Dear SAHM: There Are More Important Things

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Growing up, I remember doing many chores.  I remember all of our responsibilities. Dishes, vacuuming, dusting, Windex glass, picking up after ourselves, daily floor sweeps, any other assignment either parent assigned, plus homework.  It was life.  It taught us all a great deal. We learned how to be responsible, that actions had consequences, that what we do affects others, how to be considerate, etc and how to clean. Even now, as adults, all of my three siblings and myself, can clean a house spotless.

Our house did not go past a certain messy point. Clothes never stayed on the couch for too long. Dishes were never in the sink for more than a meal. The floor never crunched with food or any other substance. We didn’t grow up in mess. My home, however, is not that.

Right now, there are clothes on our couch; clean clothes, but clothes nevertheless. The sink is full of dishes. Clean dishes are in the dishwasher and on the side of the sink.  The kitchen floor has food in the crease where the wall and carpet meets all along the wall. I have two piles of laundry on the floor of our bathroom. I could go on but you get the idea.

A while a go, I posted that I was going to have Jazmine follow a chore chart. It is going pretty well. She is developing good habits and, gradually, learning to choose not to do a half-way job with her chores. I am a task oriented person. I practice not stopping for any kind of break until all or at least the vast majority of a task list is complete. I want to instill this in Jazmine. The thing is, I am sure I was born with the wiring for this kind of thinking but it did not present itself right away.  It was groomed and allowed to grow. I have to give this same time allowance to my Jazmine.

I have a habit of measuring how well my day has gone by how my home looks.  I get where this thought process comes from. I am a SAHM. I don’t work outside of the home. I don’t have a desk or a boss to please. No one readily recognizes my work and says ‘good job’. Not that that is a daily occurance at any job but I don’t get performance reviews etc. All I have as a showcase, if you will, is my home. When people come in, my home is what reflects me. If, by the time I go to bed, my home is tidy, I feel great.  If it is not, I tend to beat myself up.  I think I spent my day doing too much of everything else and did not incorporate tidying up. This evening, it occurred to me that, on a scale of importance, the nurturing of my husband and children’s hearts and their spirits is vastly more important than having a tidy home. Not that my house should remain untidy but if I spend far more time grooming my children and nurturing both them and my husband, while allowing everyone to grow, I have invested my time well.

The state of my home is no longer a personal measure of my worth.

 

I Have More Cracks…

I get scared to write stuff sometimes.  Once it is written and out there, it’s gone and can’t be taken back. I once wrote about a vision God gave me about a cracked pot versus a perfect pot each with a candle in each. I used to strive so hard to be the perfect pot until God showed me that the perfect pot shines finitely.  It’s brightness comes out the top of the pot.  The cracked pot shines brighter because of all of the holes in it.

I stopped trying to be perfect that day and let His shine come through all of my cracks.

At that point in time, I thought I had discovered all of my cracks.  I thought that by that point, all my cracks were clearly defined and there weren’t any more to be added.

I was wrong.

I’ve never verbalized this to anyone. I have heard it said before only once in my adult life but I didn’t truly co-sign to it when it was said then. I believed it but was afraid of whom I would offend by declaring it aloud as my own thought. What I have to say goes against the grain.  Most would say it is extremely unkind, dispassionate, and un-Christ-like. Of course I disagree. It is the truth, relationships are messy, and just because a thought isn’t popular doesn’t make it wrong.

Here goes.

It is possible to be friends with a peer and not like that peers children.  (It is also possible to enjoy someones child and not be able to tolerate that child’s parent but that is not the scope of this post.) Notice I said it is possible and not that it is successful.  In our culture, we are all or nothing.  If you say you are my friend then, in our culture, that automatically means you like my children.  By like, I mean you are willing to watch them when that peer needs to be elsewhere without her children, and that you are willing to engage family to family and not just one-on-one. Here is where it gets messy.

If I met a peer at work or in any other arena where you just see me, all we would do is have one-on-one interactions. Family mingling would be rare and both parties would be okay with that. When you deal with SAHM, homeschooling families, or any other family dynamic that has a would-be-peer in constant touch with her children, family to family interaction is the only way to go without having to jump through hoops to get some alone time. Trust me. I get that completely.  My point is that because it’s an all-or-nothing culture, if I don’t like ones children, or I don’t like them around my child, then, usually, I am deemed at fault for not being more sensitive, kind, caring, considerate etc etc.

Welp, I’m done with all of that. I am not saying there is anything wrong with how peers, or would-be-peers raise their children, interact with them, discipline them, or love on them.  I am saying that something about the whole family dynamic rubs me the wrong way where I don’t need to be around the children or the peer + children combo for more than 5-15 minutes before a bad taste sets in my mouth and I need to remove myself.

Now, to be fair, I have no problem if another peer needs me to be their one-on-one peer and not a family dynamic peer. If you don’t like my child for whatever reason (even though I, like most parents think she isn’t the one with the problem, you are) I’m okay with that.  Why? Because if  you don’t like Jazmine, I don’t want you to be around her either! Duh!

We can peer-to-peer interact on the phone (mostly) or whenever we are able to get out and interact face-to-face.  Granted, our friendship may not develop as deeply until we are able to get past the fact that inter-family mingling is not a positive for us. However, if both peers grow through that, there could be a lot more friendships on the horizon.

I am truly blown away by how many women base wether or not someone is a good friend on if that person watches their children. What kind of malarkey is that? Being an encourager on the other end of the phone, or a jokester, or your WalMart running buddy isn’t enough unless you provide childcare when needed? Nope. Not okay but, I understand that that is the acceptable norm.  I’m just not buying into that anymore.

I know I am not alone because of that brave sister who, only earlier this year, voiced the same thing. Our culture would have me to believe that we might be the only two out there who understand this but I don’t think we are.  I realize that this adds yet another crack to my pot that I did not know was there.  So, of course, since this entire train of thought goes against the grain, I seem even more defected. Oh well. Jesus can shine through this crack too 🙂

Dear SAHM

I had a SAHM epiphany tonight.

(This is published in real-time post.  I have not had a post since May 20.  I have much I can write but now is not the time)

I have had a overcoming couple of days. Fighting to keep control of my mind from the assaults of the devil. During this time of warfare, I have neglected my household duties. Not completely but more than I should have allowed.

The weather has finally made up its mind so I began the long process of switching out our winter clothes. Our bedroom looked like a mine field. My toilets had not been cleaned in weeks (I can not tell you how mortified I am at  having to pen that statement and it be true of me). The carpeted floor underneath where we eat our meals was filthy. It made me wish we had a dog so he could help me with the appearance of Jazmine’s spot at the table. The kitchen floor was marked up and our bathroom floor was not fit for company.

The house screams of “clean me” and “I need attention” were depressing but I could not find the umph to do any significant work.  Our guest bathroom was not filthy.  I had spot cleaned it but not deep cleaned it as I would normally do.  Although our laundry baskets were full of dirty clothes, we had plenty of clean (draws) clothes so there was no rush there.  Because we were having guests yesterday evening, I vacuumed the carpet floor and had Jazmine put all of her toys away.  The main floor looked presentable but I saw the lies. I knew the house wasn’t in its proper state.

Today, I had some much needed time to myself. My mother-in-law took Jaz with her and my husband gave me space. I got to chit-chat with a good friend of mine in private without listening ears, AND (this is the best part) there was a Criminal Minds marathon on A&E today!  I had a most wonderful afternoon!

Somewhere around six o’clock, umph found me. I said to myself, “I can clean the toilets while everyone is gone.” By the time I had solidified that thought and got up to get started, I quickly expanded that plan to include the kitchen and the bathrooms. In the next 7 hours I completed the following tasks: cleaned the toilets, cleaned the guest bathroom (sink, mirror, vacuum and mop floor) cleaned our bathroom (sink, mirror, shower, vacuum and mop floor), vacuumed and mopped kitchen floor, finished swapping out winter clothes, bagged clothes to be given away and put them in the car, packed up Jazmine’s winter clothes that she might be able to wear again, ate dinner, sorted laundry, washed three loads, put one load away, sewed a button back on, went through a pile of mail, shredded junk mail with personal information, put away a shipment of vitamins, showered Jazmine (she took herself to bed), and brushed my teeth (not necessarily in that order.  Jazmine was in the bed WELL before the writing of this post).

I just so happened to look at the clock.  It read 12:53AM. That is when I had the epiphany.  I just worked a 7-hr workday!

As a SAHM, sometimes it is hard for me to quantify what I do because things like laundry don’t have a deadline. Having worked and know what an 8-hr workday feels like, I often overlook the work I put in at home.  If I were to quantify what I do in and for the house every day, I would probably be up to at least 12-hrs average!

So, if you are like me and struggle at times to see your value at home as being valuable in comparison to the work you knew you were putting in at your  job, remember what you just read. We put in hard and long hours too!

Hey Stay At Home Mom! You Do Make A Difference!

Hey Stay At Home Mom! You Do Make A Difference!

I was reading, praying and asking God if I make a difference for Him on a daily basis.  I am not employed. I don’t interact in a professional environment everyday.  I may not even make it out of the house … Continue reading

She Get It From Her Momma!

There is no one to blame when you are a stay-at-home-mommy (SAHM).  There’s no teacher.  There’s no day care provider.  There is no babysitter.  There is no grandmother, great-aunt, next door neighbor, sister’s best friend’s cousin, or any of that to share the burden of what the child is taking in and expressing.  It’s all well and good when the child does something amazing or “beyond their years”.  It’s cute then.  It feels good to have someone recognize that your child is learning and that you are the one teaching them.  But then there are moments like these.

Yesterday, my two-year old daughter informed me she was going upstairs with her grandmother.  I said ok.  She got to the landing on the third step, turned and looked at me and said, “Don’t be up and set. No crying. No whining. I’m okay. No worries”, all with her hand raised and her neck swiveling.

This evening, my sister informs me that, in response to a no response she just received, my child told her, “I don’t care.  I get my own!” This was followed by an eye roll.

I could go on with the things this child does.  I can’t blame anyone but me.  She gets it all from me.  Granted, the way she expresses it is not exactly how I express it to her.  I do tend to swivel my neck when she has plucked my last nerve.  I do hold my hand up and say “oh no no no ma’am”.  When she tells me she won’t give me any kisses I do say “I don’t care!  I’ll get my own!” and I tickle and kiss her until Mommy is satisfied.  “No crying.  No whining. No whimpering” is a daily mantra here.  “No worries. You are okay. Don’t be upset” are frequently used to settle nerves and calm emotions.

All of that comes out jumbled and sounds like a mean adult when it comes out of her.  And the first question on everyone’s lips?  “Who taught her that?” or “Where did she get that from?”  My answer? “She get it from her Momma” (Yes. I say it just like Juvenile does in his song).

There is no one else to blame but me. There is no one else to point fingers too.  She does pick up a few things from her siblings when they visit but those habits are typically gone within a week.  She is not around any one person even a fraction of the time she spends with me.

If she can count to 20, I did it.  If she can recite a Bible verse, I did it.  If she can put chapstick on by herself, I did it.  If she growls when she is frustrated, I did it.  If she looks at you like you’re crazy when she is told to do something she doesn’t want to do, I did it.  If she can zip up her coat all by herself, I did it.

SAHM = all of the blame and all of the glory at the same time.  Why? Because she ALWAYS gets it from her Momma!

Our Own Cross To Bear

We all have our own cross to bear.  Some people never have to worry about where their next dollar is coming from.  Some people attend more funerals then we think a person ever should.  Some people have a problem with anger whereas for some anger has never been a problem.  I don’t know what it is to have a unattentive spouse but I know a few women who do.  This list goes on and on.

We each have our own cross to bear.  Mine in particular is being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).  Let me preface this by stating that I love being a SAHM.  I have ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE to put a resume together, find a job and child care for Jazmine, and having to explain my bonus children that they can’t come over during the week because I have to work.  Not only that but the last time I checked, day care was running about $200 a week!  That is $800 a month!  Thirty percent of my monthly income would go to a day care provider not to mention that I would not be able to spend all those lovely (and sometimes hectic) moments with my little one.  To my married working mommies, I have no doubt that you don’t have similar struggles because after all, mommyhood is mommyhood but, being a stay-at-home-mom is a different beast altogether.

When I first became a Mommy, I heard all of the warnings regarding sleep deprivation.  Honestly, that wasn’t really a problem for me.  I was tired true enough, but I never felt like the zombie people told me I would become.  What has become a difficult challenge for me, one that I was not completely aware of the severity of, was the loss of me time.  Let me define me time for you.  Me time is not solely baby free time.  Me time is time when I can do what I want to do.  It is not just baby free time so I can do more chores or anything else on my unending to-do list.  It is time when I can play a Wii game, chit chat on the phone without little ears, treat myself to a snack that only I enjoy, or watch a movie that is not Rated-G.  Time where the only opinion that matters is mine.

Because I stay at home, in my average day, there is no time that exists that I am alone not to mention doing anything I’d like to do.  That has become increasingly difficult for me recently.  With a 15 month old, I have had several Calgon-take-me-away moments in a day, sometimes in a row.  It’s not Jazmine’s fault.  She’s a baby.  My husband works from home and I see (and hear) his work breaks.  I often envy his ability to get up and go to do whatever he needs to or feels like doing during his day.  I, on the other hand, may or may not be able to leave the house.  I have a window of opportunity to get out of the house each day.  It is right after Jazmine’s morning bowel movement because trust me, you do not want to be out when that happens, and before lunch time.  So I have a three-hour window with which to get all necessary things done. Notice I said necessary.  Necessary is not always pleasurable but I have learned to take pleasure in them.

I have been in some serious prayer about my envious feelings a few things came to my mind.  1. Gen. 3:16b which says “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” I had never seen the truth of this verse in my life before until now.  My husband’s primary role is to be the bread-winner.  He is the hunter.  He does plenty of other things as well.  With a job, there is a main job description and there at the bottom of the page in smaller print it says ‘and other duties as assigned’.  That’s how it is in our house as well.  While my husband is carrying out the duties of his primary role, I see what I call the perks of his job.  To me, his perks is his (ever abundant) me time.   My perspective has to change so I don’t hone in on the things that he has that I don’t instead of looking at the whole picture.  2. Growing through. A friend of mine told me a several yeas ago that the woman of the house keeps the emotional temperature of her household.  It’s the same old adage.  If Mommy’s not happy, no one is happy.  That works both ways.  If Mommy is happy, everyone is happy to.  What that really means is that everyone knows what to expect.  We have to keep our emotions at a positive constant.  As a SAHM, my child(ren) see all of my emotions throughout the day as I experience them.  To keep the emotional temperature of my household at its normal level, I have to grow through my emotions rather quickly.  I don’t have the luxury of dwelling on things too long. I have to grow through.  I can’t walk around with my lips poked out and not complete the things that my family has come to expect from me (like make dinner) every time something bothers me.  3. Prov. 14:1 which says “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish tears hers down.” I think of a certain older lady when I hear the term wise woman.  I have known this woman for many years now and, in my personal, humble, but correct opinion, she is the epitome of wisdom.  Everything from the way she walks, her manner of speech, and her conduct displays how wise she is.  She has experienced some great tragedies (including the deaths of both her husband and one son).  Through all of that she still exhibited wisdom like a fragrance where ever she was.  I was having a particularly rough time today with this loss of me time business and went to God for help.  I opened my Bible and this verse was the first I saw.  I didn’t put two and two together until today as I was had to grow through.  A wise woman acts in wisdom in the midst of her feelings.

I could have reacted to what I saw as an offense.  I could have seriously disrupted the emotional temperature of my household today by staying in my feelings.  I could have torn my house (namely my husband) down verbally today because I decided to believe that my current perspective was the truth.   I am so grateful for God’s guidance.  I am so thankful for a half a seconds good sense to choose to turn to God for help instead of choosing to figure it out myself.  I am so thankful that God had a word for me in His Word.  I am so thankful that instead of tearing my house down with my own hands, I was chewing (meditating) on the verse He gave me.  I am so thankful that in choosing to be obedient to His Word, I was able to see the whole picture.