1. My Grandmothers, my Mother, and my Sister:
My Grandma Dutchie taught me that life can be hard, that you must be tough and persevere. That your life doesn't always look like the life of the Mother next door. My Sister, Rikki, lives this truth out daily as a working Mother. She longs to stay home with her boys, but cannot.
My Grandma Faye taught me that cooking meals and opening your home to your grandchildren is the next step after mothering your own children.
My Mother, Velinda, taught me that actually "mothering" is what is important. She stayed home with me, my older brother, and my younger sister, even when most other mothers in the 80s and 90s were going off to work (even though we could have used the money). She taught me mothering basics. You bathe your children every night in a warm bath, and let them play with their toys in the bathtub. You feed your children...three times a day, including a warm dinner that is set on the kitchen table for the entire family to enjoy together. You clothe your children...in nice, matching clothing...that is clean and wrinkle-free. You make sure they've brushed their teeth and you brush their hair...you pull your little girls' hair up in pony-tails, and tie yarn ribbons in them. She taught me mothering basics. She also taught me that being together and following very simple traditions can fill a child's heart. For 32 years. She taught me a cheery smile (even when it may be a little fake) is always better than a heartbroken frown.
2. Staying home.
I worked outside of our home once upon a time. It hurt. I cried. I came home.
I sent my beautiful, smart girls to public school to a teacher who didn't love them and a government that tried to turn them "into Romans". It hurt. I cried. They came home with me.
We've learned that being together as a family is not always easy, but it is such blessing. I know my children and they know me, in ways that would not be possible if I were gone 40 hours a week at work, and they were gone 35 hours a week at school. I would not trade our family-integrated lifestyle for the world.
In the 13 years I've been doing this, I could not count the number of mistakes I have made.
You do not wake a sleeping newborn, to change their diaper. You do not send your child to their biological father's every other weekend because the juvenile court says you must. You do not leave a wailing baby in their crib to just "cry it out". You do not SCREAM at your children. You do not let the pediatrician be your child's parent. You do not let your child do what everyone else's child is doing, just because everyone else's child is doing it.
You do just watch an angelic sleeping newborn, because so soon they will be babies and not newborns. You do fight for your child's safety and well-being. You do let a crying baby sleep with you. You do try, so very, very hard NOT to SCREAM at your children. You do shake your head, and smile at the pediatrician, but YOU be your child's parent. You do take the time to think about, pray about, and talk about every little thing you let you child do.
4. My husband, Brian.
I will just say, that without his support, encouragement, and understanding, I would not be the Mother I am. He has let me completely embrace Motherhood in every way. Even when it meant we left our honeymoon a day early. Even when it meant we would be broke. Even when it meant he would be a father to more than the average 2.5 children in American homes.
5. My faith.
I fought the maternal instinct in me for a long time. But once I formed a relationship with Jesus, and living out the bible became part of my everday life, I could see that I was just becoming what God had intended for me all along.
I have never felt so content as I do right now in my life. Staying home and mothering 7 children has brought me more freedom to be ME than anything else ever has. I love being a Mother.