(In the Beauty of Family)
The beauty of child-rearing and it's main, though well hidden, function is achieiving Selflessness. Meaning that, if we do it properly, must come out of ourselves, and learn to serve other's well. It is a virtue of virtues, and the challenge of a life time! It is just bordering the impossible, and frequently drives us over the border! But Family remains God's first and best of institutions, His main refiner's fire, and His School of hard knocks to those who have not yet been trained to learn strictly from His Spirit the easy way!
However, I have noticed that this particular life-venture seems to have lost its validation, and glamour over the last few decades. No longer is the idea of being a “Mom” managing the home, and seeing to the well-being of all who dwell there, seen as any kind of a “real job”. If I had a mere penny for every time I've been asked, “So...do you work?”, I would have no need of any other income!
Do I work!?! Are you kidding me right now?! This question was most often put to me when I had seven children around my feet clearly visible. Who obviously, due to their ages, lived at home – all spanning a twelve year age difference – AND – these non-thinking people knew that I was actively caring for an elderly invalid, in our home, at the same time!
You bet your sweet booty I work, clown! What an astonishing concept! At times I just couldn't avoid the immediate urge for extreme sarcasm, “Oh NO! My many servants see to the laundry, cleaning, shopping, food, transportation, health needs and education of this brood – I simply play with them until they are ready for classes!” Wow. “Do you work?” Really?!
If by that ridiculous question you really mean, “Do I draw a consistent paycheck which validates my pitiful existence?”, then no. But in reality, actually I work on a very complicated bartering system! Lol Oh Brother! But according to MY definition of “work” the correct answer would be “Yes. And circles around YOU!” It caused an especially caustic response when asked by people “in ministry” whose “living” came from the tithes and offerings of those, like my husband, who did “Work” in their limited estimation! As you can tell, I still harbor some very strong feelings about this idiotic misconception!
All anyone had to do was follow me to the grocery store ever two weeks (to watch me purchase amounts of groceries that looked like I had heard a storm warning – while keeping the kids in line and out of mischief) - And then home again - (to watch me put the two weeks worth of groceries away- that it took to nourish this small army) - to be able to grasp the magnitude of the work I faced every day! And that is just one day in every two week period! (Except for those weeks wherein I had to compensate for the lack of funds by making all of the meals needed from scratch out of less than ideal materials! Not easier!)
Did I work?! Well, let's see – I got up roughly around 4:30 a.m. Most of those years, just to manage an hour or so of “quiet time”, in which I could actually hear God! Not for religious kudos, mind you, just for sheer mental survival! And then Gene got up a couple of hours later to get ready for work, and then the children started rolling out needing breakfast, cleaning, dressing, etc.
And then there were the copious amounts of laundry needed by a 10 person household – which included elderly who could not control their bodily functions at all times – and usually, for a time at least, one infant and a toddler or two who may or may not have been potty trained to perfection! Not to mention meal planning, meal preparation, and clean up – three times a day (and the eventual training of people in those functions), toy repairs, time management of everyone's calendar, schedules and activities, taxi service for everyone who couldn't drive – which for a time was limited to Gene and I – etc. And don't even get me started on what was expected of me by Church leadership who obviously could NOT tell that I sort of had my hands full over here! Oy vey!
So the answer to this obnoxiously ignorant question is - “YES FOOL! I did/do unequivocally WORK!” I earn my “keep”! I am worthy of my “wages”, in whatever form they may come! I am gainfully employed from dawn until dusk! I am always doing something which will better the world in which I live! Even if that now requires a few more rest breaks than it used to!
I have certainly earned a rest! I had very little real rest for so many years! And that is NOT a complaint, it is simply a fact! I did what was necessary for this household to run – and it was NOT a spa-trip! Thankfully I do not require, nor even desire, one of those! Work is not just a “four-letter” word to me! I love the sense of accomplishment which comes with a sparkling clean kitchen, or a freshly caught up, orderly laundry room! As much as I love a well-written blog! It is all part and parcel of who Sandra C. Duncan is! So no self pity here – just a need to validate those who are caught up in the every day whirlwind of this beloved, if discounted, profession!
I have loved being “The Duncan Mom”! I have loved being Gene Duncan's wife! I have loved being the teacher, and chief cook and bottle washer of this lively, challenging crew of Blessings! I have not merely endured their growing up years while “waiting to have a life again”! They became, enriched, fulfilled, and for a time defined “my life”! They were my “ministry” and my “career”! In fact there were several mini-careers wrapped up in the last 32 years of marriage, and the last 28 years of parenting! First I was heavily involved in Church and the community with Gene. Then, as our family began to grow, I was pregnant and/or nursing for 14 of those years, AND, as of 2018 I will have been a teacher in our Home School for 25 years – K-12! But since most of my kids were scoring “middle of the 14th year in some important subjects by the 11th grade, we might even say that we educated them through early college! Not a bad run I'd say! And even more impressive than that – they all escaped my parenting/tutelage loving God, us and each other! Rocky-roads notwithstanding!
So let us not disparage the Mother Load! Let us not invalidate her work with so little esteem! Let us not spit in the face of God by insinuating that He set this gig up all wrong! I have made a careful effort as possible to stay within His divine parameters, and I have propered in so many ways as a result! No the items in my closet are not new off the rack, designer or expensive; and yes most of my jewelry and other possession were either gifts or very modestly obtained! I am thrify – but have a good eye for quality and beauty. I am, after all, an artist of sorts. Being a mother did not, as some bemoan, “rob me of my creativity” it simply re-routed it for a season! But I have found that it drove the muse deeper, and that putting it all on that proverbial “back burner” has improved the quality and richness – as it does with a good red sauce or chili dish! My talents have matured and grown – they have not faded away and disappeared. They have been there all this time, patiently waiting for me to have the time to turn my attention back to them. But they have matured along with me. They did not idly stay in the same place as I left them!
I am proud and oh, so grateful, to have had the privilege to hold this high office in the Kingdom of God. I am proud to say that in allowing this “job” to utterly eclipse who I thought myself to be, I have been astonished and delighted to discovered the real me. I am glad to say that I truly have no regrets worth mentioning, and none which true repentance won't cover! And I am proud to assert that, though I may be the last person on earth to which the worldly ones may give any credit, esteem or validation, still, you know what God said, “The last shall be first....”! And I have a really good feeling that it will be well worth the wait and the investment! Instead of “retirement” I am seeking “refirement”. To quote one of our favorite family movies, “Adventure is out there!” And thanks to this time of training I might just be able to ace it!
Mrs. Sandra Carlton Duncan a.k.a. “The Duncan MOM”
August 8, 2015