Well! After that last post kind of blew up my little blog over here, I was trying to think of what on earth should happen next.
Do I write a reply post, where I offer a rebuttal to all the arguments offered in the comments? There were a slew of comments referring to medical/dental/school expenses, which were a bit pointless, since I had prefaced the original post saying that those ARE expenses that add up quickly.
Besides those, there really were only 3 major arguments: daycare costs (I stay home with my children), teenagers eat a lot and do extracurricular activities (one of the many reasons why we’re careful to live simply now so that we are better prepared for the future), and college. We have exactly zero intention of paying for our kids’ college education. Assistance with books, etc. will certainly be given, and any child who attends a local school will obviously still be welcome to live at home with us. Beyond that, our belief is, if you’re old enough to want an education worth tens of thousands of dollars, then you better have worked hard the entire time we were paying for everything, possibly earn scholarships, and take minimal loans if necessary.
On the flip side, there are many excellent and respectable careers that don’t require a college degree, and if a child of ours prefers to pursue a trade instead of paying thousands for college, we feel there is definite pride in that as well. My husband and I are both from “large” families. We took some loans, got some scholarships, and worked our way through college, and we saw many benefits to that compared to peers who had college paid for. I am fully aware that the whole funding college/not funding college is a major debate, but it’s not a debate I intend to get into. 😛
Which brings me to the main point of this post.
The one common thread that seems to run through many parenting debates is this: I’m doing it this way, so you should, too.
Well… no! 😀
What works for you and your family is not necessarily what works for me and mine. (And vice versa!) My personality, my beliefs, my marriage, my talents, my upbringing, my life experiences, my current life circumstances – all of these are huge factors in my personal mothering. No one has the same exact life as another, which makes it pretty much impossible to definitively say “You should do this” to any other mother. (Unless she asks if she should have some wine and chocolate. Then you should absolutely say “YES,” every time. Trust me on that. Ha!)
Your child doesn’t need me, he needs you! He was given to you, and no one knows better than you how to be his mother.
Our differences are what make us good mothers to our different children. Being able to know ourselves and offer the best of ourselves to our children is what matters. 2 kids, 8 kids; breastfeed, bottle feed; homeschool, public school; work outside, work in the home; eat takeout, cook delicious meals; pay for college, don’t pay for college – in the end, motherhood is personal. It’s hard, it’s demanding, it’s often monotonous, and sometimes it’s just totally overwhelming – but it is GOOD!
One of the best, most involved, most loving mothers I know, is a woman who, judging from externals, is nothing like me. She is a working mother and she has a completely different set of circumstances in her life and family than I do. Here’s the thing. None of that matters. It never has and it never will, because that woman, who I’m proud to call my friend, has a heart full of love for her children; she is thoughtful and intentional in her mothering, and in the end, that is what bonds us.
When all’s said and done, what you see from the outside is not what makes a good mother, it’s about what we carry in our hearts.
“People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.”
Will my children feel loved?
That is the only “debate” that matters to me.
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