Lee Chipman is a busy mother of five girls. When she's not baking, cleaning or helping with homework, she enjoys decorating her home.
I don’t remember the “aha” moment when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I do remember that my mom worked full-time when I was growing up. I never felt resentful of her job, but I loved cooking and shopping and concocting activities with her. I wish we could have spent more time together. My mom was an infectious person. She made you want more—more of her and more of whatever she was involved in—because she turned even the most boring tasks into fun adventures. I knew at a young age that I wanted to give that “more” to my own kids. I’m 37, and a mom to five girls. I’m living my dream. It takes a lot of effort every day to make it work, but it’s what I like to do.
My desire to be a mom never conflicted with my educational goals. I have a bachelor's degree in child therapy. I had a hard time zeroing in on a major because there was so much to learn. Being a mother who gives more means a need to continually learn more. I’m interested in literature, how the human brain works, photography, food (I love to cook), design (decorating my home is a favorite hobby), teaching and educating.
The words “I CAN DO ANYTHING” are written in bold black letters along the risers of the main stairway in our home. This is a gentle reminder to me that I can in fact handle five children. But more importantly, the words are a formative thought for my kids. I want my daughters to believe that they can do and be whatever they put their minds to. And I want them to know I'll help them along the way. If they don't get it now, they will someday. This became clear when a neighborhood friend asked what the words on the stairs meant, and one of my girls answered, “It helps us remember that we are loved”.
Last Sunday there was a moment of pure bliss at my house. The older girls were working on a pieced quilt for the dog joining our family next month. The little girls were playing a game. It wasn’t completely quiet (a sound I yearn for), but they were all happily involved in projects together. I listened to a discussion of color combinations and fabric swatches, and a negotiation of new game rules. (I even heard a new game being invented.) There was laughter and excitement about our puppy. For a brief moment I had a glimpse of all my hard work coming together. The girls were voicing their opinions, nicely. They were getting along and developing close relationships, which is what I’ve always wanted for them. The moment was brief, but it made me feel at peace, and gave me the sense that I’m on the right path. The floors weren't clean. The laundry wasn't folded. Emails were unanswered. But five girls were creating joyful and lasting relationships right before my eyes.
This dream job of mine will not last forever. That makes me sad, when I think about it. My kids will only need my constant care and attention for a very short time. Later, I’ll be in a different phase of life, with time to restructure my dreams and maybe even try out a new career. Once in a while I’ll take a new task, recipe or idea for a spin, because I think it's important for my girls to see that their mom is capable of learning and trying new things.
My mom died when she was only 63. Her death made me realize that life is short and nothing is certain. Right now I’m doing my best to live my own dream to the fullest, which means raising my children with all the love and attention I have to give. When the right time comes, I won’t be afraid to turn my talents to something new, because I believe, just like I’m trying to teach my girls, that I can do anything.
What words do you want your children to remember?
When was the last time you tried something that was new?
Can you remember a time of pure bliss with people you loved?