Navigating the world of seven kids has had more than a few challenges. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’ve moved forward in my journey or if I’ve taken giant steps backwards. Some days it’s just hard to tell…
The biggest struggle for me personally is whether or not to have a job. I feel like I’m drowning in a catch 22. I’m sure every stay-at-home mom wonders “should I go to work” and I know every working mom says at some point “I wish I were home”… it’s forever impossible to find the balance. And just when I thought I had come close to my middle ground, there’s go life throwing me another curve ball.
I started out as a go-getter building a career at Dell Computers when the birth of Dyl Pickles put me in that place where I just knew I had to be a stay-at-home mom. I think his medical needs were the biggest reason for my decision, I just felt that no one could care for my baby the way I would, so I gave up the corporate fast track and my cable TV to stay home and raise kids.
I manage to infuriate Hubby though, because when I said “I want to be a housewife” he heard “I’d like to be your maid.” We have forever been divided on the fact that while I spend many days home, I do not keep a sparkling house. No, I am too busy scrap-booking our day of rock hunting or taking pictures of the flowers we planted, or building snowmen out of play-doh. Yep, I have many things to get done. (Now I said I don’t keep a sparkling house, but I do wash the dishes, sweep the floors, clean the clothes, I’m just not without cobwebs from time to time.)
A few years ago, the kids were getting older, so I started working as a substitute teacher. It’s the perfect job… always off when the kids are home, a little extra money, and as the sub, I do very little planning, just go in and follow the day’s lesson plan. I loved it so much, I went back to college to work on a teaching degree. Here I am, almost finished with it, and guess what? The great state of Texas is cutting teachers right and left. So I’m not really worried about the fact that I am taking my sweet time to finish up the last year of classes. I’m kind of hoping the economy picks up a little before I’m ready to go full-time into a classroom.
Now, my mind is on a zillion different tracks, which is normal for the life I live. I’m thinking about how in Finland being a teacher requires a master’s degree. There are no standardized tests, but the students come out with top-notch educations simply because they only employ highly qualified highly intelligent teachers. Why can’t we learn something from this? Do you know how many times I’ve met a teacher and wondered what in the world they could possibly offer my child? Which makes me wonder, why can’t we skip this whole college degree and go for some standardized tests that look for a good mix of IQ and Common sense? (I’m not a fan of standardized tests, but if we’re gonna keep doing that to kids, why don’t we do it to the teachers too?) Wouldn’t that be better than dropping $50,000 on a piece of paper that says you’re smart when really, it’s often just false advertising? Smarter teachers would be the biggest thing we could do for our kids! Which leads me to thinking about home-schooling, but like a lot of Texans do, I wanna see my son under those Friday night lights, so public school it is. Plus, I’m not sure my little shack would survive if the kids were home all day every day. The walls are barely standing as it is.
Which leads me to thinking, where is Ty Pennington and my Extreme Home Makeover? I’ve been waiting, patiently, doesn’t that count for anything? When Ty gets here, go ahead and send us Super Nanny to whip the kids into shape, Jillian Michaels to whip me in shape, and last but not least, we’d like to make a little appearance on Wife Swap.
Why Wife Swap? So that my hubby can be reassured that indeed I am not lazy! I am quite busy, doing 35 loads of laundry a week, 2 loads of dishes a day, running to football practice, dance classes, singing auditions. Heck just the time I spend signing folders and looking over homework each day would make the average person’s head spin.
Which brings me back to yesterday. The hubby was quite agitated by the laundry piled up in the laundry room. “What did you do yesterday?” Well, I went to work. (He had this theory that I spent my day with soap opera’s, bon bons, and a bubble bath and then made a last-ditch effort around 3pm to pick up the house.) His advice? “Don’t go, you don’t make enough money for it to be worth your time. I’d rather you get this laundry done…”
Seriously? The same man who pushed me back into the workforce the second my youngest was walking now wants me to spend my days folding clothes? What if I’ve found something out here that just isn’t there in that pile of dirty stinky laundry? What if I remembered how smart I am, or how easily I can send people into bursts of laughter, or that I am capable of earning enough money to at least fill up the Beast with gasoline? What if washing clothes just isn’t enough for me anymore?
Lucky for the hubby, he came home, took me for an ice cream and said “today, I tried to imagine what your life is like, and no wonder you like going to work! I wouldn’t wanna be here 24-7 doing laundry!” Isn’t that funny? The idea that you would have to imagine what someone’s life is like when they live under the same roof as you do? It’s true, however, that my journey is not his journey, and my day-to-day life is the polar opposite of his.
Forget taking my own sweet time, I am hitting the books. I think the kids around here could learn a lot from me and I’m ready to take on a classroom every day. What I hope I can offer the most of is empathy. I think it’s the one skill we’ve lost, that ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes! We don’t look at the grass on both sides of the fence, we just jump to pick one. Kids need to learn to dig in and find their own beliefs. So graduation, get ready, I’m coming, and I better hurry before someone makes me fold this laundry!