One summer, we pulled up in front of our house, bone tired as one usually arrives home from vacation, cranky, cramped, and desperately needing showers and sleep. Our neighbor walked over to greet us, but instead of the usual “how was the vacation?” he wanted to know if I realized I had missed my high school reunion and, even more importantly, if I knew I would have won an award had I attended.
This, of course, was news to me. You know how fast your mind races. Looking at the lot of us, at that point, all I could picture was winning the one million dollars from some reality show called Survivor: KOA.
“No,” I told him, “I didn’t know I had been awarded anything at all.”
He then said that his secretary, who graduated with me, had told him that because I have six children, I would have won the prize for the 1971 “Graduate of Farmington High School with the Most Children Award.” I imagine my status still stands and I am, perhaps, on the path to winning the award for the most grandchildren. I guess I am the “consummate” mom and have been rewarded appropriately.
But here is the interesting thing….I never think of myself in these terms and I am always puzzled and humbled by the positive comments I receive. To me, my life is just normal life, though it is not normal to lots of people I know in my circle of friends.
Take for example, an elderly woman I know who is in her 90’s. This dear lady has dubbed me “Wonder Woman” because, to her, I do it all. Of course, my family and I know how much of “all” still needs to be done. Daily. But to her, I accomplish more than Lynda Carter would ever hope to do, and all without a snap of the wrist or a twirl of the skirt. And what brought her to this conclusion? One day I sent a container of homemade soup and a loaf of fresh bread to her house. She was amazed and very grateful.
And it isn’t just old ladies who think a stay-at-home mom is terrific. Our first family doctor was always more interested in talking about homeschooling than anything else, one day confiding in me that, had it been done in the 1950’s, she would have loved to have homeschooled her own five children.
She went on to tell me how difficult it was to become a woman doctor back in the post WW II era. When she was a child, her family was “accidentally homeschooled” for six months while quarantined for measles and it was a turning point in her education. Without that experience, she said, she never would have had the confidence to go to medical school. She was a full time wife and mom at home with her children until the last one graduated from high school and then she opened her own practice in her front parlor. Not only was she always thrilled to hear what we were studying, but several times after she retired she talked with us to see how our grown children were getting along.
And then, let me tell you about my famous speech contest episode. The rule of thumb for storytelling is to tell a story about your own life. So, when I decided to enter a humorous speech contest, of course I had to talk about homeschooling. And do you know what? People loved that speech. In fact, they loved it through 4 different levels and I won the 1st place trophy in the district competition! To this very day, there are people I see at conferences who remember I am a homeschooler because of that speech, they ask me how my family is doing, and they really enjoy meeting my homeschooled children.
I believe all homeschooling moms are wonder women. We snap our wrists, twirl our denim skirts, and watch as amazing things happen in our homes. We see our children grow and learn and we, ourselves, grow through the process. When we look back at where the Lord has brought us, our hearts are grateful and overwhelmed with blessings. When we keep our eyes on Him, it is, as they say, all good.
But here is something that alarms me. There is a growing trend toward painting homeschooling, stay-at-home moms as victims, telling them that their jobs are belittled and mocked when, the truth of the matter is that most people are in awe of what you do and are able to accomplish as a family, day to day, under one roof and mostly on one income.
Linda Hirschman found this out when she wrote a book entitled Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, the main premise of which was that women ought to reconsider the trend toward staying home with their children and that they owe it to the culture to go into the workplace. Not only did stay-at-home moms let her know what was what, but the media, career women, and men all came to our defense, letting Linda know that our choice is just that, our choice.
I never know who these people are who are belittling and mocking our jobs as homeschooling moms. Usually the pronoun “they” is the culprit. Whoever “they” are, they are in the minority and will continue to be as we faithfully train our children and as we share our lives with others, presenting a winsome, gracious picture of God’s grace in our homes and families.