Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Traditional Wife and Mom?

Thomas's comment on my last post and a couple of conversations I've had recently about homeschooling inspired this post. Yes, I do the laundry for my family. It's one of my alter-egos: the Laundry Fairy. That's how the clean stuff makes it from the basket to the closet - the Laundry Fairy does it all. No, I don't iron. The Iron Fairy is not one of my alter-egos. Never has been, never will be. In fact, at my wedding shower 27 years ago, my Mom gave me a gift and announced it wasn't for me, it was for Eric. It was an ironing board and iron. She told me she knew I would never use it, that it would always be Eric's job. That was an accurate prediction. I'll iron my own clothes in a pinch, but that's it. One time when Eric was in a rush to get from work to a meeting, he asked me to iron him a shirt. When I plugged the iron in, flames shot out of the plug - a sure sign that I was not meant to iron. Eric had to leave work, get to the store, buy a new iron and iron his own shirt. I don't think he has ever asked me again!

Despite the whole ironing thing, I am a traditional wife and mother. Traditional in the sense that I have been home with the kids all these years while Eric has worked to support us. I cut my hours to part-time when Web was born, cut them even more when Riley was born and actually managed to not work outside the home at all from the time Riley was two till he was five. That was when I started at my current job. Back then I only taught a two credit class, over the years I've worked up to 12 credits - the max a part-timer can teach. We made a decision long ago to adjust our lifestyle to allow me to be home. At that time, we thought I'd go back to work when Riley entered school. Our decision to homeschool changed that plan; instead the plan became for me to go back to work full time when Riley graduated. For those keeping track, you are right - he'll be a senior this year. My time is short!

We've been incredibly fortunate that Eric has been able to support us over the years. Of course, this was a choice we made, and we were fully aware of the financial and material impacts that it would have on our life. I realize that we have been very blessed to be able to afford to spend those years with our children. Again, though, it is a choice. We gave up big vacations, a big house, new cars and other material things to achieve our dream. It's just been in the last few years that some of that has begun to change - I consider that a bonus. In the middle years, we were even more lucky that Eric was able to work from home. It gave him a chance to participate in some of the schooling and gave us a lot of time together as a family.

Back to the post title. Being the one at home all day, I have taken on the traditional roles of wife and mother. I do the cleaning, the shopping, the laundry, the bills, the cooking, the schooling; basically I manage our household and the boys education. I'm not a big gardener, but I work in the yard anyway - mostly that is a shared task though (if it even gets done - running seems to have impacted our yard work abilities!) Eric manages the cars (thank goodness), mows and does all home repair. It works for us. The boys have been taught all the basics - Web was perfectly able to fend for himself when he left home. The boys have had chores, but not a huge amount. During the high school years they both have held a part-time job and attended school full time. I feel like that is enough. My job is to keep things running smoothly so both Eric and the boys can be successful.

I'm kind of sad that this season of my life is coming to an end. I am a homebody through and through. I already miss the days when we spent all our time together. On the other hand, I'm also ready for the "empty nest". I'm ready to take off for the weekend and not worry about the teenager at home. I'm ready to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner instead of cooking. I'm ready to let the housework go, the dust and weeds build up...oh wait...I'm already doing that one! It was strange to go from an everyday family of four to an everyday family of three, and it will be even stranger to go back to being a full-time couple. I know that I will always be a parent, but the daily business of being a parent, of being a foursome, or threesome will be over. We are facing one of life's big transitions at our house and part of me wants to gather the boys in tight and hang on, part of me wants to give them that gentle push out into the world.

So, yep. Wife, Mother, Runner. That's me. And on that note, this week to date:
Monday: Rest from running, Pilates
Tuesday: 8 miles with Sonya, 1:42:47

20 comments:

Annette said...

I can relate on the ironing. I try not to buy clothes that have to be ironed or I'll never wear them. :)

Good for you for being a traditional mom. There's not many out there and I'm sure your husband/kids appreciate it - even if they don't say so.

robtherunner said...

At least you know your place:)

Sorry I couldn't resist, and I am having a hard time not laughing to hard at the moment. I hope I do not lose all my female blogging friends that read your blog now. Maybe they'll come over and flame me on my blog.

Rose said...

I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and I do not regret a single moment of that time. I went to law school when my husband became very ill and I thought I might become a widow. Thank God that did not happen, and I still relish the traditional roles I retain, even though I work now. The "empty nest" time is nice - relationships mature and you can eat pizza for breakfast and cereal for dinner!

I think Rob is looking for attention! ;-)

backofpack said...

Now, Rob. You know me. Do I really know my place? I do - I'm the all-powerful Queen of the Household, Princess of Plenty and Goddess of Good. I rule the sons and star. And even some secondary planets!

JustRun said...

It sounds like all your duties of mom suit you better than anything else would have. Not to worry, you'll never have to relinquish the title, just the work. :)

Wes said...

Yea, you and my wife have the same ironing bug. Our idea of ironing is to get the clothes out of the dryer and hang them up right away with as few wrinkles as possible. More often then not, my wife will throw my work clothes into the dryer and leave them there for days. *sigh* I've had kids in my married life since day one, and its just in the past couple of weeks that I have been able to shoe (sic?) my oldest one out of the house and into an apartment. I almost got rid of her to Auburn at Montgomery (AL) on a scholarship, but she came home after the first day :-) I've sacrified all of my money and a lot of effort on my son's education and the two restaurants I own. It has been some sacrifices and at this point, I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to make it. We could go bankrupt next month, or we could start making some money. Only God knows. Having just got back from Charleston, I definitely favor the empty nest syndrome. You can visit your kids as much as you want, but at the end of the day, you can go or send them home. Now, I'm gonna have to catch up with Rob's remark. C ya!

Carrie said...

I've never read your blog until now, and I loved this post. I am also a mom of two boy's and I stay at home with them, and I love it. I wouldn't want it any other way. I am so blessed to be able to do this, but it is a sacrifice sometimes like you said to go without when everyone around you has and does more, but I know this is the right decision for our family. My youngest is going to kindergarten in three weeks. Although I know it will be good for me as I am also starting school, but those first few weeks will be something else I'm sure. I'm going to miss him so much, but am also very excited for him because he's so excited about going. I want to years to slow down, but it seems they just keep getting faster. Good luck with all your changes.

Sarah Elaine said...

Well, I'm not sure I can keep reading your blog. I mean... what kind of freak doesn't like ironing???

No, seriously... I find it kind of therapeutic. (Trust a carnivore to be like that, eh?)

Despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed this post... mostly because of all the sincerity and passion it contained... You are clear about what (and who) you love... and that's a beautiful thing.

And not to worry... I still like you, even if you don't iron. ;-)

TryAthlete said...

If I could, I'd homeschool too. I'd rather have more control over my children's education, and I don't believe in the education system here.

Transitions aren't easy but I hope after this year both you and the boys have the time and flexibility to seek out new experiences.

Sarah said...

Sarah's must think alike because I like ironing too. I find it relaxing and meditative, especially the sound of the steam. aahhhh....

Nice post. I think its great that you've been there for your family in a way that suits you best.
: )

craig said...

I admire the decisions you've made to place your family relationships first. Pamela and I have one more year of having a child at home full time and I know what you mean about being sad that this stage of life is nearing an end.

Ryan said...

Lots of catching-up to do! Great relay recap, well done! Sorry to hear about your heart thing, it takes a lot of wisdom to listen to your body’s warning signs, from what I read it looks like you've managed well over the last few weeks, especially with all the mileage! Excellent crew report! Keep on running =)

Robb said...

I think Rob wants you to mother him a bit more!

I believe you know where I stand. For the benefit of all of your readers here...Victoria stays at home while I struggle for a buck...we homeschool our boys and it's good. Like you, we do not have new vehicles nor do we live real high...but we're happy.

No need for too much detail here. I'll just say that the benefits out weigh the sacrifices hands down! I wouldn't change a thing.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

what a beautiful post, Michelle!

I hate ironing. Johnny and I have worked it out - he does the laundry, and hangs up my "work clothes" asap to avoid any need of ironing. I put away the rest of the clothes at a later date...

Johnny and I have turned things around a bit - he does the traditional thing, while I go to work. It's an interesting dynamic. A cute sidenote: he told me the other day that he's not sure he wants to student teach this fall, because he just wants to focus on being a "mom" and "wife" :)

Nicole said...

I love pilates! I just wish I had the time and/or energy to go more often.

What a great post. You seem like you are a wonderful mother and I hope your kids can really appreciate you. I don't know if I really appreciated my mom the last 3 years of her life and I really regret that, but at least I had the oppurtunity to make peace with that before she left.
Hope you find just as much joy in your next phase in life.

Anne said...

We're both at that same station in life, with my younger daughter now a high school senior too. It's going to feel strange for both of us when the house is empty.

Liv said...

Ha ha you and Rob crack me up :)

Maybe he should remember the quote from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" - "The man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck... and she can turn the head any way she likes"

;)

D said...

What a nice post Michelle. I think you need to post Rob's address so all of the female bloggers visiting the area can egg his house....just kidding.

Donald said...

I don't know when "traditional" became a synonym for "bad". If the situation works for you guys, so be it. Why mess with it?

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

I haven't used my iron in months, maybe even a year. I stopped buying things that needed ironing and hubby doesn't wear anything that needs ironing either. One of these days I will break down and maybe iron a shirt or two, nah.

I also don't vacuum. Hubby seems to enjoy it so who am I to deprive him of that thrill.