Friday, March 17, 2006

Professional Mothers: Charissa

You might be interested to know that The Washington Times is declaring a victory in the "Mommy Wars". According to their editorial page, children are winning!

Last time, in our series of introductions to real-life 'Professional Mothers', we met a woman whose wisdom and energy are impacting both the present and future generations across the nation as a result of her work with her own children. Today's Professional Mother is one of the principal organizers of an annual speech tournament which is open to homeschoolers from the entire nation. This tournament is held at one of our country's most respected and most liberal college campuses - Charissa's alma mater. Charissa does it to give her own children opportunities for skill-building and networking, but an unexpected fruit of her labor is that the highly feminized young women from the college are forced to "re-evaluate their negative ideas about stay-at-home wives."

Charissa is a stay-at-home mother of four, who lives in a mountain community in rural Colorado with the requisite chickens, etc. From home she not only administers a lively homeschool for her own children, but coaches speech and debate, and teaches a rotation of in-depth literature courses for other homeschoolers from several isolated communities. Annually, her family organizes and directs theatrical productions for their town through their church.

Mother-Lode: Did you purpose to become a mother? Why or why not?
Not to begin with. I grew up in a feminist-leaning home and was groomed to go on to career. I intended to work in the foreign service and then changed my mind and planned on law school. It wasn't until after I'd met my husband, who brought me to faith in Christ, that I considered motherhood as an option. As the idea of staying home to care for babies, and subsequently to homeschool grew, I had a difficult time overcoming the societal and family expectations that I go on to do something bigger than JUST raising kids. I struggled with competing ideas of who I was and was to be. I was a Truman Scholar, and as such was encouraged--no, expected--to go on into something significant in government service. Each year, I received a questionnaire from the scholarship foundation about what boards I was a member of and what public service positions I held. Finally one year I wrote them a dissertation explaining that I had a greater influence on the lives of my four children than I could ever have on the lives of anyone if I were out working in any of the fields they expected me to be in--that raising responsible citizens was, in fact, public service in its strongest form. They quit sending me the questionnaires.

Mother-Lode: When and how did you begin to prepare yourself for this life's work?
I don't know that I was prepared when I went into it. Rather, God has been faithful to send me people who gave good advice and who were good examples at each step along the way. My husband have made a number of somewhat counter-cultural decisions in the raising of our children without really knowing what we were doing, but later have been able to see the benefits of our choices and been grateful for God's leading in these directions.

Mother-Lode: If you went to college, do you find that your college degree has been a help to you in your work as a mother? What would have been lacking in your home if you had not pursued college?
Though I have never actually worked in my degree field, college was a time of growing up for me. It was a time of learning how to think clearly, find information I needed, and move forward even when I wasn't sure how to do something. All of these have been a huge part of my handling of my home and my children. Mother-Lode: In the course of your work as a mother, what kinds of things have you done? How can such a question be answered in less than 100,000 words? I have changed diapers, gone for walks, looked at bugs, read thousands of stories, cooked tens of thousands of meals. I have planned school, revised the plan for school, adjusted the plans for school, and taught by the seat of my pants. I have encouraged, corrected, scolded, hugged and loved. I have tickled, laughed hysterically, cried for hours, regretted, and tried again. I have learned that no two children are alike and what works with one will be an utter failure with another. I have planned programs for many children because I wanted them to happen for my own. I have grown up as they have grown. I have seen them move on to things that I can no longer help them with. And one day soon, I will watch them leave.

Mother-Lode: Have you found your work as a mother narrows your opportunities or confounds your work for and in the community?
NO! A narrowing of my opportunities might be welcome! Rather motherhood has led me into forms of service that I would never have found, nor considered if it weren't for my children. I have met many people because of something my children were involved in and had many opportunities both to share and learn from these people.

Mother-Lode: How would you advise a young woman about to graduate from high school?
I would advise her to think carefully about where she is going and ask God constantly for His guidance. No two of us have the same path before us, and we have to listen for direction. I would suggest that she consider marriage carefully--and know beyond a doubt that it is a permanent decision.

Mother-Lode: What have been the returns of your labors as a mother?
I have grown and learned more than they have. I hope that each of my daughters has the opportunity to be a mother, as I doubt anything else can possibly mature and grow them as much. The only problem with this job is that it’s a little low on vacation days and sick leave.

Mother-Lode: If you had it to do over again, would you make the choice to be a professional mother?
Absolutely. But I might do a few things differently along the way. One hard thing about this job is that it takes 20 years or more to find out if you've got it right or not.


DT said...


As a husband and father of four, I'm not exactly the primary target of these 'Professional Mothers' posts, but I wanted to say how much I've enjoyed them. Instead of being top-heavy with a lot of theological abstractions, they get down to the everyday issues, motivations and challenges. I hope you'll continue the series.

Kim Anderson said...

Thank you! These women are an inspiration to me in the context of recent attacks on stay-at-home motherhood as a "threat to civilization".

I hope these vignettes will encourage educated women to consider that what they accomplish at home is actually vital to civilization.

4given said...

Very inspiring.

What I like to tell people about being a career mom:

I work with people I love...
... and I LOVE to be around the people I work with. I have the BEST job around. I am surrounded by people who want to... who try their best to please me. I get rewarded several times a day... bonuses that go beyond your imagination.
For I am a wife and mother.
And my bonuses are simple pleasures like chocolate covered kisses from the mouth of my 3 year old smeared onto my cheek.
I am, by the grace of God, honored to take part in raising up for HIM a godly seed... what a joy to partake in contributing to the eternal well-being of the souls of my children.
It is a HIGH CALLING... this God-ordained vocation.
And though I have degrees in this and that, experiences, knowledge that could land me a nice paying, worldly career... cushy job outside my home, I wouldn't trade those chocolate covered kisses for the world.

Kim Anderson said...

Oh, yes!

One of my other friends says, "Why would I want to be something to everybody, when I could be everything to somebody?"


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