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Privacy and Safety for my daughter? You better believe I care!

In Child Abuse, Democracy, Diane Robertson, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Gay rights, Gender, Homosexuality, Human Rights, Parenting, Pedophilia, Sexual Orientation, Transgender, Values, Women's Rights on April 27, 2016 at 4:00 am

Target boycotby Diane Robertson

When Target decided to allow men into women’s restrooms, favoring the comfort of the LGBT community, something unusual happened. People were upset. And despite being called bigots and hateful and homophobic, they stood their ground. Why? Well, unlike gay marriage, this has hit people in a much more personal way. Who one marries, people think, affects just them. But where one goes to the bathroom in public affects everyone’s privacy and safety.

One man, Andy Park, wanted to find out if men really were allowed in women’s restrooms at Target, so he made a video asking if he could use the women’s restroom. The astonishing video makes it clear that not only can men use the women’s restroom, but that if the women complain, they will be chastised by the manager.

Another man, Izzy Avraham, brought his daughter to Target to ask about the policy. He was not happy to be told that any man could follow his daughter into the bathroom. Target said that the change is to be inclusive. Avraham responded, “Telling me you’re ok with men walking into the bathroom behind my baby girl actually doesn’t make me feel like I belong…Target just told us — and millions of concerned parents — that we’re no longer accepted, respected, and welcome in their stores.”

The American Family Association called for a boycott of Target, and to the surprise of many, the pledge has just under 800,000 signatures as of Tuesday night.

Stories about women being molested at a women’s shelter by a man dressed as a woman, video-taped in gender neutral bathrooms , young girls being exposed to naked men, and girls and women sexually assaulted in bathrooms have been circulating.

The LGBT lobby has been successful at taunting its opposition into silence, but when it comes to protecting women and children, many more people can and are standing up to their taunts.

 

Minimum Wage, Maximum Unemployment?

In Democracy, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Health Care, Schools on April 14, 2016 at 11:09 am

flipping hamburgersby Rebecca Mallory

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Remember that show? They should do a remake: “Who Just Wants to Take Home What They Did Five Years Ago?” There never seems to be enough at the end of the month. If you live in a free capitalist society, you can always be assured that someone will make a lot more than you and someone will make a lot less than you. Many people, especially politicians, feel that this isn’t fair. That everyone should be equal and no one should have more advantage than another. This ludicrous concept has been a hot topic of debate since caveman days. The American constitution ensures that “all men are created equal” NOT “all men are guaranteed equal results.” One way many politicians have distorted and misinterpreted the constitution is by legislating and “redistributing” wealth through minimum wage laws.

Anyone with a heart would first react to this proposal as a great idea. Of course raising someone’s pay is a good idea, right? But with most government-mandated programs, there are oodles of unintended consequences. Most non-economists believe that minimum wage laws protect workers from exploitation by employers and reduce poverty. Most economists, however, believe that minimum wage laws cause unnecessary hardship for the very people they are supposed to help. Who’s right? Let’s take a look.

Contrary to what you may believe, a business’s first priority is to make money; not raise an unskilled worker’s wage. Sorry- that’s the reality. And since most people acquire their salable skills through on-the-job-training, the employer is already taking a risk on you! Low-skilled jobs get low-skilled wages. Period. If you don’t like the wage you’re making, go back to school and acquire more skill. I can almost hear the vitriol and high-pitched screams that “most people in these positions are poor and can’t afford to go back to school and improve their lot in life.” Oh contraire. Take five minutes at the local library to check the internet for free government programs begging people to go back to school at the public’s expense. But… I digress. That’s a topic for another day.

So let’s say we all think it’s a super idea to raise the minimum wage. You be the employer this time. I’ll be Suzie Lowskilledworker looking for employment. You own a hamburger joint and items on the menu range from $1.00-6.50. You offer me $5.25 per hour. I take it and realize 6 months later that I can’t live on that. Low and behold some awesome politician on a white horse swoops in and passes legislation that the minimum wage should be raised to $7.15 per hour. YEAY! I am ecstatic! But you start to panic. Why? Because you don’t care about your poor workers? That has nothing to do with it. It’s pure economics, folks. You’re barely making enough profit to meet payroll, pay rent, insurance, and have a little to support your own family. Solution? You could raise the prices of all your products thereby passing on those costs to your customer. Will your customers come back though? Or, Suzie is your most recent hire. You are forced to let her and two other employees go to make up for anticipated profits lost from this compassionate wage increase. What? I’ve now gone from $5.25 per hour to 0. What happened? Plus the workers who are still on the payroll have to double their efforts and workload to make up for the three fired employees.

Federal governments instituted minimum wage laws to ensure a basic quality of life among all citizens. Governments can use minimum wage laws to force companies to pay all individuals equally, regardless of race, creed, sex or other feature. Awesome goals. No one should be discriminated for any of those! But as mentioned above, the unintended consequences of laws are often devastating. You know who else is ecstatic about your little wage bump? The good old IRS! An increase in wage could raise your income tax liability. The IRS raises your taxes as your income increases. Additionally, high minimum wage laws significantly increase a company labor expense, potentially forcing it to lay off current employees. (see above)

     The reason is simple: although minimum wage laws can set wages, they cannot guarantee jobs. In practice they often price low-skilled workers out of the labor market. Employers typically are not willing to pay a worker more than the value of the additional product that he produces. As Princeton economist David F. Bradford wrote, “The minimum wage law can be described as saying to the potential worker: ‘Unless you can find a job paying at least the minimum wage, you may not accept employment.’”2 “Minimum Wage vs. Supply and Demand,” Wall Street Journal, April 24, 1996.

Several decades of studies have found that minimum wage laws reduce employment. At current U.S. wage levels, estimates of job losses suggest that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage would decrease employment of low-skilled workers by 1 or 2 percent. The job losses for black U.S. teenagers have been found to be even greater, presumably because, on average, they have fewer skills. As liberal economist Paul A. Samuelson wrote in 1973, “What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2.00 per hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?”

Instituting higher minimum wage laws can also reduce the competition faced by union members while leaving the unskilled unemployed. Of course, employers may also respond to minimum wage laws by decreasing overall employment, substituting machines for people, moving production abroad, or shutting down labor-intensive businesses. It bears repeating, a business owner’s first priority is business not your welfare. He’s going to cut corners if he has to. He’ll be innovative and cost-conscious. That may very well nix you from the payroll.

Recently California legislators passed a $15.00 per hour minimum wage law. Yippee, right? Let’s just wait and see what happens to businesses, employees, employers and the general condition of the state. Legislation has literally driven commerce away from this beautiful state to other areas that are far more business-friendly. Keep your ears and eyes open to the repercussions of this “generous” legislation. Hey… if I’m wrong… wouldn’t that be fabulous? I will shout it from the rooftops. Stay tuned. Suzie Lowskilledworker… out.

 

Importance of Rituals

In Child Development, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Values on April 11, 2016 at 7:50 am

family birthdayby Keely Tanner

Is there a birthday, an anniversary or a meaningful day coming up between you and your significant other? Some of us look forward to these celebrations.  But if the truth were made know, we would realize that there are many who dread them!  Why?  Perhaps because of expectations not realized? Too often time, creativity, or financial restraints make it difficult to meet the expectations of a loved one? These celebrations are not intended to make anyone’s life miserable. In fact there is more meaning behind the reason we have celebrations?  They are ritualistic.  And there is purpose in rituals.

What defines a ritual?

First, it needs to be repeated.

Second, it needs to be coordinated.

And finally it needs to be significant to both parties.

If you have an event or something that is reoccurring in your dating, marriage or family, this is a ritual. Rituals have meaning.  Rituals have the power to bond couples and families emotionally.  But the main thing to remember is that it needs to be meaningful to both parties, or there is little value to the effort.

If you are one of those people who just can’t seem to catch the vision of weekly, monthly and annual “ritualistic” celebrations, choose to make an attitude change. These rituals are important events that are supposed to happen in relationships. In the long run, these rituals will benefit you and your loved ones. Make the effort. Get your creative juices flowing…or do as I do, and get ideas from others who seem to thrive on such creativity.  Surprisingly many of the most meaningful rituals just seem to evolve. For those that take more thought or research, it’s surprising how creativity doesn’t need a big price tag.

 

The Most Masculine of Roles: Husband & Father

In Child Development, Families, father, Free Speech, Freedom, Gender, Marriage, Media, Technology, Values on April 4, 2016 at 9:18 am
Little Girl Helping Father with His Tie ca. 2003

Little Girl Helping Father with His Tie ca. 2003

by Erin Weist

I listened to a talk today by an apostle of my church about “the highest of masculine roles: husband and father.”  In a world that constantly pushes the normality of immorality, adultery and other purely selfish forms of living, it was highly refreshing to hear a man– a husband, father, and grandfather– praise the virtues of putting a family first.  

Part of his talk was an open call to media to eschew negative depictions of the role of men.  As he spoke I could think of several depictions of men in television or movies that are shown to be bumbling idiots, or inept, groveling servants at the feet of their grossly overbearing wives.  I could think of rap and other music that indicated the necessity of men to show their “manliness” by demeaning women in their roles of wife or mother, or by racking up a high count of illegitimate children.  

On a different but slightly related note, for some reason I thought of being a young teenager, seeing the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” and being disappointed with the message that a mother & father could grow apart so much that it was better for everyone involved for the two to divorce.  Obviously, these things can and do happen, but the idea that we encourage our media to promote positive messages appeals to me.

I would never promote censorship, and I understand that many people have different stories to tell, stories that can be violent or full of pain, doubt and fear.  But what if the roles we modeled to our children (and ourselves) had clear messages?  Our lives can be muddled and confusing but stories, in every age and every part of the world, have always been clear– they are meant to entertain or instruct.  Or both.  

Watching or hearing about a tragic character make poor choices leads us to understand how to avoid similar negative consequences.  Shakespeare gave us plenty of those.  Watching or reading or hearing about a strong character faced with difficult circumstances who makes correct choices based on correct principles strengthens and moves us to pattern our lives in a similar way to lead to positive rewards.

Imagine the difference in a generation of boys if their media, what they consumed the most, was filled with exemplary men, men who are forthright, who uphold virtues of morality, who encourage honesty in those around them, who respect women, who honor the institution of marriage, who treat as sacred the role of husband and father.  

Every story needs a villain as well, but where are those exemplary men?  Surely there are some scattered throughout our media but we could do better.  We could expect more.  We could demand more.  And, as generally works in a consumerist society, one of the surest ways to vote is with your dollars.  Are there shows you support that demean those roles?  Could you take your time and money elsewhere?  Do you know people in these industries?  Could you encourage them in this effort, and encourage your friends to do the same?

 

We all have different tastes and there are different voices that best speak to us but we can love ourselves and our younger generation enough to demand more, to encourage those around us to teach to the ideal, rather than the lowest common denominator.  Men are inherently noble and powerful, I hope we can treat them as such and remember their worth and ultimate potential.

 

(Full video of talk on Fatherhood found here)

Be Where You Are

In Child Development, Choice, Families, father, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting, Research, Technology, Values on April 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

children with computersby Tashica Jacobson

A favorite Buddha quote states “be where you are; otherwise you miss your life.” This can apply to many different things in our lives, but for now let’s look at it through the lens of technology and electronic devices. The advancements in these is dramatically changing the way that members of society interact with one another, and making it easier and easier to be someplace that we are not. How many of us have been in the same room with a friend while they are texting and surfing the internet, only to find that their mind is anywhere but present and there is no connection between the two of you.

Technology has many benefits and is a great luxury of modern society. I wouldn’t be able to write this article, nor could you read this, without it. It can be a source of information, job networking, connection with family, or even a relaxing break from stress. But along with the benefits come the downsides. Family time is diminishing; work bleeds over into home life, we are in constant contact with friends, and we expect that everyone should be available at a moment’s notice. These things together scream that technology while good, needs to be monitored.

In 2010 the Kaiser Foundation conducted a survey that found youth, age 8-18, spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes on electronic devices a day, about 53 hours a week. And because they can use multiple media devices at the same time they pack 10 hours and 45 minutes of usage into those hours. A 2014 study done on adults found that the average adults spends 11 hours a day plugged in to their electronic devices. To put this in perspective that is more hours than a full time job.

These statistics have a dramatic effect on how we live our lives, and how we interact with our families. The biggest noticed effect is a decrease in family interaction. One article describe our obsession with technology as a new family ritual that consist of “One family. One room. Four screens. Four realities.” Even when families are spending time with each other it is interrupted by constant distractions.

Both children and parents have become increasingly dependent on technology, and it is causing a divide in families. Many times these devices are used as a problem-avoidance tool. When a conflict arises and family members need to address the issue, instead they are turning to technology to avoid confronting the issues.

It is also limiting members’ ability to connect with each other. For one thing, when children are on electronic devices it takes away from the time family can spend together. You can’t do both at the same time. A growing trend is parents, in attempt to fill this connection, connect with their children on social media rather than face to face. This does not allow true connection and increases the divide even more. Jim Taylor of Psychology Today stated “the ramifications of this distancing are profound. Less connection—the real kind—means that families aren’t able to build relationships as strong as they could be nor are they able to maintain them as well. As a result, children will feel less familiarity, comfort, trust, security, and, most importantly, love from their parents.”

So what can be done? In our day it is impossible to disconnect one hundred percent from technology; that is why monitoring electronic usage is so important. Families should have household media rules that are enforced. Each family is different and rules should be set for your specific situation, but put down the phone. Have a specific time set aside each day to actually connect as a family with no electronic devices.

Meal times are a great time for this. Make an active effort during this time to learn about each other’s day.

Computers and tablets can be used in a shared room where others are present. This helps media not pull members into a chamber of isolation, and helps parents monitor electronic usage. And parents, be a good example of the electronic usage you want your children to follow, take the initiative to put the phone aside and really connect.

Media use can be a great way to connect with your family and a facilitator of conversation. Families should talk about the messages portrayed online and what their time on media was used for. Parents can talk to their children about the dangers online and ways to avoid them. If this habit of communicating is established when children are young, they will feel comfortable talking about questionable situations they encounter online.

My last semester at college I made it a point to put down whatever I was doing when each of my roommates came home and ask how their day had been. In other words I wanted to actually be where I was. I wanted to be aware of what my roommates had going on in their lives. I was usually doing something productive when they came home, but it didn’t hurt my grade at all to put my homework aside for a few minutes and try to really connect. So as technology keeps demanding our time, be intentional about your media usage, be where you are and be part of the life happening around you right now.

Measuring Family Growth in the Garden

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Health Care, Parenting, Research, Values on March 31, 2016 at 10:14 am

family workingBy Ally Fife

In this fast paced world of digital dependency, finding ways to have meaningful family time without spending a fortune is rare indeed. To also find something to do that is worthwhile and provides skills to the participants is too much to hope for. There is, however, a task that can not only bring the family together, but it is free and full of life skills. Gardening. I hear groans from my kids in the other room, but it’s true. And once they get their little hands dirty, they realize they are actually having fun and helping the family in the process. Gardening together produces shared memories while teaching us patience.

 

With all the stress we carry around, finding a way to decompress is important to our health and happiness. A study done in the Netherlands found that gardening was better for stress relief than any other leisure activity, including reading.  The sounds, smells, and feel of nature helps us detach ourselves from our problems and focus in the moment.  Exposure to sunlight releases the chemical serotonin, which helps naturally balance the brain and fight depression. In fact, better mental health is another side benefit to working with plants. A study in Norway found that gardening relieves symptoms of depression. On top of these benefits, it can lead to better sleep patterns and  an improved quality of rest. Can you imagine the family benefits of better sleep and less stress?

 

As a form of exercise, gardening integrates multiple muscles working together to build strength for real life functions. Pulling, pushing, bending, digging, and lifting combined is a real workout. Studies from the University of Alaska show that it is a better form of exercise for fighting osteoporosis than jogging, swimming, or aerobics.  And it lowers the risk of dementia by 40%.

 

Nutritionally, your family will be healthier if a vegetable garden is planted and harvested. Studies of after-school gardening programs suggest that kids who work in food gardens are more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables, make better choices about food, and be more adventurous in their taste testing.

 

A family garden is a great way to teach children a love and respect of nature and the value of patience,  hard work, and nurturing something into life.  We live in a world of instant gratification, but gardens live the law of the harvest. It takes time to produce flowers and fruit. We must wait for the moment when a zucchini appears on the vine, and it is all the more exhilarating for the wait. It also requires us to be part of the process. We learn the science of how things grow as we fertilize, dig, water, and deweed. We see the beauty of the whole process and not just the outcome, and we learn cause and effect in a real and safe way. For example, if you don’t water the garden, it dies. Which also leads to teaching responsibility and a sense of accomplishment and pride in work well done. Imagine the joy on a child’s face when it is announced at dinner that he helped grow the cucumbers and tomatoes in the salad.

 

Just so you know, I do not have a green thumb. Far from it.  That’s the beauty of all these benefits; it doesn’t require perfect skills or a bountiful harvest. We learn far more from the process of gardening than the end result, and both are satisfying.

 

How important is Forgiveness? And where do you begin?

In Child Development, Choice, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, Parenting, Values on March 4, 2016 at 7:38 am

child forgivenessby Tashica Jacobson

“Now what do you say…” was a common phrase heard in my home growing up. With eight children somedays I’m sure my mom felt like she was always breaking up a fight or encouraging someone to apologize. It wasn’t just that my mom was hoping to ensure peace in the house, when she taught us how to say I’m sorry, she was teaching us lifelong principles of forgiveness. It may seem like a simple thing but the ability to forgive others and recognize when you have been in the wrong is a valuable skill that will help in all aspects of life. An atmosphere of forgiveness is something that every family should strive to have in their home.

One of my friends told the story the other day of accidentally bumping into his seven year old daughter, and when he apologized, she responded “It’s okay. I forgave you before you even asked.” These innocent words spoken from a child say a lot about how we need to be in our own marriages and families. We need to be willing to forgive at all times. And we need to want  to forgive when the forgiveness takes time.

Things don’t always go our way in life and within a family. The simple fact that we spend so much time with each other means that we are occasionally going to “bump” into each other; we have disagreements, forget things, and cause each other hurt. But each one of these is an opportunity to forgive.When families have an atmosphere of forgiveness in their home they are less likely to attribute small outbursts as shots at them personally.

John Gottman uses the example of a couple getting ready for a dinner party. When the husband asks where the napkins are, the wife responds in an edgy tone “they are in the cupboard.” Rather than feel hurt by her tone, the husband can simply attribute it to something else…Like her not being able to get the cork out of the wine bottle (Gottman, p. 21).

This is a perfect example of having an atmosphere of forgiveness in the home. When people are short or act inconsiderately towards us, many times it can be attributed to other things going on in their lives, rather than the situation at hand. And in return when individuals feel they are in a safe environment they are also more likely to apologize for outburst.

There are many health benefits to forgiving others. Sleep improves, while pain, blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and stress all decline. It has also been shown that it is harder to forgive others including yourself, if you have never had someone forgive you. The home is the perfect environment to teach this. Children can learn forgiveness over broken toys so that when they deal with the larger issues of life they will know how to forgive.

Parents can encourage their children to apologize and forgive and should demonstrate these values by example. These two things will help all families as they deal with problems no matter what size, and lifelong lessons will be learned.

 

 

 

Link to the Past to Strengthen the Now

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on February 26, 2016 at 6:10 am

family historyby Ally Fife

When I was pregnant with my third child, my in-laws sent me a 500 page, hardbound journal written by my husband’s great great grandmother. Her name was Hannah Jane, and I became obsessed with her over the course of my pregnancy. She was amazing! I read the journal through, then went back and marked favorite stories. By the time my daughter was born, I had already talked my husband into the perfect name: Hannah Jane.

Hannah Jane (the younger) has a connection with her great great great grandmother; linked by names even though over a hundred years separate them. I love to tell Hannah stories about her namesake and hope someday she will read the journal also. What a precious gift to leave behind.

Legacies such as this link us to our past. We not only get a view of everyday life in a different time period, but an interesting view of historical happenings. Hannah Jane (the elder) lived in Mexico during the time of Pancho Villa. She had some rather scary run-ins with him through the years. One of the things I loved about her and wanted to pass on to my child was her strength and conviction. Alone in a hacienda, she defended her family against marauders, and even gained the respect of Pancho Villa, who knew her by name.

Recent studies, done at Emory University, show that children who are taught their family history are more emotionally resilient, handle stress more effectively, and feel a stronger sense of control over their lives. This is because our self-confidence is related to our sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.

If you don’t think your family has kept any of these records, you may want to think again. Find your distant cousins on Facebook and see if they have any photos, Bibles, or journals. Visit your own grandmother and search her bookshelves and attic. Antique shops, historical societies, and genealogical libraries hold a wealth of treasures just waiting to be found. Once, while visiting Scotland with my husband, we went to the local library where his ancestors had come from. We found several books that were about our particular family of Fife’s. There are also websites designed to reunite families with old diaries and memorabilia. (honoringourancestors.com is a good one.)

Even if all you have is oral stories, write them down. Begin your own book of family stories for future generations to read to their children at bedtime. Linking our past to our present and future brings our immediate families closer together. It builds family pride and responsibility, and we gain a greater appreciation for the sacrifices made for us. As we study our past, we come to know ourselves.

 

Everything Worthwhile Requires Sacrifice

In Child Development, Choice, Families, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on February 23, 2016 at 7:40 am

mom with sick infantby Tori Perez

It’s been a tough couple of weeks as a mother. When one person gets sick then everyone gets sick and when mom is sick it feels like everything gets thrown off. Or maybe I’m just thrown off because I’m sick.

At any rate, it’s one of those times in life (this seems to be a reoccurring theme on the blog) that is ridiculously difficult but creates so many beautiful moments. Listening to my perfect – yes, perfect!! –  husband sing to my sick little baby to calm her down while he bathes her is one of the most rewarding moments of my career in motherhood thus far.

That being said, the beautiful moments don’t make anything less hard. I stood there and listened to that song through a cloudy, throbbing head, a sniffly, stuffy nose, and the world’s tiredest, achiest, first-time-mom muscles. I’m not the person that can preach about looking on the bright side, and looking for the rosy, happy moments in life. To be honest, I’m not very good at it. I get mopey a lot, I like to blame other people and outside circumstances for all of my problems instead of taking accountability, and darn it if I don’t like to eat up the attention I get when something bad happens to me.

But even with all of my negative nancy tendencies, somewhere deep in my soul I know that life is really all about the hard stuff. I know that the bathtime song of my husband means twice as much to me when it’s happening at the end of his day off from work that he spent taking care of his sick little family instead of relaxing or doing what he likes to do. It should mean a lot to me even on a good day, and it does! All I’m saying is that the tough stuff has a magical effect that makes the good stuff mean much much more.

And this is true everywhere. The things that I “give up” to be married and to make my marriage work make the things that I “get” out of my marriage worth EXPONENTIALLY more than they would be without my efforts. The sacrifices I make as a mother and the selflessness I have to learn from my children make the rewards so much more rewarding!

What I am trying to say here is that yes, we can choose to live mediocre lives, and shy away from the tough stuff, or we can choose to live vibrant lives. But a vibrant life encompasses all colors – not just the colors we like. A vibrant life is one with ups and downs and in betweens (take note – only ups and downs is no good either).

And yes, families are the epicenter of vibrant living. There are those who will disagree but I am telling you right now that nothing will bring more opportunities for sacrifice and simultaneous pure JOY than marriage and children. No hard thing you experience will ever be as rewarding as the difficulties of family life. Nothing will teach you about beautiful disaster like family can.

And so, from a sick-mom-with-a-very-sick-daughter’s perspective: I get it. I get why people hesitate to start a family, or at least put it off as long as they can. I get why so many moms feel like they just can’t hack it, and why we succumb to complaining to each other about how hard it is instead of celebrating the “little moments.”

I get it. It’s because it’s stinking hard. Life is hard. Getting married, starting a family come with enormous sacrifices. But that’s exactly what makes it so worth it.

So don’t give up, okay?

*This post was originally published at http://subtlesphere.com/everything-worth-your-time-requires-sacrifice/

I Didn’t Always Want to Be a Mom: This is How I Came to Love It!

In Child Development, Choice, Education, Families, Family Planning, father, Feminism, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, stay-at-home mom, Values on February 22, 2016 at 8:13 am

mother-daughter

by Erin Weist

When I was a teenager I didn’t think much of being a mom.  In fact, that thought process continued as I grew into a young adult, attended college, lived overseas, held full-time jobs and basically became an adult.  Looking back it’s silly that I didn’t even once consider my own mother and the amazing woman she is and how fully I owed my life and the shaping of my persona to her loving time and attention—didn’t even cross my mind.  That sort of sums up young adulthood, though.  We spend a great deal of time “finding ourselves” or discovering our interests and planning our future or whatever it is we do and conversely spend very little time thinking about how that future could involve or shape other people.  Now, there are others who are more sensitive than me, I will wholeheartedly agree to that.  But even those seeking altruistic professions would probably agree that those times in their lives were basically selfish.

Then, I met my husband.  Well, of course, he wasn’t my husband when I met him.  He was just a hunky guy that I wanted to wrap myself around and never let go.  I fell in love.  We talked about a future and I admitted that, while I agreed to the ideal of family, I wasn’t sure if it was the life for me.  It sounded so… boring, so unfulfilling.  I worried that I needed to be out backpacking around the world, volunteering in third world countries, holding a corporate job, doing SOMETHING BIG that really mattered, otherwise my life wouldn’t mean anything.  Really, I was still in my selfish phase and I had no clue.  Understandably, this freaked out my poor soon-to-be-husband who actually really wanted a family and it was almost a deal-breaker.  It speaks volumes about his maturity and his love for me that he accepted my concerns and stuck with me.

After we were married we both worked full-time in jobs that paid our bills but that we both ironically hated.  ‘But this is what adults do and this is fulfilling,’ I kept trying to tell myself.  It was hard to take myself seriously.

And then we decided to have a baby.

We talked about family, we talked about our responsibilities, but really we had no idea.  Would I continue to work afterwards?  Hmmm, I wasn’t sure.  ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,’ I thought.  Although, truth be told, it was a relief to have an exit plan from a job I dreaded going to every day.  I had thought about looking for a new job but they all seemed the same: stuck in one place, working for someone else all day, only being able to live my own life for about 2 hours a day, plus weekends.  For the first time in my life I started to get excited about staying home with a baby.

I still didn’t know how long it would last.  Maybe I would get bored after a few months and be itching to get back to work.  (And honestly, those times have come over the years as we have welcomed more children into our home, but they never last very long.)  I can promise that the moment I held that squishy baby on my chest, breathing his first breaths, I never wanted to be away.  Not for a moment.  I wanted to hold him every second of his life and let him hold my finger for comfort and just be there.  And so I was.  I stayed home, feeding him, holding him, trying to keep up with mealtimes and cleaning and oh my goodness how do I go grocery shopping with a baby???… and being an attentive wife and a helpful neighbor and all the while dealing with the nagging doubts swirling around me of “what do you do all day?”  (Well, if you don’t have kids and you wonder what moms do all day, try babysitting for a week sometime and then we’ll talk.)

 

And it was hard.  And beautiful.  And we created memories—some good, some bad, but all memorable.  And we’re still creating them.  My children are still all under 10 years and I have learned a million and one things since that first foray into full-time motherhood and I will learn another million and one things just this year.  And then they’ll grow, reach new life stages and it will all change.  But somewhere in there, I got it.  I mean, I get it now.  

I understand why motherhood is important.  I understand that having a full-time out-of-the-home job will never be as fulfilling as the full-time in-the-home job I’m undertaking right now.  Mostly because co-workers and bosses and corporate politics will fade but I will have my children forever.  But also because I’m realizing that I am the first line of defense for my children in a confusing, violent, and sometimes dirty world.  

I can spend my days teaching them about self-control and love and patience and making better choices and learning to see beauty and wonder and love in that scary world.  Certainly I can teach them their ABC’s and how important it is to eat their vegetables and how to sort clothes for the laundry.  Those are visible things, probably things that they can recognize now as teaching.  But most of my teaching they won’t recognize until they’re grown and trying to raise their own little brood.  

Then, possibly like I did, they’ll understand the significance of their mom teaching them to pray always.  They’ll know why the most important parts of the day were the ones when our family was all together.  They’ll remember that their mom believed in them to make good choices and knew they could always strive to be better.

 I could still be a part of the work force and do those things, but I have found that this is where my heart is…and I count myself incredibly blessed both in circumstances and in my husband who allows me to do this, to be taking part in the noblest undertaking I will ever experience in this life.  

I walked through the valley of the shadow of death to bring these kids into this world and I’ve never looked back.  Nothing can ever shake the firmness of my belief in the VITAL, CRUCIAL, IRREPLACEABLE role of a mother.  And I believe fathers have their own vital, crucial, irreplaceable role as well but that deserves its’ own topic another day.

I wanted to record my thoughts today when I realized my own daughter might struggle with these same fears.  And that’s OK, everyone has to learn and we do that by experience.  But I want her, and any young woman concerned with her place in this world, to know that their potential to be a mother will be the most difficult, fulfilling, and important work she will EVER do.  Not to mention the most lasting.  So prepare for it, if you can.  Make your foundation steadfast and immovable so that you’ll be strong enough to hold up yourself AND your little ones.  It will be hard, you may feel unnoticed or unsure, but stick with it and I promise that someday you will look at your life’s work and say, “It is good.”

 

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