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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

One of my facebook friends recently posted this:

“I love my kids but anyone that says they don’t like the “empty nest” didn’t marry their best friend.”

Her youngest child just went off to school for a year and her oldest three are married (and thus out of the home). I don’t know exactly how long they’ve been married, but I’m guessing it’s at least 25+ years.  It’s just always fun to see people happy about great marriages – especially when they’ve been married for more than 2.6 seconds.

I read her status and wondered “How do I get that!?” Not how do I get a great marriage? Not how do I marry my best friend? My question is mostly: “What can I do so that in 25 years from now, when my kid(s) are grown and gone, I’ll still feel like I’ve married my best friend?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. I was reading a book by John Rosemond (called New Parent Power!) that spoke to this briefly:

In the years since World World II, we have become increasingly and neurotically obsessed with the raising of children. Something that used to be a fairly commonsense responsibility has taken on the trappings of science. … Within the child-centered family, the implicit understanding is that the children are its most important members and the parent-child relationship is the most important relationship. …

Well, if you want raising children to be difficult, you need only to put them first. By putting your children first in your family, you guarantee they will become manipulative, demanding, and unappreciative of anything and everything you do for them. …

Again, its a question of priorities. In a two-parent family, the marriage must come first. After all, the marriage created the family, and the marriage sustains it. The marriage preceded the children and is meant to succeed them. If you don’t put your marriage first and keep it there, it’s likely to become a mirage instead.

It’s a concept that’s foundational to most of his advice: the marriage must come first and children should not be the center of the family. It’s what makes parents happier and it’s what makes children happier.

I want that! I want 25+ years to go by and for Jeff & I to send our last one off to college . When we do, I want to say “Love ya kids, but get out! Daddy and I gotta cuddle!”. I don’t want it to be “No kids!  Come back!  Don’t leave me alone with this stranger called Hubby!”

I’m beginning to realize how hard it is to keep your marriage front and center while raising children. Children will take all the attention that you are willing to give them. They don’t start out independent in any way, shape or form. And it is easy to want to give them all your time and energy.  They’re fun – the questions they ask, the smiles that they give, the new milestones that they reach. They’re unique – each child doesn’t something a little bit different and has their own personality. Eventually, their needs can dominate the family schedule with school, church, sports and other events.

Kids are cute, fun, unique and needy. Particularly, the first several months of your first kid’s life are i-n-t-e-n-s-e. At least, for me, it was. You’re learning so many new things. You’re making decisions you’ve never made before. It can take alot of focus. In fact, it can take ALL of your focus if you let it.

How you prevent a kid-center marriage probably doesn’t have a magic formula. There’s no “do these 5 things together and you’ll be fine”. I’d guess there are some generalities though: keep talking, keep having fun, spend time together. How and when you talk is up to you. How and when you have fun is up to you. How and when you spend time together is up to you.

Kids will take all the energy and focus that you let them. Seems to me it is important to give them lots of energy and focus, but not ALL of your energy and focus.  Now that I’m staying at home, I am hopeful that I have more time to focus on my marriage.  That doesn’t mean giving the boys sticks and knives to play with and to ignore them, but to make sure I have time for Jeff too.  Our marriage will sustain our family!

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It’s officially been 1 month since my last day of work.  Since then, we also welcomed Baby Ben into our family, so the time has been full.  Thought it’d be good (for me) to document some of my thoughts on how the ‘Not Working’ thing is going.

Answer: I LOVE IT!  Since I’ve been employed since I was 15, the closest thing I can compare ‘not working’ to is my maternity leaves where I took 6 weeks off work.  Which is pretty fitting because if I was still employed, I’d be on maternity leave right now.

But this is pretty different than my maternity leaves.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew that my maternity leaves were temporary.  The time was limited and I knew that I was going back soon.
  2. I still continued to work during my maternity leaves.  Not full-time, of course, but I dialed in to keep my email Inbox as clean as possible and to respond to anything critical.  I had people doing parts of my job during each leave and I knew that I was putting a burden on them.

This time?  I can’t work even if I wanted to.  No access to any company resources.  Why?  Because I’m not employed there!  I might wonder what people are doing while I’m gone, but it doesn’t cross my mind often.  I don’t know what meetings I’m missing.  I don’t know what decisions they have to make.  I don’t know what software enhancements they’re designing.  I just don’t know.  I don’t have to worry about the work that’s waiting for me when I get back.  That makes it infinitely easier to not think about my past life.

Right after Ben’s birth, I had this thought: “Man, having Baby #4 sure is easier than Baby #1!”  I chalked it up to confidence brought about by experience.  But I don’t think that’s the cause of my calm nearly as much not having to think about work and what impact my absence is having on my co-workers.

I wrote about this almost 5 years ago, but so far, my experience is proving it out: Being a Stay-At-Home Mom seems to be emotionally great!  My attention isn’t divided and that is very freeing right now.

 

 

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Our little Sammy is starting to exhibit his personality more and more. Having 2 older siblings, I can’t help compare his personality & actions to his brothers. He seems more like Finn than Stephen – in terms of stubbornness and seeking out the company of others. Stephen prefers to be by himself quite a bit more where Finn always wants to be right there with you. Right now, Sammy is fascinated with his brothers and is always watching. He’ll just follow us room to room.

But…he’s also my first thumb sucker. That’s been unique to him.  He’s only been doing it for a couple of months, but he’s my first to do so. It only happens when he’s sleepy. If one of us is holding him (like upright on our hip), then he’ll suck his thumb. If he’s laying down in his crib, then he tends to suck on a couple of his finger.

I particularly like feeding him his last bottle of the day, right before bed. As I’m holding him in the recliner in his room, he’ll hold his own bottle, drink as much as he wants, then he’ll drop it. He’ll roll over onto his stomach to curl up on my chest. He’ll put 2 fingers in his mouth and start sucking. If I don’t start patting his back, he’ll reach back around and pat it himself as if reminding me of my job. It’s just adorable. It’s a good moment in a good phase of life.

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Have you seen the Chewbacca lady on YouTube? I’m sure you have, but if you haven’t, check out her hilariousness!

A friend of mine posted an interview she did by her pastor at her church and she had a couple of points (made to students) that really resonated with me:

She gives 2 words of advice at the very end. Something like this:
“Have patience. Have those moments where you wait upon the voice of the Lord. Don’t rush into a ministry or opportunity because it seems shiny.”
I can see myself doing this. As I transition to being a stay-at-home mom, I can envision all the new opportunities that I could have. I could actually join a Women’s Bible Study now! I could attend a mom’s group. I could volunteer with a ministry. I didn’t have time for any of those before. Most of the Women’s Bible Studies & Mom’s group met when I was working.

I gotta have patience and not grab onto the shiny things just for the sake of shiny.
“Have obedience. When He tells you to move, move. When He tells you to stop, stop. When He tells you ‘indulge in the delights of my table’, indulge. But when He tells you ‘that’s not yours, you can’t have it’, step away.”
This is where I’m at. He’s told me to step away from working. Left to my own decision, I might not be stepping away. Or I might pursue working, but in a different way than I have been. Working, for now, is something that I feel God saying “That’s not yours, you can’t have it, step away” and so, stepping away I am. And I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a big “God told me” kind of person…I just feel like this is where He’s leading me.

So..hi ho, hi ho, it’s away from work I go!

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Reality sets in

I’m about 2 weeks away from my last day at work. It’s so bittersweet.

  • I’m not leaving my job because it’s bad. Because it’s not — it’s great.
  • I’m not leaving my job because I don’t like what I do anymore. Because I do like what I do.
  • I’m not leaving my job because I’m not good at what I do. Because I do like what I do.
  • I’m not leaving my job because it isn’t financially worth it. Because it is – very much so.

I am leaving my job because I think it’s best for my family. And because if I don’t at least give it a try, I’ll always regret it. In most ways, it’s an easy decision.

But an easy and clear decision doesn’t always mean lack of tears and sadness. In the last few months, I’ve cried many days on the way to work. And I’ve cried many days on the way home from work. And I’ve cried many tears when things were difficult at home with the boys.

There’s a part of this that’s very much like a grieving process. And that makes sense. It is the end (at least for now) of a very significant time period of my life. I’ve been in Corporate America, specifically software management & design for 18 years. That’s huge.

I’ve likened it to graduating from college. Great things lay ahead. But great things are behind me too.

But now that my replacements are in place here at my company, it’s really becoming real. And it’s starting to feel more comfortable. The tears have largely stopped. My duties at work are (rightly) dwindling now. It’s starting to feel comfortable.

And on the home front, I’m ready to have this baby. Technically, I have a month left til my official due date, but I’m close enough that it’s real and I’m ready for the birth.

My transition to stay-at-home mom is near. The birth of my 4th son is near. A new reality is close, so it’s starting to feel right and true.

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Man, could my boys be triplets or what!?

(By the way, you can definitely tell which 2 were born in the same season based upon their clothing – Finn and Samuel were both born in April, so their clothing seasons are the same, while Stephen was born in October, making him in the complete opposite season!)

Here are pictures of them taken when they were 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42 weeks old.

kids_week38kids_week39kids_week40kids_week41kids_week42

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Why I’m (Going To) Stay At Home

Ask 10 different moms why they stay at home instead of full-time work outside of the house and you’ll likely get 10 different answers.

For some, it’s financial.  It just doesn’t make sense, in their situation, for them to work.  Maybe that’s because their personal incomes are low.  Maybe it’s because the number of kids they have make daycare expensive.  Whatever the reason, it COULD be a financial no-brainer for them to stay at home.

For some, it’s emotional.  They really, really, really want to.  It’s where they want their focus to be.  It’s what they’ve prepared for.  Maybe they haven’t found a non-mom job that they really like.  Maybe home is just where they want to be.

For some, it’s just practical.  Maybe their spouse is military and moving is something they frequently do.  Maybe their spouse works long or irregular hours or have lots of travel.

For me?  Why am I deciding to stay at home?

It’s my influence.  I’ve lost too much of my influence with my children.  It isn’t that I have no influence with them, but my influence is too small.  When I was just working part-time, it didn’t bother me.  When they were really young and the major goal was keeping them alive and thriving, it didn’t bother me.  When my sister was my babysitter, it didn’t bother me.  When there wasn’t so many of them, it didn’t bother me.

But all of a sudden?  It started bothering me.  My kids are in a church-ran preschool and they do good things there.  They’re even thriving there.  In particular, Finn has done great with an established routine.  (Something that kid really needs!)

But I’ve realized that Mr. Jacob has more influence over my 3-year-old Finn than I do – by a long shot.  Mr. Jacob seems to be a good guy, but I don’t know him.  I’ve never had him over for dinner.  I haven’t met his wife or his child.  I don’t know his philosophy on teaching or discipline.  I don’t know how long he’ll be at that pre-school.  Same with Stephen’s teacher – she seems great, is a grandmother and is very kind.  Sammy is too young to have much influence on, but the same things apply.

Even though the decision-maker wasn’t financial for us, it still has financial ramifications.  And that does bother me.  I make a great income and it’d be financially worth it (on paper) to have up to 7 kids before daycare costs are more than my income — especially once you factor in that we’d probably hire an in-home nanny.

It isn’t that I want to be the only influence on their lives – grandparents and family are wonderful influencers.  And I like the idea of preschool a couple of mornings a week.  I like Sunday School teachers and Awana leaders. I’m just not ready to give up 50+ hours/week at this stage in their lives.  I’m excited to stay home for the major reason that I can start to have the influence on my kids that I want to have.  

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