"I love your plates!" Shelby complemented. "I once wanted to do my kitchen in apples too, but I decided to go with strawberries.
"Thank you! Jeff got hose for me a few years ago. I like having pretty things in my kitchen. Before then I had some really plain plates I found at the grocery store. You know, the ones that don't sell well, so usually get put on the clearance shelf?"
"Oh, I know. But some times they're actually nice."
"Yeah, they have had nicer ones lately." Alice responded.
As they loaded the dishwasher in silence, Shelby's mind went back to the conversation they had at the supper table. Why couldn't she get it off her mind? Shelby knew why. She had to talk about it or her mind would never have peace again.
Alice, do you ever worry that your children wont be very smart. I"m not implying that your not smart yourself . . . I just mean . . ."
"Oh, I know what you're talking about. I've had many people ask me that same question. Ad yes, I do worry sometimes, it's natural for all home schoolers to worry. We all want our children to be well educated and if their not, we can't blame it on a school system. It's all on our shoulders. But I think they'll do fine. Stacy scored real high when she took the tests at the Education Center. And if you look at the facts, it does look like they are learning more than if they were in a public school. Instead of reading 7 pages on the Civil War every year out of the text books, we can read 7 books that are just on that topic."
"Wow, I never thought about it that way."
"They also do projects or crafts together that help them remember it. So when I look at it that way, I feel a little better."
"I'm sure you do."
After a long pause, during which Alice let Shelby think on what they had just talked about, her guest had some more questions.
"Does your husband like working for the Rail Road?" asked Shelby.
"Yes, he really likes it. The best part about it is he gets plenty of vacation and sick days. We're thinking about taking a vacation in a few months."
"We've been trying to find time to take one too, but Tom and I can't seem to get he time off work at the same time, plus the children have to be out of school. But y'all probably don't have that problem, do you?"
"No, I see that as one of God's blessings for following his will for our family. I"m thankful God has provided a way for me to stay home with our children."
"Jeff's job must pay really well," Shelby commented.
"It pays pretty well, but with six kids, it's not he best. I've had to learn to be frugal with our money and to trust God to meet our needs. He always does." Alice said with a smile.
Shelby couldn't help but marvel at her dedication to her family. This woman gave up an opportunity to make her own money and now has to be careful how he spends the little bit her husband gives her, just to spend all her time taking care of her husband and six children. But yet she didn't feel sorry for her. Alice was the happiest woman she had ever met. She could feel her happiness and contentment from the time she walked in the door.
She stopped wiping the counter for a moment and looked into the living room. There were their husbands talking and laughing about the pranks they've seen pulled at work. When she listened closely she could hear the children in the other room laughing and telling jokes while they played Monopoly all together. Every body seemed in their right place. What was even more was everyone seemed very happy. For the first time, Shelby saw that she was not the mother she needed to be. It was her job to make a happy home for her family and she had not done the job very well. She felt a pang of regret in her heart for all the years she had wasted working while her children were away at school.
Her husband looked up at her from the couch where he was sitting and smiled a knowing smile. Her husband had seen the difference in the two homes as well. Joy started to find it's way into her heart and fill her with a sense of peace that said, "It will be alright. It's never too late to start anew."
With an energy that she hadn't felt in a long time, she desired to make her home a place of happiness, to be the mother God intended her to be, to teach her children herself instead of letting other women do her job, and to run her home the way God intended.