"What do you do all day?" a single friend of mine asked me recently. "Do you really do anything at home?"
I stared at her blankly for a moment. I do so much at home, I had absolutely no idea where to begin. Apparently assuming that my temporary silence meant that I had nothing to say, my friend continued, "Don't you feel that our mind is too good to be at home?"
"Too good to be at home?" I wondered. On the contrary, I thought my mind was too good NOT to be at home.From the outside a mother's life looks very different than it feels from inside. That is why most of the studies about what mothers actually do with their time all day are almost always inaccurate.From outside, our lives may well appear to be fragmented and frustrating. And throughout a typical day, we are called upon to change directions as often as a squirrel trying to cross an interstate highway. From the inside, many mothers see themselves regularly searching the depths of their brains and the perimeters of their educations, looking for answer they are not even sure are there.
How could I explain to a causal observer, for instance, what was really going on while I watched my son run down the steep hill and run exultantly back to the top? How can I recapture just what it was like watching him slowly overcome his initial fear? How long would another person sit and listen my experience with my son.I just told her "You had to be there."
I am at home to help influence and shape the lives of my children, in a way that I hope will create the greatest happiness for them and for the people around them. What I do with my days, towards this end, is to teach hundreds of ten-second lessons which explore every area of human knowledge and experience. At home I just don't use my education; I run out of it, and have to hustle off to the library for more. I know this for a fact. My children certainly benefit from it. But again, how do I explain this to her?
It is easy to see a mother teaching her child his ABC'S, or working with him on how to tie a shoelace. Bu how about teaching them what we do? Children who plays in the general vicinity of their mothers are picking up lessons from her. How does mommy treat other people? What makes her curious or excited? What if mommy wants to learn something, where does she go? What kind of music does mommy like? Does it make her happy or sad? How does mommy talk? What language does she use? Why does mommy likes books so much-is there something really good inside the books?
As mothers at home, we are "interacting" with our children, in one form or other, 24/7. Often we do not realize how much we are interacting or how much of a real effect our presence has on our children until we see them begin to imitate the behaviour in whose care we have left them.
Today, like every Sunday I took my kids grocery store and we play game on our every ride to grocery store. We discussed what we saw on the drive, what it meant, where we were going, what we were doing that evening, by memorizing cars number plate, its number, its colour, the intersections name, traffic rules and when we reached the store, in the store we talked endlessly, what vitamins were in what food, reading food labels, how Cheerios is better than Fruit Loops, n mathematics when in line to pay and check out.
Needless to say, there are many people who would have observed me with my children today and concluded that "she took them to the grocery shopping." They don't know that they were learning, how they were learning. And yet, believe me, it is not the thirty minutes of the intensive playtime or lesson time with Mommy that is going to shape our children's lives, so much as the day in and day out view from the front seat of the grocery cart.
A Mother's Job is Making Memories when they are "home". We are stockpiling memories for them to use in the years ahead. We are filling the corners of their minds with sights and sounds and smells that will re-emerge just when they need to remember that somewhere they are loved, whether they falter or whether they flourish.