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Monday, October 14, 2013

Being a SAHM

[Disclaimer: I am merely sharing my thoughts on this subject and do not mean to offend anyone mentioned here-in, neither do I  wish to offend anyone else who may happen upon this post.]

There has been an article called "You're a Stay-at-Home Mom? What do you do all day?" that was written and published on "The Matt Walsh Blog" on October 9. Since that time the article has gone viral. I have seen it shared several times on facebook, and actually shared it myself.

I read and enjoyed the article and  I felt empowered and justified as a Stay At Home Mom when I read:
"Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined."
It's unfortunate that our society has gone in such a direction that moms feel they have to defend their choice to be a "stay at home mom". If you choose to stay at home you are often viewed as unambitious and lazy. I may not be the perfect homemaker. I fall behind on dishes and laundry. My bathroom isn't always clean and often times it hits 6pm and I still have no idea what I'm making for dinner. You may not be able to measure what I have accomplished in tasks, but what I have given my children is worth more.
I have the best job in the world. Rewarding, beautiful, sacred and exhausting.

I felt invigorated and empowered as I read this moving article of a man appreciating the roles his wife was filling, but that feeling was quickly shattered as I skimmed the comments on the post filled with women attacking one another's choices to either become a working mother, or to be a stay at home mom.

We, as women, should not be judging one another. As mothers and as members of society we are each trying to do our very best, and we should be supporting each other in those roles not dishing out judgement. I feel that we all beat our selves up about everything. Our lives are riddled with guilt because, no matter what it is we are doing, we feel like we are not doing enough. I think that is largely because we were not meant to do it alone! We should be lifting, helping and supporting one another - easing each others burdens and offering understanding, not judgement.

My mother was not a stay-at-home-mom. She taught elementary school from the time before she met my Dad until I was graduated from high school. She had reservations about remaining in the work force, because she felt like her place was in the home, but my Dad convinced her that our family could not survive on his income alone.

Even with two incomes I don't think we had any extra money. My parents are both very frugal and I don't think I owned a dress that wasn't either hand-made or had at least one previous owner, until I was 12 years old and I bought one myself with money I had saved.

My young life was filled with babysitters and daycare. I look back on some of my care-givers with love and others with loathing. Most of my favorite memories, ironically, are from days when I was sick. Because on those days my Mom would have to get a substitute and stay home with me all day.

There was one December when I and my three brothers all had chicken-pox. My Mom got off work for a whole week and we made Christmas ornaments, paper chains, and cookies. We watched Christmas specials on TV while Mom rubbed Calamine lotion on us. It was the best Christmas-time I can remember.

There was another day, much later in my life, when I was in high school. I was sick, and although I was old enough to take care of myself my Mom got a sub and we spent the day lounging on couches watching old movies.

I wonder, if such things had been an every day occurrence would they have meant so much to me? I don't resent my mother for working outside the home. Quite the contrary, I commend her for her years of service to other people's children. It's mind boggling to think of the hundreds of little lives she has touched and influenced in her over 20 years of teaching. Where would our society be without good teachers!?
My children all have wonderful teachers, and they are mothers as well.

I am one of five children and although we did not grow up with a stay-at-home-mom I feel like we are all well adjusted, happy adults. We have a close relationship with each other, we get along and we are an, all around, happy family.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a home with a mother who stayed home. He has idealized his growing up years and asks why I don't "do more" with our kids. He claims that his Mom always had craft projects and learning activities for them to do. She decorated for every holiday (and still does.) AND made a meal plan every week.

Yet, with all of that, now that he and his brothers are grown up they hardly have anything to say to each other. Although each of the boys seem to have a close relationship with their parents, their mother in particular, they don't seem to have a lot in common with each other. (Ryan claims it's because he has no sisters, and girls are what glue a family together.) I know that every family dynamic is different, but I would not say that he and his siblings are any better off (having had a SAHM) than me and my siblings are (having had a mom who worked.)

When I got married my husband very adamantly stated, "My wife will NEVER work outside the home!" At the time I was a little insulted. I felt like my, however well meaning husband, was being controlling and taking away my agency on the matter.

In a small act of defiance, and to show that I was still in control of my time. I continued to work at the Early Learning Center where I had worked prior to our marriage until we had our first son.

In our 10 years of marriage we have never been very wealthy. I love staying home with my children and feel like it is where I should be. On occasion we have very briefly discussed the possibility of me entering the work force, but the thought is always quickly dismissed as we discuss child care costs (not only monetary, but emotional cost as well.)

However, living on one income has not always worked for us. We have struggled to live within our means. We've spent many years relying on government funded programs such as WIC, Medicaid and Food Stamps. I struggle with that because I feel like my staying at home is putting a burden on society.

Three years ago my husband was promoted to a management position and since that time we have been able to manage more or less on our own, but every month is a struggle.

There are single mothers, who obviously need to work to support their family. But there are others who, for whatever reason, cannot afford to stay at home. We, as member as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints have been advised, that whenever possible, the mother's place is in the home. The prophets and apostles have counciled us on this subject:
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “I recognize … that there are some women (it has become very many, in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries.”
Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “You in these unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who leave the home for lesser reasons will not."
This decision, like so many others in life, is between the Lord and those directly involved. The rest of us, who are not intimately involved with the circumstances surrounding the decisions of others should just know that we are each doing our best, we each have the best interest of our families in mind and it is not our place to judge.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Yesterday we were supposed to have our family pictures taken.
After my brother Gavin's accident (he fell 30 feet while trimming a tree in his front yard on July 13th) a lady here in Idaho Falls organized an auction to raise money for his family.
A local photographer donated a photo session that I bid on and won.
I thought that it would be fun to do a fall shoot with all of the pretty autumn leaves. the photographer said that it was best to do it the beginning of October if you wanted all of the leaves (before they are all gone.) So we scheduled the shoot for  last Thursday, October 3, but it snowed! So we rescheduled for yesterday, October 10.
The photographer, Whitney, likes to do the photo shoots an hour before sunset, because the lighting isn't too harsh. So we had planned to meet at Freeman park yesterday at 5:45pm. By the time we got there it was windy and rainy. So we had to reschedule again! We're planning to try again next week (and hope that the leaves hang on a bit longer.
I had us all so cute - all matching in maroon and gray. I even curled my hair! (That doesn't happen very often.) It was kind of a bummer.
After getting rained out of our photo shoot we decided that since we were all dressed up and out of the house that we should go somewhere, so we went to the library.
We all found books and movies to borrow and by the time we were done it was 6:55. I thought that since it was nearly 7:00 we should stay for the family story time. Because one of our favorite librarians, Jamaila, does story time and there were no other families in the story room yet ( I would hate to have no one show up for Jamaila.)
By that time we'd already been at the library for an hour, so our kids were getting antsy, and our baby wanted to nurse. So, Ryan and the 4 older boys went to the story room while I went to the car to nurse the baby.
When I came back story time had already started - There was us, and 2 other families there (with 2 kids each) so I'm glad we stayed. The topic was "Friendship" Briar loves the songs and finger plays so he had a good time.
When story time was over we went to the car and realized that I had accidentally locked the keys in the car. Once I got to the car I'd just thrown the keys in the cup holder and sat down in the passenger seat to feed my baby. Once he was done eating I said, "OK, let's go!"  I picked him up, opened the door, got out, pushed the "lock" button on the door and shut it.
Ryan had not brought his set of keys, and mine were locked in the car. We were stuck. It was dark, cold and rainy and our kids were tired, grouchy and hungry.
We went back in to try and decide what to do. Tate and Oran sat down on one of the couches in the children's section. On the adjacent couch sat a nice Grandpa man (in his 60s) they struck up a conversation.
Ryan and I stood at the desk discussing our options with one of the librarians.
Ryan had left his cell phone in the car and mine was at home. we decided that the best option was to call someone to come get Ryan, take him home to get the other set of keys and bring him back again. I left Ryan leafing through the phone book hoping to find someone we knew listed.
I walked back over to see how Oran and Tate were doing (Briar was in my arms, Skyler was wrapped around one of my legs and Canton had run off.) The man on the couch looked up and said, "Is this lady your Mom?" Tate, Oran and I all answered in the affirmative. Then he said, "I hear you've lost some keys." I explained the situation and he offered to give Ryan a ride home to get the other keys.
I went and told Ryan about the man's generous offer. The man went to get his wife and they took Ryan home.
While the kids and I waited the big boys all played games on the computers while Briar and I sat close by and played with puppets and read board books.
Ryan brought his own car back so that the nice couple who has helped us wouldn't have to bring him back to the library.
By the time we finally left the library it was a quarter after 8:00pm and we still hadn't eaten any dinner! Ryan took Canton with him in his car and the 2 of them went to pick up a Papa Murphy's pizza while I took the other boys home, preheated the oven (to cook the pizza), and got them in their pajamas.
We then had to cook and eat the pizza. So by the time we got the kids to bed it was 10:00.
This morning everyone slept in. The boys were nearly late for school - and I sent them out the door with messy hair.

I learned 3 things: 
1. Things don't always work out the way you plan.
2. There are much worse places to be stranded than the public library.
3. There are still kind people in the world!

And, since all posts are more fun with pictures - Here's a picture of baby bathing in the kitchen sink.