This is my job

I’ve been a gainfully employed citizen of this country since I was in junior high.  My very first job was as a church camp counselor back in the mid-80’s when I was a member of First Baptist Church.  I helped that summer being a leader for a group of kids and patiently saved my paychecks to purchase the end-all, be-all of the very pinnacle of electronics at that time- a contraption which was combination tape player/radio/tv.  The television was black and white and the screen couldn’t have been anymore than 4″ X 4″.  I’m pretty sure I was never able to successfully view one television program on that miniscule screen, but the fact was I had bought it with my own money!  I was so proud.

I then had a job with a family friend at Eagle Fundraising helping to pack boxes for schools far and wide with merchandise for them to sell as fundraisers.  This was proceeded over the next few years by several jobs in retail.  I was in HEAVEN!  I got to work at the mall, see all my friends, and got wonderful discounts on the latest fashions.  A girl couldn’t ask for much for more.  I loved every minute of it.

When Jess and I went away to college my parents actually requested that we not work so we could focus on our classes and homework.  We obliged.  After school I went into my degree field with a job at a local psychiatric hospital (LOVED IT!) and eventually moved back to Rogersville when I was offered a position as the director of a newly-opened Family Resource Center.  That job was such a blessing.  I loved working with local families and getting to be involved in any situation in which you see a need and are then able to see it met has always been very fulfilling to me.  I think we are all here to serve one another in whatever capacity we can.  Each of us have different gifts.  I knew that helping people was a need of mine that I had always felt way down inside of me.  These types of jobs generally aren’t very high paying (teacher, social worker, etc.), but most of us don’t go into them for the pay anyway.  I was fortunate enough to stay in that job until I moved to Chattanooga in 2000.  I worked as a case manager for the Crisis Intervention Team through the State of TN helping children/families who were currently going through the court system.  It was challenging and emotional, but I found enjoyment in meeting those kids and getting to help steer them toward resources which could improve their quality of life.  I’ve always just wanted to make a difference.  It sounds corny, but it’s very simply true.

Fast forward to 2003.  I was blessed beyond blessing to give birth to Ava Clair Silvers.  It is worth mentioning that I am, indeed, one of those girls who has prayed for and hoped for and waited for my babies.  I’ve always known that I would be a mother.  I didn’t have little Miss Ava until I was 33 years old.  I’d waited to be a mom hoping that I would be mature enough and ready.  I’m not sure that I was ready even at 33, but she was coming and I was thrilled!  At the time of my pregnancy I was living back in Rogersville and had taken a position as branch manager of a local bank.  I loved that job and the people I worked with there.  Kevin (husband) and I had discussed that after having Ava I would take the customary 6 weeks of maternity leave and then return to First Community Bank.  I always liked being in the work force.  It’s nice to make money and it’s nice to feel that sense of purpose.  During my 6-week stay with Miss Ava, however, that sense of purpose quickly began to change.  When the realization began to set in that I would be going back to work I just crumbled inside.  I’d waited so long for this sweet, little one to come along and now am I seriously entertaining the idea of giving her over to another person for 40 hours a weeks so I can go back to the bank?  Kevin saw my distress and he listened as I cried about my need to be with her, and then he did something I’ll always be thankful to him for.  He came home one night and had printed off a spread sheet.  He explained to me that it wouldn’t be easy and we’d have to make some serious budget cuts, but he believed that we could survive on just one income.  I would be able to stay home and care for her.  I was elated!  Both Kevin and I had mothers who had stayed home with us when we were young and it was important to each of us that if our child could be given that same opportunity then she should have that same gift.

I will interject here that I know plenty of women who work.  I think this is a personal decision and I don’t stand in judgment of what you as a wife or husband or mother or father decide for your own children.  I think that’s your call.  What I will say is that having a baby is the greatest of responsibilities.  I don’t think one should take on this responsibility if one doesn’t feel they have the time or energy to invest in parenting.  The double-edged sword in this whole scenerio is that until you actually HAVE a child you truly have NO CLUE of the emotional, spiritual, financial, and mental toll/blessing this situation is going to have on you.  I’ve heard some women say, “I’m a better mom because I go to work.”  I’m not so sure I personally subscribe to that theory.  I think parenting is hands-on and involves a physical presence in your child’s life.  For me, seeing my child 2 hours per evening before bedtime wouldn’t be enough.  To me that’s like saying, “My husband and I have such a successful marriage because he’s a truck driver and he’s gone three weeks out of the month.”  I get the point and I almost giggle at the joke in that, but if distance is what is required to make something “successful” then how “successful” can it truly be?  Just my opinion… In what I’ve personally experienced in the last year I’ve gained a completely new respect for single mothers and fathers out there.  My hat is off to you.  It’s amazing to me that people have the energy to do this task alone.  How lucky we are that God gives us as much strength as we need.  He sustains us.  Fortunately.

It’s been interesting to me during my years as a work-from-home mom (8 years now) that I’ve taken some pretty low blows and have heard a few comments from people who don’t understand or see the point in moms who stay home.  I don’t have to write this blog, but after events of late I’ve felt compelled to.  I’ve explained the beginning of how my decision started, how our decision started.  Ava and Elijah and are my children.  They physically came out of my body.  I am the one who prayed for years for these babies before they were even conceived.  I think this makes me the authority when it comes to making decisions for their lives.  Just as any reader with children is the authority on making decisions for their own family.  As a parent my first and foremost desire is the success, happiness, health, and well-being of my children.  It is my job to make them feel safe and secure.  It is my job to provide for their spiritual and emotional needs.  I don’t take this task lightly.  Any of you who know me know that I’m an active parent.  I do things with my children.  I don’t “parent” from the couch.  I like to be in the floor and build Lego towers and Star Wars models with them.  I like to play American Girl dolls and dress up Barbies.  My children know I’m there for them.  I take my children to the park and on bike rides and swimming.  We canoe and fish and hike and go on nature walks.  I enjoy active parenting.  That’s what I do.

In recent event (process of divorce) several people have mentioned to me or my family on more than one occasion that “Amanda’s gonna have to get a real job”.  The very thought that someone would feel bold enough to utter these words is mind-boggling, but each time I hear it I want to go into a 4-hour spill about this subject.  Maybe I’ll just print off this blog and start handing it out when this happens.  I would like to state for the record that I have a “real” job.  My job at the moment is taking care of my children.  I defy anyone out there to even attempt to tell me that they could love my children more or do a better job than I am.  I’m the parent.  They are my children.  Our circumstances are in the process of changing drastically due to current events, but I feel strongly that as long as I am able to keep their little lives peaceful and normal and calm then that is what I will do- at any cost.  At ages 7 and 8 I can’t even imagine what goes on in those sweet, impressionable little minds of theirs.  I feel guilt on a daily basis because their father and I aren’t grown up enough to make a marriage work.  It breaks my heart.  My children are suffering because of adult stupidity and it’s gut wrenching for me.  My job now is reassuring them that I’ll always be here for them.  In their little worlds of so much upheaval I want to be able to provide some consistency.  Why would I- how could I- up and leave my children NOW to get some menial job so that certain people in my life (outskirts of my life) will feel better?  Ava and Elijah need me.

This past school year anytime one of my children has been sick I’ve been able to come and get them from school and keep them at home and be their nurse.  Anytime one of my children has had a field trip and they want me to attend I’ve been able to go.  Anytime one of my children’s teachers is having a class party and they need help I’ve been able to help out.  These are some of the added benefits of being available to your children.  I know some lucky women who have bosses who are flexible on such issues and give them time off for these types of events.  You are so blessed!  I’m proud of all the bosses out there who get it.  My average day at home generally begin with getting two sleepy children out of the bed and dressed for school.  We brush teeth and hair and have our breakfast.  I take them to school and then return home to work at the house or run errands.  Dishes are to be washed.  Yard is to be mowed.  Clothes are to be laundered.  Bathtubs need to be scrubbed.  Depending on the day and what’s going on I may be able to sneak in a lunch with a friend or a quick trip to my mom’s house, but before you know it it’s 3 p.m. and time to get kids from school.  I pick them up, we generally have a snack, and then we take about an hour of down time and do whatever they’d like.  We may watch a movie, ride a bike, play with the cats- whatever.  Then it’s homework time.  I put one child in the shower and the other sits with me and we complete the necessary assignments for that night.  Then I switch kids- next one goes in shower, next one starts on homework.  After showers it’s suppertime and we all sit and eat.  After dinner, if weather permits, we will sometimes ride bikes or just walk downtown.  My kids enjoy being outside.  When we return home we’ll have a little more downtime and then it’s time to brush teeth and get ready for bed.  We read stories before bed- actually now they read to me- then it’s time for prayers and everyone is tucked in.  I’m thankful for the routine of our days.  Sometimes it is the simplicity of that routine (and much prayer) which has kept my head above water.

Thankfully, I am not to the point yet where money has become a tremendous issue.  Is there some struggle?  Yes.  Is there much readjusting which has to be done?  Yes.  My new little family of three, however, always has everything we need.  We live (for now) in a lovely home and our utilities are paid.  We always have food and the necessities.  I’ve been blessed with family who will volunteer to meet needs of ours before I even speak a word.  God has blessed me greatly and I’ll never forget such generosity- my mother, my sister and brother-in-law, my grandmother, and even sweet friends.  The Lord has always provided for us and I have no doubt that He will continue.

What I’ve wanted to say to these busy bodies all along is this- When and if a day ever comes that I can’t meet the needs of my children financially I will do anything I have to do to fix that situation.  I’m not afraid to work “a real job”.  I’m simply not in that position at this time.  I’d like to also tell them that until the day comes I approach you directly and ask you personally for a hand out, my financial situation is none of your business.  I can assure you, I’ve approached none of them and I won’t ever.  Let me do what I know the Lord has called me to do.  I’m being a mother to Ava and Elijah Silvers.  This is my job.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Sturgeon
    May 12, 2012 @ 13:05:59

    My neice is going through a divorce and has two children ….I am sure she will enjoy reading this . Thanks

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    Reply

    • mandaclair
      May 13, 2012 @ 20:42:16

      Barbara, thank you. I hope your niece will enjoy this read. It’s such a difficult situation to feel that you have to explain your life choices to someone else. Truth is- those who know me best already know the explanation. Those who don’t aren’t really crucial parts of my daily life. I’m learning to move on from there.

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