This is DeAnn. She is the president of her local quilt guild, and has served as an unpaid caregiver for much of her life.
She babysat her younger siblings when she was a teenager in the summer when her mother worked. She thought she would be a teacher, but her husband was a pilot in the Air Force. They moved a lot, and that made it hard for her to get a job. They were lucky that he made enough money that she could stay home. She felt happy that she could help her children with their homework, etc. With how much her husband was gone, it would have been terrible to her to not be around for the kids when they got home from school.
When I asked about crossroads or reasons she was glad she was home, she surprised me. She had a son who died when he was 19 months old. She remembers thinking how grateful she was that she had been there his whole life—that she hadn’t been a working mother and missing out on that. She appreciated being able to spend as much time as she could with him, and being able to be there for her older son. The baby had spinal meningitis. The doctors were surprised how fast he went. He hardly ever cried, knew lots of songs and fingerplays at one and a half. When she sees children that age, she thinks of that baby. I have known DeAnn for over five years and did not know that about her.
The other thing she liked about being at home was that when her husband had longer breaks, she could spend that time with him. They were always able to do great vacations when their kids were out of school. “I’ve never missed having to work. I know some people just have to have that, but I don’t.” She mentioned how church assignments make up for feeling needed in society. She has been serving in her church’s children’s group for the last 5 years. She likes using her degree in early childhood education that way.
DeAnn saw a program on tv about whether it pays to go to work, so she sat down to calculate out how much money they were making. She figured out that if she made $8.00 an hour, after clothes, eating out, quick fix foods, daycare, increased tax burden, after all of those things, she would make about $1.00 an hour, and she asked, “Is it worth a dollar an hour to have someone else take care of your kids?” Talking about time with her kids, she said, “They say it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. But if your child falls down and gets hurt, who is going to love him or her more? A babysitter or his mother? I would want to be the first one to see them when their tooth falls out, and when they take their first steps. I have not ever felt guilty for not being a working mother and contributing.”
Thank you for letting me interview you, DeAnn. I honor you.