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My Choice

Joined: 1/2/2012
Posts: 118
When my daughter was in kindergarten, the teacher asked the class to draw a picture of a parent doing whatever they do for work. My daughter did not quite know how to draw her Dad doing accounting work and running a business, so she decided to draw me. On parent night I walked around the classroom and saw drawings of Moms with stethoscopes, wearing chefs hats or nurses caps and holding scissors or standing before a chalk board. There was a Dad in a police uniform, one dressed in a suit carrying a brief case and at least one pushing a lawn mower . When I got to the drawing of a woman standing on a pretty green tennis court, racquet and yellow ball in hand, I knew I'd found my daughter's depiction of me. My husband and I laughed about it that night, but it bothered me for quite some time. Did she really think that was how I spent my days?

For a while, after that night, I made a conscious effort to be more visible with my household chores and to include her as often as possible. I loved being a mom and I wanted her to understand that there was more to it than play time. Not for the purpose of molding her into a "little me," but to allow her to see that motherhood was my choice.

I admire women who balance career and family, but I knew that I did not have it in me to be one of them. Not to say that I did not miss my career in Human Resources, because I did and there were days that I questioned my chosen path and the example that I was setting for my daughter. I also knew that our family business needed me from time to time and that if I really needed some "adult time" it would provide that outlet for me without taking away from my responsibilities at home. I have always been grateful for those circumstances.

There were challenges to raising an only child, especially one as strong-willed as my daughter, but I stumbled along, using my heart and head as a compass. I favored "consequences of actions" over traditional punishment, and creativity and self-expression over doing things the "right" way. My style was not conventional and far from the concept of raising "the perfect child".

We built tents in the living room and played dress up - one day she'd be Dopey from Snow White and the next she'd be Pocahontas or Ariel. I should probably give some credit to Walt Disney for helping me raise my child! We danced to loud music, read books and spent hours in the pool. We had play dates and movie outings and trips to the salon to get our fingernails done. She designed clothes and learned to sew little blankets and pillows for her dolls. She hosted tea parties for her stuffed animals (with real food) and created a department store in the family room, where she was the merchant. When she was ten she decided to turn our guest room into a B&B, complete with robe, slippers, flowers and a gift basket filled with goodies. Every occupant (grandmother, uncle, friend) was presented with a bill at the end of their stay - ah, the humble beginnings of a budding entrepreneur.

And, all the while, we talked. No subject was ever "off limits" and I encouraged openness and honesty in our conversations. I gave her a journal to express private thoughts and feelings and respected her privacy. She participated in family meetings and her contribution was welcome and respected. She was exposed to and developed interests in a variety of areas from theater to sports. She learned the value of solitude by retreating to her "quiet place" when one or both of us needed time to regroup. Her imagination flourished during those times alone and she created a world of characters and dialogue that she used to entertain us for years.

My personal activities set an example that valued family, education, faith and community. My daughter was encouraged to participate but her involvement was never mandated.

I did many things wrong, but I also did enough right to help her develop into the strong, confident, caring individual filled with promise for her future that she is today. She will be twenty-three in a few days and will enter her second year of law school in the fall. I am a very proud mom and I'd like to believe that just a little of her success as a human being is because I made a choice to stand on a pretty green tennis court with a racquet in my hand rather than sit behind a desk in an office miles away from her. It has been a most wonderful and rewarding journey.
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Comment by warren

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
Your daughter and her father were very lucky. And the coaching is far from over. Enjoy the game and the tennis, too.
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013 1:12:20 PM
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Comment by lulingbelle

Joined: 6/30/2013
Posts: 2
Wow, I know very well the second-guessing over the decision to stay home and raise your child(ren). I, too, made that choice and it definitely has its rewards, as you are proudly aware. It sounds as though you've done a wonderful job and balanced it all. There's nothing more rewarding than to raise good, decent, caring human beings to carry on those cherished values, the hallmark of a successful society. Kudos to you!
Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013 5:23:46 AM
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