Can I make a confession? Living on one-income in a two income society is hard. Not only does the financial strain grow wearisome, but the lack of understanding from others grows wearisome as well. If a stay-at-home mom dares to talk about her family's financial concerns, many of those around her think, "Well lady, go out and get a real job like the rest of us." As Carolyn Mahaney puts it in her book Girl Talk: "The American educational system prepares a young woman for every career except homemaking. Full-time wives and mothers are looked down upon as lazy underachievers. Honor and recognition are reserved for those who leave family responsibilities behind."
Can I make another confession? If baby Julianna had not come along when she did-- I would probably be working full-time right now. The kids are getting older and, let's face it, more expensive. I'm sure we would have decided to put 8 year old Ava into public school so that I could help our family out financially. But God had other plans and blessed us with baby #5. Since I was home with baby anyway, continuing Ava's homeschool education just fit with the natural flow of things. In retrospect, Ava is a child who needed to be at home longer than 2nd grade. The truth is, I cannot imagine her in a public school setting!
This year has been an arduous year for my 9th grade daughter. She has suffered both temptation and persecution like never before and I have had to work harder at drawing her close to my heart than ever before. But God has blessed! We are no where near the end of this training phase with our daughter, but my husband and I have seen the benefits of keeping her close to our home and our hearts. And that makes me rejoice.
Carolyn Mahaney continues about mother/daughter teen relationships:
"Moms, our daughters were not meant to deal with the myriad of teenage trials alone. Contrary to public opinion, this is precisely when they need us most. Not only do they acutely require our advice, correction, and leadership, but they also need our friendship, encouragement, and comforting presence on the road to godliness. Our daughters don't arrive at Destination Maturity on their thirteenth birthday. Rather, they are being propelled into a period of serious growth potential. The vital significance of a mother's godly influence and friendship during these years cannot be overstated.
Even secular moms are realizing that teenagers need more of their time. I recently read a newspaper article that profiled career women who were coming home, not to care for their toddlers but for their teenagers. Susan Dykstra, an "investment analyst, vice president," and "high energy career woman" returned to work as a young mom soon after giving birth to her babies. But then her babies became teenage boys. "At the very stage when parents often expect to be providing less attention, Dykstra and her husband thought their family needed more." So she packed up the files, stepped off the corporate track [and] ...became a stay-at-home mom."
A researcher from the Harvard School of Public Health is quoted in the article: "We've tended to think it's okay for parents to step back a little and let other adults play more of a role. The research doesn't support that." The article goes on to conclude: "Savvy parents realize teenagers require as much attention as toddlers."
And so, when you see my oldest daughter and me meeting on Monday afternoons at the local pizza joint for breadsticks and discipleship, you can know that I'm smiling on the inside. Because when God blessed us with the wonderful surprise baby Julianna-- He was also blessing us by "hemming me in" at home. For the older ones. And I didn't see it coming.
Thank-you, Father. You are all-knowing. And You are good.