Like many stay at home moms, I often question my value.
Today, I felt a bit deflated after a couple of things happened. The first one was when I saw a quote that one of my friends posted about high earners intend to be well compensated because they feel they are worth it. I haven't made minimum wage in the nearly thirty years of raising my children or taking care of others. And that doesn't mean I've made more than minimum wage. For the most part, people in our society get paid according to the value that others in our society give for the work provided. Of course, I don't expect to be paid for raising my own children or cleaning my own house, but there have been a few times lately when I wasn't nearly compensated enough monetarily for the work I did for others. One neighbor balked when I asked a little over four dollars an hour to drop off and pick her daughter up from school, tutor her, and care for her. It hurt when that same neighbor paid nearly three times that amount to my daughter to tutor, even though I was glad she earned what she deserved. Around that time another neighbor asked me to take care of his preschool daughter for about four dollars an hour, but ended up paying me half that amount. I took the jobs because Hubby had been out of work earlier that year and we really needed the money. Now I wonder if I should have done that, because even after two or three years, I still feel like I'm not worth it to be well compensated.
Today I met with a woman from the regional center to sign Ms. D up and discuss services that are available to her. The woman forgot the sign up sheets, so she spent most of the hour and a half meeting not only talking about services, but talked about how she thinks I'm not able to prepare Ms. D for life if I continue to homeschool her. By the end of the meeting, I was wavering on my decision. It didn't matter that the school district didn't help us before, that budget cuts have affected the schools, that Ms. D learns better in a quiet, one on one setting, or that statistically she is more likely to get pregnant as a teen because of the FASD and needs more protection. The woman talked of all the good things Ms. D could learn, that she's not being exposed to enough different people, and that I couldn't possibly prepare her for a job because we don't have a cash register in our house. The regional center likes to work with kids that have gone through the public school system and they have no idea how to work with someone who hasn't.
Fortunately, when I got home, I asked Ms. D what she would like to do and she said she'd like to continue homeschooling. That kind of brought me to my senses. After all, I am going through a PSP, or private satellite program, that specializes in teaching special needs children and teens. If I don't understand what needs to be taught, then they can help me. And when Ms. D is college age, she can go to a community college program for special needs. She doesn't have to learn how to run a cash register before she's eighteen!
While talking with the regional center woman, I was feeling really inadequate. What did I know about teaching special needs? I don't have a degree. Why do I think Ms. D has FAS? They don't see it. They don't believe me when I tell them the facial features of FAS fade after puberty. What do I know about what Ms. D needs? I'm just a parent, a parent that makes crazy decisions like homeschooling, who shelters her children too much, and who is asking them to do more for Ms. D than they think she needs. The regional center woman didn't seem to value what I've done for Ms. D, so who am I to value my own work?
Another thing I can't do is to base my value on the outcome of my work. Yes, I've more or less successfully raised four children to adulthood. Sometimes I think they are doing better than expected, given the mistakes I've made. Yet, I don't know how the youngest two will turn out. I'm putting a lot more work into raising them, but they don't behave as well as the older ones did at their age. Of course, my youngest two have a more difficult background. But I still look at their actions and feel badly about how well I've raised them.
It's dangerous to base my value on the actions of others. But that is what I do when I feel bad about myself when people pay me so little. That is what I do when I second guess my decisions or feel inadequate because of what a "professional" assumes. It is what I do when I look at the behaviors of my kids and feel I haven't done enough, or have made too many mistakes.
So where do I get my value? My value can't come from what others do for me or say about me. It can't really come from within myself, since I'm broken and don't always see things the way I should. My value can only come from the One who made me, who has called me to be a mother, and who loves me. I am doing what I was made to do, to the best of my ability. And a lack of material compensation, accolades, or results should not lessen my calling or my value. My reward is not here and now, but when I look on His face at the end. And I hope then He will say, "Well done."