by Cyndia Rios-Myers, Guest Contributor
Weeks before our child was born, my husband and I decided that I would quit my job and stay at home with our infant. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, though, as I was in line for a big promotion at work. Daycare worries coupled with my husband’s military career made it more palatable. So, I did it. I quit my real estate appraisal position and made being a stay-at-home parent my primary position. The longer I did it, the more I loved it. I loved being able to witness every single milestone of my son’s childhood. I even loved giving my constantly deployed husband the peace of mind that comes with knowing where your kid was and who he was with. I loved that staying at home meant that no job or boss could keep me where I needed to be –with my child.
However, the stay-at-home-parent lifestyle was hard to become initiated into, as I’d been in the workforce for 13 years. My mom and dad worked my entire childhood; the same applied to my husband’s parents. My siblings and I were latchkey kids. We are a military family that is far, far away from home, which means that I haven’t been able to learn at-home parenting skills from family members.
I received no advanced preparation for this position of a stay-at-home mother. It has been on-the-job training the entire time.
We didn’t decide to homeschool (initially) for religious or moral reasons. Our son happened to be on the smarter side of things, so we merely encouraged his love for reading, writing, geography and math. By the time he was 3 years old, we realized that we were already homeschooling him. So, we kept going. A peanut allergy and my husband’s transfer-filled military career cemented that decision.
Thankfully, our kid is smart, so academics are not a problem for him. Being that he is an only child and an introvert (just like his parents), means that I have to look elsewhere for his socialization (and my own). Opportunities for such activities are not hard to find and we indulge as much as we can.
Things can get out of hand rather quickly, though. There is cause to worry about everything.
- I worry about my son’s stimulation.
- I worry about the time he spends away from his father, due deployment and out-to-sea times.
- I worry about strangers.
- I worry about psychos.
- I worry about trusting the wrong people.
- I worry about not taking him to every single birthday party he’s invited to.
- I worry about not throwing him a massive birthday celebration every year.
- I worry about not having him try every single sport practiced in America.
- I worry that I am cheating my son out of Boy Scouts, 4-H, Jiu Jitsu, Little League and soccer.
But then I think about what kind of childhood he would have if I did that. I also think about how tired and resentful I would be if played along with the martyrdom that parenting can become. If I had my son participate in everything, what would be left of me? Not much. His pot might be full (to overflowing, I’m sure), but I’d be empty. Where would my time to daydream go? I’d probably lose it in the car somewhere, while driving him to something. Where would my writing time go? I’d probably have to do it late at night, once he’s sleeping (if I am not so tired that I pass out as soon as he goes to sleep).
My on-the-job training has taught me that one can worry too much.
Shingles, chest pains and Labyrinthitis are all stress-induced ailments that have afflicted me; handicapping myself with extra things to treat does not help me at all.
I’ve realized that if I were to live according to my worries, the joy of raising my son would be replaced by exhaustion and the loss of my own self. So, I’ll keep homeschooling him. I’ll take him to activities 3 days a week, but that will be it. Reserved will be calm days at home where we’ll find the time to dream and fantasize. I will let my son see me having fun, be it watching through something on television, spending time with my husband, writing on my laptop or while we both hike a long trail together.
My son will join the workforce one day (or he might stay at home while his wife works, he has said to me). But I think that I am providing him with a good example that would have been useful for me a few years back.
Perhaps the best lesson I can teach him is that parenting is about creating a fulfilling relationship that feeds parents and children and not the worries of just one person.
What’s the one life lesson you want to teach your child?
Cyndia Rios-Myers is an essayist, novelist, freelance writer, military spouse and a homeschooling parent of one son. Cyndia and her family live in San Diego, Calif., where she is currently researching and writing a new book series. Keep up with her at www.cyndiariosmyers.com.