Monday, April 5, 2010

Women's Writes: My Y Chromosome Contribution.

I have the greatest mother in the entire world. I'm not kidding. She is strong, she is smart, she is beautiful, and she has never once called me stupid, said she didn't want me, spoken ill of me, said she didn't love me, or stolen money from me to buy drugs.

(For those of you looking for funny here, not today.)

I have been asked by Shine to participate in Women's Writes, which is a day where I can write on any topic I want to that affects women.



I have chosen to focus on how my mom handled her stay at home mom role, and how that role might have hurt her when my dad died. I will take stands in this article that might make some readers mad. I am okay with that. This is my blog, it is my opinion, and if you do not like either of them, they made a button for you at the top right hand corner of the page. It's a red X. Click it, and I go away.

Or leave me a hateful comment. I will be responding to comments on the blog and not via email today.

Teresa Sloat was 18 years of age when she learned she was pregnant with me. She was ashamed, but she was very "safe" with my dad. When asked if she ever considered abortion, she immediately said no. When asked her thoughts on abortion, she said that it was wrong, and when I asked her why she replied with, "Because it is a life, Travis. From conception, it is a life."

I completely and 100% agree with her. I am pro-life. I fully believe that from the moment of conception, you have a life inside of you, and that terminating it in any way is wrong. I would believe this no matter my religion, and you will not sway how I feel. Is Utah maybe going a step to far? Yes and no.

When she took the pregnancy test, my father was with her. She was a very scared young lady when that test showed positive, but my father wrapped her up in her arms and said, "Let's go get my babies a chocolate shake." When she told me this, she was crying. The reason why will be explained in a little while.

They were married young, and they settled into life together. My mom was a June Cleaver type, she stayed at home and raised me while my dad worked. Soon, she was pregnant again, then again, and then again.

4 boys in 10 years. I guess it wasn't in the plans for them to have a girl.

For any of you who would dare say that my father kept her barefoot and pregnant, you would be completely wrong. She had shoes. This is what they wanted, a big family, and my mom to be able to raise us in the home.

As I grew older, I can remember being places where I was having fun, and my mom looking at the time and saying, "Boys, we have to go, your dad will be home soon." I absolutely HATED this, because it meant that my fun was over. I asked her why she did this. "Because I wanted to have dinner ready for your dad." When asked why, she said, "Because he worked all day, and because I was at home, and that was what I did. I took care of you kids, I took care of the house, and I made dinner for him when he came home. Very traditional...well, it used to be traditional." I then asked if my dad ever told her that it was her job to have dinner on the table when got home. "He never made me feel like I had to do it because he wanted it done."

We moved on to her happiness as a stay at home mom. As it turns out, there were times when she thought she could be doing things to bring money into the home, and I asked her if she wanted to do that because there were hard times financially or if she just wanted to get out of the house. "Well, a little bit of both." My dad made about 35k a year, and that was at the peak of his career. However, on that salary, we had 6 people in the house, 2 cars, owned a home, and took "cheap" vacations. We never went without. When all 4 of us were in school, she started a balloon business that essentially was a huge flop. "We never made any money with that, in fact, it probably cost us money." I asked her if dad ever made her feel like she was less than adequate because of this failure. "He never made me feel that way. He was always very supportive." I asked her if she ever was just downright unhappy with her time spent as a stay at home mom, and she said there was one instance when someone asked her to baby sit, and they offered her $5 a day to watch their kids while they made a lot more money. However, she wrapped up by saying this:

"If you are asking if I regret my time as a stay at home mom, I don't regret that one bit."

My mom was married to my dad for 17 years. She loved him more than she loved herself. She had a soul mate. She was going to spend the rest of her life with this man, and she couldn't be happier about that. Then one day in January of 2000, the world turned upside down for us all. My dad was diagnosed with cancer. 9 months is a long time to some, but when you are watching a strong man lose a battle with a disease, it can pass as quickly as a day, and that's what happened. One day he was there, the next he was gone. We watched him die. My mom spoke the words, "You've been a good husband and father, and you can go now Brian." With those words, he passed.

My mom found herself alone with 4 boys, the oldest a senior in high school, and the youngest 7 years of age. She was dropped headfirst into a world that no longer cares for its widows the way it should. She was a young woman of 36, and she new that she had to support her kids, so she went back to school to become a nurse. This is where she encountered some things that she was not prepared for.

"I was shocked at the kids. I was shocked at what I saw and what I heard, because it was outside of my little circle. You know how I was, I wanted to protect you from bad movies and bad language, and then when I got to college and saw how kids were, they would come to class drunk, their language was filthy and no one was modest, and I was like, 'Wow.'" She went on to say that being a widow and a college student in a short period of time was very traumatic. When asked how she handled it, she said simply, "The Lord."

My mom is a Christian. My dad was a Christian. All four of us boys are Christians. Deal with it. I'm not going to shove my religion down your throat, and yeah I know I can be hypocritical. Don't use those excuses to hate me just because you choose not to believe something I do. I don't hate you for what you believe in.

I asked her if she had any regrets in how we were raised. She answered quickly with a no, then explained that they made mistakes like any parents do. Then my tape goes quiet. She is crying. She says, "I regret things with Josh. (the youngest) He gets so much less of my time." My mom is weeping over the fact that because she has to have a job and is getting to experience things she didn't as a stay at home mom, she doesn't have enough time to spend with the youngest of my brothers. In other words, 10 years later, she still wishes she could be in the home.

I asked her if she wanted to give any advice to young women out there today, and this is what she said. "Don't try to raise a family by yourself. There are people that think it is okay to raise a baby by yourself, but I disagree." I asked her why she thought that: "Because I think the family is an important unit, and I think that women are nurturers, and I don't want to stereotype, but the father is more of the authority. I think that it just fits God's design for a family." I then asked her to give advice to those women who have a family already, and because of the circumstances, whatever they are, the father isn't around. "They need support from other places. Their family, a church family, and they probably need the Lord. It's so tough, Travis. It's so tough."

I had one final question for my mom. I asked her if someone could erase the past 10 years in which she has learned new things, met new people, gained new friends, and in general has a new outlook on life; and give her the old life with her husband and her being a stay at home mom, would she do it? She didn't even pause.

"Yes."

Ladies, I know this has been long and I won't take up too much more of your time. While reading this, I'm sure that some of you have gotten angry, some of you may have seen yourself, and some of you may be wondering why in the world my mom was happy in that situation. The truth of the matter is, I really believe that we need more of my mom in this nation today. HOWEVER, I also believe that unless these stay at home moms get out of that "circle" and experience the world a little bit, they will have traumatic times if divorced suddenly or widowed such as my mom was. My wife has a job, and even though we don't have kids yet, she will probably have a job when we do, even if it is just part time or limited in some way. My wife cooks for me, but I cook too. She cleans the house, but I help. If my wife suddenly finds herself without a husband, she will not experience the culture shock my mom did.

But you probably shouldn't ask me if I'd prefer her to be pregnant with our 3rd child and greeting me every night with a kiss at the door and dinner on the table. Most of today's women woudn't like my answer. But all of that is under my control, and if I got my stuff together and was a responsible guy, that could probably happen. And you know what, she would be happy with that too.

Guys, if you want your wife or lady friend to stay at home and raise your family and have that respect for you that my mom had for my dad, then you need to get out there and be the man my dad was, and take responsibility for your position as the head of the family.

Ladies, I wouldn't hold my breath if I was you...

...and I'd probably take that job.

30 comments:

  1. Wow Travis your Mom is amazing, I think you and your brothers had a wonderful example of what parents are and the sacrifice made for love.I think being a wife and a mother is a tough job but a job most would never trade. I know your father is looking down from heaven above smiling and proud of the job your Mom did and what fine men she raised.

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  2. That was a sweet story. Thanks for sharing. Your mom sounds great and a very much needed mother figure in this world. Need more like her.

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  3. This post didn't make me angry at all. While I am the kind of gal who wouldn't be able to stand being a stay at home mom, and can't even imagine being a mom at all at this point in time, I know that different women are cut out for different situations. I have many friends whose main goal in life is to be a parent, and they are very good at what they do. My mom was mostly a stay at home mom, and I'm pretty sure she would have preferred to stay that way but due to money and what not, she's had to work... I think today women just have a wider array of goals. They're not expected to just be moms anymore, but the fact that so many choose to do so makes me think that the urge is somewhat innate.

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  4. Frau: Thank you. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to hear this.

    Fargo: I agree wholeheartedly!

    Carissa: That is probably the most intelligently stated comment I've read in a long time! Thanks for the support!

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  5. I'm not sure I see at all what could anger someone about your post. Your mother is a beautiful woman who found her place in life and embraced it. How can another judge that? They were a team, your mother and father. A damned good one it seems.

    I always thought I would desire to be a working mom; that I couldn't stand to be at home all day. I love what I do and I am good at it. Once Girlie came along my views changed. Working in education gives me the option to stay home during the summer which is exactly what I did. I so seemlessly slid into the Stay At Home Mom role that I cried for weeks leading up to the beginning of the next school year.

    I loved cultivating my garden and spending time cooking what came from it. I took pride in having dinner on the table for my hubs each night. I enjoyed cleaning and doing laundry. I loved the play dates and walks and trips to the library and pool. My husband didn't expect the house to be spotless when arrived home. He didn't expect there to be a meal on the table and I'm sure that made all the difference in the world. So what if this doesn't mesh with all that women's lib shit? If a women's rights supporter doesn't support MY decision to be a homemaker then they aren't truly a women's rights supporter for I am exercising my RIGHT to CHOOSE to be a SAHM.

    Having said all that, I am a working mom as are many these days. Breaks my heart every day that I have to drop my child off....anyway, great post today Travis. I've no doubt your mother is infinitely proud of the man you've become. She's done a damn good job!

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  6. Absolutely beautiful, Travis. I love you even more that I did before. And, your mom too!

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  7. I love your mom. Just from this. I don't know her, but please tell her I think she's awesome.

    I'm in a very similar position. When people ask me, I often say I'm a writer because I publish an article here and there - but my primary job is stay-at-home-mom. It's what I wanted to be from a very early age, when I myself was raised by a SAHM. I think it's admirable, and it's damn hard - I've worked outside the home and what I do now is exponentially more difficult than anything I've ever done in an office. More flexible, yes, but definitely harder.

    I agree with your mom's view, and I always try to have the house looking nice and dinner on the table, or close to it, by the time my husband gets home. (Not that I always succeed, but whatever.) He in NO WAY expects it (because if he had the nerve to demand it, I'd just smack him upside his delusional head) - I just do it because I want to do it for him. If the roles were reversed, it would make me happy to come home to a clean house and a good dinner.

    The sad thing is, that's so frowned upon these days. If I said out loud, "I'm a SAHM and enjoy treating my husband like a king," people would look at me like I was crazy and slip me a women's-lib pamphlet. I hate that it's become something that people are ashamed of. I love my husband and want to treat him right, and I want to be with my children and not miss out on their milestones, and we're blessed to be financially able to play out that scenario. So what's wrong with that?

    Anyway, this is TOTALLY longer than I anticipated but my point is that I agree wholeheartedly with your mom, and I think she's a wonderful example and a great lady.

    Great post, Travis. Great post.

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  8. To the general crowd: Maybe I jumped the gun on the intelligently put comment statement.

    Daffy: The thing is, you're getting what she didn't, and so if you lose your husband, you'll be more prepared. ESPECIALLY working at a school.

    BigSis: Thank you!

    Rita: It doesn't matter how lengthy the comment was, I'm glad to have your support and my mom will be too. Thank you!

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  9. Hey Travis, Shithead here. :)
    I'm a SAHM. I went to school, got a PhD, worked in industry and academia for a while. I was still in grad school when #1 son was born. Worked full time after I finished school. Then #2 son came along, worked 70% time ('cause I could keep full-time benefits). Quit when I was pregnant with #3, because we moved. When #3 son was a year old, I tried to work part-time. But I found that I was not cut out to work and have 3 kids. I couldn't do either my mothering or my work well when trying to do both. I've been at home now for over 5 years. I don't regret my decision at all. (except that only my mom calls me Dr. anymore! jk)
    Thanks for a great post. I know my professors and others I went to school with don't understand my chosen lifestyle. But I'm happy. That's what counts.

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  10. I don't see how someone could be angry with your post. It's your life, it's your experience. Your parents both sound like fantastic parents and the world needs more fantastic parents. Your mother was able to do what she loved, raising her boys the way that she wanted until life circumstance took that away. I'm sorry that it did and I'm sorry to read about your father. Will i work when I'm a parent? Yes. Technically I'm a working parent now because I'm raising my sister's son. But that's a 2 way decision, because I have to financially and because I want to. But that's what is so good about allowing people to live the life they choose.

    I just started following your blog. I really enjoy your posts. :-)

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  11. I love this post. Love, love, love.

    I am in every way a third wave feminist. I wholeheartedly believe that women have the choice to be the exact kind of woman they want to be. Whether that be a stay at home mom, stiletto wearing entrepreneur, or an activist - it is their life to make.

    Thank you for sharing this - your mother was an absolutely amazing woman and I do hope there are other like her out there.

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  12. Barb: Thanks!...Doctor!

    Jenn: I'm so glad to have you! Stick around, they get funnier than this.

    Jeney: Thanks for being understanding and realizing that I'm not trying to push this on anyone, just saying it would be nice to see more of!

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  13. Believe it or not, this is part of the whole POINT of feminism. Having choices. That means that I respect the choices that women make, but I want them to have choices.

    I can't even imagine being a mom, much less a stay-at-home mom, but I support any woman's right to choose that life.

    I do think it's important to spend a little time in the world, though.

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  14. There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to stay home and raise her own kids. If you have a situation where you financially have to work, then you do what you have to. Life isn't perfect, but it's definitely what we make it.

    You are who you are today Travis because you had a mom who cared enough to actually be a mom. And I can tell your parents did a fine job raising you because you always speak of them with great love and respect.

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  15. Travy, I had no ideas you and your brothers were so young when your daddy died. I am so sorry. No one should have to go thru that. Your mom is 100% right, the Lord is the way she was able to hold it together for you guys. Raising kids alone is not a 1 person job. It's hard work meant for a team. I'm sorry your mom was thrown into the world the way she was.

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  16. I taught public schools for ten years, and I am entering my fifth year of staying home with the boys. I imagine I'll go back to work when both are in school, because when we're looking at college costs, orthodontics, etc, it will no longer be an option.

    We make choices for me to stay at home. We camp instead of stay in nice motels. My house is much less fancy than most of my friends. I buy my clothes exclusively at Old Navy and Target.

    The boys don't know, and they don't care.

    Your mother sounds like an amazing woman, and her final words to your Dad made me a bit teary.

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  17. Good post Bro!

    You're mom is a Saint.

    But you knew that already.

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  18. This post did not upset me in anyway. I agree with your stand on abortion. I believe the same!

    Your mother is an amazing lady. She's one of the few REAL ladies left in this world.

    Mother has been working since she got married, so when my dad left her, transitioning to two jobs instead of one was not that difficult. More tiring yes...but not difficult.

    Your mother is admirable! I love this post. I'm sorry you lost your dad to cancer.

    My mom raised us by herself and she still manage to instill the same Christian values your parents gave you and your brothers.

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  19. I could neeeever be a stay at home mom. Not ever. In fact, I could probably just skip that whole mom thing altogether. I like my cousin's kids, but staying home all day and watching them...what, learn? What do kids do all day? No thank you, not for me.

    HOWEVER, that being said, for me being a feminist means that women are able to have a choice about what they do. I don't think any of us should be required to stay at home, but I think if a woman is happy in that position, more power to her.

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  20. i agree with shine and just a girl: while being a stay at home mom is super not for me, it should be each woman's CHOICE. and no woman should be mocked / made to feel inferior for choosing either side of that equation.

    your mom sounds fantastic :-)

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  21. Travis, I am goint to write my comment and then go back and read the others.
    I think it is awesome that you mom was a stay at home mom while she could be. I too was a stay at home mom and then I went back to work. Big mistake!! I thought we needed things when really we did not or maybe I should have gotten a part time job. You see I was a much happier lady when I stayed at home and did the things your mom did. Now even though my girls are grown I still want to be a stay at home lady and do those things for my husband. I don't wonder one bit why your mom was happy because I was. I hope I don't make anyone mad by saying this but I believe a lot of women work (not all) because they want things. Some young people today have more or the same as I do and I have been married 40 years. I too think this world would be a better place if more moms "could" stay home. I do realize that some moms do have to work...there were times that I had too and according to my husband I stiil should. As I am writing this I am thinking your mom is probably my age.....and there are a lot of us out there that were/are just like her. You mom sound like someone that I would love!!!!

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  22. My mom was a stay at home mom and raised 4 boys and 1 girl (losing another 2 at birth)while dad drove a gas truck for 30 years. The were married for 50 years and a month before dad died. But as you can tell, she didn't do to well with me. But the rest of the family were successful and independent in their lives and families. And do I have the same love and respect you have for your mom…No. But life is what it is. And I could never hate a man for his religious beliefs (unless he goes fanatic on me - then he will be looking cross-eye’ed at a fist coming between them.) You just have my respect, Dude. And give Mom a hug for me. Wish I could have had her.

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  23. Awesome post!!! Did I write it? Your mom is who mine was until she died at age 44 of cancer. Your mom had the kind of life I intended to have when I got married. That was before my divorce and before I was widowed. I believe in EVERYTHING you wrote. EVERYTHING!!!! Thank-you for letting me know that there ARE still men out there who feel the way you do. God Bless you and your family.

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  24. Your mother may be my new hero. I have nothing but respect for SAHMs. I couldn't do it. I tried and ended up on antidepressants. I'm a much better mom when I'm working than when I'm at home.

    This was an incredible post and I'm not sure there was anything in it to make anyone angry; it's a beautiful tribute to your mother, who is an amazing woman.

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  25. This was such an awesome post and I love your mom. She sounds amazing!

    My mom was a stay at home mom pretty much all my life. She got a job briefly when her and my dad split, and again when her and my sister's dad split...but only out of necessity. I loved that she was home with us and I always wanted to be able to provide that for my kids. Unfortunately, I need to work at least part time, so I confine my hours to when they're in school.

    Thank you for writing this. It was beautiful!

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  26. Great post Travis. I agree with Shine - it's a choice. My mom worked all the time when I was a kid and there were very many times that I had wished she would be home more. However, she did the best she knew how and it's the past. She was a good mom and she loves me more than anything in the world. And as far as your mom giving back the past 10 years to be with your dad again...I'm not AT ALL surprised to hear her answer. Thanks for your post.

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  27. Your Mom sounds wonderful. I was also blessed with a stay at home Mom, and Dad. I think it was good in providing the kind of strong family values that are often lacking today. However, I sometimes feel that we were too sheltered. I wish we had been encouraged to develop a little more independence earlier on.
    If I ever have a family, I can only hope to have the opportunity to be a stay at home mom. Of course, I'd want to have a job too. I agree that you need that balance.
    This was a really great post. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. What an inspiring and thoughtful post, Tracy. And a beautiful tribute to your mother.

    I, too, had no idea you were so young when your father passed. I'm so sorry.

    I agree with you that we women should have the right to choose. It sounds awful, but I worry what would happen to me if Dan left me. I have worked before, but I'm not qualified for any fabulous or high-paying job. I have two little girls. I am grateful for the opportunity to stay at home and I do volunteer and serve on some boards, so I am active in the community, but not earning a paycheck anywhere.

    I want to be there for my kids, but I also feel I should be prepared for anything....

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  29. You're mom sounds wonderful. That was her life and she was happy with it. Nothing wrong with that. My mom didn't work till we were in high school. She baked every day and cooked a big meal every night. It was wonderful.

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  30. God luv ya Trav. This was my life too, just a different generation.

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