On my journey through motherhood, I like to do a little gardening, a little cooking, a little sewing, a little homeschool, a little photography.  Maybe I’d be more skilled if I just did one of those, but I’m having fun trying to do it all.

I gave up my job and haven’t gotten a new one because I wanted to homeschool my kids. This decision came at time which wasn’t ideal: when Family Man decided to go back to school and finish his degree, so in addition to me not working, he’s only working part time. I know that plenty of people would say that’s irresponsible.  We do depend more on our extended family, who have helped us out all along with things like buying clothes and toys for our kids and even groceries for us when our food stamps aren’t enough for the month.  Thankfully, they’re very generous and they’d be doing it anyway, even if we didn’t really need it.

Yes, food stamps. We’ve been accepting public assistance in the form of food stamps in spite of the fact that I’m perfectly capable of finding a job if we put our kids back in public school and childcare. All those angry conservatives who believe that people on public assistance are lazy moochers would point and me and say I’m the perfect example of their complaints. I feel guilty about that. I know that so many people claiming food stamps struggle to find work, or to support their families with the work they do have and they absolutely (in my opinion) deserve to have this safety net. I don’t know if I deserve it because I’m making it a choice. I’m not lazy. I work really hard at home, for which I receive no monetary compensation. And you know, money talks.

(Just not to me.  Money has stopped talking to me, and I’m ignoring it back.)

We’re not living in the lap of luxury on the public dole as some of those angry conservatives must think (they seem awfully jealous, so I’m assuming that’s what they think).  We’ve made a lot of sacrifices to allow me to stay home with our kids right now.  We drive a car that’s held together by duct tape, but it has a decent engine and its a safe enough ride, even if its not pretty or new.)  We don’t wear new clothes; we sew patches on the old ones and wear hand-me-downs.  We make meals from scratch and we don’t eat out.  And more.

beige 1999 Toyota CamryOur sweet ride, complete with broken door handle and duct tape over window that won’t roll up.

The thing is, I’m content with it all, because we’ve made the choice ourselves.  I like not having an outside job. I like being home with my kids. Its been eleven months since I quit my job and we moved. I’m happier now than I was for years. All those years we were both working, living in a high cost of living area and we qualified for food stamps then, too. And we lived in drafty moldy houses where the rent was way too high and I was often miserable.

I love our house here. Its small and efficient and comfortable and best of all, insulated and warm all year-round. It’s also just over half of what we’d been paying for rent at those other places that I liked so much less. So, I’m happy here, and we’re just scraping by each month. But comfortably scraping by. Our kids have everything they need. They’re well-clothed and well-fed and have oodles of toys to keep them occupied. We take walks in the forested park nearby and we sometimes get to go to the river and camping as well. They don’t want for anything and any problems they have are first world problems. So, I feel no guilt on their behalf. I’m proud of myself for committing to homeschooling for this first year and I think they’ve gained a ton from the experience.

kids in forest mom making facesMontage of our free! fun walk in the forest the other day.

It’s true, we’ve hardly left the house this summer, mainly because we can’t afford a full tank of gas. My kids have been spending the better part of these summer days in their pj’s and have been playing video games almost every afternoon.  We’ve also had lots of time to  play Uno and Monopoly and Space Checkers (I got in on clearance for $3.49 and its awesome, run out and buy it).  And of course, walk in the woods. So, its all good.  We’re relaxed and we’re enjoying our time together as a family.

Plus, they’re only young once and any moments I miss out on what our kids are going through, I will never get back. I want to be here for them. Sure, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I yell when I shouldn’t, or worse, criticize when I never should. But I am their Mom. And I try. Most of the time I’m patient and I take care of them and give them everything they need. They know they can depend on me. They know that if they ask me to read them a book, I’ll most likely say yes. They hug me and kiss me when they feel like it and I hug and kiss them back. My youngest still holds my hand when we go for a walk. And I don’t want to miss those opportunities. I will never get them back.