This I Believe

Stephanie - Kennesaw, Georgia
Entered on December 5, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I Believe

I believe that putting my children first is the greatest thing that I will ever do.

I am thirty-three years old and was raised by a good mother who did nothing for herself, save a hair appointment at the department store salon once every two months. My parents devoted all of their time and resources to their six children: family dinners, private school, violin lessons, youth orchestra and summer road trips to Mount Rushmore… I became confident, smart and strong. I earned full scholarships for my bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. I made good choices and was well on my way to a promising career in music.

I fell in love, got married and whoops, got pregnant two months later. I tried to put my son in daycare, but had a visceral aversion to it. I couldn’t stand the thought of someone else diapering, feeding, cuddling, and teaching my son while I pursued a career and financial compensation. No amount of counseling from my husband or friends or rational thought could do away with the responsibility I had to be with my son and to know that he was being kissed and hugged, and taken care of by his mother during his baby and toddler years.

So I worked part-time and then only sporadically. What a struggle to watch friends and colleagues excel professionally and even my husband, while I stood still. Mothering is such slow work. Progress is made little by little. Days run into each other. Loneliness, the exercise of extreme patience, and boredom are common place.

But living in sync with my values, knowing that my personal actions are aligned with a truth that is inherent within me regardless of the tradeoffs – these are essential to me, just as breathing or praying are.

I have just sent my six-year-old son off to all-day Kindergarten this year and I have a little daughter whom I’m at home with all day, playing, kissing and teaching. I realize that my career is practically derailed at this point. I realize that staying at home with my kids was a poor business decision and an unwise financial choice. However, if I’m fortunate I’ll live a long life, one in which I can carve out some other personal accomplishments once my kids are independent.

This I believe: That my two gorgeous children are going to contribute goodness and light to the world when they become adults because they are now being raised by parents who are present, focused and love their children more than anything else that this life has to offer.