Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Battle of the Moms

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I had a little scare and went to the emergency room. While going over my paperwork with the nurse, she asked what my occupation  was. At the time I wasn't working and told her I was a house wife. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "Home Maker". At the time, I was just like, "Uh... whatever you say."  

A couple years ago, while having my taxes done by a wonderful older gentleman, he also asked what my job was. I said that I was a Stay at Home Mom and he shook his head. He, also looking me dead in the eye, responded that the appropriate title was Domestic Engineer. I like that one. But any time I actually use that term, people look at me like I'm tooting my own horn or like I tried to make a joke that they're just not understanding.

I've never really had any one treat me differently because I am a stay at home mom. I've decided that there's two possible reasons for this. Either 1) people see me with three really little children and a husband who works long hard hours and they realize that I really do have a "job" or 2) people see me with three really little children and a husband who works long hard hours and they realize I'm totally insane and are too afraid to say anything to me that might just make me turn feral. Either way, it is what it is.

However, lately (and it's probably been this way since the existence of working mothers and stay at home moms but I'm just now getting around to it), I've noticed that there's a "war" between moms with jobs and moms who stay at home. Like its some weird kind of competition. Who's life is more stressful... Who's the better parent... Who's more spoiled than the other... "I do my job AND yours!"... It's weird and silly in my opinion.

I'm Switzerland. Neutral. Not taking one side or the other. But I will say how I feel about both... just a little.

I look at my own mother and I'm baffled. I don't know how she did it. She went back to work just a few weeks after I was born. She worked a stressful job and came home after picking me (eventually "us") from the babysitter or school or day care and cooked dinner, bathed us, helped us with home work. My Dad was always very involved with us too and did a lot of work in and out of the home but we're talking about mom's here. She played softball on the church team, helped with school events and church events, carted us around to practices and tryouts and tournaments and such. She had her own hobbies and projects and kept our house clean and smelling good and food on our table. I don't know how she did it all. I actually feel this way about most mom's who have jobs outside the homes. I have no idea how they don't get burnt out. I wont lie, I hear about some women's jobs and I have to laugh because I'm kinda like, "I'd sure love to get paid to goof around like that all day." But then there's other women who's jobs I'll hear about and I"m like, "What the?... How do you function? NO THANK YOU!" And other times I think, "It sure would be nice to get a paycheck for all the work I do."

But for the women who DO work and don't think that Stay at Home Moms really have it tough, let me explain a few things to you. No one else is taking care of my children. I am solely responsible for their "education", the discipline, the entertainment, three square meals, field trips and everything else. I have three kids to take care of. Three kids who are constantly in our home making messes. I understand that working mothers come home from their jobs and cook and clean but my house is CONSTANTLY being used and lived in. So there is CONSTANTLY something that needs to be cleaned or re cleaned or that's broken and needs to be fixed. Every meal I cook, I have to clean up from. There's no day care worker in my house serving meals and cleaning up from them. No teacher telling the kids that it's time to clean up and putting them in time out for me when they refuse. Because we're home all day, my bathrooms are continuously being used... and peed all over and pooped in. I have to purposefully make an effort to have my children socialized. They don't have the benefit of being in a school or daycare surrounded by other children. Teachers teaching them. Day care workers doing art projects with them (which ALSO can create huge messes to clean). Working moms may deal with some real difficult people at work but the three people that I love most in this world are the ones that scream at me. That disobey me. That stress me out. All day every day. I don't mean to say that they're always bad but I sure could handle a coworker giving me a hard time much better than my own child. It's emotionally draining. And when things aren't going right, it's so easy to feel like a failure as a mom. And trust me, I've worked before. I've worked out side the home longer than I've been a stay at home mom. I've screwed up at my jobs before. Sometimes pretty bad. But never did I feel as miserable afterwards as I do when I know I've screwed up as a stay at home mom. It down right blows. And please, don't for one second think that just because I'm home all day that my evenings are completely free when the kids are in bed. I was up late last night doing laundry and ironing. Just because the kids are in bed, doesn't mean my work is done. Just like a working mom. I'm not sitting around eating bon bons all day, just like a working mother isn't. Alright, I guess I AM getting a little bit defensive here so I'll stop.

Now, I will admit that I have gotten comfortable in my role as a stay at home mom. I like it. No, I LOVE it. I get to spend time with my kids all the time. Some days are harder than others. Some days I get less hugs and kisses than on other days. But some days, I get to have water balloon fights or movie nights or "baking parties". Other days, there's so much poop every where that I wonder if I myself have turned into a turd. It's all part of the gig.

I guess I'd just like to say to the waring moms to get a grip. Stay at Home Moms: stop acting like you're victims. Stop acting like you just climbed Mt Everest while performing open heart surgery and cooking a 10 course meal. You didn't. You GET to stay at home with your children. That's a huge blessing. Stop acting like it's a chore. Working Moms: While I do feel bad that you don't get to spend as much time with your babies as I get to spend with mine, stop acting like we're nothing but a bunch of lazy people. I work hard. Some days harder than others. I know you work hard too (or at least I hope you do). I don't get monetary benefits from my job but you do. Your job may be stressful but mine is too. Give it a whirl. There's plenty of working moms that become stay at home moms and end up wishing they were back at their jobs. Worry about your task at hand and I'll worry about mine.

That being said, no matter where you "work", being a mother in general is a 24/7 gig. I don't think it ends when the kids are grown and out of the house. My mom still takes care of my sister and I in many ways. Still invests time into us and now my kids. Still works, still takes care of her home and my dad and their dogs and a whole lot more. No need to argue about who does how much of what and where it gets done.

This cup of coffee is for all the Moms out there, Wannabes Supermoms or just straight up Supermoms. Here's to all the work we do, in and out of the home.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why It's Ok When Bad Things Happen



  It's that time of year again. My little boy celebrated his third birthday yesterday. And for the last three years, we have basked in the blessing of being able to celebrate his birthday with him. It is not something that we take lightly. And every year, I have a deeper respect for God and my appreciation flourishes as I watch my little boy grow. As well, the lesson we had to learn, that I'm still learning, becomes deeper and more profound.


For those of you who know what we went through as a family, I ask you to bare with me and forgive my... excessive sentiment regarding the situation. It is still as fresh in my heart as if it just happened. I'm not sure why I still get choked up when I think about it but I do. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain, just a little.

Three years ago, my beautiful little boy was born. I was induced because of really bad back pain. He was only about a week early so it wasn't that big of a deal. A few days after we came home from the hospital, my husband had to go back to work, states away but thankfully, I had my Mom with me. Without her there, I never would have been able to survive those first few hours. At a week old, little Anthony got a fever. When a baby that young has a fever, they automatically have to do a urine sample, blood tests and a spinal tap. After all of this, they usually put the baby in the pediatric unit of the hospital until they can find out what's wrong. Well, the local hospital I'd taken him to didn't have one so he had to be taken via ambulance to Children's. Thankfully, my Mom was home with my daughter so I didn't have to worry about that. I didn't go in the ambulance but followed in my car. Upon arriving at Children's, I found that he wasn't in the unit I was originally told but was in ICU because he'd gone into shock in the ambulance. Still don't know what that really means. As I got to his room, I had to be immediately ushered out because they were having to hook him up to a breathing tube because he just wasn't doing it on his own after going into shock. He spent the next 7 days in ICU and another 3 in a recovery ward. The doctors and nurses never found out what was wrong with him, we were often told that there was no guarantee he'd survive the day or night and his poor little body swelled up so badly that we weren't allowed to touch him for a while.

I refer to these days as my Darkest Hour (read last year's blog post). Not being able to touch your brand new baby is torture. Not being able to hear him cry was surprisingly disturbing. That first week, I'd have given up both my hands just to hear him cry. It was also a dark time because of my anger, frustration and bitterness toward God. I didn't understand why God was allowing my baby, too young to have done anything to deserve any kind of punishment or suffering, to hurt so badly. To knock on Death's door. Or why He felt the need to teach ME a lesson using the life and well being of my baby. It didn't make sense to me at all. And I turned inward and it festered for a little while.

I will always be grateful for the outpouring of prayers for my little boy during that time and KNOW that the prayers of many people who love God and love my family are what played a huge part in the recovery of my baby. No doubt in my mind. Which leads me to why it's ok when bad things happen.

I obviously can't say how I'd have reacted if Anthony had died. But he didn't and I can tell you that, in this situation, him living is what shed light on the lesson I needed to learn. I needed to learn that God loves me and part of Him loving me is enjoying my praise and my thankfulness and me being able to glorify Him. God didn't MAKE this happen to my baby. But He used the situation to teach me and bring me closer to Him. And THAT is why it's ok.

I'm not about to compare my own sufferings to that of Job or that my faith is anywhere near as strong as his was. But even concerning what he went through, it was OK. For a reason. Job lost everything. His family, his house, his friends and all he owned, his health. All of it. Except his faith in God. Satan thought he was so clever trying to hurt Job and turn him away. But it backfired because not only did Job refuse to turn from God in his suffering, he chose to continue to glorify God with his life. And God blessed him greatly for it.

I recently watched a video by Lisa Chan called Be Still. In the video, a woman shared her testimony about going through a divorce and how badly hurt she was by it. But in her suffering, she turned to God and was greatly blessed by it. She grew in her own relationship with God and eventually met and married a man who loves God very much.

When bad things happen, it's ok because God has a way to use the situation to better you and bless you and bring you closer to Him. If you let Him. There's a whole lot of bad that happens in the world that I can't explain. At all. Gruesome murders, tragic natural disasters, babies getting cancer... I can't explain it other than that through it, God has a plan for some one involved, maybe every one involved, for hope and prosperity and a design that the person will draw closer to Him and be able to give Him praise and honor through it. I know that's what He had in plan for me. I know that through the suffering that my family went through, my faith in Him grew, my belief in the power of prayer changed dramatically (really for our entire family and helped us trust God through prayer during recent trials) and my trust in the sincerity of other Christians (something I thought I had totally lost) was renewed.

I'm not a huge fan of using individual Bible verses to serve my own purpose or prove a point that I'm trying to make but through the years, these verses have helped me, given me hope and joy during trials and frustrating times, during pain and sufferings.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." *May I just say that the fact alone that God things enough about me to make plans for me, let alone the fact that they're GOOD plans blows my mind!*

1 Samuel 15:29 "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man, that He should change His mind." *Any promise that God makes to me is going to be kept. If He has promised good things for me, I can rest assured that good things are in store for me. It's all about how I choose to see the things that happen. He only wants good for me and since He has given His word... :) *

Ecclesiastes 7:14 "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future." *God's got everything under control. During the good and the bad in my life, God knows what's in store for me and I can trust Him with my future.*

Isaiah 54:10 "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you." *Even when the world is crumbling down around me, God still loves me and I can always count on that. *

We are also told over and over in the Bible that God takes care of those who love Him. We're told that He doesn't allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. He must have known that the only thing I could handle was what happened and nothing more because His mercy allowed my son to make a full recovery with no problems following.

It's OK when bad things happen because God has a design. A plan that, if we choose to see (and trust me, I know, I KNOW how hard it can be to let go, open your eyes and heart and SEE), will help us grow and bring us closer into His loving arms and bless us as well as glorify Him.

Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences with learning lessons from God through your own pains and struggles. If you have questions or need to talk, you can share here or email me at acmaxwell@live.com. I hope you have a blessed day!



Monday, October 1, 2012

Children: Bountiful Blessings

My last blog post was a bit of a ranting vent. I've bounced back and forth since writing it on feeling that it was ok to write it and that it was wrong for me to point out the frustrations I experience while dealing with my son. At times, I felt guilty for writing it. Should I really be venting to strangers (some of you aren't strangers but for the most part...) about the trouble my son can be? Was there really even a point in writing the whole thing? I got a ton of wonderful advice as a result of writing it though. I also got a chance to see a passage of the Bible that I've read a million times in a new light. Or more in a deeper way.

A few days ago, I began to read 1 Samuel. I started to skip the first couple chapters because I've read them before but felt that God prompted me to just start from the beginning. And I'm glad He did.

The beginning of 1 Samuel starts with a woman named Hannah. She is one of two wives of a man named Elkanah. His first wife had kids. I don't know exactly how many but she had more than Hannah. Hannah was barren. Reproductively challenged, infertile... how ever you choose to say it. She couldn't have kids. And it's the only thing she wanted. Her husband's other wife would even mock her inability to conceive. One year, on a trip to town to worship, Hannah had a bit of a breakdown before the Lord and pleaded with Him to give her a child. The priest, Eli, saw her and confronted her and upon realizing that she was truly grief stricken and down, he encouraged her and told her to have peace and "may God give you what you've asked of him" (1 Samuel 1:17). She and her family go home and soon after, God gives her what she's been asking Him for, a child. A son. She then promises God that she will thank Him for his gift by giving back to Him what He blessed her with. When her son, Samuel, is of the right age, she takes him to the priest Eli and has him serve the Lord under Eli. God then blesses her further and she has something like 6 more kids.

I have been so richly blessed. I have had no problem whatsoever conceiving. I have been blessed with ridiculous fertility. And I thank God for it. Honestly. I have friends and family who have struggled for YEARS going through the pain and devastation and life altering experience with infertility. It was hard to watch them go through it so I can only imagine what it was like to actually be in their shoes. I also see all these women who are wreck less with their "blessing". I also know women who seem to keep having babies over and over that they can't seem to take care of. And I don't mean "can't" in the sense that they're struggling financially or have health problems or something. The women are just selfish creatures that don't care about the kids they keep bringing into the world and dump them on to other people. Makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.

I understand what God was trying to teach me through my million and one time reading this passage about Hannah and Samuel. My son is a blessing. He is a gift. Not only was his birth a gift, and then him living through his ordeal in the hospital but each day since then has been a blessing. And the answer to my problem with my son's delightfully strong willed behavior is to do what Hannah did. Maybe not in the same exact way but it boils down to the same thing. God has blessed me with an amazing little boy. Full of life and excitement and joy (until he's not getting his own way). Expressive and creative and affectionate. The best thing I can do for him and for myself and for the rest of our family is to turn him over to God.

There are a whole bunch of different ways I can do this. The gist of it is making sure that he is saturated with the Love and Word of God. That he knows what his purpose here on earth is, why God created him, what God did for him in sending His OWN Son to pay the price for our sins and make sure he is trained in the words, teachings, principles and truths of the Bible. That's what Hannah did. That's EXACTLY what I need to do with and for my own son. And for my daughters. The same return of blessing has to happen with them too.

Understanding WHY God blessed me with my children has made me see Him and they in a different light. All of this is something I knew before but... differently. Like I said, not as deep.

I wish I was as eloquent as Hannah, in her song of praise recorded for the rest of time to be read over and over in thanks to God, but I'm not. So I will just pledge here to spend the rest of my life giving back to God the blessings He has trusted me with.

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