I asked my mother one time if she ever thought about getting a paying job while we were growing up. I’ll never forget what she said to me. "So many days," she said, "one of you kids (there were 5 of us) would come bursting in the door after school with some triumph, or indignation, or distress. If I hadn’t been around at the time, the moment would have passed and I might never have heard about it."
I know that my mother’s presence in my school years, and her thoughts about it afterwards were a powerful influence on the choices I made as a mom. Yesterday was a perfect example.
It was a half day at school because of mid-terms. T. came home and we were just hanging around together for a while. Then she got talking. A fight with a best friend, big plans thrown out the window, worries about upcoming auditions, concerns about a test, frustrations with high school social life…nearly two hours of blowing off steam.
What a privilege it is, to me, to be able to be there. Even if I were present, but had my own job or other obligations hanging over my head, I would have been looking at the clock, perhaps feeling impatient, pulled in two directions. As it is, I am free to be a mom first, almost any time.
An hour later the phone rang. It was a college admissions officer returning T.’s call about whether or not all of her documentation had arrived. Unexpectedly, he told her that not only were all of her papers in order, but she has been accepted to their school. After a very gracious and poised response, T. finished her conversation with the man, hung up the phone, and burst into tears of joy and relief on my shoulder. She’s an emotional being. It may not be the college she attends, but it could be. It's a good one. She's in somewhere, has a place to go!
There have definitely been times when I’ve questioned the “at-home mom” career choice, especially with only one child left “at home.” All of that time when I might have been cultivating a career of my own… Then there’s an afternoon like yesterday’s. My mom’s words come back to me. No regrets.