This blog is the story of my journey from lawyer to stay-at-home mommy. After finding out I was pregnant with baby #2, we decided that we would give it a go for awhile with me staying home with the kids. I worked after having our first child Deacon, so this experience will be a new one for me. I decided to blog mainly so that I would have a memorialization of the process since those first few months with a new baby are a fog anyway. But years from now, whether I never made it back or whether I am spending my days in suits and heels, I want to be able to look back and see what God is teaching me in these days of going from the courtroom to the playroom.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Life Lessons in Song

Recently a very dear childhood friend of mine posted a list of 32 things she had learned about life and herself in honor of her 32nd birthday. It was an incredible list of things, and being inspired by said list and friend, I decided that I would blog about life lessons from the lyrics of song in honor of my 32nd birthday. Which was 3 weeks ago. But who cares really. My life lessons will be limited to five, however, since (1) I am an underachiever and (2) I seem to dribble on about whatever it is I am writing about and nobody (except maybe my mom) would read 32 of these things. So, here goes:

1. "If you hold the nails, I'll take the hammer. I'll hold it still, if you'll climb the ladder. If you will, then I will, build." From We Build, Nichole Nordeman. This is a song about a love relationship and the idea is that you gotta work at it. My husband and I have been married for 5 years, so that clearly makes me an expert on relationships. Clearly. Anywho, my lesson learned here is that any marriage worth having takes work and requires both parties to do their fair share. Please do understand the meaning of the lyrics here. She is not saying that when you get mad at your man, you ask him to go hold some nails while you angrily wield a hammer and (oops!) give him a broken finger.

2. "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers." From Unanswered Prayers, Garth Brooks. Ok, now that your eye roll is complete, let me tell you what triggered me to include such a cliche song. My husband and I happened across this show on CMT called Sweet Home Alabama. The premise is similar to The Bachelor. All these women are competing for the affection of some guy named Dribble or Tribble or some such and half are "southern" girls, the other half apparently represent every other region in the U.S. The southern girls are all grits and greens, rifles and Red Wings and the other girls are.......well, they require strategically placed double sided tape to keep their clothes on and they sound funny saying "y'all." Anyway, this non-southern girl who referred to herself as O.C.licious (you can't make this junk up) was getting kicked off the show and she quoted the aforementioned song as a reason that she was down with being kicked off. "Like, sometimes you, like, have to just, like thank God, you know, for, like, unanswered prayers, you know, like Garth Brooks said." Wow. So, short story long, this song came to my mind for this list. You know what the lesson is. Relationships that crumbled, jobs that I didn't get, places that I didn't live, it all ended up good in the end. And that would be because God has rich blessings for me that are greater than my best-laid plans.

3. "Well, I'm right here and you're right there, and God knows we have to start somewhere. 'Cause I'm messed up and you're broken, and those shots we fired are still smokin'." From Start Somewhere, tobyMac. Lesson here is two-fold. One, there is very little in life worth getting mad over in a lasting way. Very little worth killing a family or friend relationship over. Make up, ASAP, and as my husband likes to say, at least clean your side of the street. Two, when we have been wronged or someone is acting all freaky towards us, there usually is some sort of hurt that we simply don't know about that colors that person's pespective. Maybe they are sick, maybe they lost a loved one, maybe they have been abused, maybe they just lost a job. Give people the benefit of the doubt and try to think the best of them.

4. "What if there's a bigger picture? What if I'm missing out? What if there's a greater purpose I could be living right now? Outside my own little world." From My Own Little World, Matthew West. It's not all about you. Or me. Every bit of our culture tells us otherwise, but I have learned, and continue to learn daily, that my worldview must grow bigger and I must act on the needs of others that I see and have been made aware of. God can use me and you greatly if we get our focus off ourselves and on to what He wants us to do.

5.  "You're gonna miss this, you're gonna want this back, you're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast." From You're Gonna Miss This, Trace Adkins. Amen and amen, people. Motherhood amplifies this life lesson. I've learned children grow way too fast, and I think even faster the more you wish they could feed themselves, dress themselves, tie their own shoes and wipe their own butts. But this doesn't just apply to kids. It applies to every area of life. When I look back, I can see that every season has its goods and bads and that I am better off enjoying the season for what it is rather than longing for another one.

Ooo, and a BONUS!! It's like a free gift (which makes NO sense since a gift, by definition, is free...why do people say this?) But I digress.....

6. "To anyone who hides behind a smile, to anyone who holds their pain inside, to anyone who thinks they're not good enough, to anyone who feels unworthy of love, to anyone who's ever closed the door, closed their eyes and locked themselves away, you don't have to hide." From Hide, Joy Williams. Oh, I know there is some sweet woman that needs to hear this lesson. Being a woman myself and having had many women friends, can we say that this describes some of the root of our issues, girls? Hasn't our world hit us hard in the self-esteem department? I have had the stories and have heard the stories. But the most important lesson I have learned is that I have a Savior in Jesus Christ who loves me and can free me and you from the bondage we live under, no matter what that bondage is. Thank you, Lord, for freedom to feel brave in our marriage relationships, to be bold in our parenting, to feel confident with our abilities, to know that we are capable at work, and for myself at least, allowing me to not have a complete panic attack while I am putting on my jeans that have gotten too tight and doing that squat thing to stretch them out (don't you guys dare act like you don't do it, too.) Good grief, I'm breaking a sweat just thinking about it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Raising Honorable Men

From the movie Rob Roy:
Son: Father, will the MacGregors ever be kings again?
Rob Roy: All men with honor are kings, but not all kings have honor.
Son: What is honor?
Rob Roy: Honor is....what no man can give you, and what no man can take away. Honor is a man's gift to himself.
Son: Do women have it?
Rob Roy: Women are the heart of honor, and we cherish and protect it in them. You must never mistreat a women or malign a man. Or stand by and see another do so.
Son: How do you know you have it?
Rob Roy: Never worry on the getting of it. It grows in you and speaks to you. All you need to do is listen.

I read this movie quote recently in a book for mothers about how to raise men of character. One aspect of doing this is raising a son who knows how to treat women right and is (dare I say it) chivalrous.

Let's face it - chivalry is pretty much dead among the younger male set in this country. I'll spare you my personal opinion on why. Not long ago, my husband and I were stopped at a gas station on our way out of town from his parents. Near us was a young couple, both probably between 18 and 20 years old. I probably would not have otherwise noticed them, but the young man had his tongue so far down the girl's throat that it was hard not to notice. Once he extricated himself from her, he lounged back in the driver's seat while she pumped and paid for the gas and went in and got some drinks and snacks for them. I'm pretty sure he smacked her on the butt when she was coming out. What?!?!?! I nearly peed myself, I was in such a tizzy. I had to hold myself back from running over there and telling her to hold out for something better. Seriously. Hold out and hold on, sister.

I couldn't believe that this was occurring. And we were in Andalusia, Alabama for crying out loud. South Alabama, people. I would have that a town like that would be the last bastion of civility and chivalry, but apparently this disease of male "eww-ness" has infiltrated the ranks there, as well. I see it here at home all the time. A couple of weeks ago, I was going into the gym when I saw a young man that goes to our church about 10 feet in front of me. He saw me, and when he went to open the door, he opened it for himself and let it slam back in my face. Now look, I realize that it may have been 5 o'clock in the afternoon and I was still sans shower, but come on! Is it too much to ask for that guy to hold the door open for Greasy Hair Lady? I think not. I wasn't even asking for him to open it just for me, just continue to holding it open once he went in. 

I started to wonder about these young men. Did no one teach them better? Did they not have a father model the behavior? Or maybe they were given a perfect example, but simply have not followed suit in light of what are becoming increasingly bizarre social norms. In any event, it made me begin to think about what I can and should do as a mom to make sure that Deacon, as Rob Roy said, cherishs and protects the honor in women. It's a serious and tall order, indeed.

When I was a summer missionary in Pike County, Kentucky 10 years ago, I stayed with a couple in their 60s who ran the local Baptist Association. One weekend their grandson was in town, probably about 8 or 10 years old. We stopped to get gas. I immediately tried to get out of the car to pump the gas because I wasn't going to let the older lady pump the gas, and I didn't think the young boy was old enough to do it. Boy, did grandmama have me back in my seat lickity split. That boy was gonna pump that gas because that is just what the menfolk do, thank you very much.

That example has stuck with me in these first three years of parenting a boy. At such a young age, it's hard to pass along too much, but we do try to make sure that Deacon says his "ma'ams" and "sirs." We try to encourage him to always get the door and hold it open for women. As a result of some dating horror story I recently heard, I told him I didn't care how old he was, that if I caught him honking the horn for a girl instead of getting out of the car to go get her, I was going to pop his bottom. He just laughed and said, "Mama, you so silly!"

I don't think being honorable for a man is as easy as it was back in Rob Roy's day. Culture hits them at every turn. Peer pressure pushes down on them. My hope and prayer is that my husband and I can teach Deacon what it means to be a man of honor and character. He doesn't know it yet, but he is blessed to have such wonderful examples in his daddy and the other male family members in his life. And more than any self-help book or anecdotal examples from other parents, we know that the Holy Spirit will lead us in the way in this effort.

So Happy Teaching, mothers of boys! What a journey. Oh, and my future daughter-in-law can thank me later.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Sound of Silence

I think I have pinpointed one of the more difficult things for me to deal with in the transition to staying at home. It's noise. When I was working, although I had a lot of interaction with co-workers and clients, there was a significant portion of my day that was spent in my office, often with door shut, just researching and writing. In silence. In dear, sweet, wonderful silence. I am learning that silence is a rarity around my house being a stay at home mom.

The first thing I hear every morning is the sweet voice of my now 3 year old Deacon saying, "Mama, what are we doing today?" Yes, he ultimately ends up sleeping in our bed every night. Sigh. Don't judge. Anywho, from that first question of the day, we launch into countless hours of conversation punctuated by frequent "whys" and extraordinarily loud renditions of the ABC song.

It clearly takes a special person to work with preschoolers and very young elementary kids day in and day out. I am certainly not that special person. When Miller's crying and Deacon is in her face belting out "Jesus Loves Me" (all with the best of intentions), I generally feel like my all my nerve endings are going to simultaneously explode like 4th of July fireworks.

Yet, as I write this Deacon is away at the grandparents' house for a week and Miller is asleep, leaving a house that seems just a little too quiet. For all the annoyance of having a preschooler running around talking, talking, TALKING ALL THE TIME, I sure do miss that little voice tremendously and we are only on day one. And as I sit in the silence, I am reminded how truly blessed I am to have these sweet little noisemakers at my feet everyday and just how full life is with the sound of their voices.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

At the Table Love Prevailed

If I were taking my usual maternity leave, this week would have marked my return to the office. Miller has come alive in the last few days, and I am so excited to be here to experience it.

When I was working and things were exceptionally busy, sometimes I would feel like I was living in a hotel. With the rush of the morning and the hurricane that characterized every evening, I felt at times like my house wasn't really my house, but just a hotel that we were sleeping in when the rest of life wasn't going on. We have a wonderful playroom for Deacon and he wasn't using it because we were never here. Weekends we were usually out and about trying to do the things we didn't have time for during the week. You know that feeling you get when you walk out in your backyard and you realize that you haven't seen it in months? That's what was happening, and we don't live in either of the Dakotas.

Now that I am spending much more time at home, I have begun to think more about what I want this home to be for my children. A number of years ago when I was in college, my mom mentioned to me that she'd been shopping for a new kitchen table. She'd looked and looked, but couldn't find anything to her liking. I asked her, isn't there ANYTHING that you like well enough to buy? And I was touched by her response - she said that she believed she wasn't finding anything she liked because she really didn't want to replace the table. She said there were so many memories associated with that table and she just wasn't ready to part with it. Not long after that, I was listening to the album of a singer named Riley Armstrong and heard a song called "The Table." I wish I was tech savvy enough to put an audio link here, but since I am not, here are the lyrics:

The table's where my father thanked the Lord for providing
The table's where he sat us down and told us to stop fighting
At the table there were tears, at the table there was laughter
The table's where my mother brought the fruits of her labor
We never did go hungry though there were times we were able
At the table love prevailed, at the table love was always there.

And I was always safe and warm
Sheltered from the sticks and stones
And although time passed by and we moved on
I will still pray Lord keep my family strong
Cause Life out there isn't how life was around the table.

The table's were my family shared the joys and the sorrows.
Stories of the day and the goals for tomorrow
At the table someone listened, at the table someone always cared.
And I will never forget all the memories at the table
Holidays with relatives and coffee with the neighbors
At the table we were home, at the table we were never alone.

Around the table we were one
Round the table we were fortunate to grow up
And as we asked to be excused, we never will remove it from our hearts.
I believed then (and now) that those words rang true about my childhood experience. I had countless memories, good and bad, around that table. That's where we ate as a family every night. That's where my mom and us girls decorated Christmas cookies every year. It was an eat one, ice one kind of event for me. It's where we read the paper Saturday mornings and dissected whatever ball game I had just played in. It's where my dad tried desperately to teach us the virtues of abstinence over burgers ("You see, girls, here is a jar of mayo. It's pure. It's white. But when you go sticking this knife in it after the knife's been in the ketchup and mustard, it's no longer pure and white anymore" Wha???) Anywho, that table, and everything it symbolizes, was the hub of so many experiences and events in our house growing up, good and bad.

Now that I have children of my own and actually have this precious time to spend with them, I have wondered what will be "the table" at our house. No matter what the physical location may be, my hope and my prayer is that Deacon and Miller will grow up with a multitude of memories that let them know that they are loved without condition and that they will always, always be able to come home. My favorite line from that song is "At the table love prevailed, at the table love was always there." Dear Lord, please let us create such an environment for these precious babies so that they may claim that statement as truth in their own lives. May they know that they can always come home. May they learn, as I have had to learn, to remember the best and forgive the rest. And may they be able to say that no matter what happens, in our home and our family, love prevailed and love was always there.
Here's little man and me decorating Christmas cookies this past year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Little Shopping Horrors

Ok, I shouldn't say horrors. Really, it's just a few adjustments. Yesterday I ventured out with Miller for my first post-partum and post-work clothes shopping trip. There were a couple big differences in the before and after of shopping since leaving my day job. Usually, when I go out to buy clothes, I am looking for work clothes - suits, pants, sweater sets, dress shirts, you get the picture. I probably haven't purchased a pair of jeans in about 4 years. Casual Friday was eliminated at work, and I am lucky if I make it out of a pair of gym shorts on Saturdays, so there was really no need to purchase any. Plus, I am one of those people who live in closet denial. I leave clothes that I can no longer fit into in the closet anyway as inspiration for my weight loss. Usually it only serves to provide inspiration for an argument between Matthew and I about the fact that I have too much crap in the closet. Anywho, I'd rather have 4 non-fitting pairs of jeans in my closet and not wear any of them than break down and buy the next size up. We can discuss that freakish issue another time.

So, back to shopping. Normally, I get out there and my eye goes straight to the work clothes. I tend to shop in those types of stores, too. Almost everything in my closet right now came from the Ann Taylor outlet. And I was royally peeved when Ann Taylor Loft's line became more casual - didn't they know that I NEEDED their line to be more work oriented?! Their branding shift was throwing off my whole shopping system. But shopping for me these days has changed, and as far as yesterday was concerned, I knew I needed to find me some casual clothes and fast because people are going to start noticing that I am wearing the same 3 outfits over and over again.

Of course, shopping at this point is complicated by the fact that I have a 10 week old baby. Unless you are a freak of nature or one of those people who strictly stuck to their diet while pregnant, you probably aren't back to pre-preggo weight at 10 weeks. At least I'm clinging to that thought so don't tell me if it is a delusion. I've never enjoyed shopping when I haven't been at the weight I wanted to be. It usually goes like this. I pick out a few things and head on into the dressing room. Then I proceed to try on each item, usually with increasing frustration. I start getting hot because I am getting panicked, so then I start to sweat a little and of course the clothes really don't fit then because they are sticking to me. Then I usually leave in a huff, vowing to not eat for the rest of the day. And then the day usually closes out with me eating some sort of cookies or ice cream or something because I am shopping depressed and haven't eaten since my little dressing room episode. I think I have gotten off this crazy train but some times I find myself buying a ticket for the next ride anyway.

So, at 10 weeks post-partum, I wasn't feeling so hot yesterday. Like Shakira, my hips don't lie, and they are telling me that I had a few too many burgers and fries while I was pregnant. My midsection is still covered in stretch marks and my belly button while probably never see the belly ring I worked so hard for again. And my boobs.....well, let's just say breastfeeding will be a whole other blog post. Plus, I was shopping at Old Navy and their sizes run small. Puhlease agree with me that their sizes run small. I might otherwise have a nervous breakdown.

It was hard to not let my eye be drawn to the more work-oriented clothes in each store. It really kind of hit me at that point that I was going to need to see a shift in my shopping and for once, it was nice to live in the casual clothes area of the stores for awhile. It was nice to pick out a couple of T-shirts instead of stiffly starched work shirts that, honestly, I can't really iron very well anyway. I even made out with a decent amount of clothes for the money.

Which brings me to the biggest before and after difference in shopping -the money, honey. I didn't leave a burger-flippin' salary, so we've had to adjust to a serious difference in income. Seriously. I knew this would be the case going in, but yesterday I was really put to the test. When working, I'd just go out and pretty much pick out what I wanted, for me and for Deacon. I wasn't buying really expensive clothes, but for the most part, we could handle the financial aspects of my little shopping trips. I found out yesterday that I am really going to have to pull in the reigns of my spending. It was a bit of an eye opener for me, but I think it will help me see just how very little I really need and value much more the things that I actually have.

As hard as it was to pass up a bunch of good stuff yesterday (especially for the kids), it is still so worth being at home with the kiddos. I'll take a little budget crunching any day if it means getting to spend more time with them. Now, if I can just say that as confidently as it relates to the loss of my cleaning lady.... 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Top 5 Reasons I Love My Mom

Being a mom is not for sissys. It takes a lot of work. And it means giving up a chunk of your identity. I have to say that I was a little taken aback when I was first referred to as "Deacon's Mom." I mean, I'm Jamie, right? I wasn't used to being identified by who I am in relation to my child. Becoming a mom helped me realize that my mom wasn't just that either - Jamie's Mom. She's a wife, daughter, colleague, and friend. And once I could fully appreciate that, I could understand better how very awesome she was in her role as Jamie's Mom. In honor of Mother's Day, I have created a top five list of reasons that I love my dear mother. Read on.

5. She tells me the truth.....sort of. One awesome thing about my mom is that she will tell me like it is. This quality has saved me from much trouble and countless opportunities for reputation ruin. Never one to mince words, her two cents may have caused me some heartburn, but ultimately, they saved my rear end in many ways. Unfortunately, I didn't always heed her advice. That warning that I shouldn't perm ONLY my bangs in 5th grade? Not so much. I looked like a poodle with braces and enough baby fat for a family of five. So where does the "sort of" in this reason #5 come from you ask? Well, fortunately for me, mom tells me the straight up dirty truth......but only as much as I can take. Really, can any of us, as Jack Nicholson said, handle the truth? The hard truth, all the time? Don't think so. But my mom knows right where my line is. I think sometimes she thinks I think she is telling me the truth, but really I know there's a bit of sugar-coating. Or maybe not really sugar-coating, but Splenda-coating. Yeah, it's like Diet Truth.  

4. She is Superwoman. No, I am not Linda Carter's daughter. I am, however, the daughter of one amazing lady who could totally still pull off that Superwoman outfit. Now that I am a mom myself and know how difficult it can be to balance everything in life, I can more fully appreciate just how sacrificial my mom was with her time, energy and love. She worked outside our home all day and still came home and made a real, homemade dinner. And I don't mean Hamburger Helper, people. I'm talking the real deal. She had the laundry done every day. Our house was spotless. She came to every game, concert, recital, bake sale and car wash we were ever a part of. She took us to church. When I look back now and think of all she did for us, it exhausts me. In fact, I better go prop my feet up for a bit. Be back later. 

3. She is a wonderful grandmother. I am fortunate enough to live in the same town as my mom and that means that my kids get to see her often. When I was young, I couldn't wait to get away from this place, but now that life is the way it is, I would hate to ever leave. I love that my kids feel like her home is their home. I love that they have their own private jokes, sayings, things, etc. that are just between them. I am eternally grateful that my children are experiencing a life filled with the love of my mother. I am fortunate enough to have many wonderful memories of my grandparents and it brings tears to my eyes to know that my children will have the same. My kids are not only blessed by a relationship like this with my mom, but with Matthew's mom, too. 

2. She told us about Jesus and taught us right from wrong.  Many of my childhood memories involve being at church. Maybe singing in the choir, making a macaroni noodle angel ornament or trips to camp at Blue Lake. My mom (and dad) made sure that we knew who Jesus was and what he had done for us. The Truth was written on our hearts and minds from an early age. I know that a foundation was being built at that time to shape my faith today. My mom also had a saying - do the right thing for the right reason. It is a piece of advice that has stuck with me my entire life. Whenever I face a difficult choice, I always go back to it. She taught us that it is not just enough to do the right thing, but that our hearts and motives should be in the right place, too.   

1. She IS my mom. I love my mom simply by virtue of who she is in relationship to me. I am her child. From the moment we were born, she loved my sister and I unconditionally. Because we were hers. There was nothing that we could have done or not done at that point to have made her love us more or less. She has demonstrated her unconditional love for me throughout my life, and that is my relationship to her. I love her because of who she is. Because she is my mother. In the good times and the bad times. 

I hope that all 5 of you people reading this blog will take at least one minute today to let your mom know how much you love and appreciate her, even if she wasn't and isn't a perfect person. And here's the straight up, not diet, truth: You aren't either!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Long Road to Miss Martha

Yes, that would be the one and only Miss Martha Stewart, my friends. I've always secretly wanted to be like her. Um, not the unlawful activity and jail part. I have about decided that staying home will provide me with the opportunity to hone my skills (or at lease scrape together one cognizable skill) related to domestic divahood, but recent events at the Avery household lead me to believe I've got one long road to walk.

I've never claimed to be crafty. DIY is one dirty acronym in my book. Occasionally, I try my hand at something remotely crafty, but the craftiest of the crafty people I know would probably laugh at my projects being called crafty. And with that, I will make every effort to not use the word "crafty" again in this post.

So, as I began to prepare for Mother's Day recently, I decided that I needed to get something cool for my kids to give their grandmothers, Gran and Granny. I decided that we would make stepping stones with their footprints and write Happy Mother's Day 2011 on them. Nevermind that I have ZERO experience with concrete. Probably never even seen it poured. So I bought the little kit at Walmart for $10 (that should tell you something right there) and yesterday afternoon, I broke that puppy out and set out to make some lasting memories.

Things began to unravel rather quickly. Matthew graciously held Miller, the squirming and fussy 9 week old, while Deacon asked me about 400 times in a row if he could pour the water in the concrete mix. No. No. No. No. You get the picture. So I mixed and smoothed and mixed and smoothed. Apparently I mixed and smoothed so much that stuff got too hard to even make a dent in it with a jackhammer, much less a toddler's foot (who knew?!) I am not sure if I have ever felt so defeated in my life. I had nothing for the grandmas for Mother's Day. My $10 concrete memory maker was destroyed by my incompetence. It was too late to go get something else or try to start over before we would present them with Mother's Day gifts.

Unfortunately, this whole little episode caused me to question to my very core whether I was ever going to be able to get closer to "Marthahood." Just as I was thinking this very thought, Deacon wanted to wash off his foot that got "concrety" in my failed mission. As I took him over to the hose, I sat down and began to cry. Of course, as sweet hearted as my first born is, I got no sympathy, only a "momma, get it off NOW!" I guess there is no sense crying over hardened-too-soon concrete. I am sure that is not what Miss Martha would do. 

The Forbidden Question

In our marriage, we've decided that there are several words and topics that are off the table for discussion. For example, no one is allowed to talk divorce or bring up negative things from the past before we even knew each other. So, as I am now entering into my third month as a stay-at-home mom, I have added a question to that no-no list, and that question is....So, what all did you do today? (Gasp!) This question is generally asked while shaking one's head as one looks confusedly around a messy house with messy kids yelling wildly and demanding things like gummy bears, or "yummies" as my son says. Never in my wildest imagination could I have anticipated such a seemingly benign question would ignite some serious fireworks for yours truly.

Used to be that when I got home from work, I could answer that question with precision and tangible evidence of all the things I had done that day. Took a depostion. Settled a case. Prepared for a mediation. Drafted a motion. Now...well, I am lucky if there is something other than dinner on the table to show that I have, in fact, made a contribution to our household rather than eating bonbons and watching Days of Our Lives.

The other day, Matthew sauntered into the house just as I was performing some mundane household chore while holding a crying baby. He innocently posed that dreaded question, and as we say in the South, bless his heart. He didn't even know what hit him. If you have ever stayed at home to raise children, you understand why this question is so very loaded. Laundry magically appears when you have just finished washing, drying and putting away every single piece in the laundry basket. You find toys you didn't know you had and they have to be put away again. And again. I mean, forget contemplating whether a tree really falls in the forest if no one is there to hear it. Try figuring out whether you actually did, in fact, clean a trail of pee from your son's expensive Pottery Barn rug (aghh!!) to the bathroom if the carpet ultimately ends up looking the same as it did when your spouse left for work that morning.

Perhaps my frustration really stems from what I perceive as my inadequate answer. Most days I can point to some half complete laundry and maybe a somewhat decent dinner as evidence of what I have done. Oh, and does it count that I know all the words to the theme song for Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Seriously, can I get an "amen" from all you careerwomen-turned-mommies out there? Don't leave me hanging on this one. Learning to leave behind the pats on the back from a satisfying work life only to feel discouraged when your two year old tells you that you smell bad can be daunting. In my defense, I had just been for a long run.

So, as my husband wiped the verbal beating off his face that recent evening, I began to really think about coming to terms with what my days will look like over the next few months. And if I can teach my son something new, or give my infant daughter the quality time with me that she wouldn't otherwise get if I were working, then I have accomplished something magnificent with my day. If I can teach them about Jesus and demonstrate His love, then I am providing mightly for their future. If I can look back and say that I have savored every moment with these wildly fabulous kids before they grow up and consider me no longer cool, then I maybe I can be more secure in answering the forbidden question. Maybe then it can come off the no-no list.