So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

In my twenties, I found myself young and single, so I did the city thing. At the first sign of a mild-weather spring day, I would leave work a few hours early and head to the zoo. It was a short walk from my apartment. If you turned the other way, you were only a few blocks from an excellent Mexican restaurant.

As newlyweds, we did the suburb thing. Riding our bikes this time, on Tuesday nights we could get pizza and a pitcher to drink for $5 while listening to a hidden gem artist at the local pub.

When our conversation turned to starting a family though, having a child, we both wanted to return to our small town roots. A place where we are known; surrounded by grandparents, other family members, and neighbors who feel like family.

Once I had our little girl and saw that great fire of independence in her eyes, I knew we needed land situated in the middle of nowhere. I wanted her to grow up not only small town, but country like I did. It was already in her, I could see it. 

I wanted her to be somewhere where the people wave as you drive by, not because they know you necessarily, but because you’re both from here.

I wanted her to know the importance of serving in a smaller church because it takes all of us to worship.

I wanted her to listen to songs by George and Garth and the other George, and know what they were singing about deep in her bones.

I wanted her to know what it was like to make a long list of errands you’d need to run next time you headed into town.

I wanted her to learn how to entertain herself for days because when you live miles away from town, you’re not always on the go.

I wanted her to know where her food came from because she’d helped care for the land and the animals that provide it.

I wanted her to choose when to invite company over and when to enjoy being home alone.

I wanted her to have the freedom of wandering in the woods and along the streams.

I wanted her to fall in love with a dirt road in all its seasons: winter, summer, fall and spring.

I wanted her to go on walks to the neighbors with her dogs by her side.

I wanted her version of lights not to be city lights, but lightning bugs and bright stars.

I wanted her to have a neighbor who taught her how to do things in the home and around the farm like my neighbors did.

I wanted her to learn how to ride a bicycle on gravel because that’s harder and the challenge would be good for her.

There are plenty of ways to raise a child well. I have no problem with a small town girl or a city boy. When I had a little girl of my own, the only way I knew to raise her was out here in the country. So I am.

You may also like:

3 Reasons Farm Kids Grow Up to Be Successful

6 Ways Raising Small-Town Country Kids Rocks

Five Qualities Found In Every Small Town Person

Traci Rhoades

Traci Rhoades is a writer and Bible teacher. She lives in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area with her family and an ever-changing number of pets. Connect with her online at tracesoffaith.com or @tracesoffaith on twitter. She is the author of "Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost."

Dear Kindergarten Teacher, I’m Giving You My Baby

In: Kids
newborn baby swaddled and sleeping

I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten, and you couldn’t have been more wonderful. You caught her eye from across the playground and immediately waved. You greeted her by name with a warm smile, and you were totally OK (encouraging, even) with me hanging around for a while before actually leaving her. You looked me in the eye, smiled and greeted me happily, and pretended not to notice when I started tearing up while introducing myself. (Thank you for that.) My daughter was the first of your students to arrive, and you chatted with her...

Keep Reading

Childhood Is Messy with Imagination and I Want to Remember It All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toys on bedroom floor

Sometimes I take random photos on my phone of my son’s bedroom or what he has built with his LEGOs. I do this because I know how quickly things change while he is this young. What he builds with LEGOs is always evolving, becoming more intricate and sophisticated. When I look around his room and see everything that is there, it’s like a snapshot of the season we are in. And all I want to do is capture each season. Capture what life looks like for us, for him. I envision showing him these photos when he is grown, maybe...

Keep Reading

God Bless the Middle School Teachers Who Love Our Tweens and Teens

In: Kids, Teen, Tween
Middle school students smiling

I keep seeing articles about kindergartners heading off to school for the first time, and parents are feeling all the things kindergarten parents feel. I’ve been a middle school teacher for my entire career, and I know for sure that middle school parents are feeling all the feelings too. We teachers are ready to receive your babies in middle school too. In our neck of the woods, middle school starts in sixth grade. Fifth graders were at the top of the pyramid in elementary school, but they arrive in middle school as the little ones. In the eyes of the...

Keep Reading

6 Things the Parent of a Child With Medical Needs Learns

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child holding baby doll

My 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months before her 2nd birthday. She uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to watch her blood glucose levels and a pump that administers insulin. Before these amazing pieces of medical technology, we were pricking her fingers up to 10 times a day and giving insulin injections at about the same rate—ouch! There are many parents out there with children with special medical needs. One mom I know has to give her autistic son enemas every day because of digestive issues. Another mom has a child with highly specialized dietary...

Keep Reading

As Another School Year Begins, Remember Mama: You Know Your Child Best

In: Kids, Motherhood
little girl holding a first day of kindergarten sign

Dear mom buying school supplies and feeling overwhelmed, Stop and pray. Ask God to help you envision each child as the young adult they can be. Write out your goals for that child . . . fair warning, there will likely be very little academic success in your goals. You may even have to go back and write those in. Take a deep breath. Keep this list of goals nearby. Go back and read them when the world is telling you your child doesn’t stack up somewhere. They aren’t reading as fast, they’re not “getting” math, their handwriting is wonky,...

Keep Reading

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.