7/52 and learning to be a thankful stay-at-home mom

becca-garber-7:52-lena-portrait

becca-garber-7:52-gil-portrait

The 52 Project: a portrait of my children once a week & every week in 2014.

Lena: We’ve enjoyed so many beautiful fires in our hobbity fireplace this winter! Lena is usually the one who asks Elliott to build a fire in the evenings, and then they sit in front of it and read stories before he puts her to bed. The fact that she loves all of these things — a cozy fire, reading books with her daddy, comfort in such simple and beautiful traditions — gives her parents so much joy.

Gil: His sleeping habits have improved a lot over the past few months, but he still wakes up once between 4-6am to nurse, and sometimes I don’t know if he’ll go back to sleep if he nurses at 6am. This particular morning last week, he didn’t. We welcomed the sunrise on the balcony as I sipped my coffee and he unloaded all the clothespins from the basket.

(Side note: Gil also took his first steps last Thursday! We were Skyping with Elliott’s family, and I was trying to keep Gil amused and quiet. I spontaneously stood him up and then beckoned him, and he took a couple faltering steps towards me… and did it over and over! He’s also saying four words now: Mama, Dada, uh-oh, and hi. And his “bye-bye” wave melts my heart every time!)

———

As I wrote to a friend this week, I’ve been convicted these past few days about my sense of entitlement. I feel entitled to pretty much whatever I want — to travel, to complain, to sleep in, to get me-time, to spend money as I please, to expect Elliott to care for the kids the moment he walks through the door, and so on and so forth.

When I don’t get what I feel entitled to receive, I complain. I whine. I moan and groan about my life, how hard it is, how no one understands. I read mommy blogs and opinion pieces that all affirm my emotions. As I’m sure everyone has noticed, this is a really popular topic right now. My father-in-law sent us an article which does a brilliant job of explaining why young Americans in particular feel this way.

And then I read this amazing blog post which kind of felt like a bucket of cold water to my face. I SIGNED UP FOR THIS. I knew what I was getting into… or at least I had a very good idea. I decided to have kids. I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. So why am I acting like so many things are such a shock, or such a burden, or such an insult? Babies have poopy diapers, so why do I groan when I have to change another one? Children are messy, so why am I complaining about vacuuming? Kids are slow, so why am I always (always) late instead of just learning to get ready earlier? And why am I so quick to blame everyone but myself?

I told Elliott last night that right now there is no other job I want to do more than this one. Not a single job anywhere in the whole world. I want this, I chose this, I signed up for this. Not only that, but I consider myself richly blessed to be able to stay home with our young children, to write and photograph and record these early years, to be an amateur chef and preschool teacher and best friend, to create a peaceful and beautiful place to call home. I thank Elliott often (and need to thank him more) that he is the sole breadwinner for our family right now.

I’ve asked Elliott to hold me accountable to an attitude of thankfulness. It won’t be easy, but I do want this attitude of entitlement to die. I am grateful, I am so thankful, that this is my lot in life right now. So here’s to being a cheerful worker, and therefore a cheerful stay-at-home mom!

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18 Responses to 7/52 and learning to be a thankful stay-at-home mom

  1. Alica February 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    Wow! I just went and read Mrs. Gore’s post, and it was amazing! As a Mom who has survived toddler hood…being a Mom of teenagers is almost more daunting and scary, at least it is for me! And yes…I whine and complain at this stage too, when the house is a mess. Hmmm…I wonder who’s job it is to light the fire under them to help clean it up?! Thanks for a great reminder to be thankful…and to be willing to do what needs done, because it’s the most important job right now! (applies to farming too!)

    • Becca February 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Your comments always make me laugh… and make me realize I am going to be the exact same way when I have teenagers! I do think this stage is less intimidating, even though I’m in the middle of it!

  2. Lucy February 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    You are honest… And vulnerable! There’s so much wisdom in Mrs Gore’s post. Yes, you’ve signed up for a ‘package deal’…riches and sacrifice both in the package. I’ve often thought how good it is that we have such love for our children. Who else could we conceive of doing all that work for?

    • Becca February 19, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

      That’s so true! I couldn’t serve anyone like I serve them. My patients got good care when I was a nurse, but I was on the clock… totally different. There’s no clock here! Thank you for being such a good example of a wife and mother to me all these years.

  3. Esther February 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Girl! You are NOT alone in this. I have been struggling very much with the same idea but in re: to being a medical school wife. Thank the Lord for his grace!

    Anyway – not to encourage a sense of entitlement, but to encourage self-care : please do continue to make time for yourself in a way that restores you because otherwise the burn out-entitlement cycle becomes vicious. It sounds like you and Elliot have really great communication and have talked about these things in the past.

    Anyway, this is really disjointed and would probably be suited better to an e-mail – but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m trying to say here.

    • Becca February 19, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      You’re very wise, Esther. The point in all this is not to become a martyr! I do need balance and rest, and I do need to recognize my needs and ask for help and GET help. Figuring out how to do that is the trick!

      Also, I bet you would enjoy my friend Carey Beth’s most recent post about being a med school wife. She knows exactly what you’re going through! http://graceanddaisychains.blogspot.it/

  4. Rebecca February 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    So very true! Josh and I were discussing some ins and outs of life recently and I was quite pessimistic and discouraging in my responses…at some point he said, “Well, when life gives you lemons…” – to which I responded “I complain about them.” – It is striking how quickly I can forget to be grateful and to see all the good that God has for me even when times are trying and the days with little ones seem long.

  5. Rebecca February 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    P.S. Caleb said that Lena looks so old…”like she’s already three” in that picture! We miss her so!

    • Becca February 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      I know this hasn’t been the easiest year for you — or for us, missing you! Here’s hoping that next year will bring even more encouragement for you.

      Lena DOES seem already three to me. She’s not a two-year-old anymore, because “age two” seems to invoke thoughts of temper tantrums, learning to talk, and… well, still being a baby. But she’s definitely a little girl. Just now before her nap she disappeared to use the bathroom and came back with her diaper and pajamas… and she’d already turned on the noisemaker in her room. “What are you… grown up?!” I thought.

  6. Carrie February 19, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Great post – I too want to continue to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness!

    • Becca February 20, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      All righty, then we mama bloggers are in it together!

  7. Jen February 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    Brilliant :) it’s so true, thank you for this reminder.

    • Becca February 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      You’re so welcome!

  8. Abi February 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Hooray for Gil’s milestones! It’s such fun to be able to see him and Lena grow up week by week. Lucie’s new favorite word is “baby,” which is appropriate given her big sis status! :) Thank you for so openly sharing the thoughts that all of us young mothers have. Thanks to you, my mantra the other day was “I signed up for this, I signed up for this, I signed up for this” as I cleaned up the dog’s accident on the kitchen floor and then worried about Lucie crawling around in the cleaning chemical… It really did help me to get through a task that I would otherwise have been very resentful about, since I married into the realm of pet ownership. So much of life is “mind over matter”- when you know how to think positively about a situation, it can make all the difference in the world!

    • Becca February 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      I’ve used this thinking with several things lately as well! Glad it’s helping you as much as me! ;-)

  9. Katie @ The Surly Housewife February 26, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Thank you thank you thank you for linking up Mrs Gore’s article. I was totally something I needed to read. I am thankful for a husband that I can text in the middle of the day with a “Gah everything is going horrible. I’m going crazy. Blah blah blah.” He either keeps me in check or is sympathetic depending on the situation. But at the end of the day, he knows I am so grateful and thankful for him and all he does for us. I am so glad to have a supportive partner. Great post and I appreciate the honesty!!

    • Becca February 27, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      It sounds like your hubby really is supportive, and that’s such a gift! I know a more cheerful attitude will help me be more fun to be around, and maybe more of a reward for my supportive husband!

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