Over the last two years, as I've studied and prepared for this new job, an unseen statement floated around education courses about respecting the parents of your students. Statements like "they know them best" were stated but what was left out was the clearly stated: "Parents are their children's first teachers."
The Catholic Church knows and recognizes this and has so much so that is a part of the Catechist. The kind-hearted volunteers who run parish youth groups and schools of religion are secondary to the parents, who are assumed to have taught their children about their faith from an early age. The greater education system also is taught to respect the critical role parents play in their child's education; moms and dads were the first to read their child a story or help them learn to tie their shoes. It is one of the joys of parenting.
But what does that mean for us as parents?
Although your children will spend more time with their teachers than with you as they grow older, you were and always will be their first. Your words and actions start teaching from day one. By modeling, you show your child what good, reverent worship looks like on Sundays. With correction and redirection, you help your little one learn how to respond appropriately when they feel frustrated, angry, or upset. Their little eyes are on you from the very beginning, which is why my son already knows to brush his hair and teeth. He also growls fiercely when frustrated, just like his mama (oops...)
We forget sometimes how big of a role we actually play. We aren't just the preparer or meals or tucker-iner at night. We are their teachers. We educate and guide them on how to handle daily life. Daniel Tiger has some great life lessons but what will stick is how you react and respond. What you do (or don't) each day.
It is important to remember during these critical times that just like family values, our faith and church values are formed first at home.
Par mindful of the role the Church (and society) inherently knows is not always easy but it is necessary to raise the best generation of Catholics our Church has ever seen. And that is exactly what is needed now, more than ever: a generation of young Catholics who will not compromise the integrity of their faith, who will strive to redeem their community of faith in the eyes of God and man, and who choose Christ above all else again and again.
We can blame the Church all we want; we can shake our heads and fists at the men who feigned piety, seeking earthly treasure. However, if we want real change, it must begin in the home, with the parents who are the first and more formative teachers of their young Christians.
I cannot believe that last week was my little man's first week of "school" (which is really just daycare, but school sounds so much better, right?) I have to admit, I was pretty excited for him to start. He's our first and only, which means he's had very little time around other little ones his age. Both Josh and I were excited and nervous to hear how he did interacting with others.
I was also excited because I'm a terrible SAHM. It's true. We're all blessed with different talents and demeanor and mine is currently not fit to work in the home.
What made me such a terrible SAHM?
I get bored and frustrated; I long for adult interaction. But I don't leave the house all too often because I'm just enough of a homebody (and a cheapskate) that I don't like driving around every day. I stress about silly things like the house not being clean enough or me not accomplishing enough because "I'm just at home" (which is anything but true!!)
But most importantly, I felt deeply in heart that God had different plan in store for me that would make me a better wife, mother, and Daughter. God had a plan that would allow me to serve my family and the Kingdom to the best of my abilities.
I have loved this last year of life, learning about education and learning how to be a good mother to my son. But I also knew the whole time that I was not meant to stay at home with my son forever because I just wasn't as fulfilled as I could be! And here's the important part: it's okay to not be fulfilled as a SAHM. And, (and this is really important) it's also okay to be fulfilled as a SAHM. Neither of these two roles are more important than the other!
In a Fountain of Carrots podcast, interviewing my now favorite Catholic "celebrity", Jennifer Fulwiler, they share that God gives us all different skills. Some mothers delight in baking bread and tackling the mountain that is glitter crafts with their children. Others find joy in facilitating their child's interests like baseball or violin lessons. And others come home from work invigorated and excited to spend the evening with their kiddos, feeling on fire for work and for their families.
Society has raised the stakes on motherhood to an impossible level. Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube have resulted in so many styles of motherhood, all of which have been carefully curated to produce a brand and following that is just plain impossible. YouTubers don't do behind the scenes for a reason. Insta-mamas have professional cameras and stay at home because their Insta is their full-time job. The reality is, there are very few rules when it comes to motherhood (stay-at-home or otherwise).
God created you to be the mother to the children you have been blessed with. However you do it, as long as you do it with love, you're doing it right. Which is why I don't feel bad about leaving my son at daycare. God's got me exactly where I'm supposed to be; how can I possibly fail?