The Lump On My Chest

JK Images
JK Images

I’m sitting in bed typing with one hand, still wearing my sweatshirt because I have this wonderful lump of a little boy asleep on my chest and I’m just not willing to put him down.


These moments of sweetness, they surprise me. The unreasonable amount of love I feel is overwhelming as I listen to his heavy breathing, little chest movements that try to shake him from his perch against my shoulder into a slumped puddle around my belly…


There are times when the emotion of motherhood is so raw and so encompassing I feel like a leaf flying in front of a hurricane.


I look back at the last six months and I can no longer even imagine what life would have been like if he hadn’t been born. I grieve that I wouldn’t have known how he would nudge the boundaries of my heart larger and fill my world with more light.


This is the emotion that makes me pause when we talk about whether our family is complete. It’s easy to say we are done having children when I’m in the midst of incessant requests and a tsunami of emotion, when I look at my gray hairs and realize I’m more adept at quoting child-rearing theories these days than articulating intended outcomes, cost/benefit plans, and navigating organizational politics.


To be honest, I crave the days when things were orderly, when the shoulders of my shirts didn’t sport various forms of mucous, when my time was my own to direct. There was never a layer of dust on the leaves of the potted plants and when I went shopping I never stopped in the toy section just to see if there were any amazing new products.


From my current chaotic state I look at the clean lines of that life and sigh.


Then I take another look, this one influenced by the memory of daily laughter, awe, mystery, curiosity, and humility, and realize the emptiness of my previous life of order. Child rearing is the hardest job I was never prepared for, and some days I want to cry, to rage, to quit….


But then I feel this little body huddled on my chest and my arms don’t have the strength to put him down because I realize his presence is my blessing, a genuine miracle wearing 6-9 month footie pajamas!


I can’t imagine what I would have missed had he never been born.


And I am replenished to stand up for another day, to give my all to this battle once more and relish the treasure of childhood.


Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,

“I will try again tomorrow.”

– Mary Anne Radmacher


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“Me Likee!” Link Up – September 2012

Hanna Anderson

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s October. It doesn’t make much sense to publish my top picks from September in October but considering I’ve been losing track of days like crazy I think you should put a cork in your critical attitude and extend some bloggy love by clicking through to these awesome posts.


So there.


1. Do You Like Staying At Home? This post mirrored many of my feelings about the transition from working mom to work-at-home mom. I wonder if it will strike a chord with you?


2. A Disease Called Perfection. I discovered this post a year ago and even blogged about it. I ran across it again because of the Timehop app I use that sends me what I did one year ago every day and fell in love all over again. Some things are good enough to be shared repeatedly.


3. What Boys Need From Moms. I’m a mom of a boy now. It still catches me by surprise, particularly when the young man squeals his super-shrill squeal when his backside touches the cold vinyl cover of his changing table. Still, it’s good to have suggestions about how to parent this man-child.


4. Confessions of a Young Widow: The Little Things I Miss About Being Married. Put your big girl panties on before you read this one, it caught me in the gut with its raw simplicity… and made me very, very thankful for my husband and his man clutter.


5. 10 Things That Have Made All The Difference. This sweet synopsis of ideas to incorporate into marriage is truly touching.


6. Weak Words. This listing of weak words to use while writing was particularly convicting for me – I use a lot of weak words in my conversational writing style! It’s a great reminder of best writing practices.


7. Make 24-hour Go Bags for Your Kids. No one wants to think about disasters happening but tonight as I wandered through our local ranch supply store I saw a wall of emergency preparedness kits. “Go Bags” are a really, really good idea to have for your family. This post gives you the basics of how to make them.


8. I Might Be Scared of These Families. This post made me laugh and laugh and laugh. Mostly because I am that mom who will dress her kids matching if at all possible. I do draw the line on the stripy pajamas for the whole family, however.


9. 41 Things Bodacious Bloggers Do To Maintain Their Blogs. Here’s my business post for the month – I love getting good advice about how to make StealingFaith better. (If you have suggestions, please let me know!)


10. Careful Mother vs. Assertive Mother. Parenting is hard. Have I ever mentioned that? One of the hardest things for me is walking the line between disciplinarian and heart-steward. At any moment you can waiver on the line. This post reminded me of the importance of firmness, wrapped in love.


Hope you enjoy this month’s links. In fact, I’d love to see the posts you’ve particularly enjoyed, as well! Please share in the comments!


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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

I’m Mad At Bill Maher

Dear Bill Maher, You're an idiot. So shut up. Sincerely, Me

Sometimes when you’re a comedian you say outlandish things just to get a rise out of people.


I totally understand this – I use hyperbole regularly here on StealingFaith. So last month when I heard Bill Maher’s comments on homeschooling, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, assuming the major focus of his attention at the moment was the intricate business of pulling his overly large head from the orifice on his backside.


That can be tricky! Most anyone who has thrown an ignorant opinion out to the general public knows that (and I’ve done it myself enough to realize eating crow isn’t a pleasant experience).


Now, with only a month of recovery time since his anal-head-removal-operation, Mr. Maher has done it again.


Let his words ring:


“No one is denying that being a mother is a tough job; I remember I was a handful,” [Maher] said. “But you know there is a big difference between being a mother, and that tough job, and getting your ass out the door at 7 a.m. when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, or even if you’re unhappy you can’t show it for eight hours.”


He was attacking presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, for not getting “her ass out of the house to work” a day of her life.


Please excuse me while I suck my Suburban’s tailpipe as a response to deep mental angst over his stupidity.


I really don’t care that he’s talking politics. I’m not going to go the way of talk shows and blab about how President Obama’s Political Action Committee should return Maher’s $1 million donation to prove Obama really does love women of all walks of life.


Issues aside, I need to discuss his comment and his comment alone, because apparently there are men in his world who think it’s ok to publicly state women who devote their time to raising children are incapable of work, cannot understand a work environment, and are unable to commit to the long hours Mr. Maher is obviously putting in with his strenuous and physically taxing job of writing pithy satire to amuse the publicly educated masses.


Let me address his points one-by-one:


1. There is a big difference between being a mother, and that tough job. Yep, I agree 100%. Tough jobs are full of stress, financial peril, and office politics. But  few jobs have as many loud-mouthed spectators as parenting. To quote a wonderfully articulated blog,

“[My husband] Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don’t ever feel the need to suggest that he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing that it’s hard, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: “This career stuff…it goes by so fast…ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!””

No job besides parenting has the censure of complete, totally uninvolved strangers when your kid throws a fit in public. No “tough job” involves the molding of another human being into a person who can be trusted to contribute to our country.


Motherhood defines “Tough Job” in a way no workplace can compare.


2. [There is a big difference between being a mother,] and getting your ass out the door at 7 a.m. when it’s cold. I don’t think Mr. Maher has ever breastfed or potty trained a child. As someone who has lived through those particular stages, I can guarantee I would have loved to simply have to get out the door at 7 a.m. on a cold morning!


If 7 a.m. is the corporate standard, I want that! That’s way better than waking up four times each night for at least 10 months solid to let a sucking urchin satiate their appetite. I’d love to trade listening for a child’s moan in the night so I can help them to the potty before having to change all the sheets again for getting out the door at 7 a.m.!


How about those moms getting everyone in the family lunch, bathed, dressed, fed, organized, homework in backpacks, and happy by 7 a.m. so they can get to school by 8 a.m.?


Calgon – take me away to a place where the number one priority in life is getting out the door to go to work! Please!


3. [There is a big difference between being a mother, and] having to deal with the boss.  I don’t think Mr. Maher knows when you’re a mom your boss is a completely selfish, irrational tyrant who is not only suffering from small man syndrome, but also sporting a tiara, voice like a banshee and the temper and destruction capability of a tsunami.


4. [There is a big difference between being a mother, and ] being in a workplace.  The workplace? You mean the place where you can go to the bathroom alone and are given at least a few moments of quiet each day to see your hopes, dreams, and passions realized? The place you can leave at 5 p.m. (or at least at some point in your lifetime)? You’re right, Mr. Maher. There is a big difference.


5. [There is a big difference between being a mother, where] even if you’re unhappy you can’t show it for eight hours. I challenge Mr. Maher to spend eight hours with a four-year-old in possession of a language skills, innate curiosity, and enough emotional intelligence to pick up on an internal storm. There is nothing worse than having to hide unhappiness for (on average) the 13 hours that your child is awake and active, than having a child ask you every four minutes, “Mommy, are you happy right now?”


Mr. Maher needs to see the light. Until he realizes he’s spoken as an ignoramus, he needs to shut his pie hole.


If he wants some hands-on experience I’d be happy to have him visit our house for a week. I’d even let him have complete responsibility for our family after the first day and let him enjoy the life of leisure most moms experience when they either stay at home full-time or work from home.


After all, I could use the solo vacation time. I overlooked negotiating for two weeks a year as a perk of the non-job when I became a mom. I’d also love to hear his “comedy” after his “stay-cation” on our home front.


What do you think about Mr. Maher’s comments? Is he right on in any way?


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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

More Thoughts on Work Mom vs. Home Mom

Polar Bears Aren't So Cute & Cuddly

Yesterday I wrote about Work Mom vs. Stay-at-Home Mom and the things I encounter at home with the kiddos I never had to face in the professional environment when I left the house and went to work every day.


It was fun. I liked it – and it seems many of you did, too! (So, aw shucks, thanks!)


Today I thought I’d mention a few things I don’t find at home I used to deal with in the workplace… just to keep things even and such!


10 Comparisons Between Home Mom and Working Mom


1. Job Security. Organizations have the loyalty of say, a polar bear engaging in filial cannibalism. Which is to say most organizations eat you up and poop you out with little concern because you are replaceable. My children, beside the obvious fact their mouths aren’t big enough to seriously do me damage, will be with me until death do us part.


2. Pension. The pension plan of a large family is better than the pension plan of a workplace. That’s why we’ve multiplied so many times. When we’re old and gray our children will make sure we don’t live in a box down by the river.


3. Evaluations. I don’t have to worry about performance reviews and productivity tied to a raise. Because, well, I no longer have performance reviews or raises. Truthfully, being forced to clarify our needs versus wants has really paid off in the value system of our family and I don’t take on extra projects for professional brownie points or to be a team player. I can say, “No.” And that’s liberating.


4. Dress Code. Sweat pants and slippers. Corporate attire for the home. Frowned upon in the workplace.


5. Co-Workers. There are no emergency staff meetings. There are no committees. I never have to listen to the drama around the water cooler or get involved in organizational politics. Flip side, I also have no one with whom I can dissect episodes of The Bachelor. Ah. Life’s a trade-off.


6. Continuing Education. The education I do now is relevant. I have become an expert in culinary arts, animal husbandry, pediatrics, organizational mechanics and gastrointestinal gambles. I now know whether hamsters are nocturnal or diurnal and what will happen if you drink blue Kool-Aid. This might not change the course of the world but it does make me a killer Trivial Pursuit partner.


7. Touchy-Feely. If I gave my work colleagues a long hug for comfort I might get sued for sexual harassment. If I give my kids a long hug I invest in an emotional bank account with extraordinary dividends.


8. Manipulation. I get to study human nature at its most basic level. Watching my children negotiate life gives me insight into why the boss acts the way they do and helps me see 250 lbs. football players as people instead of slightly scary hulks. In the workplace I am more concerned with getting the job done than understanding the motivations behind production.


9. Productivity. My efficiency has improved dramatically since staying at home with the kiddos. My multi-tasking abilities have grown by leaps and bounds. My prioritizing skills are superb. My emergency assessments are strong. When I enter the formal workforce again I will be a much stronger candidate and performer because of this on the job training.


10. Enjoyment. This life is better than an episode of The Office because the sarcasm is replaced by true joy. Nowadays I laugh a lot. Granted, I loved my workplace and I enjoyed the witty repartee of my colleagues. But my kids surprise me with laughter more. They’re funny, they’re surprising, and they add a level of satisfaction to my life I can’t explain.


What are some of the things you appreciate about being home rather than headed to outside employment? Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog… the buttons right there at the top of the page and you’d never miss a thing. What bliss!


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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Working Mom vs. Stay-at-Home Mom

Women Are Amazing!

A friend asked me to describe my perspective on stay-at-home mom versus working-away-from-home mom. That’s a really big topic and I need to actually structure some thoughtful responses before I jump on that bandwagon.


(It’s a stretch, I know. Thoughtful and me… whelp, they don’t always go hand-in-hand!)


In the meantime I thought I’d mention a few things I never experienced in my working world I now have the pleasure of dealing with every day – or maybe every week.


10 Comparisons Between Working Mom and Home Mom


1. When you say, “Right now that purchase is just not in the budget,” your co-workers rarely fall to the ground, howling like professional mourners, and tell you it is the worst day of their life.


2. While on occasion you may be inconvenienced by a colleague needing quality time in the bathroom, it’s not considered proper to ask your boss to check your behind for poop at the 9-to-5.


3. Even in my most stressful work environments, I never had to hug the very person that was causing my eyes to cross and blood to pound in my ears. Nor did I tuck them in that night and worry incessantly about their character development.


4. As a professional, when we went out for a group lunch and there were conflicting preferences for restaurants, no one cried as part of their plea bargaining or tried to hide unwanted food bits in the seams of the restaurant booth.


5. Strangers visiting my workplace never criticized my desk, told me how to accomplish my tasks faster or let me know they could do my job better than me with their eyes closed.


6. No one ever mentioned how hard it must be not to have a “real job” or quizzically ask “What on Earth do you do with your time all day?”


7. Quiet time communing with my computer was necessary productivity, not an invitation for interruption since I couldn’t be doing anything important, anyway.


8. People never asked me if I felt my work was an effective use of the student loan I still pay off every month or told me I’m not the only one who wasted a college and advanced discipline degree to do this job.


9. When working I had much less exposure to bodily fluids. Turns out it’s not that common you have to ask a co-worker to blow their nose into your Kleenex-holding hand, nor do they often take a drink of coffee, go cross-eyed, and spew projectile vomit across your shirt. Go figure.


10. I never worked in a place that wouldn’t give a “needs improvement” score if I showed up for work four days in a row without a shower and sporting a classy case of bed head.


What are some of the changes you notice between being a working mom and a stay-at-home mom?


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Copyright © 2010-2013 | All rights reserved

Cabin Fever Chips


My adjustment back into a full-time stay at home mom has not been flawless. Some might call the bumps little hiccups. I would refer to it at pole jumping the obstacles and praying I land on the mat.


The good news is this time around is much better. Last time I was full-time stay at home mom we had just moved to a new state, I was 8 and a half months pregnant with Dos and then after she was born she was colicky and refused to poop for weeks on end. (Really. Her record was 21 days without a bowel movement and the story of that explosion is one we’re saving to tell her future mate. Priceless.)


At that point I had two kids in diapers, 18 months apart, a husband working well more than 40 hours a week, and lived in a 900 square foot apartment.


Ah. Those were the good ‘ol days.


This time it feels less like putting ground glass in my eyes and more like bliss interspersed with stark, raving lunacy. A full 95% of the day can be awesome but that 5%… oh, that 5%.


I hit a wall this afternoon. I looked out the window at our snowy and beautiful winter wonderland and considered how far I could get before anyone would need me to wipe their behind, offer animal cookies, refill a sippy cup, or mediate over a toy.


Then I realized I would have to put on my winter gear and figured it took less effort to simply lay in the kitchen floor and moan. (Yep, that’s me, the Proverbs 31 woman… not.)


So I moaned for awhile then groaned and finally whined and decided to dine.


I had a bag of potatoes looking me in the face from my prone position and thought, “Hm… I want potato chips!”


In the days before I even knew what a breast pad was I worked for a very schee-schee private club and the kitchen made these potato chips with sea salt and rosemary. They were divine. (And my very first pregnancy craving. I ate them with chocolate and virgin Bloody Marys. I have no excuse except I was incubating.)


So that’s what I did this afternoon and it redeemed the day. I’m actually still working on the potato chips because I didn’t do it right and they were pretty awful. But the longer I cook them the crisper they get and I have moderate hopes for the future.


So, here’s what I’ve learned through trial and error about homemade potato chips:


1. Start with a high temperature. Like 400 or more. I started with 350 and am still cooking the thick slices more than an hour later.

2. Slice thinly. I got nervous about slicing my fingertips off with the butcher knife and some of my potato slices are almost .25 inch thick. That’s too much of the potato per chip ratio. The ones that are little slivers are nice and crispy.

3. Toppings. I’m still experimenting with toppings but so far I’ve found sea salt with rosemary is fantastic and Lawry’s seasoning salt is also excellent. Separately, not on the same potato chip.


Not sure how I went from stay at home mom to potato chips in this post but I’m glad you came on the rabbit trail journey with me today!


What is your favorite thing to do when you have cabin fever?


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