Category Archives: Motherhood

The Luxury of Staying Home?

To be a stay at home Mom or not to be a stay at home Mom….
….that is the controversy. (or at least it seems to always be controversial)

I grew up with a mother who graduated from college with a BA and teaching credential, got married, worked as a teacher for one year, began to have children and left the workforce for almost the entirety of her 27 year “active” mothering career. (being a mommy never ends but the day to day “job” of mothering does) Other than working a few hours, here and there, when we were all in school and occasionally substitute teaching, she was a “stay at home Mom” taking care of the business of managing a home and raising her children.  When the youngest began high school she re-entered the “away from home” workforce as a high school English teacher and enjoyed a 20 year career as a teacher, earning a Master’s Degree and excelling in her field before retiring with a pension. Personally I think that is awesome! She had the best of everything due to her and my Dad’s great choices, sacrifices and hard work….and my siblings and I were the beneficiaries!

A generation later, I earned my college degree and worked as a youth minister both prior to and after getting married. When my first child arrived I desperately wanted to stay home with her but couldn’t see a way to make it work with a husband in college at the time. So we figured out how he could work part-time, in addition to being a full-time student while I would work part-time as a teacher and school activity director. With this arrangement none of us stayed home…even the baby who was with one of us all day except for a three hour time period in the morning. As our family grew and my husband finished college and took a full-time job teaching I continued on in my part-time job. I still wanted to be at home with my little girls but did not see how we could make it work on my husband’s Christian school teacher salary. We just couldn’t afford it…or at least that is what I thought (and was often told by others).

In 1997 through a series of providential events I instantly and without planning became a “stay at home Mom”.  We made so little money that year that we were audited by the IRS who wanted to know how our income diminished so much in one year. (the agent even asked…how are you making it?) I did build a very successful home business in the years following that eventually replaced the income I had made teaching part-time and yet I was able to work from my home along side and with my children.  So…..I have been a “generating income outside the home mom” and a “stay at home income generating mom”.   (whew! those are long titles)

I hope we can agree that all moms are working moms, right?  Some generate income outside the home, some generate income inside the home and some do not generate income at all but as moms….we ALL work. Better yet, we all work very hard!

And yet the majority of women that I have talked with desire to spend much less time out of their homes working and more time with their children if they had a “choice”.  Yes, I realize that there are the few moms who even if they were independently wealthy millionaires would still want to work outside of their homes because they simply love their careers but I believe that most would rather stay home and raise their children if they felt they had that “luxury”.  Here is where my issue lies.

Is staying at home a luxury or is it a choice…that is the question?

Other than single Moms (by never marrying, being divorced or widowed) who most simply must work to pay the rent and put food on the table (unless they have an extremely lucrative child support payment or alimony…kudo’s to them!)…I personally believe that most married moms can make the choice to stay at home (some with  generating income at home and some without). 

No, I do not believe it is a “luxury” for those moms whose spouses makes a certain magical level of income. I believe it is a choice.  A choice to perhaps sacrifice personal fulfilment, career advancement, social interaction, achievement accolades and of course income.  A choice to “do without”, to let go of material possessions, goods and services and fun vacations that we have come to believe are essential. A choice to have 37,440 extra hours to pour into the life of our children, homes & families during their 18 years of childhood.

And yet many have bought into the paradigm that it is a “luxury that we can’t afford” to be a stay at home mom (income generating or not). That it is simply impossible for anyone other than the ultra rich to pull off.  We even get encouragement to think this way from our influential leaders.

Speaking at what the administration called “The White House Forum on Women and the Economy,” President Barack Obama said that after his two daughters were born, he and his wife—both Harvard Law School graduates—could not afford the “luxury” of having her stay home with the children.

In 2005, when Obama began serving in the U.S. Senate (and his daughters turned 4 and 7), he and his wife were earning a combined annual income of $479,062. Barack Obama as a senator was paid a salary of $162,100, and Michelle Obama was paid $316,962 to handle community affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

So let me see if I’ve got this right…..

Then Senator Obama made $162,000 a year plus outstanding benefits and they could not afford the “luxury” of Michelle staying at home to raise their children? (he did not say she was working to advance her career or for personal fulfillment or for benefits….he said they could not live without her salary)

Things that make me go…”huh?….am I missing something here?”. Let’s see….if my husband currently made $162,000 a year that means, even after taxes, we would have about $9,000 a month for our family budget. (actually we would bring home even more than that knowing the charitable contributions we would be making and the number of kids we have would reduce our tax liability greatly) We live in California, said to be one of the more expensive states to live in and my husband brings home a third of that much money every month. If I had an extra $6,000 a month I could pay myself a salary for my hard work as a Mom of eight children and still have thousands of dollars extra each month to save, to spend and to give away. It would be a life of luxury for me as well as my family and my husband, who might actually enjoy a clean bathroom every once in a while! (yes I could pay someone to clean our bathroom or clean it myself with the extra time I would have from not having to work at my home business)

I do realize that most families who make this amount of money (equal to Obama’s $162,000 in 2005) do decide they can live on one income and one parent does stay home to take care of household business and raise the children. But there are many who make less than half of that salary who say they “can’t afford the luxury” when in reality they actually could. Yes, they might have to drive beat up cars, live in smaller houses, skip private school tuition, and forgo some “extra’s” in life (like eating out, cable TV, expensive cell phone bills, nicer vacations, manicures, gym memberships etc..) But in reality are not all those things actually  luxuries that the previous generation, who primarily did have stay at home Moms, did not have?

No, for the vast majority of couples having one parent stay at home is really not a luxury they can’t afford but a lifestyle choice that they have made. (just as it was for me during those early years when I bought the paradigm that we “couldn’t afford” to have me home) And as a culture we need to “call it what it is” instead of using rhetoric to justify our choices  or perceived lack thereof as well as making moms feel like they simply “have to work” to survive or by giving husbands the cultural confidence to tell wives they “need to work”. (I mean after all honey, Senator Obama needed his wife’s income, so you should work too) ** Husbands who pressure their wives to work is in itself is a whole other blog post that perhaps needs to be written about men who no longer feel pride and motivation to creatively provide for their families and demand their wives drop their precious babies off at daycare for nine hours a day for someone else to raise, when those mommys desperately want to stay home…..but back to the point.**  I believe that we need to influence our culture to encourage moms (or dads) to make the choice to stay home to raise their children. The more families that can have at least one parent investing a significant  amount of time (37,440 hours!) and energy into their home life and children the better off our society will be!  So let’s be honest:

It is a choice…not a luxury we can’t afford.

P.S. To my very special single, divorced & widowed Moms…let me say again I know that you do not have a choice as to whether you can work outside your home nor did most of you choose to be single Moms…I pray that the Lord will strengthen you, encourage you and wrap His loving arms around you all the while multiplying your time, energy & resources and surrounding you with great friends to support you!

And yes I do understand that there are special circumstances and situations (illness, loss of jobs, business going under, medical bills) that may at times “force” both parents to work).

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Filed under Economics, Home Business, Life Lessons, Motherhood, My "take", Priorities, Uncategorized

Don’t you know what causes that?

“Don’t you know what causes that?”

It started with my third pregnancy…as we began to share with those around us the news of the anticipated birth of our baby…the smirking and joking from a few friends who assumed that we could not have possibly planned to have a…<gulp>….third child!  I suppose several gave us a “pass” on their comments since we had already birthed two girls and they assumed we were “trying for a boy”.  But when the fourth pregnancy was revealed less than a year later friends, family and even strangers jumped on the band wagon to ask us silly and/or personal questions or make shocking and/or rude statements:

  • Were you trying?  (nope, we were doing and succeeding mind you!)
  • How many more are you going to have? (you’ll have to ask God)
  • Was this an accident?  (Really? Like getting pregnant is being in a car wreck or breaking your leg)
  • Are you going to get fixed after this one? (hmmm…didn’t know I was broken)
  • I am glad it’s you and not me! (I am sure the baby is too and my husband is definitely glad it’s not you)
  • How are you ever gonna pay for college? (I don’t know…how are you?)
  • You’re crazy! (if that was said to my face I can’t imagine what was said behind my back)
  • You’re having another one?  (yes, at least one this time)
  • When are you going to stop? (stop?….stop what?)

And my personal favorite from all the people who think they are “oh so funny”…

  • Don’t you know what causes that? (I have so many great answers in my head for this one that would make most people turn beat red or greatly embarrass my teenage girls…but I was raised to be a dignified lady so I try oh so hard to keep my mouth shut)

Assuming that the readers of this blog have all taken a junior high sex ed class, have been through a “secret weekend” (as they are called in our family) or have had “the talk” with their parents where they learned all about “the facts of life” (otherwise known as human anatomy, sexual relations and how life is conceived)…I do not think that you need a biological play by play on what caused us to conceive seven children during our almost 25 years of marriage.  But perhaps you are curious about what might cause a couple to have such a large family in a society that teaches and embraces a two child…or three at the most…standard philosophy? (and laughs at, sneers or condemns anyone who dares to do otherwise)

What caused us to have so many children?  Well let me tell you it all began 25 years ago this very month and if you are interested or curious, I have finally decided to write out and publish our story. (WARNING: If you have a tendency to feel “judged” simply by the lifestyle and choices others make that are different than yours, you might want to just stop reading now and save yourself the grief.  DISCLAIMER: I am in no way judging anyone for their choices regarding children, reproduction or family size nor am I telling anyone else how they should decide these things.  I am simply sharing our God inspired story for those who are curious, interested or questioning. It may challenge your theology or thinking and… it may not)

I was 24 years old and just a few months away from getting married when the Lord began to work in my heart concerning my ideas about birth control, family planning and being truly open to every life that He wanted to
give to me.

I was a very committed & passionate young woman who was serving as the youth pastor to hundreds of “on fire” teenagers. I had what were called “radical” views on dating and relationships as well as very intensive discipleship programs for our youth.  I considered myself extremely pro-life and wanted to do everything within my power to stop the atrocity of abortion in our country.  In many ways I was  quite different than the average church going evangelical yet I found myself among the norm when it came to buying into the “planned parenthood” mentality of our day.

I was engaged to be married to an awesome godly young man and we both agreed that the plan would be for me to begin taking the birth control pill and then we would wait several years, go off the pill and have perhaps two children, a boy & a girl, and then be done. Perfect, right?

As part of our marriage preparation we attended an Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat where we were encouraged to take an opportunity to dialogue honestly and intensively about our prospective lives together– our strengths and weaknesses, desires, ambitions, goals, our attitudes about money, sex, children, family, our role in the church and society–in a very comprehensive way. (I highly recommend this type of purposeful marriage preparation and am always shocked when couples have not taken the time to explore these areas and come to an agreement prior to saying “I do”!)   After each topic was introduced, we were given a list of questions to answer privately in a journal and then come together to share our answers with one another. (a great way to have honest communication)

About half way through the weekend the session on family planning, birth control and children was introduced.  As Dan and I each found a private place to write in our journals I began to feel a strong stirring in my heart. I was challenged in my spirit to completely rethink my beliefs in this area.  As I sat on some rocks in the foothills of Copperopolis and tried to write down my well thought out answers (you see I knew exactly what I wanted in this area of life and marriage), the Lord literally threw out questions one after another in my mind, fast and furious –

  • Have you ever considered asking Me what the plan for your family should be? (hadn’t really thought about that, Lord)
  • How about inquiring of Me how many children I want to give you? (Well, I just thought we would just decide what we wanted and you would be fine with it)
  •  Is it birth control or God control that you desire? (ouch…this one stung!)
  • Who is in control of your life anyway? (ummmmm….You are God?? I love you & want your will for my life)
  • Do you believe that children are a blessing from Me?  (of course….I think so)
  • Why do you want to limit my blessings? (well…..I don’t know?)
  • Do you believe that I know you and will give you the very best for your life?  (Yes!)
  • Do you trust me? (I thought I did)

I felt like I was in some type of wrestling match with the Lord as He tried to get me to release control of my life and give my plans over to become His plans. (Thy will be done)  But when I was finally ready to stop arguing with Him and listen He gently reminded me to just relax and trust Him…for He truly had an abundant life for me to live. Better than I could ever ask or think! After that hour with the Lord, and a subsequent long conversation with my soon to be husband (when we got together later to share our journals…and I had written not a thing down), together we gave our plans for family to the Lord and ditched the “planned parenthood” philosophy.

We did not decide to have a “boatload” (or 15 passenger van load) of children.

We did not decide to have one, two or three children for that matter either.

We did not decide to be married for three years and then start our family and we did not decide to get pregnant right away.

We simply decided to give God control of our family dynamics and to ask Him to lead and guide us every step of the way. (not really a complicated decision to merely ask the Lord what He wants and yet so few do ask Him when it comes to this area of life)

A month later I learned quite by happenstance that the birth control pill was an abortifacient. (well documented and researched so no need to argue with me on this point…even if your doctor told you it wasn’t they were using some type of semantics and faulty reasoning…all you have to do is read the insert that is in the pill container) I was appalled that no believer had shared this with me and I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord that I had never “accidentally” aborted a baby by making my womb hostile to implantation of a conceived child.  With my heart & passion for the unborn that would have been difficult for me to live with. During that time I had gotten even more confident in my conviction that we should simply put the control of our family in God’s hands.  After all He was the creator of life (albeit He lets us be a part of that as co-creators) and since His view on children as being a gift from Him and a blessing, we could certainly trust Him. I also realized that the Lord might not bless us with any children by birth and I committed that into His care as well. (something that in this current world of rampant infertility issues one would be best to realize early on — the truth that no one is guaranteed to give birth to a child) We had also already experienced the miracle of adoption through our newly adopted niece who joined our family the same week we got engaged…we knew that adopting a child was not “second best” to having a bio child and we considered that adoption would someday be a part of the plan for our family as well.

On our wedding day we publicly affirmed & committed to raising children to glorify God (to the actual laughter of many of our Christian friends…you can hear it on the video) and throughout our 24+ years of marriage we have continued to trust God in this area.  We have prayed at times asking for the Lord to give us a “breather” (after we had four children in six years and extremely difficult pregnancies) and we along with our daughters have pleaded with the Lord for over three years to bless us with yet another sweet baby to love (#7) and we spent countless hours and persisted through many roadblocks and closed doors as we asked God to let us adopt.  Children came at what others considered “bad times” (one during my husband’s last year in Bible school, several back to back, another when we had taken on a challenge of starting a Christian school, and of course the health risks for myself and baby that many gravely warned us about when I had two babies post 40 years old) but as always in hindsight we see that Gods timing was perfect with each and every child. Through it all we chose God control and ultimately said… “Thy will be done”.

The results….we have been blessed with seven awesome children by birth (six girls – 21, 18, 17, 15, 12, 8 and a boy 4 years old) and so far one girl (age 2) through the miracle of adoption. They have brought more love, joy & peace into our lives than we could have ever imagined. (as well producing other fruit of the spirit – patience & self control – we didn’t start off with these qualities but you better believe we have given ample opportunity to grow!) It would take another long blog entry to tell you about all the blessings and benefits that we have been given through each of our children as well as by having a plus size family. Things we could have never imagined those 25 years ago and yet God knew.  And we are ready, willing & wanting to take any more that the Lord sends our way through birth or adoption. (to the utter shock, amazement & sometimes dismay of most of the people around us.)

So……do I know what causes this?

Yes I do, thank you!

What causes a young soon to be married couple to decide to chuck the current popular world view on birth control, pregnancy, child spacing, family size and children out the window?

It was caused by:

  • the joining together of two hearts that wanted nothing more than to listen to the Lord and follow His plan for their lives.
  • a desire to give Him complete control over their lives and their destinies
  • a hope to come together in marriage to glorify God and be an example of Christ and His unconditional love for His church
  • a belief that all life is a gift to be cherished and that babies are a blessing from God
  • gaining an understanding of how much God loves the orphans, the fatherless and children without forever families that His heart beats for adoption
  • trusting God and saying…Not our will but….Thy will be done!

How about you….Do you know what causes that in your life?

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Filed under Adoption, Attitude, Blessings, Faith, Fatherhood, Life Lessons, Marriage, Motherhood, My "take", Pro-life

And after you have suffered….

“I have never felt better in my life!”

“You are simply glowing!”

“You’re eating for two now…enjoy!”

“You look so cute!”

These are words said and heard by the majority of pregnant women during their season of childbirth. And so they should.  After all pregnancy is a normal & natural condition that women’s bodies are built for….right? Right! But not so much for me.  (I felt worse than ever, I never glowed, I could barely eat a thing and I looked more like “death warmed over”)

When I first became pregnant back in 1989, I fully expected to breeze right through pregnancy with energy and enthusiasm, never “missing a beat”.  After all, I was a high energy, “type A”, driven young woman who could run circles around many including the teenagers I taught in my job as a PE teacher and student council advisor…why would something as simple as a pregnancy slow me down? Despite my own mother sharing stories about her difficult pregnancies, I never anticipated being anything like her.  Was I ever in for the shock of my life!

Just a few weeks after announcing our good news to the world, I woke up one morning and found myself feeling very nauseous and immediately began heaving over the toilet.  Still I thought…”Oh just a little morning sickness, I can handle that”. Wrong! From that moment on I was nauseated 24/7, feeling like I was on a very bad roller coaster ride with no option of getting off.  I got sick morning, noon and night (why do they call it morning sickness anyway?) I tried every cure known to man and implemented advice from everyone I knew – eating small meals, crackers before rising, sucking on ginger, sea bands, lemons, Vitamin B6 shots and more…nothing worked.  To top it off I also had a rare and unpleasant symptom of pregnancy called Ptyalism – producing an incredible amount of excess saliva – and I had to carry around a cup or napkin that I spit into every few minutes (I know my Brookside students from that era are thinking…”ewwww, I remember that!).  It was simply….awful!  As the weeks turned into months I sunk deeper and deeper into sickness and despair.  I was weak and tired, losing over 20 pounds before finally being admitted into the hospital where I was on IV’s for five days and then being released to go home with my IV pole in tow and have home health care for another week.

The doctor kept saying that most women begin to feel better after 12 to 16 weeks so just — “hang in there” and it would soon be over. I had high hopes but after the 16th week came and went he simply said to me…”Well, a very few number of women continue to experience sickness until half way through their pregnancy.”  When I continued to be sick all day long after my appointment during my 22nd week he sighed and said with compassion…”Beth, unfortunately a very small rare group of women continue to be sick the entire 9 months of pregnancy” (less than 1%…lucky me).  At that point I quite expected to be sick the rest of my life and could even picture him saying after I gave birth..”Oh I am sorry, did I not tell you? Some women never get better until they die”.

Questions and depressing thoughts screamed in my head:

  • What had I gotten myself into?
  • Was this really worth it?
  • I do not know if I can actually do this for several more months?
  • I can’t do this another minute!
  • Why me God?
  • I would like to curl up and just die.

I was truly suffering everyday and every night for the entire pregnancy. Despite serious doubts to the contrary, I did survive and gave birth to my precious first-born daughter, Michelle Jennae (a day before her due date….and was I ever thankful for God’s grace in that circumstance as I was sure I would deliver a month late and have to suffer even longer).  When I held that beautiful baby girl in my arms and looked into her pure loving blue eyes the horror of the past nine months melted away and I whispered in her ear…”You are so00000 worth it!”

In fact she was so worth it that I have endured the same suffering six more times since that day (although I did experience some mild relief during my 7th pregnancy…thanks to newly approved pharmaceuticals for pregnancy sickness or maybe it was because I was pregnant with a boy that time, I will never know).  Besides being a great self-esteem builder in my children (who would not believe that they were deeply desired, loved and “soooo worth it” when they know the great suffering their momma endured to give them life), these awful pregnancies have truly molded and shaped me into who I am today.  I have learned great life lessons through those 63 months including:

  • Perseverance “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character and character produces hope and hope DOES NOT disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:3  I have truly learned patience and to persevere despite hardships, trials and tribulations. This has given me the strength and fortitude to persevere in my personal life, family trials, ministry and business hardships. I have in a sense developed very strong perseverance muscles. 🙂
  • Dependance on God  The apostle Paul was inflicted with a “thorn in his flesh” that he asked the Lord to take from him multiple times and He did not.  We too prayed and prayed and asked others to pray but the Lord did not choose to remove this sickness. Paul’s response was “God’s grace is sufficient for you for His power is perfected in weakness” 1 Corinthians 12:7-9.  I have always been an independent strong-willed person – relying greatly on my own strengths and talents.  God used my pregnancies to bring me to my knees and become more dependant on Him alone to be my strength.  I shudder to think who I may have become without being forced to rely on the sufficiency of Christ.
  • Compassion for others  Unless you have experienced a long-term illness, treatment, pain or disability that consumes your every waking moment you cannot truly relate to those who have suffered through it.  Having walked that road for a total of over 5 years of my life (nine months at a time) has given me a true compassion for those who are going through health and physical hardships as well as for their loved ones.  I pray for them with deep conviction.  I offer them practical help and service.  I simply let them know…I truly understand (and sometimes that is really what someone needs to hear from someone else who has “been there, done that” and lived to see another day).  2 Corinthians 1:4-6 says “God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
  • Life is…Hard! <get over it>  Somehow I thought I deserved a “pass” on the hardships of life, that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. Wrong!   “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44  If I am going to ask  “Why me?” during the hardships of life…I need to ask “Why me?” in the midst of my many amazing blessings.  Hmmmmmm…there’s a thought.  Life at times is just plan hard….end of story.
  • Children are sooooo worth it! While I am confident that we all have our moments and sometimes even seasons when we would seriously question this statement and yet…..it is truth.  Our children are the single greatest blessing in Dan and my life. The love that I have for them is like none other…the closest thing that I can experience to God’s unconditional love.  I would sacrifice my own life for my children. Yes, they are worth every hardship, every pain, every disappointment, every challenge…they are my precious children.
  • Suffering will come to an end  No matter what I am going through, no matter how hard it is or how much I do not think I can take another minute…the fact is that it will come to an end.  With pregnancy sickness I knew more accurately when that end would arrive but in many other situations we do not have that comforting knowledge.  And in the midst of suffering we often can not imagine that there will ever be an end to it all.  But rest assured, it will end.  We will wake up one day whether here or on the other side with no more pain,  no more tears, no more disability, no more depression….no more suffering!

 “But after you have suffered for a while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you”  1 Peter 5:10

And so in hindsight it is easier to be thankful for my years of sickness. It is easier to see the fabulous end results.  It is easier to look back and appreciate all the good things in my life because of the suffering.  I wish I could say that in the midst of the suffering I was thankful, appreciative and could see “the big picture” or that I was filled with faith and hope.  While with each pregnancy I did a little better at being thankful, seeing the purpose in it all and being filled with faith…I still limped along trying my best to be a godly example and mostly failing and falling into the loving arms of the Lord who indeed carried me through.

If you are suffering today…fall into those same loving arms and let Him carry you!

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Filed under Determination, Endurance, Faith, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood, Overcoming

Throwing a Tantrum

Temper Tantrums are something I know more than a little about.  In fact, between being the Mom to eight children and parenting for the last two decades perhaps I could say that I have earned a Master’s Degree in temper tantrums.  I have seen and experienced them all:

  • The scream in your face looking like you are going to kill someone tantrum
  • The dash down the hall yelling hysterically tantrum
  • The turn your back on Mommy and fold your arms while stomping your feet tantrum
  • The hold your breath until you pass out tantrum
  • The jumping up and down whining & crying tantrum
  • The pulling on Mommy’s arms or a leg or piece of clothing while verbally assaulting her tantrum
  • The hitting of your fists on anything or anyone close by tantrum
  • The “I may be sitting on the outside but I am standing on the inside” tantrum
  • The slam your door and turn up the music loud enough to raise the roof tantrum
  • The “whatever” said under your  breath while rolling your eyes tantrum

And my personal favorite

  • The lay on the floor in the middle of the grocery store kicking and screaming tantrum (it really is my favorite because it makes me laugh hysterically)

Whew! Just thinking about all those temper tantrums makes me weary.  Yes, tantrums are, among many other unpleasant things…exhausting.  And they all boil down to the same root cause whether the child having the tantrum is two or twelve,  it all comes down to not getting their own way.   It may be something they want to have (or not have like vegetables or vitamins), something they want to do (or not do like take a bath or go to bed) or a place they want to go (or not).  Sometimes those desires are ridiculous, unacceptable, dangerous, selfish, inappropriate, unhealthy or unaffordable. And other times they are perfectly ok but the timing, situation or circumstance is not ideal.  

Today I realized I was having a little bit of an adult tantrum as I wandered from room to room thinking about several areas of my life that I needed to get under control.  (definition of an adult temper tantrum is the same as for our kids:  I am not getting my way and I am not happy about it so I react inappropriately, inwardly or outwardly, it is just that we are usually more dignified and refined in our tantrum throwing.) As I listened to myself, talk to myself (whoa…are there three people living inside my head…I promise I am not crazy!) it was all too clear that yes, I was throwing a tantrum because I wasn’t getting my way.  True confessions – it went something like this:

 Self: You really need to get back on that exercise routine and start eating healthy again!

 Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t…. w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Self: Ok Beth, you are supposed to be starting a ministry here. It is time to set up regular working hours and begin actively pursuing your goals and dreams. Time to get going girl!

Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t…. w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Self:  The home school kids need to be put on a daily schedule. The free for all is not working on any level for this group of students (and maybe it didn’t work for the older girls but if not they sure “faked it” well) So sit down and set up their routine and then hold their feet to the fire to be sure they stick with it.

Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t….w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Not very pretty, eh?  I tell ya, I wouldn’t take that type of talk from my kids in a “New York minute”!

As I saw the pattern repeating it almost became amusing, even to me, that I was actually throwing a tantrum in my head.  But a few minutes later when Christiana began to throw her own screaming tantrum over not getting to play with my cell phone I did not find it amusing whatsoever. (yes,  it has already begun at 18 months)

Here is how I attempt to handle any and all temper tantrums from my kids no matter what age they are:

  1. They do not ever, under any circumstance, get their way! (did I say Never do they ever get their way? Good because that is what I meant…never, ever do they get their way…nope…never)
  2. I ignore the tantrum (unless they are harming themselves or others then I physically restrain them..since they usually only do this at fairly young ages car seats in the living room worked great)
  3. If it continues I smile and say (with sass & a bit of a drawl!) – “Is that working for you babycakes?” cause it is sure not going to work with me so you go on and have fun with that little fit you are having  (in our house the saying goes like this – “ya get what ya get and ya don’t throw a fit”)
  4. And if they are really going at it full force (and not harming anyone) I full on laugh at them in the midst of the tirade. (for some reason this is really easy for me to do because I do find kids on the floor throwing fits pretty amusing or maybe it is amusing to me that they actually think that they will win with that strategy)

So folks….I am putting my little bratty tantrum self on notice –

You are not going to get your way!   You will get up and get going in all these areas that need attention in your life. They are important and valuable and you will do what needs to be done! Let’s have at it!

Is that working for you?  That little fit you are throwing in your heart and mind? (answer…ummmm NOT!)

“Ya get what ya get (your metabolism, your body, your financial & life situation, your calling, the current ages & temperaments of your kids at home during this season of life)….and ya don’t throw a fit!”  Get over it and get on with it!

And then I am going to laugh that little tantrum thrower right out of my mind!

Anyone else out there dealing with a little tantrum today?

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Filed under Attitude, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood, Parenting

Chores “It’s a Hard Knock Life” – Part 2

Isn’t it just the way it goes?

I write a post on chores and training your children to be good workers and what happens? You guessed it…we had one of the worst weeks of chore conflict in years! Yes, complete with angry kids, an angry mom, screaming, accusations, defensiveness, crying and punishments. Not fun! (Calgon..take me away…far away)

I guess I should have anticipated that happening. Immediately after posting Chores – “It’s a Hard Knock Life” last Monday the “hits” on that blog entry sky rocketed, the comments came in one after another and the requests for my list of chores for each room were too numerous to count. It obviously is an area of struggle and desire for improvement for many of us Moms (and Dads too – Hi Tim!). I have learned during my 25 years of preaching, motivational speaking, sharing and writing that when you truly have something to say that adds value to others in any area of life you can count on being “attacked” in that very area. We had a full force war going on over here last week!

The end results were good as we identified several problem areas, realized that I needed to be a bit more “hands on” in my training during this particular season in our family and we dealt head on with some character flaws in a few of the children (the “L” word – L.A.Z.Y.). 

For all who asked for the list of chore details per room here is a PDF of this document  – Chore List (HT: my sister Caroline)

And for those inquiring minds that want more information…here is a list of FAQ’s

What if the kids do not do their chores?

Ummmmm…I am the boss, the dictator, the Mom! Obedience is not optional. 🙂

That said, with 8 children I have had my share of strong-willed, defiant children (and a couple “perfect” ones too!). Some take longer to get under control than others. (working on 15 years with one…love that “apple who didn’t fall far from the tree” girl!) Some take more supervision. Some need effective consequences. But everyone knows that they must comply. It is truly as simple as this – You do not get to do anything fun, go anywhere or have any thing that resembles a “good time” until the chores are completed to my satisfaction. (and yes, there have been times that they have missed a meal or stayed up past their bedtime and suffered the early morning wake up call….but you do not go to sleep until it is done!)

 What if they are not done like you would do them? 

 It depends!  I do not expect the younger ones to be able to do the same level of cleaning that I can do…so I “get over it”. (nope I do not “re-do” or complain)  However by the time they reach about 12 – 14 years old I expect them to clean as well as any competent adult. (and if they can’t then I need to do some re-education)

What age did you start different chores? 

When they are 2-4 they are expected to throw away trash, pick up toys, get dressed, brush their teeth and follow Mommy around watching and learning.  I let them help with lots of things. These are great ages because they usually want to help out!

At 4-6 they are “in training” – which means they get put on the chore chart as an “assistant” to one of the older children. I realize if you have only 2 or 3 children close together or when you are beginning with your eldest this will not work thus you will have to be the “trainer” with an assistant.  During these two to three years they learn how to do all the various chore jobs. (apparently all trainers are not equal since while I was writing this my 7-year-old did not sweep the crumbs from under the dining room table and then blamed her trainers – aka – the “big sisters” for not teaching her correctly…hmmmm….girls?)

At 7 they are put officially on the chore chart fully responsible for their list of chores for that week. Each year after that they should get more accurate and efficient with their given responsibilities. By 12 they should be able to clean for any cleaning service in town! 🙂

How did you keep the little ones on task the whole time without them running away to play? 

Since they have a “trainer” (you or your older children) they do not have the option of running away or getting distracted. 

Is it too late to start at 13?

It is never too late!  However you will need to have a little “pow wow” and share your reasoning for the changes that are ahead.  I would come up with a plan for chores and then sit down with the older child or children, tell them that you have been remiss in teaching them some basic responsibilities in life and that you need to make up for lost time.  The first month I would “roll up my sleeves” and teach them (by doing it with them) to do every chore in your home.  Then I would put up a chore chart and let them take on the household responsibilities. Since they are older I would also have a clear list of consequences for not completing the chores. (and they need to be “painful” if they are going to work – ie: no cell phone privileges, no Xbox, no Internet, no weekend social activities…whatever is their “button”.)

As the kids get older and their schedules & academic pursuits get more intense how do you handle household chores?

First let me say….there are many reasons and seasons that you will need to adjust your chore plan during the years your children are home. We went along with the same schedule for years with only occasional adjustments (like during each of my pregnancies where I was sick and sometimes bed ridden and my husband got to take over the Upper Management position) but when the eldest child started a rigorous academic high school program and also joined athletics and student council we realized we needed to change things up.  That was seven years ago and we have consistently made changes since then – having a unique school year plan, weekend plan and summer plan. 

That is not to say that anyone “gets off” easy just that we move things around to make the system work better.  High School with all its additional demands and responsibilities is a great time to learn effective time management, how to handle stress, priorities, occasional sleep deprivation and that sometimes there is more to accomplish than there are hours in a day. Sounds like a typical adult life to me…and don’t we want them to be prepared and ready to handle being an adult?

Is your house clean all the time? 

Ha! Not at all….but it is usually picked up and presentable. Occasionally it is pristine.  Occassionally it looks like a tornado hit it! (and we let people come over anytime regardless of the state of our home because people are our priority)

You mentioned cooking – is that on the chore chart?

We actually have a monthly dinner calendar posted on the fridge.  It lists everything we will be having for dinner that month. Above each meal is usually listed one of the older children’s names who will be in charge of making that meal.  We spent much of the early years of parenting doing “Once a Month Cooking” and having home-made ready cooked meals in the freezer. On the cooking days the kids helped out and learned many cooking skills.  

I do believe that our children need to know basic cooking skills and how to prepare a healthy meal before they leave our home.

And what about that allowance?

Ok…so lots of you are interested in the how’s, why’s or why not’s of allowance. I promise a post on that soon!

Also, be sure to check out the comments on the first chore post for lots of other good ideas from my readers.

Lastly….I thought I would share with you one of my many “Memo from Mom” an occasional email exchange I have with the family when I have decided not to become a screaming maniac but rather calmly (albeit sarcastically) share my grievances about the household. Although I will confess sometimes I am that screaming maniac…God forgive me!

My dear darling daughters…

Seriously…..
 
Do we really spill spaghetti sauce in the fridge & then leave it there to harden & be disgusting? (of course the other amazing thing is how many other people have opened the fridge & just ignored it)
 
Can no one tell the laundry garbage can needs to be emptied even when it is overflowing & spilling out on the floor?
 
Why is the tortilla bag NEVER….and I mean NEVER zip locked shut?
 
How many times do I have to tell you that cheese must be sealed completely with foil or a tightly secured zip lock?
 
Can someone please explain to me how one can not see a dark red shirt in the middle of the whites as you are putting them in the washer?? (try to blame it on Joy cuz that will show competence)
 
Why would someone put 9 month old clothing in Daniel’s drawer (he is 3 now!)…or how bout his PJ’s in the drawer with his bathing suits…or pants in the drawer with shirts or everything just thrown in the drawer not folded…or his nice church vest in the play closet…seriously??? seriously??? seriously??? Oh wait…his tie behind the toaster…come on ladies! <sigh of exasparation>
 
Ok….that’s it, just had to vent a bit.
 
I love you all!  Zoot! Zoot! Zoot!
 
Mommy
 

 

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Here’s to the good times! (and even the bad)

My fourth daughter began high school today <sigh> and as is my tradition I wrote her a letter for her first day of school. Having just returned from my own 30th high school class reunion and also entering a new season of life myself, I had many thoughts rolling around in my head about high school and life’s journey that made there way into this letter.  

Dear Rebekah (Bop!)

Today is the big day…your first day of high school (and your first day of actually going to a school building with “real” teachers, schedules and tardy bells)  I know you are excited and full of anticipation and perhaps even apprehension for what these four years may hold for you… 

  • new friendships to be made
  • life lessons to be learned
  • exciting new experiences
  • school camps & chapel services
  • athletic competition & team sports
  • social events in abundance
  • clubs, community service & extra curricular activities
  • drivers license procured
  • leadership opportunities
  • making memories that will last a lifetime
  • good times!

I pray that these four years are filled with all of these things and more. I hope that you will take advantage of every opportunity available to you…that you will hold nothing back and jump in to high school life without fear or apprehension.  It will go by so fast and before you know it, you will be graduating and beginning another new season of life. Do not waste even a minute of your high school years! Savor each & every moment.

On the other side, life is also full of unexpected and often unwanted experiences, twists and turns.  As we stand at the threshold of this new season of life it is good to stop and think of what the four years may hold that could possibly bring hurt, anger or even great sorrow to our lives…

  • rejection, isolation or being hurt by others
  • being the subject of ridicule, gossip or slander
  • unfair or unjust treatment by those in authority
  • persecution for your faith
  • financial constraints that prevent you from doing or having something you want
  • being uprooted from your home and having to begin again in a new place
  • a life altering injury or accident
  • dealing with sickness or disease yourself or with a friend or family member
  • losing a loved one – perhaps a dear friend or family member

Yes, it is sobering to think of all the hardships, (and you may be thinking sarcastically….”Wow, Mom what an encouraging letter…not!”) but these are realities of life that you may be faced with during high school.  Certainly however, you will face many of them in your lifetime and I want you to take sometime to consider how we should live our lives both during the good times and the bad.

In the Good Times

While in general during the good seasons of life we are happy and content, it is easy during these seasons to get complacent, ungrateful and even critical.  We get complacent with our relationships with God, our family and even in our friendships.  We can become ungrateful for all that we have been given and even come to expect to be given life on a “silver platter”.  We often are critical of others as we become more and more self centered during seasons of smooth sailing.

I want to encourage you during this current “good season” of life to develop a deeper relationship with God than you ever have before, don’t wait until the storms of life come to draw near to Him.  Cling closely to your family.  You have been blessed with an “intact” loving Christ centered home and have many sisters and a brother who love you as well as parents who would lay down their lives for you.  Do not take that for granted. In four short years (and yes they will be short) you will potentially be out of the house and perhaps never again have the day to day interaction and opportunities you have now to enjoy the family you have been blessed with.  Develop friendships that will last a lifetime by centering them on the only thing that lasts – Jesus Christ!  Have Bible studies together, talk about the deep things of life, pray together, encourage one another to do well and enjoy the fruit of love & joy (and lots of laughter) as you make meaningful memories during your high school experience.

Always be grateful for all that you have been given – and you my dear daughter have been given much!  You have been blessed with intelligence, creativity, communication & organization skills, leadership, influence, athletic ability, tenacity, strength, drive and beauty.  You have also been given life, health, family, friends and most importantly – God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit.  Do not become ungrateful for the many gifts you have been given.  Thank the Lord for each new day and use your gifts and talents for His glory!

Do not be critical. You can’t help what you might feel or think when dealing with other people – your parents, sisters, brother, friends, teachers, youth pastors, and school administrators but you can decide how you will react and what you will speak out of your mouth. A critical spirit is so ugly and will ultimately only destroy you.  Speak positively. Offer positive alternatives. Talk with those (not about those) who you are feeling critical towards “behind closed doors” about your complaints (NOT to others…unless you want to get advice from Mom & Dad). Pray for them.

And lastly during the good times…enjoy life. Don’t whine or stress over the little things. 

In the Bad Times

You have heard me say so often…”It is not what happens to you in life that matters, it is how you respond”   God is looking for a proper response to the trials, tribulations, sorrows & hardships of this life.

Do not be surprised if some of the hardships I listed above come your way over the course of your high school experience.  You can actually count on it! (joyful thought, I know!)  The Bible does not say “If “ you experience trials & tribulations but “when”.  Yes, you will have trials, rejection, humiliation, sorrow and hardships.  So be ready!

How will you respond Rebekah?

  • Will you run to God to be your “everything” when you are rejected, set apart or isolated from others?
  • Will you respond with love & forgiveness when you are hurt or treated unkindly?
  • Will you trust God to be your “lawyer” when you are treated unfairly or when things are unjust?
  • Will you believe that God will provide all of your needs according to His riches in glory when financial stresses come your way?
  • Will you love those who do not love you & pray for those who persecute you?
  • Will you trust & believe that God has a perfect plan for your life and that He will lead, guide & instruct you even when the road is hard or it is a path you did not want to take?
  • Will you believe He is able to do abundantly more than you could ever ask or think and that He is the great Physician & Healer for those who may be injured or sick in body?
  • Will you trust that the Lord is good and sovereign even if you lose a loved one?
  • Will you say “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” even if He takes away from you the most precious things in your life?
  • Will you run to God and not away from Him in the midst of the trials that come your way?
  • Will you serve the Lord….no matter what happens in your life?

These are good questions for us all to consider and decide in advance of the “bad times” in life how we will respond.

Rebekah, here’s to both the “good times” & the “bad times” that are ahead of you during these high school years. Cherish, appreciate and take advantage of the good times and respond in a Christ like way to the bad times so that He can “turn your mourning into dancing”, “make beauty from ashes” & use those experiences to mold you, shape you and change your life in such a way that you will look back at both the good & the bad with great joy!

I love you Rebekah more than I can express in words.  You are so very much like me in many, many ways (I know you hate hearing that!) and yet so far beyond what I ever was as a freshman in high school.  I am proud of you and honored to be chosen to be your Mom.  I can’t wait to see the big things that God has for you in this life.

As you begin high school today… “May the Lord bless you, keep you, make His face to shine upon you, be gracious unto you and give you peace”

Zoot! Zoot! Zoot!

Mom

PS – I will miss having you here at home “running the show” although I won’t miss you trying to boss me around! 🙂

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Filed under Attitude, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood

Oh what a beautiful baby!

Oh what a beautiful girl!

beaut baby

I can’t believe that it has been seven weeks since I have posted anything on my blog!   It certainly hasn’t been —

  • for lack of anything to say (this girl ALWAYS has something to say)
  • and it hasn’t been because I am sitting around eating bon-bons (although I have been eating a bit too much these last few months & the clothes are getting tight….again. darn it!)
  • or because I am sitting around watching TV (in fact there is no longer television available in my home – which is not really much different than before the big digital switch over,  since we only watched sports and an occasional Hallmark movie anyway).
  • and no there are not any big JECHS events or fundraisers (although we did enjoy a reunion picnic in June), Creative Memories activities or homeschooling functions chasing me with deadlines at the moment.

Can I just call it “maternity leave”?  I took 12 weeks “off” with my first four babies (back when I had not yet decided that I needed to be an “at home Mommy”, whether we could afford it or not).  So a seven week break from blogging seems reasonable, after all there are 204 archived posts for everyone to read or re-read! 😉

What have I been doing for seven weeks? I have been enjoying my sweet baby girl…immensly! 

FAQ

Is she a good baby?

She is practically perfect – and I am not just saying that.  When she fusses it is because she is hungry, tired or messy.  Other than that she is happy, happy, happy! She is really an easy baby. (and I have had HARD babies so I know the difference!)  But ya know….even if she was extremely fussy and hard, we would love and cherish her just the same…this just makes it more fun!

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How is she adjusting?

This question always makes me laugh.  I want to look at her and say…”Christiana, how are you adjusting?”  She seems to have taken to us just fine. 🙂

How is she sleeping?

Ahhhh….the number one question every Mom & Dad of a newborn gets asked. (or a variation of it  – “Is she sleeping through the night?” or “Are you getting any sleep?”) First let me say that I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night since I began this mothering journey in 1989 (Well except for my annual anniversary get-away, CM conventions & incentive trips). I get woken up at least once after going to sleep by either a fussy two year old, a six year old having a bad dream or telling me they are using the bathroom, a sick child, a coughing child, a teenager with a question, a late night phone call, giggling girls having a slumber party or an all night study session. Oh and then there’s the 63 months (over 5 years) I spent gestating in which I am up with bladder issues, heartburn, nausea, back aches or just plain being TOO large to sleep.  So does it really matter if she is sleeping through the night?  Nah…not really. Besides someday I will enter into my eternal rest…right?

But I digress….to answer the question. She usually sleeps for 10-12 hours at night, only waking up for one bottle at 2 or 3am. She drinks the bottle, burbs, smiles with her big beautiful smile and goes back to sleep.

june 2009 618

How is Daniel doing with not being the “baby”?

He loves being a big brother.  He kisses her feet each morning and says “My baby”. He really does adore her.  It is so neat to watch the protective big brother come out in him.

june 2009 408

Actually the only child of mine that ever had a problem with a new baby was the #1 child who after having her little sister for less than a week said – “When are we going to take her back to the hospital?”

I think one of the bonuses of having a large family is that no one ever feels displaced when a new baby arrives…since they were never the center of the universe to begin with.

Is she yours?

Yes! I  am the proud Mamma!

4th

What are people’s reactions to her?

 Oh my!  I feel like a celebrity every time I walk out the door.  Everywhere we go people stare at her saying she is beautiful.  They want to touch her, hold her and ask lots of questions.  Its really amazing – people are always attracted to babies, but I have never experienced this type of attention with any of my other children.  She is charismatic! How great God’s plan for her life must be.

Is the adoption final?

 We just signed “semi-permanent” placement papers today (leave it to the State of California to have a long drawn out process).  The adoption should be final in November and we will have a court date before the years end.  Although it is all just a formality…there is nothing that will stop the adoption from being completed. But it gives us another date to celebrate!

What no one has asked –

Are you going to have any more? or Are you done now?

Wow! How fun is this.  After the birth of every baby since Amy (#2) I have been asked if I was going to have more.  And after the last few people have gotten bolder and just flat out asked us if we were done now. Sometimes this is said with curiosity, often it is said with sarcasm. To which I have always replied either:

  • “I hope not”   OR
  • “Ask God – we leave the BIG decisions up to Him”

But no one has asked us if we are done or if we will be having and/or adopting another.  So either we have finally reached the tipping point and everyone just thinks we are crazy (so they just don’t ask) or the word is finally out that we trust God with our family size and that we think children are the most amazing blessing in life! But in case you were wondering the answer is:

  • We sure hope we are blessed again with another child
  • Ask God – we leave the BIG decisions up to Him

kids

My eight amazing blessings! Thank you Lord.

Well dear friends, I’ve missed you ….here’s hoping to be blogging more regularly from here on out.

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Filed under Adoption, Blessings, Life at the Lambdins, Motherhood