From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

A Mom for Working Moms

For over fifteen years, I stayed home while other women came in and out my door on their way to work. In a hurried morning haste, they handed me diaper bags, jackets, and their most precious treasures—their children. For over fifteen years, I felt each mother’s struggle as she left her kids to go to the office. Because at one time I also had left my kids in day care to go to work, I knew their guilt and apprehension. My hope was to become their most valuable partner in parenting—their “co-mom”!

I had four kids of my own. My husband, Steve, was unable to work due to a serious illness. I needed to support my family while taking care of my kids and my husband. Licensed family home day care was the perfect fit for us! Even though it was our livelihood, we thought of it as a ministry. We could provide a loving family environment while moms worked. It was a chance to share God’s love on a daily basis with kids and their families. Besides that, I could be there for my own children all day long, and my children had built-in playmates to grow up with!

Even with my husband’s illness, he got involved in the kids’ lives. Steve played his guitar and sang for them, or sat at the table to eat with them. It helped him have purpose and meaning in his life. When the parents came at the end of the day, they often spilled their hearts out to Steve or me. We became part of their extended family. Our home seemed like their home.

Even our teens got in on the act. My daughter planned preschool lessons. She took the kids on “alphabet walks” to look for things that began with different letters. My teen son showed the boys how to shoot basketball. As our kids grew older, they learned that younger kids were looking to them as role models. They knew there was a responsibility that went with that.

Of course, not everything was easy. Our house couldn’t stay as neat and organized as I wanted. There was a certain lack of privacy having people in and out all the time, including day-care inspectors! Things got broken or torn up at times. If one kid got sick, several more followed. There were occasional misunderstandings that had to be worked through. Our kids had to share more than the average child. As they got older, their rooms became off-limits to ensure a certain amount of privacy.

Because our day care was a home setting, it was less formal than a huge day-care center. We provided a mixture of structure and free time so the kids could just be kids. The boys would pull out the box of old fatigues from the Army surplus store and head to the backyard to play army for hours. The girls would make beautiful necklaces from big wooden beads or make a store for Barbie to shop in. On rainy days, tents made from sheets and blankets covered a whole room.

We went to the zoo or had picnics at the park. I took the younger ones to watch the older kids in a play at school. I read Bible stories before nap time. Then older kids had quiet reading time or played outside. There were swimming lessons, vacation Bible school, and weekly trips to the library to check out books. The older kids gained confidence reading to the younger ones.

Because I knew it was important for moms to know what their kids did during the day, I made a newsletter that had a chart of planned meals, snacks, and activities for the week. To include the moms, I asked for certain supplies, such as empty liter pop bottles for crafts. At pick-up time, I always tried to report some cute things the kids did or any problems we needed to work on together. It was important to make sure the moms knew that I was there to help them rear their kids, not rear them myself.

There were some scary moments, like the time a drunk driver rear-ended our van as we came back from a trip to the park. Fortunately, we had just practiced our safety drills the day before and everyone was wearing seat belts. No one was hurt, just shook-up! Another time I dreaded calling a parent at work. It was the first day of afternoon kindergarten for one of the boys. His mom had paid to have his hair stylishly cut. Just before lunch, he came out of the other room with scissors. He had cut a huge bald spot right in the front of his head! Or how about the time the little girl asked me why I didn’t have a job. I thought, I sure am working hard for someone who has no job!

We also had sad times. My husband died at the young age of thirty-seven. Not only was I brokenhearted, but also I had to help my own kids and all the day-care kids through their grief. Steve had been like a second dad to them. Of course, I had to keep on working. We gave one another lots of hugs!

One day I started crying as we drove to the park. One of the kids asked me if I was okay. I told her I missed Steve. She said, “I do, too.” Before I knew it, a whole van of kids started chanting, “We miss Steve! We miss Steve!” Needless to say, I had to pull over to regain my composure.

I’m still very close to most of the families. Last Mother’s Day I got a card from a mom of a twenty-year-old, with a copy of a card her son made for her while in my care. She thanked me for being a mom for her when she was at work!

Eva Juliuson

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