Archive for For Younger Women

My Light-at-the-End-of-the-Tunnel Moment

Three years ago today, Anna posted about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel from the trenches, and this weekend, I’ve had the exact same realization that the balance has shifted in our home.

If you follow us on facebook, you might have seen my #realhousewivesofe2s update last week that mentioned we’d gotten home from vacation at 4 am (6 am in the time zone we left 15 hours before).  It was nuts, absolutely nuts, and while my husband and I felt like zombies for several days, my kids amazingly just fell back into the rhythms of home life, did schoolwork, played with their new toys, and enjoyed the unheard-of spectacle of multiple rainy days in LA.  I even had to drag them out that first afternoon to my doctor’s office, and all four of them sat quietly in the waiting room while I read Robin Hood aloud, trooped patiently into the hallway of the office while I got poked and prodded, and filed out, as sweet as you please, when I was done.

Lest you miss the point here, my kids were on the road for three weeks (right after mom and dad being incapacitated from a car accident for three weeks, right after passing around the stomach flu for a week), and they just came home and were fine.  This trip was not only our first flight without a diaper bag in a decade; it was the first time, ever, that we asked our kids to step up and carry their own load (literally, through three airports), with severely reduced sleep, and they actually came out the experience more cheerful than before.  It’s never going to be fun traveling with children, but this Christmas vacation, my kids were the easy part and the circumstances were the pain in the neck.  I would rather not ever bring four children along to my doctor’s appointments, but it’s no longer a nightmare.  I noticed the switch this weekend and am grateful for it.

Along the same lines, just as Anna said three years ago, there comes a time when your big kids are more of a net help than a net hindrance in the home.  I’ve mentioned recently that I try to have high expectations for my kids as I train and prepare them to be responsible adults, and it totally pays off. We had a good Saturday morning housecleaning push this weekend, and all four of my kids were able to do real, helpful housework.  It is now on me to make sure they keep helping me out, but knowing that they all are capable is a huge step out of the trenches for me.  It’s no longer just me (and my husband in the evenings) against the accumulated mess of four tornadoes; we’re a team of six, fighting back against dust and clutter.

What warmed my heart the most, though, was looking over as I started dinner the other night and seeing my 7 and 5 year olds curled up on the couch together, with the big sister reading the little sister one of her new Christmas books.  Later, the younger one mentioned that her big sister had read her the entire chapter book in one day because they had both gotten into the story and didn’t want to stop!  My kids are reading aloud to each other.  **happy sigh**

If you are still in the dark part of the tunnel with little ones who are not old enough to be helpful yet, hang in there.  You are making progress, no matter how slowly your days seem to pass. The hard work you’re putting into parenting your children will indeed bear fruit!  I’ll leave you with the same verse Anna did:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 NIV

Posted in For Younger Women, Parenting | Leave a comment

No School!

In my area, the Jewish population is large enough that our local public schools are off for Jewish holidays.  So because of Rosh Hashanah, the kids are out of school today!  And because the main (read: cheapest) daycare in the area is at the local Jewish center, the kids in our neighborhood were all at home today.  In my sunrise exercise class, the responses were firmly divided between working moms and at-home moms.  To the working moms, it was a burden to find extra childcare today, especially since we’re also getting next Monday off for Columbus Day.  All of the moms who are part-to-full-time at home were celebrating our chance to just get to hang out with the kids today.  One mom was taking her kids down to La Brea tar pits, another one mentioned the pool, and even though my kids are homeschooled and thus technically had schoolwork to do today, we did some fun projects and had all the neighbor boys over all afternoon.

I mention this situation on the blog (after weeks of silence!) because it struck me forcibly that we as a society don’t tell young women about days like this when we’re assuring them that of course they can have it all, family and career.  A lot assume that once kids are school-age, the childcare dilemma will be over.  Maybe they have a vague sense that there’s this thing called summer vacation, but there are so many camps and summer programs nowadays that it’s not a big deal, planning-wise.  It’s days like today, unexpected holidays in the midst of a work week, that can throw working parents for a loop.  This morning’s conversation among a bunch of sweaty mom friends exemplified the down side of “having it all.”  Even in the relatively flexible field of academia, college courses and office hours are still happening today for my working friends.  When you have a career, you give up the freedom to enjoy these brief vacation days with your children.  Maybe most working moms don’t mind, and maybe those of us who get to spend vacation days at home with our kids don’t appreciate it enough.  My husband had to work today, after all, much as he would have liked eating chocolate chip pancakes and playing board games with us today.  Regardless of how you or I feel about it, this is part of the parenting/working equation.  Young women planning their futures should know about days like today!

(And in the spirit of full disclosure, I had typed up this much when my potty training toddler had an accident all over the bathroom.  It did cross my mind as I mopped up pee that the privilege of staying home and playing with my kids on vacation days also means I have the “privilege” of cleaning up their messes!)

Posted in Daycare, For Younger Women, Having It All | Leave a comment

My Advice to the Young Lady Who Aspires to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom, Part Two

As I finish my mini-series for young women preparing for homemaking and motherhood, I want to reiterate that our dreams do not always match God’s plans.  One of my dearest friends is a professional nanny, babywearing instructor, and newborn care specialist who hasn’t gotten to be a mom yet, and it hard sometimes to watch her care expertly for other people’s children when I know she will be a wonderful mother to her own.  I know so many women for whom motherhood is a touchy subject, and I so do not want to hurt their feelings in these posts or through this blog at all!  But just because motherhood isn’t a guarantee doesn’t mean young women can’t be intentional about preparing for having children someday.

I want to leave aspiring sahms with the encouragement to be open about your ambition. Don’t be afraid to tell people (when appropriate) that you aspire to be a stay-at-home mom some day. Perhaps you don’t need to go into detail in a college application or a job interview, but in everyday life, be real about your hopes and dreams.  The responses you get will probably be a good representation of the responses you get once you’re a sahm. Some will praise you, but others will question why you’d “waste your intelligence” or “limit yourself” like that. I’ll never forget visiting a friend’s church during college and sitting next to a friendly older woman who asked what I was studying in college and what I wanted to do when I graduated.  When I explained that I hoped to be able to stay home and homeschool my kids one day, she asked why I was even bothering with college in the first place if I “only” wanted to be a housewife.  The thought that I would train my mind and consider motherhood an intellectually challenging vocation was foreign to her.  Some of my most accomplished homeschooling friends don’t have college degrees, so I don’t want to infer that my path is the only way!  Rather, my parents and I had thought deeply about my hopes and dreams, and because of that, I was able to share why my English degree was certainly not an irrational waste, even though the only English literature I’m currently teaching is of the A.A. Milne variety.  So own your ambition, and start preparing your responses now—you will be defending your choices for the rest of your life, to people who will question you from every side. You can be a cheerful and winsome representative for the lifestyle even before you’re an active sahm.

Seasoned moms, what are you glad that you did or wish you had done to prepare for staying home full-time with your children?  If you’re not in that stage yet, do you have any other questions for myself, Anna, or our community of readers?

Posted in For Younger Women | 1 Comment

My Advice to the Young Lady Who Aspires to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom, Part One

I’ve shared that I’ve been talking recently to young women who aspire to be in my shoes a decade from now.  While most of our readers are already in this life stage, I thought it would be helpful to share the advice I’ve given to young women who are not here yet.  Today and tomorrow, I have a few brief thoughts on preparation to be a stay-at-home mom.

  • Be around kids. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to love everything about children to be a sahm. Many sahms I know actually don’t enjoy children in the abstract; their choice to stay home with their own stems from their convictions on motherhood, not because they’d be a kindergarten teacher in an alternate life. If, like me, you love children and naturally have a way with them, you are probably already doing what I recommend—babysitting, volunteering in the church nursery, helping teach preschool Sunday School. If you know you’re not a kid person, it’s still good practice to be around little kids and understand them better. You may never be the church’s go-to babysitter, but you can still practice. Even spending a day with a young mom can be an eye-opening experience. I recently took one of my younger friends to the grocery store with us. She said she never realized how much more time it took with kids in tow!
  • The benefits of practicing on other people’s kids are manifold. You will be a more confident mother of a colicky newborn if you have already changed a multitude of diapers and rocked many other crying babies to sleep. If you’ve spent time around toddlers having temper tantrums, you’ll realize your own baby’s shrill-to-you cries are not, in fact, the loudest screams in the history of the world. If you’ve observed many different families, you’ll see how various parenting philosophies play out, and you’ll already have some tried-and-true ideas about discipline, routines, bedtimes, tv use, toys, and activities.  Experience is not essential, but it certainly made the adjustment to motherhood easier for me!

What experiences were most helpful in preparing your expectations for motherhood?

Posted in For Younger Women | 1 Comment
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