Friday, February 21, 2014

Musings of a Stay-at-home-mom: So you're new to this?

Talking to a lot of women lately, I've had that impression on my heart to speak about a subject that is close to my heart, one of the only subjects I'm passionate about that doesn't relate to foster/adopting children (that is whole different post, or blog for that matter), it's when someone, specifically a women leaves the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom, or wife. In my conversations with women, I am finding some themes, maybe something they wish they had known before they left the workforce, so they could mentally prepare, and maybe some advice. I mean, I say "advice" loosely, you can take it or leave it, but it's just things I have learned along they way.

Let me just say this first. Leaving the workforce and coming home had a honeymoon period. Mainly because I quit around the holiday time so I didn't have time to think about stuff. But after the holidays were over, life came crashing down real hard. Things that are real about being a stay-at-home wife/mother.

1. It can be extremely lonely/ isolated. There can be days, or weeks that you don't talk to or see another human being besides or your husband or kids. Unless you are like the 1% of society that is just involved in book clubs, on top of tennis leagues, and committee boards, you are home with just you (or a small minion who may or may not be able to converse with you, and even if they do, it's not adult conversations, I mean, seriously, just today I spent the greater part of four hours answering the question: "what's that?") Grocery shopping turns in to your "big event" for the day. Or going to the dog park, or the playground. You wonder, is this what my life has turned into? Walgreens, then Publix, then home in time to vacuum and have dinner ready? Unless you just hated the place and burned so many bridges when you quit, you start making excuses to drop by the old workplace, just to see people. You are not alone in feeling alone.

2. Unless you are a mother of three, no one will understand why you are tired, you know, cause you're at home all day, what do you do with all your time??? This might be offensive to you, but it's ok for people to wonder that. Because they are rushing at work all day, and then when they come home, they may be rushing all evening until their head hits the pillow. But here's the deal, you DO do a lot. You DO, I know cause I did, and still do it too. I blame our culture. America wants you to be busy All. The. Time. So if you had an extra five minutes this morning to drink a cup of coffee, have some quiet devotion to start your busy day, you are lazy. Don't believe that sack of lies. And don't buy in to, now that you are home you need to fill your day with more activities. I have more on this, but you'll have to skip down to my "advice" section:)

3. In your head you knew your work would go unrecognized, but now you can feel it in your heart how much it hurts that you really get no recognition for your work. I don't think I was the most life-changing social worker in the world when I worked, but I did receive a paper "plaque" that congratulated me on my efforts (and no, it wasn't one of those participation awards where everyone in the unit got it, only two did... out of six...  so..ok it was almost a participation award, but still!) And one time I did earn a pizza party (Elementary school style!) I know, you want to be a social worker now, moving on... I don't get plaques at home, Tim is an amazing husband, but he is still human. Your husband (or kids) will have no idea how many hours of wash you do, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, organizing, unless you die. Or are gone for a weekend. Or just a day really. You may know in your head that it was going to be hard, but those pizza parties at work really did keep your morale up! It's ok to miss that friend, you are in good company.

4. There is no such thing as weekend. You don't just stop cooking cause it's Saturday (unless it's DATE NIGHT!!!) You don't just not do bedtime cause you've been doing it all week and now you do not want to do bedtime. Nope, these things, these labors of love, your job, your career as a home-maker, a life-molder, the activity-planner, the  GLUE THAT HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER, never stops.

Maybe there are more truths I've missed, if you have some to add, leave them in the comment section, and we can discuss in another post! But for now, it's late and my caffeine buzz is wearing out. And I don't want this post to get too long or you will stop reading. You know I'm right, don't you? So here is my "advice" or really some Grace to give you about these hard truths:

1. Do not let the devil get a foothold in your loneliness. If/when you get lonely, do not just sit in it. If you are a mother, at the playground, look at the mother next to you pushing their child on the swing, smile, and say "hi." Chances are they are just as bored as you are of pushing their young little tyke 1000 times on the swing, and are hoping for some break in the monotony as well. If you are a stay-at-home wife, join a bible study that meets during the week. Or even befriend stay-at-home moms you know. When I first came home, it was just me, no one to look after, but me, I was pregnant, but it was still just me. I would go to lunch with one of my dearest friend, and while our conversations were broken up by the chattering of her beautiful little toddler, I loved having lunch with her and I know (now from experience) Chick-fil-a is so much nicer when you can share it with someone. Being a stay at home wife mother by definition is isolating, you can't help that, it's in the title, but it does NOT have to be lonely.

2. Just because you are not working, does not mean you have to go find 80 different activities, committees, volunteering, or sports clubs. I guess right now, I am talking to introverts. I have a dear friend, who is extroverted, who is a stay-at-home mom, who does SO many amazing things. And as I started to compare myself with her, I felt God saying to me, "Don't do that! I created her that way, and she is doing what I have told her to do! I didn't create you that way, so don't start stretching yourself in ways I didn't intend for you to stretch". And that was the end of that. Let me be honest with you about what I do during the day. I love on my girls. SO much. Some mornings I sit down on my couch, and hold both of them in my arms (as long as K will allow anyway:)) and we watch a movie together before we go do errands. I run errands, I clean the kitchen, I do the 100th load of laundry for the week, on Wednesday nights I volunteer my help, and am involved in a bible study on Thursday nights. That is it. There maybe is one more extra activity I am praying about doing. But friends, you do not need to fill your days up! Who says that just because you quit a 40 hr a week job that you need to fill in your days with 40 hours of tangible "doing stuff." You be whatever wife/mother God calls you to be, and whatever on top of that you want to do, pray about, but let me reiterate, you are not obligated to some kind of time quota!

3. So now you really appreciate the Hallmark created holiday "mother's day." So you cry at P&G or Publix commercials, cause they really get you as a mother. It's ok to feel a certain pang of pride when you get to stand up in church to be recognized as a mother. Or, for the stay at home wives, when your husband comes home and lets you have the evening off to get a pedicure or just do whatever, you stay out, maybe an extra hour later than expected.. (I wouldn't recommend any more hours, or you might not come back;)) So you pat yourself on the back for getting those bathroom sinks EXTRA white. DO IT! Give yourself a pat on the back. Relish those compliments a second longer before they become pride. But here's the real deal. You came home to be a servant to your family. Whether or not its your husband or a gaggle of children along with him. Find your recognition in the Lord. His approval. His Grace. He is enough. Don't rely on P&G commercials or (as great as he is) your husband to fill you up with recognition to keep going. Look up to the One who always sees you and can fill your heart with more than enough to keep going. And maybe sometime order a pizza and throw yourself your own pizza party... I'm just sayin'...

4. You may not get weekend off, but unless you want to risk a black out and coming to to find your kids staring at you wide-eyed and your husband missing ( just kidding!). You need to block in time for yourself. If it's just a couple of hours to yourself at Starbucks once every couple of weeks, or a pedicure. God was serious about setting up a Sabbath and keeping it. And let's be honest, as a wife/mother you are not keeping a Sabbath (yeah, you're still cooking the Sunday Supper, and making sure the kids go down for their naps, and taking your older ones to choir in the afternoon, that is NOT resting). I remember learning in history, about a time in France, when the people went all anti-God and did away with a seven day work week that celebrated a Sabbath. They changed it to a ten day work week with no day for rest. You know what happened? The people went crazy. They changed it back. Get with your husband and communicate and plan for time off for yourself.

I love you all so much. I hope this was helpful to my friends who are stay at home moms. And as I'm writing, I'm thinking about my working mothers, I hope you are not hurt by this post. If I had experience in working full time and being a full time mom, I would write one as well. My life is not over, and I have SO many years left of motherhood I may get to write a post like  that one day! My sincere hope as I write this is to encourage the women I have come in contact with that are coming home for the first time. Praying for Grace and endurance for all of us. Because seriously, moms, you are the glue that holds it all together!

Love you,

Thursday, February 20, 2014


So for friends and family out there who didn't get the story of how Autumn came into the world, I wanted to put it out there. I did it for Karis and I wanted Autumn to have her story out there so she can read about it one day;).

Autumn's arrival was almost the exact opposite of Karis'. While with Karis I was nervous and a little anxious not knowing how everything played out. With Autumn, I was not only calm, but it was genuinely a fun and easy-going experience.

I knew A was coming early. There was a lot of pain, and some really hard contractions on the Thursday night before she came. I actually started having some a couple minute apart, but I promised my sister that I would not have the baby before my shower she was throwing me on Saturday, so I started deep breathing turned on my side and tried to go to sleep to stop the contractions from getting worse.

That Friday morning I went to my gynecologist for my 38 week check up and my doctor told me that he was not certain how I wasn't going into labor already. Without going into details, I was really far along. Funnily enough, I wasn't having any more contractions from the night before. My doctor, who I totally loved and really wanted to be the one to deliver Autumn, said if I could hang out until my check up on Tuesday he would strip my membranes and that should put me into labor. I didn't think I would make it that long since I was so far a long my Friday morning, but we put it on the calender.

Well, the weekend came and went with no more contractions, it was so weird. To be honest, I was feeling a little sad that she didn't come right after the shower, I thought we were so ready! But I kept reminding myself it was ok she didn't come because I had my appointment with Dr. Cook on Tuesday morning. On Monday, my wonderful sister in law came over and watched Karis while I did one last grocery shop. I wanted to be able to get some easy meals to make for after I had the baby. I also stocked up on breakfast foods. I was so grateful to have Monday to get ready. My mom came over Monday night and while I was able to go on two long walks that day, nothing started any lasting contractions.

Tuesday morning, we went to my doctor appointment in the morning. My mom came with me and Tim because she was very sure I was going to be checked into the hospital that day. Tim and I went into the back, and after checking my progression, Dr. Cook was once again astounded that I was either not having any contractions, or not feeling any major contractions. He went ahead and did his procedure to help me progress in labor more and asked if I was going to have an epidural. I told him that yes, I was going to get one, and so he told me that I was already halfway there ins dilation, so that I should go check myself in. That was one of the most wonderful things about my doctor's office. It is attached to the hospital I gave birth in, so instead of having to drive anywhere, we just walked across the hall to check myself in.

Easy peasy.

The Labor and Delivery Floor was empty. Like the receptionist had gone on her break, we had to buzz a nurse, and even then, we had to find the second nurse's station that was at the end of the floor to find someone to check us in. I'm still feeling great, the nurses, my mom, Tim, and even I am surprised that I'm not feeling any contractions yet, I'm five centimeters dilated for goodness sake. Check in was smooth, I was ushered into a room, filled out some short forms, I almost didn't have time to pre-register, Autumn came so early! It wasn't a short time later they came in with the epidural. The anesthesiologist was just as surprised as all of us that I still wasn't feeling any contractions.

I'm still so thankful I got that epidural. Cause for some reason, magic number seven centimeters, I was feeling it. Autumn must have found a nerve to sit on down there, cause at the very end, even with the lower half of my body numb, I felt every single one of those contractions, thanks to that wonderful nerve she found to sit on. It felt like someone was punching my lower  back every time I had a nice long and hard contraction. All I can say is, thank you Lord for modern medicine, and that I live in the United States of America. Cause I am so not sure I could do this with no meds.

Anyway, the nurse checked me for one last time, and with a little maneuvering put me at ten centimeters, and then told me not to push cause she had to go get the doctor. It was nice though, it gave me time to pick out a cute set of pajamas that Jennifer had brought for me to be comfy. The doctor who delivered Autumn was amazing. He had been doing this forever, and told me that this was going to be fast and we weren't going to be laboring that long. He was truly my favorite. And he didn't lie. I did a couple of practice pushes, then he looked at me and said, "I want you to push smarter not harder, some of your pushing is inefficient, just listen to me and do what I tell you to do." So I did, I pushed for five minutes. FIVE whole minutes, that is AMAZING! Then, something that I will carry in my heart forever, the doctor told me to stop pushing. And the last contraction brought her into the world as I just sat up and watched her come in. It was so quiet, it was like the world stopped spinning as she just came here. I will hold those seconds close to my heart as long as I live.

And there she was, red, deliciously chunky, and with a head FULL of dark brown hair. Just. Like. Her. Momma. Only, that was the only day she looked  anything like me, she is five months old as I type this and is  a spitting image of her father. She is beautiful though. She has beautiful big eyes that most likely will turn dark brown like her daddy's. I'm still not convinced I can have children with green eyes, something to do with genetic alleles, but I love brown eyes. She has a cute pug(ish) nose, and the BEST smile, as wide as the ocean.

She is my sweet. That is what I whispered to her her first days on this earth. My sweats. I love her so much. I am so glad that she's here, that God decided that she should be apart of our plan. She is more  than an addition to our family, she completes us even more. I hope she reads this, one day,  and knows that I was calm throughout the whole labor and delivery because I knew she would be amazing. And she was, and she is.

Love you all,