My Story: Staying Home With Teens
by Maggie Morrison
Helping Your Teenager While Helping Yourself
The Cost for Working Parents
I am a SAHM with older teens. I worked from when I was the age of 13 ( really before that, as I held a paper route with my two brothers) until my youngest son became 11. Then I went to work at our house. I get snide remarks. People will say to me, "the kids are too old for you to stay home." "You should work!" And "Good Lord, I would be bored to tears." They can't understand how I gave up my career, the extras to life. trips, business meetings. New clothes when I wanted them. All the things the Jones buy.
And I say here is why:
My children were day care babies. They walked their first steps for strangers. They called other people momma. I missed out on so much of their lives. Swim meets, baseball games, school plays. I took more and more hours away from my family to make ends meet. I admit, I loved my work! In 1992, I married for the second time and after two years of my workaholic nature my new hubby Said, "Your kids don't know you. I barely see you. I didn't think marriage was going to be like this." He had a decent job with benefits and weekends off. He suggested I quit work for awhile. I bulked at the idea. Lose my independence? Trust one person to take care of me and mine? No way!
One day, I was on a rare day off. My son's and I were in the backyard. I was rushing to get the yard perfect. My only day off and I was more worried about the house work and the yard work then anything else. My youngest son told me he loved his natural Fathers new girlfriend. I smiled and said, "That's nice dear!" "I love her so much," he continued. I was happy for him then he looked at me with a lot of hurt in his eyes and said earnestly , "She has time to be with us."
I stopped raking and dropped to my knees in front of him. His tiny frame shook as he tried not to cry. "I love you Son!" I hugged him, "Mommy has to work!' It sounded lame as I said it. We had our third new car in two years. We had a new spa and every thing a person could have. My 11 year old child then said, " You love work more then us Mom! You love your house more then us!"
It chilled me. I felt numb. My sons the most import thing in my world thought I loved work instead of them. I turned to his older brother, He nodded his head and looked down to the ground. I felt sick. Was this the lesson I was teaching them?
I promised them I would spend more time with them. Within a few weeks the promise was dropped off for reports and a business trip. They waved good bye. And as I turned I saw they had grown so much bigger then I remembered. My heart ached as I got on the plane. These little strangers were my children. Soon they would grow up and be gone. I would have missed it all.
It took two months but I quit my job. I sold a car. We have trouble paying the bills now and then. We cut the PG&E bill in half by using less heat and cooling. We shop sales for clothes and food. I am becoming a great miser. We have a lot less things. And they are only things! I don't miss the power suits, the power trips or the hassles of other peoples problems. We budget and plan for family fun. My sons, now are 16 and 17 stand six feet tall. They talk to me about everything. They stay out of trouble. Their friends have a place to hang out. When these boys grow to men, I will have known who they are inside out. No surprises! I influenced the informative, confused, teen years.
I would not have missed this for the world. It is not for everyone. But it was for us. More importantly my sons love me, they respect both their step Dad and myself. They have a huge amount of self awareness and esteem. They no longer believe they are not completely loved! We are a strong family unit in it for the long haul.
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