Some of the best advice I ever received as a first-time parent was to look carefully at the children of each person who offered me advice and see how they turned out before deciding whether to follow anyone’s advice. It makes sense, too, that people may talking from the perspective of “I tried this and it worked” or “I tried this and it didn’t” in any area, but I prefer advice from people who have found something that does work. So… What makes me “qualified” to offer advice? I don’t claim to know everything or have all the answers, but people ask my opinions and advice rather often, so I’m just going to tell you a little about me and let you decide if I have anything to offer you.
I grew up on Army bases until my father received a medical discharge the end of my ninth grade year. I’m the oldest of three kids, and we are each nearly 7 years apart, so I spent a lot of time helping take care of kids between my siblings and babysitting for dozens of families in our neighborhood. It also means that the longest I ever lived in one place before graduating from college was less than four years. I spent a lot of time reading, babysitting, and doing crafts, as it was hard to have deep and lasting friendships when people were constantly coming and going. Nowadays, I’d just use social media and other online tools to keep in touch, but back then long distance was too expensive, and “snail mail” just wasn’t a gratifying way to communicate.
I took advanced classes in high school, I was active in many clubs and in band, I sang in our church choir, and I taught the kindergarten Sunday school class at our church. I graduated third in my high school class, which was perfect for this introvert… It meant I didn’t have to give a speech! I had planned on majoring in Engineering, but my summer high school internship with NASA helped me to realize I wouldn’t enjoy that job very much. I started college as a math major, switched to art, then finally settled in elementary education. That’s all over the place, but so are my interests!
In college, I met the love of my life, joined a service organization, and founded another service organization. In retrospect, doing all of that AND getting a degree was great use of four years of my life! Just two weeks after getting my diploma, we finally got married, and we have been happily married now for 22 years. I am truly blessed to have found a man who is compassionate, supportive, and reliable; he’s an incredible father and husband! (I could go on about him all day, but you didn’t come here to read about how awesome he is, so I will refrain.)
For the first couple of years, I did long-term substituting in local school (covering maternity leave and other longer absences) and I taught at a local Christian daycare, but the arrival of our first child began a new chapter in my life: SAHM. I had always dreamed of being a full-time mom, and I still love my job (some days more than others…). In the early days of being at home, I tried a variety of home based businesses to try to help dig us out of debt. Most of them were sales, either online or in person, but I’ve done a lot of tutoring too. My determination to stay home increased with the arrival of our second child, especially when we also began homeschooling. I’ve taught classes for homeschoolers and tutored a variety of students over the years, but I have refined my focus, caring for my husband and children first, and being careful not to let other commitments keep me from the job that is entirely mine to do.
We lost two babies, both at 16 weeks pregnant with no discernible cause, and we thought we could not have more children after several years without conceiving another. God, however, had a different plan in mind! When our oldest son was almost 14 and our daughter had just turned 10, we welcomed another son. He’s a welcome surprise, but that meant that I was faced with homeschooling a teen and a tween with a baby/toddler in tow. We’ve now homeschooled for a total of 14 years, including all 13 years of teaching my oldest. He’s now at college, working part-time and pursuing his future. Our daughter is still studying high school at home, and our preschool son will begin kindergarten at home officially this fall.
Over the years, I’ve been known as a jack-of-all-trades. I’ve been a preschool teacher, a Mary Kay consultant, a Creative Memories consultant, an online store owner, a Cub Scout Leader, a Girl Scout Leader, a Boy Scout Committee member, a homeschool co-op art teacher, a praise team singer, a Sunday School teacher, a Vacation Bible School director, a prom chaperone/sponsor, a book club organizer, an SAT testing organizer, a soccer coach, a Sing n’ Sprout (music and movement) teacher, a member of about a zillion committees, and so much more. My kids have been in choirs, praise bands, music lessons, gymnastics, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Venture Crew, horseback riding, soccer, theater, and Order of the Arrow. They’ve volunteered at the library, at church, and pretty much anywhere else they see a need. My oldest earned Eagle Scout before he was 14, received Vigil Honor in Order of the Arrow, and was awarded a full scholarship for college tuition at a major university. My daughter is incredibly musical, is active in theatre, and works diligently to overcome dyslexia academically. Our youngest? Well, he’s an energetic, highly inquisitive 5-year-old. I’ve been blessed that I could be right there with them through it all, and each day is a new adventure with new challenges to test the limits of what I can do. That’s why I chose the name “Endeavoring Mom.” Each day, I endeavor to be what my husband, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, and my community needs me to be, and it leads me to a huge variety of projects that keeps even me engaged and intrigued. I hope to share whatever I’m learning or any wisdom I’ve gleaned with all of you, and I hope that it will be a blessing to you, leaving you hopeful and encouraged to keep on being the best you can be too.
– Tina Kaye