by Mary Elder-Criss
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Growing up as the youngest of three sisters, I never had much experience around younger children, and consequently, never really desired any of my own. When I was in high school, I made the declaration that I would most likely never have children. My own mother was a stay at home mom, and it was something I didn't hold in high regard. Wiping noses, and changing dirty diapers was not something that held an enormous appeal for me.
God, however, seemed to have a sense of humor about that idea, as today, I am the mother of three children, ranging in age from my nineteen year old son, to a twelve and eight year old daughter.
Before I quit work to become a full time stay at home mom, I was a visual merchandiser for a large chain of exclusive department stores. I have always been a creative, artsy type of person, and I enjoyed this job tremendously. For those of you who are not familiar with visual merchandising, I was responsible for all the display areas within two stores. This was a fun, exciting job that allowed me to travel, and kept me extremely busy during the holiday seasons, when I would be responsible for decorating the stores with all the trees and glitter that accompanied Christmas. My home store had two large display windows that held mannequins, and it was often a hilarious job changing their outfits in front of whoever happened to wander by at the time.
The only drawback to my job was that I did not get to spend a lot of time with my son, who was five years old at the time. His father and I had recently divorced, and I wished to provide more stability for him than I could working. A year later, I met and married my present husband, and I gave up my job to become a full time stay at home mom.
When Jon was seven, his baby sister, Emily, was born, and all thoughts of ever returning to work were put on the back burner. Four years later, Erin came along. I worked out of my home for a while, with a small business I started, in which I created floral arrangements and small craft items. I also created and sold personalized calendars and scrapbooks which I made using a special program on my computer.
As my oldest daughter reached school age, the Lord began to impress upon me His desire for me to home school her. I was unsure of this whole process, as I did not feel qualified to teach, but the Lord assured me He would provide the needed abilities. Seven years later, I am still teaching her, as well as her younger sister, and I can honestly say that He has kept His promise.
Do I ever regret quitting work and becoming a full time stay at home mom? I would have to say no. Oh, I am human, and there are days when I find myself throwing my hands up in the air, and asking God exactly why I am doing this again. There are also days in which I think how handy an extra income would be around our home, as financially it does get a little difficult.
I find myself sometimes being made to feel inconsequential in the working world. I have occasionally been treated with a condescending attitude because I am not employed outside the home. It is during these times, that I ashamedly remember the lack of respect that I gave my own mother when she chose to be there for us. I now know that she gave me quite possibly the greatest gift she had to give-herself, and her time.
The old term “housewife” really grated my nerves. As if I exchanged vows with my house. Although the term “homemaker” is a little less grievous, it is still not how I would choose to define myself. Filling out forms at the dentist office this week, I came to the employment section, and under “Occupation” I had the choice of either, “unemployed” or “other.” Aggravated that “mom” was not a career choice, I filled in the blank with “secretary, chef, personal assistant, chauffeur, nurse, teacher, and child development expert.” In parenthesis, I wrote, “full time-mom.”
I suppose I get the most aggravated with the whole situation when other people choose to not understand. I have been told by well-meaning friends and relatives that my children are too sheltered, and that they will never know how to function in the “real world.” I have also been advised that perhaps I should put my children in public school and return to the work force to help provide for our family.
I admit, there have been times that I have gone before the Lord seeking if that could be His will, so that things would not be such a struggle. I always walk away from those sessions with perfect peace, however. He assures me that I am in His will for my life, and He reminds me that there is never a need that He does not fill.
Although I may never have a set of initials following my name to testify to a degree, or be world renown as an expert in a certain field, I do know that I am leaving a legacy for my children. I am fulfilling the most important job that the Lord has for me at this time in my life. I may never reach the standards of the Proverbs 31 woman, but I will continue with His help, to do the best that I can.
I will continue to respond, with perfect peace, when questioned regarding my employment by gleefully penciling in, “Occupation: Mom.”
Copyright © October 2003
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has all been said, but I add,"3 John 1 v 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Keep at it, there is no higher calling than this. Davy
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Mary, this was a blessing. I too hate the term "housewife" and took years to stop saying "I'm only a stay at home Mum". Although I also work from home, it's a joy and delight to have been here for my family all these years. How blessed we are! With love, Deb
And Mary, it is THE most important job you'll ever do! I know of no other work that so influences the lives of those under your care then that of being a mother! May God give you joy, peace and fulfillment as you minister to your children!
Bless you, Mary! Your obedience is the important thing. God will honor it in many ways - just you wait and see! I think you speak, in your article, for many who have the sense that the Mom avocation is right even though they don't get affirmation from our culture. ~ Violet
Mary, you are an inspiration! May God bless your socks off today (at least the ONE that didn't get lost in the dryer!) luv, donnalynn
Mary that was such a realistic piece. You've literally bared your heart out. God bless you for sticking to your guns and not giving in to the pressure. I'm sure your children will one day rise up and call you blessed!!