Lately, I have been finding myself on the receiving end of some serious form-filling-out…..insurance forms, medical forms, grocery store card savings forms. They just seem to be piling up. We Moms have long since aired our ire around that pesky ‘occupation’ blank, however misguided or however justified that may be. Let’s see: “Mom.” “Housewife.” “Home Educator.” “Keeper of the Home.” And my current favorite: “Domestic Diva.”
Inasmuch as our society deems motherhood a part time job, assigning day care workers and nannies to the bulk of children’s formative years, while Moms who “have it all” sweep from the board room to the nursery for a few precious minutes of nightly- bedtime-story-quality-time, I actually revel in what many consider a slacker life. Despite holding two degrees from a distinguished university, I am honored to be counted among a growing legion of educated, forward thinking women who stay home………
.a-n-d whose husbands support them.
I work; but I “work at home.” I don’t submit daily work reports to my supervisor, unless you count the numerous documents due to our school district with growing frequency. I don’t schedule power lunches with prospective clients, unless you count a midday yogurt while online curriculum searches, methodical catalog perusals and phone queries about specific course materials that I am considering to match each of my boys’ needs are conducted.
No, this is a family journey. We are privileged to exemplify Pope John Paul II’s November 1981 The Christian Family in the Modern World (Familiaris Consortio) in which he states that parents are “the first and foremost educators of their children.” My husband has become the fun, hands-on purveyor of all things experimental, natural and mechanical. I have become the history, numeracy, literacy and yes, when necessary, drill-and-kill connoisseur. We pray that we are not simply widening academic pursuits, but building a foundation that, while venturing outward, exploring and experiencing, is truly homeward bound.
While I am ‘it,’ orchestrating the majority of the boys’ academics, the minutiae of their social calendars and the general home keeping, my husband is the one who powers it all. His encouragement at home and his dedication at work, make it possible. So, while I may have, during the newness of our homeschooling journey six years ago, felt inferior to my Mom – peers due to shedding the independence and the income, I now embrace the beauty and the privilege of my “job.” The quiet willingness of my husband to carry the burden of our family’s well being in partnership with me, here at home, spinning many plates? Well, this is a life affirming realization: God has given me the grace to awaken to this valuable gift. Titles? Awards? Accolades? No, I don’t receive any of those, any more. It’s all much greater than that.
On a recent Sunday, my husband opened The New York Times magazine, eager to reach the article detailing “family day trips” to one of our travel destinations this summer. Initially assuming that the details included in the story would supplement the wealth of information I have been gathering for our trip, he was consequently quite dismayed. Actually, the story was not in the slightest about family vacations, but more a pseudo ad for a few -Mom-and-Dad-can-lay-on-beach-we’ll-take-the-kids-off-your-hands-and-keep-them-busy-for-a-full-day-so-you-don’t-feel-guilty-because-they’re-having-fun-too camps.
“Who in the world would take the family HERE? What kind of trip is that? Don’t parents get how soon the kids will be grown up and gone?” – was his reaction. That’s my man.
For all our men who, from behind the scenes, keep their families going:
You are a Daddy who works tirelessly for your families and often endures a less-than- ideal work environment, uncomplainingly.
You are a Daddy who would love nothing more than a little quiet before you are “there” for your kids, once you walk in the door after an endless day. But you know life is short and childhood is fleeting.
You are a Daddy who may, once upon a time, jointly chosen life and then ambivalently but hopefully, given this life away with the prayer that your small soul would grow up happier, better. You may wish, longingly and futilely, to now be a part of this life.
You are a Daddy who is patient when your kids are, well, kids.
You are single Moms who are both Mommy and Daddy to your kids. There is no tag team for you; yet you do it all. And with panache.
You are a Daddy who is building memories which will shine and weave themselves into the brightest of childhood snapshots for your adult children decades from now.
You are a Daddy who is the model of Fatherhood for the future, seen in your children’s eyes. They want to grow up to be “just like Dad.”
You are a Daddy. You are your child’s heartstrings.
Happy Father’s Day.
Copyright 2010 Christine Capolino