Okay before you all freak out and disown me let me first clarify that I love Fixer Upper. I dream of shiplap. I adore the Gaines couple, they are pretty much my favorite celebrity couple. Chip and Jo-Jo seem to be super awesome and I cannot wait for the the day that I get to visit the Magnolia Market.
Nonetheless, when it comes to parenting, to mommy-ing specifically, I have to disagree with the sweetheart of the HGTV.
Recently, I was gifted with a copy of the Magnolia Story, a sweet tale of how Chip and Jo came to be, the story of Fixer Upper and the birth of Magnolia. Honestly, I really enjoyed their story. It gave me a lot of hope. Some days as a storyteller and writer I feel a little lost. I question whether or not it’s my time to be writing, if there’s a purpose in my work, if I should even be spending my time on my craft. I vacillate, and I share this often, that somedays I literally feel like I need to throw in the towel and go get a “real job”.
In her story, Jo shares about giving up a dream and being God-led to be a stay at home mom. I’ve been there, in so many ways I’m still there. She writes about grieving the loss of her business in order to turn her attention to her children. This re-orientation of life is absolutely valuable. In our house we’ve given up a lot in order to for me to stay at home with our babies.
Jo writes about trying to keep her home beautiful and presentable during that precious season of her young children’s lives. Then one day she just crashed. She burned out. She, like most of us moms, came to the conclusion that her children needed to take precedence over the up-keep of her home. Or as my mom always put it, “People are more important than things.”
Amen and amen. My children are absolutely more important than my home. Jo’s got that right. There is something so freeing about being able to sit on the floor and just enjoy your children. But in Magnolia Story, Jo goes so far to say that she downright refused to work in front of her babies. She would rather stay up late after the kids went to bed to pick up her home or do the dishes. And this, my friends, is where I flat our disagree with her parenting style.
I’m the daughter of entrepreneurs, I look back on my early childhood with incredibly fond memories of my Dad’s office, salty smelling Dive boats and wetsuits. I remember getting paid a penny a word as I would hunt and peck for letters on the keyboard transcribing my Dad’s articles from long form into our brick of a Mac. I remember hand washing dishes and sweeping floors. My grandmother paid me a penny to pull weeds and my Uncle a few bucks to wash his car.
From an early age I watched the grown-ups in my world work. Everyone, in one way or another, worked. Watching my parents work and being expected to contribute, even from an incredibly young age did something for me. It helped me to see work as valuable, it helped me to understand stewardship and in so many ways it helped solidify my role as a contributor in the family unit.
So, I write, I do dishes, and laundry in front of my children. I make as much of it as I can a family activity. In our house work is work and work is play. We set the table together. While I sweep the floors my toddler takes a little rag and wipes up whatever dust is left. My little son “helps” cook and load the dish washer. When he spits toothpaste all over his bathroom mirror guess who cleans it up. Quick answer: Not me.
Full disclosure, sometimes these seemingly simple chores take a little longer because the kids are helping. Sometimes I do “re-do” their chores when they are not looking, but for the most part work in our home is a group activity. I sit and write while the kids do “homework”. Meaning the baby colors all over the table, I accidentally rewrite a sentence five times—or worse leave out a thought altogether—while my son painstakingly does whatever came home in his school packet. Sometimes it’s a little chaotic, I’ll admit.
Nevertheless, I work, we work, they work. The work is a part of our bond. I am hoping that this example of doing work and making my children work will help them to become responsible adults capable of sorting their own laundry and cleaning a toilet. I hope that my children see that I’m spending time working at something I love. I hope they see the value in it, come to understand the value in putting their time and efforts into their passions. They are invited into my life journey, the stories I write, my husband’s ministry. They are included in all of it. I hope this helps them formulate their own life’s goals as they mature. I hope these examples will help them grow wings and fly into adulthood as stable capable young people.
Now to be clear, I am not saying that I choose my work over my children. Absolutely not, however I am keeping my passions alive and am inviting them into those passions. My thought is that it is all about balance.
You’re welcome to check back in with me in about fifteen to see how the experiment went. In the mean time, Mommas, keep your passions alive as well. Invite your children into them. Include them in the big and little things, teach them all of it.