Posts Tagged ‘Stay at home moms’

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. Although my children do not attend the local schools as hers do, they do attend an early morning religion class together. Having crossed paths in the church foyer early one morning, we began to chat. I asked her if she was looking forward to the upcoming break and commented on how I was looking forward to a less structured pace and to having all of my children at home. My oldest is away at college and I had commented on how I missed having her at home.

And then the conversation took a rather unexpected turn as she commented that “that is why she had gone back to work after her children were born…so that she could continue her personal development and not be at loose ends when the children left home, not having stopped in her own personal development.” I was a little taken aback by this comment. The implication was all too clear…and all too familiar, but it had been awhile since I’d felt the need to defend my choice to stay home with my children…and it had been an even longer time since I’d come up against the supposition that “stay-at-home” mothers are limiting their own growth and personal development. I commented that I certainly didn’t feel thwarted in my personal development and pointed to a few of my personal interests which I currently pursue and we ended our conversation in a cordial manner.

But the conversation stuck with me. I was surprised at her apparent and naive view of my life. Did she really think that by choosing to stay at home and home educate my children I had stunted my own personal growth? I thought about my previous occupation of public school teacher. I remembered my time working before the children were born. I loved that job. I enjoyed each day with my little classrooms of first graders. I tried to imagine where I would be today if I had continued working. What would life be like for me? for my family? I compared “what might have been” to where I find myself today. How would things have been different? It’s an interesting thing to contemplate the “road not taken”. There is so much unknown in such a thought, but I’m glad to say that what I found as I contemplated “what might have been” is extremely favorable to the choice I’ve made and I have absolutely no regrets. No, not one. In fact, I think that my opportunities for personal development have, if anything, been much greater given the choice that I made…and even more so given the fact that as well as choosing to stay at home with my children, we also chose for them to stay at home with me. That is, we also chose home education.

Home education has positioned me perfectly for the passion that I have of reading widely…this life style provides the time I need for that and it even gives me excuse (as if it were needed) for doing so as I read with my children and study along with  them.

Without this path of home education, I’m not convinced that I would have had either the time, the energy, or even developed the interest that I have in learning to play the violin as an adult beginner. And I certainly wouldn’t have had the opportunity for all the fun I had playing for and with my children.

I’m certain that I would never have decided to try my hand at drawing. That came only as I watched my own children and was inspired to try it for myself, and our home education environment gave me the courage to try my hand at something that I had previously believed I just couldn’t do.

The writing that I do is also a product of our home education environment. When would I ever find the time or energy to write if I were tied to a 9-5 job?

I have been able to spend more time physically doing the things that are necessary to take care of myself…exercising, walking, even sleeping when needed. At seasons, I’ve been able to devote much of my time to my own health, and when necessary, healing.

There are so many things, looking back, that I have developed a passion for learning about only as I learned along with my children. It seems that there are new passions for study each year as I study with my children. History has become a favorite study. I look back and remember my first passions with studying the revolutionary war period. And then I’ve spent much personal time reading and seeking to understand our constitution, it’s beginnings, and how it’s supposed to function.

I dabbled at Euclid’s Elements (and still plan to get back to that some day), seeking to understand his theorems, definitions, and postulates.

I’ve continued to pursue my passion of understanding how children learn…how people learn, and worked really hard at understanding the principles that would make me a better teacher…and a better person.

This last year, I dabbled at learning about birds…and studied a little Latin…and learned about some of the famous artists and their works, falling in love with some of Davinci’s works in the process.

I’ve been able to spend time learning to quilt and do small needlework…again sharing it with my children.

I’ve been able to really delve into so many of the classics, even reading some of them more than once. Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, Jane Austin’s novels, Jane Eyre… Oh the lovely hours I’ve spent with these kinds of books. …and the lovely hours I’ve spent discussing them with my children who also read them.

And there are so many more things that I have hopes and dreams and plans to study and read and learn in the future as well. Piano, cello, painting, reading more truly worthwhile books, more writing. Has home education stunted my personal growth? No way! On the contrary, it has opened up the possibilities…wide open! I now see so many more possibilities than I ever dreamed of before. I’ve been able to develop and live an attitude of “never stop learning”! And importantly, I’ve been able to model and share some of this enthusiasm for learning with my children…and they with me. It’s such a synergistic relationship.

Wow…and she thought I was limiting my possibilities at personal growth? I loved my job teaching first grade before my own children came along…absolutely loved it. And I believed that what I was doing was worthwhile, just as I believe that what I do now is worthwhile. But if we are talking about personal growth…I didn’t experience anything then like the personal growth that I have experienced in the last few years as a home educating mom.

I’m not trying to put down my sister-friends who work, or say that they are limiting their personal growth. There are many worthwhile activities and choices that women may choose to pursue…both in and out of the home. I’m also not saying that I would not have taken up any of these interests if we hadn’t chosen home education (though I’m certain I wouldn’t have pursued as many of them as I have.) I’m just saying that, of all things, the life of a home educating mother is certainly not among those things that limit personal growth for women. Personally, I believe that we all find personal growth when we seek it.

Home Educating my children has given me the opportunity to begin to gain that education that I never got in “the system” (in spite of the good grades and honors I received).

I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had to be a Home Educated Mom. I count it as one of my greatest blessings. I’m quite content with my choice and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so glad I took that fork in the road so many years ago. I’m loving my trip down the road less traveled with my children by my side…and though I will miss having them by my side, I look forward with eagerness to the years ahead when they take their own untraveled forks in the road, and I continue to explore all the branches and trails that I’ve found in my chosen path.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost


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