. Like do my art and writing on the side at all times, babysitting when the kids are young, tutoring when they are older, and selling Avon or something here or there. I'm actually just as excited about that kind of stuff. And never underestimate the power of couponing, thriftyness, vegetable & herb gardens, and craftiness to save at least another $100 bucks or more per month!
When I think about that I think of the Proverbs 31:10-31 woman:
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I aspire to that, though she is a woman with servants so... lol. And I might not get up while it's still dark since I am NOT a morning person (though maybe I'll stay up a little later than everyone else :) ).
My boyfriend and I are on the same page about this. Well, he never really thought about homeschooling until I mentioned it, but he can see the merits. But he would want me to be a stay at home mom. We agree that the wife and mother should be a much needed supporting role. Probably because of Hollywood, where the actors with fewer lines have 'supporting roles' think that means a lesser role. But instead, we mean the supports like the frame of a building. Without it, the building would be rubble. A family without someone who nurtures and supports tends to fall apart. Tabitha is actually a very nurturing personality, so it surprised me how impassioned she was about it.
I admit, daring to dream I could be a stay at home mom makes me feel guilty. Not because actually think it's less work or lazy (I am not that naive) but because it's less valued. In this society, you have to justify yourself. You are valued for your financial contributions. One of the most even phrases in the world is 'net worth'. As if one human being is worth more than another. Or as if any are actually worthless. But my value is not on earth, it is hidden in Christ. Therefore whenever I feel the pressure of society on me for being a woman or fat or young or single or whatever I remind myself my worth and value are in Christ Jesus. Or at least, I try to do that. Sometimes I forget and hate on myself.
Of course, in this society, the least valuable positions are actually often the hardest working. I'm not saying very valued jobs aren't also filled with hard working people. But it has been long observed that is harder to work many minimum wage jobs, not only by me but by many.
Tabby's kind of a workaholic. At one point the doctor's told her (years and years ago) she either had to quit her job or quit college. She refused to do either, got sick, and ended up losing her job and missing so many days they told her she couldn't get credit for her classes. Tabby's like that. So even though I was shocked at first, it did make sense when I thought about Tabby. She has so much difficulty staying still, and I don't know how many times she has been told to rest and doesn't. She's doing pretty good with this pregnancy, since she knows the health of her baby depends on it, but it's still really hard. I remember when we were cleaning out the nursery and I was trying to get her to just sit still for ten minutes and she just couldn't do it until she wore herself out. She is doing better, but she's weird like that. Rest is essential and maybe this pregnancy will teach her that. Jesus was always going away to pray and rest, and he met the Samaritan woman because while his disciples were gathering stuff he felt tired so he decided to sit there. We're not living under the law, but God instituted a sabbath because we need to rest at least one seventh of the week, in addition to the third of the time we already are sleeping.
The other part was about the 'obesity epidemic'. As a fat person myself, people ignore my opinion. But I watched many friends suffer through eating disorders. I think to encourage this generations health we should encourage them to eat healthy and exercise, in order to be healthy... NOT in order to not be fat. I think if we don't mention fat or obesity, and not make it a big deal so long as the kid is exercising and eating right, we will prevent eating disorders and cruelty towards larger people (after all, if you go on and on about how awful it is to be fat, it's not surprising kids, who tend to be cruel so much it's a cliche, will be awful to those who are fat).
Tabby totally disagreed with me. She's got a child cousin with a weight issue and was going on about how she needs to exercise because of her weight and all. And how she needs to be told. And I pointed out that once she's told once, by her family or doctor, she doesn't need people telling her.
Tabby did make the point that the kid should know that people are cruel to fat people, why shield them? And that made my heart hurt. Because when the world is a cruel, evil place, home should be the one retreat you can get away from it. Treating a child someway, or even telling them something, because it's something they'll face in the world doesn't protect them from the world, it takes away the emotional safety of home. I'm not the only one with that opinion, I've heard psychologists go on about it. But I have memories of the truth of this as well. When you feel safe and loved at home, then at least you know there's one place on earth that is true, no matter what goes on outside the doors of your home.
Now, I don't mean to imply that Tabby was talking about being cruel to children or teaching her children to be cruel. She just thought avoiding condemning fat or obesity in any form was sticking your head in the sand. But I say health, not fat, is the real issue. So you concentrate on teaching health, then fat is irrelevant. There are actually healthy fat people. But Tabby didn't believe me. I can't blame her, since that's the propaganda, but I've looked into the issue recently and there are tons of evidence that that is true. I'm not saying that fat is healthy and we should all be roly poly. I'm saying fat is not the issue, the other health problems associated with it are (diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc). But there are people who are fat who have none of those problems. And there are people who are bone thin who have all of them. But fat is visible, and therefore is easy to attack, judge, and condemn for. It's a hatred game, really, and I won't be a part of it. I will encourage healthy practices for life in myself and others, but I see only worse things coming for the current generation of children because of the common approach to combating the 'obesity epidemic'. It will only cause psychological and emotional damage in the long run, because attacking fat doesn't encourage kids to be healthy, it encourages them to be miserable, since fat isn't the issue, health is.
But since I am overweight, I have no right to an opinion. At least, that's the common opinion.
One thing that has amused and exasperated me about Tabby's family is their passion about differences. Like, I ate a cheeseburger with ketchup and lettuce. Tabitha exclaims that's weird because to her, ketchup and lettuce shouldn't be eaten on the same burger. I'm like, really? That's weird? Cause I think eating croutons with chocolate frosting is weird, yet I know a friend who likes that! Especially when it comes to food, Tabby and her family think anything they don't do is really weird, even if it's perfectly normal or just somewhat odd. There are many things out there that are genuinely odd that make the things Tabby calls weird seem entirely ordinary. Like a breakfast of cockroaches (shudder!).
So after Tabby and I finished talking about all these matters of child rearing, I say it was fun, and Tabby says, 'well we found out we disagree a LOT'. But I think that's a bit like the cheeseburger. She sees the enormity of the differences between the way I eat a burger and she does, or the way I'd raise my kids and she would. But I just see that we're both eating burgers.
Overall though, I don't think we disagree on the big things. Even though we disagree on how best we can be valuable to our families, we agree that families are one of the top priorities in life. We both want and value children. We both love Jesus. We both love animals. We both believe in teaching our children to love and never hate (while I disagree about the obesity propaganda in general, that doesn't mean Tabitha thinks it's right to hate fat people just because she does agree-- after all, I'm her best friend). We believe marriage is valuable and for life.
I think on the big things we're good. And if the little things differ, well variety is the spice of life, right?