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To The Stay-At-Home Mama: Don’t Let Others Define Your Worth

I had a conversation with a relative recently. I won’t get into the details, but he told me that stay-at-home moms don’t deserve a “day off” and that what they do isn’t a “real job”.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have been for the past four years. I’m also a person who likes to feel accomplished and satisfied in the work I do everyday. So, it stung to have a member of my extended family basically tell me what I do every day is not worthwhile or even really necessary.
I ended my conversation with said relative at that time so I didn’t say something I’d regret. After all, it’s not the first time I’ve heard such mumbles about being a stay-at-home parent. Oftentimes, the opinions come from people who have never been a stay-at-home mom or dad.
I don’t want to demean working parents, because I’ll be totally honest, my hat is off to you. I don’t know how you do what you do and you have my full respect. No, this is about me and my fellow stay-at-home parents. The ones who have the privilege of being on the front lines of seeing our babies grow up. The ones who are in the thick of it day in and day out. The ones who have to multi-task our families needs with our own feelings of self-worth. The ones who never truly get a day off from our jobs because our jobs are our lives.
I want you, my fellow stay-at-home mama (or dad) to realize you are worth so much more than what others have to say about your “occupation”. Your title as a stay-at home parent doesn’t define who you are deep down inside. It doesn’t define the person who has a life outside of her home and children. It doesn’t describe your education, your passions, your thoughts on life.
Sure, we are in this phase of life when, the majority of the time, our needs come last and personal time is few and far between. We have babies grabbing at our pants, toddlers yelling to us from toilet seats, and we are always on the hunt for whatever possession our older kids have lost this time, not to mention making sure our spouses are happy, supported and taken care of. Heck, even the cat comes first sometimes.
We are the centers of our families, the little engines that keep on ticking all hours of the day and night so the train can keep moving. Because there’s no slowing down, not ever. We all do so much for our children, our homes, and our families that when someone we thought was in our corner demeans what we do every day, it really hurts. It makes us look inward and question everything we have become. It makes us wonder if everything we do every day is worthless, pointless, fruitless?
Well, I’m here to tell you it does matter. It is not for nothing. What you are doing is so important. You may not see it yet, but someday, you will. You will see it on his first day of kindergarten, as he turns to look at you one last time before he walks through the door. You will see it when she takes her first step, and you are there to catch her before she falls on the second try. You will see it when he calls you from work to thank you for remembering to put the fork he forgot in his lunch pail for him.
They will show you. The ones you stay at home for. The ones who rely on you to drive them, feed them, teach them, care for them, and love them. The ones who need you to be at home right now so your little tiny humans can grow under the daily care of one of their parents.
Maybe you stay home because you don’t have a choice. Maybe you stay home to save money on childcare. Or maybe you are laid off and this gig is just temporary. No matter what your situation is, whether you are a stay-at-home mom by choice or circumstance, do not ever let anyone ever make you feel you are not worthy of praise, time to yourself, or acknowledgement.
You are worth so much—more than you know.

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Dear Rainbow Baby, You Saved Me

 

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Dear Rainbow Baby,
I remember the day I found out you were here. I held my breath as I walked back into the bathroom, after the standard three-minute wait, and gazed at the white stick on the countertop. There were two blue lines and I had never felt so beyond excited and so amazingly scared at one time. You see, rainbow baby, you were very much wanted and needed more than you will ever know. Your momma’s heart had been broken not just once, but two times in the year prior to that test.
Your dad and I both decided not to tell anyone about your existence inside of my belly until after our first doctor’s appointment. So for those first 12 weeks, we bit our tongues and said secret prayers to God that you would stay here indefinitely, that we’d get to meet you on the other side of pregnancy.
With each person we told, I felt like I was giving away chances at your survival. I know that sounds crazy, but to me, letting others know about you was a big risk and putting it out into the world scared the hell out of me. Only a few select people were told about you until we got the results of our genetic testing back.
I’ll never forget the day the doctor called me and told me that everything looked really good and that you were a boy—which totally took me by surprise because I would have bet a large amount of money on you having been a girl.
With each passing month, I continued to pray and hope I would get to meet you. I religiously listened to your heartbeat on the fetal Doppler machine your nana had bought for me nearly two years prior, when I was pregnant with your first angel sibling. Nearly every night, I searched for your heartbeat, and when I found it I swear I would listen to it for over an hour. The beating of your heart was like music to my ears and I didn’t want to stop listening.
As you started to kick and I could feel you move, my worries lightened a little but not much. At every doctor’s appointment I was so scared they would have some kind of bad news to tell me. The anxiety affected my pregnancy and I was not able to enjoy it the way I had with your older brother.
And then, just like that, two days before your scheduled arrival via C-section, my water broke in the doorway of the upstairs backroom and phone calls were made to your daddy at work and both grandmas and we were on our way. You didn’t arrive until six hours later, because I had decided to eat an early dinner that afternoon and we had to wait to deliver you until it was out of my system. However, because of you, I got to feel real labor pains and the chaos of rushing to the hospital to have a baby. It might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m grateful for that now because I never got to experience that with your brother.
At 10:30 P.M. on a cold January night, we heard your seagull-like cry for the first time. Everyone in the operating room giggled at the sound of it. Not two minutes later, your daddy placed you on my bare chest and a huge wave of relief washed over my scared soul and I was in love once again.
I immediately thought how much you looked like your dad and noticed your quiet, calm demeanor.
As I got to know you over the next couple of days in the hospital, I appreciated the fact that you were such an easygoing baby, a stark contrast to your brother as a newborn. I offered up a quick thank you to God for sending me one of these “easy” babies I had heard so much about.
In the months following, as we curled up in the easy chair together in the middle of the night, I fell even more in love. We had our hard days, where we were both crying and tired but it was so much easier this time around as you didn’t have colic like your big brother did.
Today, at nearly a year old, I couldn’t imagine my life without you. I know that in order for you to exist I had to endure the pain of becoming a mom to two angels. Although my heart will always wonder who they would have been and why they could not stay here, I will always be grateful that I have you.
You are the surprise of my life. You are everything my heart wanted and my soul needed. The second I saw you I knew my family was complete. You continue to heal old wounds that have scarred me inside and out.
You are such a happy, beautiful little boy and sometimes when I look at you, I don’t know where you came from. From your blue-green eyes and strawberry hair in a family of brunettes and brown-eyed people, to your contagious smile and constant curiosity, you blow me away.
Always remember how much you are loved. Always remember how much you were needed. Always remember that you and your brother (and my two angels) are the lights of my life.
I love you always my Rainbow Baby,
Mom

Originally published on Her View From Home

 

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5 Ways to Enjoy Christmas When You Are A Mama Grinch

I loved Christmas as a kid. The second Halloween was over, I’d get my list ready for Santa and craft and hang homemade decorations on my bedroom window. Putting up our tree was one of the highlights of my year. Christmas mornings at our house were magical. We woke up extra early because my dad usually had to work on Christmas, but that was fine because I was always awake all night anyway. Then, we’d go to my grandparents and do it all over again. It was all about family, friends and the joy of the season.
And then I became an adult and started to see the holiday in a different light.
I started to notice the insane commercialism that drives people to spend more and more, some beyond their means. I started to feel the expectations for me to purchase gifts for everyone from my kid’s bus driver to my boss. Let’s not forget how crazy people are around this time of year—every weekend after Halloween makes going to the local department store for a few necessities like a scene from The Walking Dead—complete chaos. Don’t even get me started on people who put up their trees before the snow even starts to fly!
Needless to say, I’ve become jaded about the holiday. While I still love the idea of Christmas and what it is supposed to stand for, the version that modern day culture celebrates is too much for me. I’m a real-life female version of the Grinch—the one at the beginning of the movie.
But now, I’m also a mom. I want my kids to experience the magic of Christmas like I did as a kid, but that’s hard when I’m more Grinch than Santa. So, here are some ways I’m going to try to get into the spirit this holiday season that you might find helpful, too:
Don’t try to keep up. Forget about what your friend is buying her kids or who has already done their layaway weeks ago. Shop and spend at a rate and speed that’s right for you and your family. If you can afford the expensive electronic for your husband, then buy it for him. If you can’t, then think of something else I’m sure he’ll love just as much. Keep in mind that while it is wonderful to give presents to those important people in your life, it is not worth struggling the rest of year to go all out.
Try to remember why we celebrate. You might be religious, you might not be; either way December is a big month for celebrating for many faiths. We all worship and see the world in our own unique ways, which is absolutely wonderful and is part of what makes this big, wide world so amazing, but there is an undeniable feeling in the air this time of year regardless of what you believe. Many people are happier, kinder, and more generous toward their fellow man during the holiday season, so try to be a part of that energy. Try to remember why you celebrate, whether it’s just a family tradition or celebrating the birth of Jesus, hone in on that and use it as your basis for celebrating.
See the holiday through a child’s eyes. Remember those magical Christmas mornings I mentioned above? Those are what I will remember when the holiday grumps start to creep in. I will remember my mom catching me before I came out of my bedroom door so I didn’t see my dad putting the presents under the tree from Santa. I will remember my grandmother’s giant Christmas tree and the pride she took in hanging the stockings with all of her grandchildren’s names on them. I’ll remember looking up at the sky on Christmas Eve and looking for the big guy in the sky. That is what I will focus on—that feeling of wonder, the same wonder that I now see in my own children’s eyes.
Do something good for humankind. I know a lot of people only volunteer around this time of year, but isn’t it better than not at all? Help out at a community meal, take your kids to visit a nursing home, or simply donate a toy to a child in need. Do something that’s good for your soul. Yes, it’d be better to do this all year long, but if you are struggling to get through this time of year this one will make you smile. It feels darn good to do something nice for someone else with no expectation of them reciprocating.
Keep in mind it won’t last forever. Arguably most people would say the season lasts from the first day of November until mid-January. Yes, that’s over two months, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. Most of us are so busy attending holiday parties, shopping, volunteering and whatnot that time really can just fly by. If this isn’t your favorite time of year, just keep that in mind. It really will be over before you know it!
Some people adore this time of year. My mom, for one, starts playing Christmas music at the beginning of November, and sometimes I am curious how I came out of her body. Although I may be more of a Halloween gal, I can still see the positives of the holiday season and I want my boys to see me enjoying it as much as my parents did when I was a kid. I want them to have awesome Christmas memories that they will hopefully pass down to their own kids someday. For them, I can take off my Mrs. Grinch mask and put on my Mrs. Claus one instead.

Originally published on Her View From Home

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My Sons Are Just As Precious As Your Daughters

 

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I saw it again the other day: a friend on Facebook found out the sex of her baby at her 20-week sonogram. She was expecting a baby girl. I was excited for her and I know this particular friend didn’t care about whether she had a boy or a girl because she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for quite some time. As I went to tell her how excited I was for her to be welcoming a daughter later in the summer I saw the other comments:
“Oh my goodness how exciting! Girls are the most precious!”
“A daddy’s girl! Those boys better stay away!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen comments like this. And it certainly wasn’t the first time I rolled my eyes on the other side of the computer screen and thought to myself, “Why are daughters often considered more ‘precious’ than sons?”
I know, I know–you could say that I don’t have place for an argument here because I’m a mother of only boys. So, I guess I don’t get to comment on the dynamics of what it is like to have a daughter. But how are my sons any less precious than your daughters?
The word precious literally means, “Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.” Synonyms for precious include beloved, dearest, darling, treasured and valued.
The short answer: sons are precious, too.
My sons are treasured and valued. They are sweet and innocent. They are my children and with that comes my unwavering instinct to protect them (yes, even from the girls that will eventually come around). They are my babies. They are the loves of my life, and just because they were born male doesn’t mean they are any less precious than your baby girl.
I know there is an age-old debate on gender roles and expectations that are automatically assigned to our children from birth, such as the unwritten rule that little girls need to be protected more than boys. That is not my point here. My point is that when someone says, “Girls are the most precious,” it makes the person hearing it assume that if girls are the most precious, then boys must be the less desired of the two.
That’s not to say little girls are not treasures in their own right. They are everything pink, purple, bows, ribbons, curls, and pig tails–and seriously just as adorable. I may not have a daughter of my own, but I have a niece and friends with little girls I just love to love up on. And some of them are little tomboys who love to play in the dirt and ride ATVs, too.
I just don’t get why history has always told mothers who are carrying or giving birth to girls that they will have to protect, cherish, and honor those girls more than if they were carrying sons. (And don’t get me started on things that are said to fathers about to have daughters . . . I mean there are songs written about fathers waiting on the front porch for their daughters to return home from dates with their boyfriends. It’s ridiculous!)
My sons are going to date one day, too. They are going to have others break their hearts, be subjected to bullies, and are also at risk to child predators. Our boys need protection just as much as our girls. As their mom, I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them safe and prevent them from being hurt by anyone. And yes, I will be staying up late to wait for each of them to return home from their first dates.
So please, next time you have a friend who announces she is expecting a daughter, please keep in mind that we boy moms are happy for her, too–but that our sons are not any less precious than that sweet baby girl. Our sons are the best gifts we have ever been given and even when they are adults towering over us, they will still be our baby boys.
Try to remember that we longed for these little guys and that for some us they are our little miracles. And though we would have been happy having daughters, we are just as happy and grateful to have sons.

Originally published on Her View From Home