Challenge of the Day: Find Joy in the Journey

One of the most endearing memories my children say they have of me is a memory of me being angry…REALLY angry, and screaming. Not my finest hour, to be sure, and quite honestly, the fond memory isn’t about the anger, it is about the quirky way I handled it, and the simultaneous reaction to it.

My girls had been fighting (a daily, or maybe hourly, occurrence at our house), and the youngest one was wailing on one of her sisters. I have no idea how many times I had asked them, and then told them, and then demanded them, in a crescendo of decibel levels, to stop fighting, but I finally screamed at the little one, “If you hit your sister one more time, YOUR BUTT IS MINE!!!” Complete silence filled the house for a split second, and then all of my children, followed in short order by their mother, burst into wild laughter. The children continued to have fits of laughter about it throughout the day while repeating the phrase, “Your butt is mine” ad nauseum.  That was a couple of years ago, and they still break into fits of laughter at odd, random times and say, “Your butt is mine.”

Parenting is demanding, taxing, exhausting, infuriating, heart-wrenching, painful, and just plain difficult. The same can be said of being a spouse. But a family, whether it be a family of two or a family of twenty-two is worth doing.

Why???

Because having a family is also rewarding, thrilling, exhilarating, heart-warming, joyful, and just plain fun.

Today’s challenge is to focus on the positive, let the negative roll past, and just enjoy the journey you are taking with your family. Good, peace, fun, laughter, beauty, and absolute joy can be found in almost any moment. Enjoy and embrace the good things about your family, they could be gone in an instant.

Challenge of the Day 1/29/14

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
― Abraham Lincoln

Last night, in order to act on my pledge to push back the tide of negativity toward wives and mothers, I took flowers and thank you cards to six beautiful and amazing women whose acts of mothering have made a difference in my life, and/or the lives of my children. One of those women was my own mother, and when she received my offering, she didn’t just tear up a little, she sobbed. Obviously I have been leaving way too much unsaid.

How about you? How long has it been since you told your mother you appreciate her? Today I challenge you to tell her, even if, especially if you have a difficult relationship with her. It will be good for her, but you will be surprised by how good it is for you. 

You don’t have to give her flowers or even a card. She will be touched by a simple phone call. A phone call will cost you little, if any, money, and an insignificant amount of time, and it may be a saving grace for both of you.

If your mother is no longer living, please accept my heartfelt condolences, but not my permission to skip out on the challenge. You can take flowers and a note to her grave, write her a letter, or even get down on your knees and thank God for all the good He brought into your life through her. I believe with all my heart that your mother will still know of and appreciate your gesture. But if you don’t believe? That’s okay. Expressing gratitude is good for your soul, so Nike up, and just do it.

If your mother has done something truly evil to you, my heart weeps for you. No child should ever suffer evil, especially from the hand of his or her mother. Please, please, consider beginning the journey of forgiving her. Life is too short to spend it drowning in a sea of anguish.

Our mothers, flawed as they all are, gave us life. That very act alone deserves our gratitude, but, unless you are very unfortunate indeed, there is a whole lot more than birth to thank your mother for, and your life will be a little brighter if you take the time today to honor motherhood by expressing your gratitude for her.

The letter that started it all: A response to Amy Glass

I am 44 years old, I have a husband and six children, and I vehemently reject Amy Glass’s idea that I am worth nothing. In fact, I look down on women who look down on me, and I am not sorry. I have lived the kind of life that Amy Glass would approve of, and I don’t want it!  I live the kind of life that Amy Glass scorns, and it is beautiful. I know I am doing something good. I am important to the only people who matter to me, and people like me are important to society, because society can not continue successfully without us. I am fulfilled. I don’t need Amy Glass to give me worth. I get that from God and from doing what I know is right.

If you care to know more, read on.

But, full disclosure right up front: I haven’t read Amy Glass’s “article,” and I never will. It doesn’t deserve my attention, let alone my financial support. My response will not answer her point by point, but I would like to share what I’ve learned about being a stay-at-home mom because I’ve spent time being both the self-focused live-only-for-me woman and the others-focused live-mostly-for-everyone-else woman, and it is significantly more work and amazingly more fulfilling to be the latter.

When I was 27 years old I had just given birth to my fourth and fifth children, I had never been anything but a stay-at-home mom, and I had wholeheartedly accepted the feminist idea that I was “nothing.” When I was 28, I signed up for classes at the local branch campus of our state university to alleviate my “nothingness.”
Three and a half years later I graduated summa cum laude (with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, no less!), and another year after that I was running the writing lab and teaching freshman composition as a graduate student. I was touted, by the head of the English Department and much of the administration at our branch campus, as “the future of the English Department.” I was told that I “belong[ed] in academia.” I was given praise and accolades on a nearly daily basis, and I LOVED it. It made me feel good about myself. It made me feel important. It made me think I was “fulfilled.” I would spend countless unpaid hours in my office working to make the writing lab the best it had ever been because I knew it would earn me the admiration of my students and colleagues.
And then, thankfully, one day I realized that I had the rest of my life to do whatever I wanted as a career woman but only a few short years to raise my own children. So I quit graduate school, quit my job as the writing lab administrator, finished up the semester as an instructor, and then walked away from my career. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made in my life, and also one of the best.
“Academia” mocked me when I walked away. They told me I was giving up too soon, and that I didn’t have to have a perfect gpa to have a successful experience as a graduate student. They thought I was copping out because graduate school was too hard for me. They couldn’t understand why anyone would sacrifice being “something” in order to raise a bunch of kids. It hurt that the same people who always cried for “tolerance” wouldn’t support my decision, but I knew I could never explain the truth to them, so I made up a lame excuse and partial truth about wanting to write novels and walked away anyway. I quickly learned that, there, I really was nothing, because I was absolutely replaceable.
For the last thirteen years I have worked countless unpaid hours raising children, emotionally supporting my husband, and maintaining a household in order to make the best family and home I can possibly make because I know it is the best thing I can do with my time. Even though the work is grueling and the accolades are few, I am happier than I have ever been in my life.
I have taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to my own children instead of college students, and they rarely thank me for my work, but I get to participate in those moments when they realize they love reading, they can influence others with their writing, and they actually “get” math.
I supply healthy, well-adjusted, mentally stable and emotionally secure people for society, and society tells me that I don’t belong in my home because my work is worth nothing, but I know that if society is ever again to be worth anything significant, it will be because children like mine become the adults society needs.
My work actually IS the future of America, but American feminists belittle me and mock my choice to do what makes ME happy, because they aren’t really interested in the happiness of American women. They are only interested in promoting their own brand of happiness, thereby establishing and securing their own importance. But I AM happy, and I understand my own worth as a mother, a wife, and a woman. That is far more valuable than anything the feminist ideal has to offer me.
I seldom rest when I am sick, and I have never been backpacking in Asia. Instead I wipe snotty noses and poopy butts and go to Wal-Mart for milk and dog food at 11 p.m. in my pajamas, but I am more fulfilled than I was when I was 50 pounds slimmer, could look forward to retreats with the “best and brightest,” and went to my office in heels and dress slacks. In that world I was praised daily, but I was replaceable, Here, I am seldom praised, in fact I cherish the ONE letter I received from my oldest son shortly after he left home that says, “Thank you, Mom. I never could have accomplished all that I have if you hadn’t made the choice to come home full-time. It made all the difference in my life.” The people whose praise means something to me rarely offer up that praise, but I know, without being told, that here, I am IRREPLACEABLE. There is not a single person in the world who can do for them what I do with the pure and honest love and joyfully selfless sacrifice I do it.
I am 44 years old, I have a husband of 28 years who is the only father of my now SIX children–because I love kids so much, and make such cute ones, that I had one more at 37–and I vehemently reject Amy Glass’s idea that I am worth nothing! In fact, I look down on women who look down on me, and I am not sorry. They do not deserve the approval they do not seek and can not get from me. I have lived the kind of life that Amy Glass and women like her would approve of, and I don’t want it!  My husband and children know that they are loved and valued beyond measure, and I KNOW I am doing something great. I am not only important, but irreplaceable to the only people who matter to me. AND PEOPLE LIKE ME ARE IMPORTANT TO SOCIETY!!! because society can not continue successfully without us. I don’t just think I’m fulfilled, I truly am fulfilled. I don’t need anyone, not even a self-important, self-declared powerhouse, to give me worth. I get that from God and from doing what I know is right.
I hope that someone took the time to read this, but even if you didn’t, it was worth writing, because I needed to remember.