Thursday, March 28, 2013

From the Husband of a Stay at Home Mom

I love my wife. I am immensely impressed with her. She has chosen to undertake what is, in my opinion, the most difficult job in the world: She stays at home with our young children. She is wonderful at her job and is accomplishing amazing things, but she doesn’t often see things that way. So I wrote the below words for her, from what I hope can be her perspective.

I am a stay-at-home mother of young children who is prone to perfectionism. I know. Could there be anything more ironic?

Every day I continue to try to do far too much, and all of it perfectly, even when reason and history tell me it’s not possible. This mode of behavior sounds dangerous, but it’s actually okay. Even if it is absolutely impossible to do, I can set out to accomplish everything, and strive to do it all perfectly. There is nothing wrong with lofty goals.

“Life” is going to happen, though. There’s just no way around it.

“Life” especially happens for perfectionist stay-at-home mothers of small children. Life brings, relentlessly, it seems, its daily (sometimes hourly) failures and shortcomings to people who dare to stay at home with children and try to do too much. When it does – when I fail spectacularly at my goal of doing everything perfectly – rather than allow those shortcomings to make me feel unsuccessful as a mother and as the woman in charge of my home, I am trying to maintain this perspective instead:

“I can be at peace even when it feels like the whole day was shot to hell and I accomplished nothing.”

I have come to recognize that I deserve this peace-amidst-the-turmoil because deep down I know that I am succeeding at the most important, the most lasting, aspects of my job.

Through my efforts…

  • My children feel loved, confident, and safe.
  • My children have opportunities to learn and grow and fail and succeed.
  • My children know boundaries and understand when they deserve discipline.
  • My children treat others with kindness and respect.
  • My children know how much I love their Daddy.
  • My children have growing testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
  • My children are fed, clean, warm, and well rested.

I am trying to recognize that when I am accomplishing those things, no matter what else I haven’t done and no matter what else I think I’ve failed at during the day, I am still succeeding overall at the work of raising and nurturing children. Most of the other things truly don’t matter anyway. That fact is probably the most important point of all, and I know I need to remember it, so I’m going to say it again: The rest doesn’t matter. Therefore, I am trying to “let it go” when the non-lasting things don’t work out. The truly important stuff (the successes I mentioned above) is happening naturally in my family because of my natural influence as a mother. The rest I can still strive for, but if I fall short I am still at peace because I am always proud of the successes that truly matter.

No matter how much didn’t get done, no matter the state of the house or the husband or the homework at the end of the day, I know deep down that I am succeeding in the work I have chosen to do, the work that I love.

I am going to let that knowledge, the knowledge that I am succeeding in the ways that truly matter, while sometimes falling short in other ways, bring me peace. I deserve it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Okay, it's not a word. I was going to name this post "Being True to Yourself" but can you think of a more boring title? Plus, making up words is part of who I am, so I'm just being genuine.

Recently I read a short, but very fun novel about vampires. Now, before you get excited, this post has nothing to do with vampires, or bloodsucking, or murdering, or even garlic. I’m writing this post on a Sunday and since every religion that I know of forbids bloodsucking on the Sabbath, we won't even discuss it here. If you're here for bloodsucking, go buy the book.

Aaaaaanyway, in the book there’s this great character named Melissa, and she is a person who is true to herself. While describing Melissa, the author says some pretty cool things about what that actually means. I think he hits the nail on the proverbial head:

“The main thing is that she was smart. Too smart to play the games most people spend their whole lives on: petty insecurities and jealousies, tiny dreams and safe ambition, masks that hide the true, vulnerable, frightened self; selfish love, and frustration when expectations don’t come through.

Without such games to take up her time, all that remained was herself, and she offered no excuses or apologies for exploring, discovering, and enjoying her true nature.

To some, that made her a rebel.

But she was not a rebel. Rebels define themselves by what they’re not. Melissa never did this. She never felt the need to break free of family ties to prove her independence. She never felt compelled to prove her individuality to anyone the way so many people do.

She dressed her own way, it’s true, but not to prove anything. She simply dressed as she felt comfortable. She read what she wanted, thought what she wanted, said what she wanted. For the most part, did what she wanted, but she never did it to “show” anybody.

She was different. She was unique. She was alive. She was true to herself.”

(Taken from “This: A Vampire Cure for Forever,” by Shaun Roundy)

We all care, in some degree or another, what others think of us. And that preoccupation with how others view us, however mild or extreme, shapes at least some part of our behavior. If a concern for what others think of us is affecting and altering our behavior, that means we’re being fake. Altering our behavior so that others think more positively of us means we’re not being true to ourselves.

So, how do we overcome our fakery and be more true to ourselves, possessing genuine and natural behavior all the time, no matter what people think? Easy:

Stop being so self-centered.

Seriously, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

When you’re worried about what others think of you, stop it, and consider this: For the most part, others don’t think of you. People are far too concerned with their own lives to be preoccupied with yours.

Stop it with your obsessing over what you’re wearing, how you look, how you sound, what others think of your comments, your friends, your interests, your appearance, your weaknesses. Most of us aren’t even close to being so fascinating that others are scrutinizing us to that level, picking up on oddities, weaknesses, weirdness, or non-perfection. Sure, plenty of people like us and enjoy being around us, but let’s not flatter ourselves; even our best friends aren’t THAT into us.

Most people don’t ever notice that thing that we hope nobody notices. And when they occasionally do, they dismiss it and forget about it almost instantly. Think about the last time you were in a social setting and someone said or did something strange. How long did you pause to really consider the moment so that you could remember it, or gossip about it later? Ah Hah! You can’t even remember an incident! Because it’s true, we simply don’t care. We dismiss that sort of thing immediately because it’s just not that captivating. It’s not a big deal to us.

So stop being stressed out about what others think. Stop being frightened that others might perceive something strange about you.

There’s something strange about everybody, right? Who cares!

Basically, if you can…

  1. Be your genuine self, AND
  2. Genuinely enjoy being your genuine self

…others will enjoy you too.

They’ll thoroughly enjoy you for the person you really are. Because the natural and authentic and strange you, the one who doesn’t care what others think, is the very best you of all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

College Football Needs a Playoff

I am a college football fan, therefore I hate the BCS. The NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision is the only division in college football, and the only major sport in the world that doesn't use some type of post-season playoff to determine a champion. The current system that the BCS uses to choose an FBS champion MUST GO, and here are two reasons why:

1. It isn't fair.
2. It isn't fair.

Two ways that the BCS isn't fair and how they can be combated:

First, the fact that only 6 conferences get automatic bids to the high-paying BCS games. To combat this, I root for any and all non-BCS schools to have stellar, if not perfect seasons. They need to schedule tough non-conference games and they must beat everybody in their path. They need to be ranked high enough every single year to "bust" the BCS, and preferably ranked higher than a few of the BCS conference champs. At the least, one non-BCS team (preferably more) must do this every year, in order to prove that the 6 BCS conferences aren't the only leagues that should get automatic access to the huge BCS payouts.

Second, and more importantly, the fact that only 2 teams have the chance to play for a national title. This is unfair to the other 118 teams in the FBS. In any given season, if you aren't from one of the BCS conferences and/or you don't start the season somewhere near the top 10 and/or end up with a perfect or near-perfect season, it is pretty much a mathematical impossibility for you to get into the title game. So, at the beginning of any season, I'd say you can pick 10-15 teams that realistically will have a chance to play for the title. Ten teams that have a chance to play for the championship, but there are 120 teams in the FBS. And everybody knows that's the case! One hundred and ten teams eliminated from national title consideration before the season starts. Yah, that's fair. Only one thing can possibly combat this -- multiple teams finishing the season with realistic claims that they should have a chance to play for the title. As many undefeated teams as possible, as many one-loss teams as possible. The larger the log-jam at the top, the more teams that cry conspiracy, the better. And clearly, the more BCS teams instead of non-BCS teams that have that realistic claim, the better, since their voices will be heard by more school presidents, conference commissioners, and coaches.

So I hope for 2 distinctly different things every year. A BCS Buster and a bunch of undefeated BCS teams. Eventually I think we'll see a playoff, but in my opinion it will only be lots of seasons of the latter that will eventually bring that change.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shouldn't This Go Without Saying?

Please, for the love of all that is holy in this world, TAKE A SHOWER EVERY DAY, preferably in the morning.

Most of the normal, self-aware individuals in society understand that this rule of showering every day reflects, very simply, a basic aspect of personal hygiene: If you haven’t showered in a given day, you stink. Period.

Those who don’t understand this basic concept, those who refuse to shower every day, are apparently oblivious to the stench that emanates from their body.

There are a couple of important facts that you disgusting non-conformists should keep in mind. First, whether you believe it or not, your skin sweats and secretes YUCKY STUFF while you sleep. Dry sweat and bacteria build up on your skin until, voila!, a foul odor results.

Second, for the most part, you can’t smell your own body odor. Don’t think that you’re safe just because you don’t smell anything. And don’t think that there’s nothing wrong just because nobody mentions your odor to you. People can be very inconveniently polite sometimes.

Trust the millions of us who know and who are serious about not offending people with icky odors: You really do stink if you haven't showered today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Goodbye 5-0 Club!

Years ago when my wife and I were first married I started a club: The 5-0 Club. (Pronounced “five oh” like in ”Hawaii Five-0.”) As a money-conscious cheapo moocher, who was determined to buy a house as soon as possible, I was aware of every little penny our family was spending. So I identified the 5 most common monthly expenses in our society that I think are unnecessary, especially while saving for something, or living on a tight budget -- and became determined to avoid them.

They are, in my opinion: Call Waiting, Caller ID, Cable Television, Internet, and Cell Phone.

We knew that we’d be living in apartments for the first few years of our marriage, while saving obsessively for a down payment on a house. Therefore I started this club and invited all my friends and family to join. There was but one membership requirement: Do not incur any of the 5 most common unnecessary monthly expenses. Stated another way, you could incur ZERO of them. Five common expenses – zero incurred. Five-0. Get it? If you were paying for any of those monthly services, you were ineligible. Period.

Not surprisingly, it turned out to be a very exclusive club. The most members we ever had at one time was 4 – a couple friends of ours and a sibling, though none of them remained members for very long. But think about it, none of those monthly services are really necessary if you’re living on a tight budget or trying to save for something. You can get free Internet if you must have it, albeit dialup and limited hours per month -- but still it’s Internet. You can get free over-the-air TV with an antenna. You certainly don’t need Caller ID or Call Waiting on your home phone – those are silly spoiled luxuries that push us further toward the Me-First Anti-Social On-Demand mentality anyway. As for cell phones, heaven knows (and our parents proved) we don’t need them. Yes, you can make an argument that you want your wife to have one in case of emergencies, but in that case, go buy a pay-per-minute plan and a cheap phone and use it only for emergencies and you’re still eligible for the club.

My wife and I saw the 5-0 Club membership wax and wane (mostly wane) since its inception in 2001, but we remained members throughout the years. We have been the sole members for about 2 years now. Well, no longer. Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to ol’ 5-0.

Yes, this coming Monday we are officially getting turned on. No – get your mind out of the gutter – I don’t mean like that, I mean in the High Speed Internet sense. It is time. The free 10-hours-per-month dialup plan that we’ve been getting from NetZero for 7 years has finally and officially worn out its welcome in our house. We are moving to, and, gasp, actually going to be paying for, DSL.

Farewell fond 5-0, I shed a tear for you. As the only club that I ever started that actually meant something I will miss you greatly. (Actually I shouldn’t forget the many No-Girls-Allowed clubs founded by my brothers and I, that were wildly successful in our youth - just ask my sisters - but I won't delve into them here.) Farewell 5-0, I’m finally falling prey to the I-want-it-now mentality – it’s just so dang inviting!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why I'll never own a pet

My wife and I have been discussing pets. I know, why would I waste my time like that? Why even waste the precious breath in my lungs discussing the repulsive idea of having a non-human creature roaming the halls of our home.

The reason is this: we have kids. Two of them and one on the way. And we know that it is an inevitability that they will one day ask if they can have a pet.

ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY NOT, and here are some reasons why:

  • Animals stink. None of them wear deodorant. Not a single one as far as I can tell.
  • Animals poop. Anywhere they gosh dang please. And you, the owner of the filthy animal, have to clean up that poop because most animals I know don't poop in the toilet.
  • Animals are hairy and that hair is routinely shed. On your new furniture.
  • Even the best trained animals have been known to bite, kick, peck, knock over, and otherwise injure widdle kids.
  • Animals are attracted to human crotches. Not just that, but they pursue that attraction in public. Animals have no shame.
  • Animals run around out-of-control, which means you have to run around out-of-control to catch them and put them back where they belong.
  • Unless you're comfortable with their offensive disgusting odor, you have to clean them and their dwelling place regularly.

I could go on all day, but basically, it all adds up to YUCKY and NOT FOR ME. Plus, I know that if we were to get a pet for one of our kids, they would do the work to take care of it for about a week. Then, since nobody was taking care of it, I would be the one who would have to shoot it or flush it down the toilet. Not that I mind doing that, but eventually the kids would find out and then I'm a murderer.
So let's just be okay with the no pets rule, mkay?

Friday, June 29, 2007

My Initial $0.02

My first post on my very own blog. . . What to say, what to say?

I think I'll start by saying how grateful I am to be married to a woman as talented and dedicated as my amazing wife. I'm pretty much one of the luckiest guys in the world, and here's why:

When it comes to getting married, I GOT EXACTLY WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED.

An intelligent, conservative, fun-loving person, who also happens to be GORGEOUS, she is also a considerate, kind, thoughtful woman who is undyingly dedicated to our children.

That's what I always dreamed of! A woman who was:

1. Beautiful and smart. (But not smarter than me, obviously. She got a 29 on her ACT, I got a 30. I probably would've still married her had she got a 30, but not a 31.)

2. Righteous and patient. (Patient especially with someone like me. I should probably consider myself lucky that we got married after only 8 months of knowing each other. Had it gone much longer, and had she learned what an immature doofus I can often be, she surely would've reconsidered.)

3. Fun of her own accord and inclined to laugh at my antics. (Speaking of having fun and laughing, she also happens to be extremely witty, something I am definitely NOT. It's fun to watch her when she's "thinking on her feet" -- I'm so jealous of that gift.)

4. Dedicated to mothering our children and to loving me. (I'll take this opportunity right now to claim the credit for giving her the idea to write a book about being a stay-at-home mom. She is extremely devoted to our girls, loves spending her days with them, and loves teaching them new things and giving them new experiences. As tough a job as it is to be a full-time mother and homemaker, she still loves it and finds great satisfaction in it. And she's gonna publish a book about it, maybe in 5 or 10 years.)

That's her in a nutshell. Thank heavens for her. She's everything I want and everything I'm not.