I just received confirmation. Sounds like something you'd hear in a doctor's office, right? But that's how I feel at this moment. You see, I just came home from one of the best meetings in my life, and it felt like a "confirmation."
To me what I heard was, "Ruthie, you're doing a great job on this assignment," and it played a beautiful melody for my soul! No greater words can be said to a mother than those that praise her children.
I just left an Individual Education Plan meeting for my oldest son. My husband and I had decided to let him finish his elementary years with his peers in the same school he's known since kindergarten, instead of taking the gracious offer we'd been given to place him in the gifted program at a different school.
During this meeting, we discussed my son's IQ and other capabilities. Those things are wonderful to hear, but his teacher went on to say things about him that were of much greater importance to my heart. She told me about the compassion he showed for other children in the class, his natural ability for leadership, and his great sense of humor. With delight, she shared her great appreciation for his character altogether.
These events draw me back to another time 10 years ago when my son, Weston, was barely a year old. I made a crucial decision. I had loved college and planned, at that time, to become a nurse. After taking all the pre-requisite courses and applying to nursing school, I was told there would be a two-year waiting period before my career as a full-time nursing student would begin. Months after my application was filed, I received acceptance into the program. Instead of all the beautiful mornings Weston and I spent waking up together with tickles and laughter, welcoming another day to share between mother and son, I would be up and out of the house before he even awoke and home late in the day with little time to do much besides study for the program.
For weeks, my heart wrestled with the decision to go to school and send my son to a daycare facility or to continue staying home loving and enjoying him and telling my dreams to wait. Instead of laughter, my mornings became filled with tears and anxiety as I struggled to make the right choice for my family and myself until, finally, after much prayer and loving advice from family and friends, I decided to stay home.
I missed school, even had dreams about showing up late for exams or not knowing where my classes were. I missed being around adults and having a more active social life. But I knew that more than I missed any of those things, I would miss my son even more if I were to have to leave him every day.
Just a week after that decision was made official by a meeting with the dean of the nursing program, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter! After that, I knew I'd made the right choice. God was blessing me with a growing family, and I knew my primary focus needed to be on them during these years. I had received my confirmation.
Over the years, as the children have gradually gone off to elementary school (the youngest started kindergarten this year), I've been tempted to go back to school or start working myself - and I just may do it. In the meantime, I've been working as a substitute teacher. It's great because I only have to work when I choose to and can still be available to go on all the field trips and be home for my kids' sick days.
Wouldn't you know, though, that people are already starting to put the pressure on me to go back to school? The pressure has been there for the last few years, but I want more than anything to be available to my children. I don't want to be too distracted by college or career just yet. At this point in my life, I still want my main focus and goal in life to be raising my children the very best way I can, and to me, that means to actually be there for them, to be home when they need me, and sometimes when they think they don't. I don't think their need for me will lessen as they grow into teenagers, in fact, it may increase.
So today's meeting was, for me, my confirmation. I'm happy that I have a "smarty" on my hands, but I'm so much happier to hear all the wonderful things about his character. It was like I was told that the last 10 years have been totally worth it, and I should stay right here, doing my best for my family at this moment because it's all so worthwhile.
If you're struggling to decide whether to stay home with your kids, I hope you'll decide to stay home. Maybe one day you'll receive your confirmation when you hear teachers or other parents praising your children, not just for good grades, but for good character. You'll know, just like me, that being there was all so worth your while.
Ruthie Davidson is a mother of four children, ages 5 to 10. She lives in South Daytona and can be reached at email@example.com.