by Sarah Cooksley
Sarah lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and is a mother of five children ranging from 7mths to 11 years old.
May 22nd 2014
Since my eldest child was born, staying at home to be a mother has been my greatest desire. It has not always been an easy path for my family, but I feel that it has been the best one.
I was only 20 when I married; four days after my 22nd birthday, I became a mother. I knew very little, but thought I had it all figured out. Our baby would never eat junk food, would learn to be polite and kind to others, and would grow up to be a genius. Like all first time parents, our lofty goals met reality with a bit of a bump! Neither of us had much experience handling a newborn and we really were just making things up as we went along.
A monumental task
Eleven years and four more children later, I still often feel like I’m making things up as I go along. Five small people look to me to make decisions on their behalf, to feed and clothe them, and to help guide them towards adulthood with the skills and self-worth they will need to navigate the world. It is a monumental task, and one that I take seriously.
Raising our children is so important to us, that my husband and I decided before ever having children that I would stay home with them. He has far greater earning potential than I ever did, and with basic biology in mind, it made sense that I would be the one to stay home. It was with great joy that I left my job to have our first child, so that I could finally get down to the real work of my life. I took on the role of motherhood with an eager heart.
There are sacrifices in having a one-income family, of course. I have learned to make large meals out of very little, I do my best to save money wherever possible, and we forego big family holidays in favour of caravans and days out.
But when I look at my wonderful family, I couldn’t imagine choosing a bigger bank balance over the joys of being with them. They are my purpose. They give me a reason to keep working on improving myself, to grow as a person and as a mother. Through the crucible of parenthood I have become more patient, more kind, more giving. I have become a much better woman with my children’s help than I ever could have managed to become on my own.
Simple – and at the same time awe-inspiring and beautiful
I will never apologise for my chosen vocation. There are people in this world who would scoff and scorn at my “wasted” life, but they do not see the world as I do. They do not see the beauty in the simple pleasures of holding my three year old’s hand as we walk to the library. They cannot feel how my heart nearly bursts when my autistic son sings in the school choir. They do not know how precariously my eleven year old balances between the world of childhood and adulthood, and how desperately she needs to look to me for guidance. I am the foundation upon which my family is built. I do not say this with pride or arrogance, but as an observation. It is an awe-inspiring notion.
Transcending all things political
So then. I am here. I am home. When they go to school, I am the one who reminds them of how much they are loved. At the end of the day, I am the one who takes their hand and listens to their cares and sorrows. I read bedtime stories with funny voices. I wipe noses and brush hair. I sometimes shout, but I always say sorry. I am the model my daughters will use for womanhood.
The commonplace beauty of my life cannot be diminished by government schemes, political machinations or workplace gossip. The work that I do transcends all those petty concerns as I build the very foundation of our society’s future, one day at a time.
If you have a story to tell and feel it would support and encourage other parents please write to [email protected]
Policymakers – it’s time to listen to the voices and priorities of ordinary families around the country! We need policies that support family life and the time invested in providing care. The invisible work carried out in homes up and down the UK, taking care of children, the sick and the elderly, saves the state billions and is of immeasurable value in the wider sense.