A Reflection on the Fact that Women are my Heroes.

A Reflection on the Fact that Women are my Heroes.

Over the course of the past couple days I have seen a number of things on my Facebook feed referencing the realities of what it is like to be a woman. More specifically, the contrast of being a working mother versus a stay-at-home mother. Or a single woman versus a married woman with children. And for some reason the question of who has it worse seems to arise. I am not sure why this question seems to be asked so frequently. I don’t really even want to hypothesize too much. It could be a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side” or just simply being envious of a life that isn’t yours, not being content with your own life.

Personally, I am guilty of this in my own life. No, I’m not saying I have it worse than a woman, or that I would rather be a woman. I’m saying that after getting married, or especially after having my son I would look to my single friends with envy. They had so much FREEDOM. They could practically do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. I would think, Man…that would be nice. 

But how selfish is that!? As I think those things, and covet the single life, I forget what a blessing it is to be married. So many of those single people (but not all) would also LOVE to be married. But they are single. They would gladly give up some of that freedom to have a life partner.

As I go out to the plaza in my neighborhood with my son (I’m a stay-at-home dad), or out to eat, I envy those who stroll past with just their wife. No strollers. No whining or crying kid. Just them. And I catch myself thinking, Wow! That would be SO nice. To just be here with my wife. Not having to worry about taking care of a baby. So much freedom!

But how selfish is that!? As I think those things, and covet the childless life, I forget what a blessing it is to have children. So many couples (but not all) would LOVE to have children. But they for some reason don’t have any or can’t have any. They would gladly give up some of that freedom to have a child.

I’m not really sure how I got on that tangent. What I originally started writing to say is that women, both single and married, both in-the-work-force moms and stay-at-home moms, are my heroes.

Women historically have had it much worse than men. Inequality, injustice, and sexism is just a reality for them. Some fight it more than others, yet no matter what seem to be criticized for what they believe. Women are incredibly under the microscope at all moments, being challenged and pigeon-holed and stereotyped for nearly every decision they make or are a part of. They put up with a lot.

I believe that women have an incredible amount of pressure put on them to live into or up to a certain expectation given to them by the cultures they are a part of. This includes their own national culture, their socio-economic culture, their racial culture, and their religious and family culture. There are pressures and expectations on every side, and it seems to me that no matter what decision a woman makes she often feels guilty for the life she lives, or perhaps has to explain herself to those with different expectations. If she isn’t married, why not? If she is married without kids, when are the kids coming? If she works while having children, how could she do that? If she stays home, why would she give up a promising career? Women seem to live in a constant “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” state. No wonder depression numbers are so considerably higher for women than men!

Women have it bad enough to be challenged by society in general, and by men, but when the comparisons and contrasts of “Who has it worse?” or “Who has it easier?” enter the picture…it’s just unnecessary.

My greatest influences, role models, and mentors have all been women. Women are the ones who have inspired me the most. (And this is especially true of my own mother and my wife.)

Women don’t need any more pressure. They’ve been beaten down enough! I want to support and thank the women that I come in contact with. I hope you do the same.

Let’s love better. Let’s love well. 

Women,

Thank you. You are my heroes.


Here are some of the comments that I am referencing from Facebook. I will leave their names anonymous.

Woman one: A wonderful mother with three children who works to help provide for her family. She wrote this as a response to a blog post by Matt Walsh criticizing how we treat stay-at-home moms.

“I have got to stop reading these things. The myth that working moms enjoy manicures and coffee breaks and conversations is pretty short-sided, too. I work to be a partner with my husband to house, cloth and feed our kids. Thanks to our government and our society, my hard-working husband’s income doesn’t cut it. When a family pays HUNDREDS of dollars a month for health insurance…HUNDREDS of dollars for public education, etc. it doesn’t go nearly far enough. We are SO grateful for the jobs that pay the bills, but honestly, if I have to hear one more time how noble it is that women put their whole lives into raising their babies, I think I’ll go postal. Guess what? ALL moms are moms 24/7/365. I don’t sip lattes at work. I WORK and pay our bills, and arrange teacher conferences, and meal plan and make grocery lists and field texts from my kids about school and their lives all while I eat pb&j from my lunchbox in 30 minutes. I suck up a tear every time I leave home in the dark and come home to crabby, tired kids who gave their best fun and hugs to my (wonderful) sister. ALL parents deserve respect, not just the stay-at-home ones. Ugh! Now, excuse me while I remove the paper jam from the printer because it ate the print job I was waiting on while reading this. Livin’ the dream, huh?”

Woman Two: A wonderful single woman who inspires me with her compassion and her passion.

“Today my spiritual director said (unprompted) she believes single women work harder than married women with children – we have no one to help with daily tasks and we’re driven by the belief that since we aren’t supporting a husband or children we must work/serve harder to prove our usefulness and value to society. I have NEVER heard a married woman say anything other than how lucky I am to be single, how I get to do anything I want, how much “me” time I have, how hard marriage is, how Jesus is my husband, how common it is for women to have children at 50 if I just have more faith…ugh. I don’t know if it’s harder but it is indeed hard and I am so very thankful to have a married woman affirm this instead of shaming me about not being grateful for my circumstances!”

Both of these comments received many comments and will probably continue to have more. But it seems the overwhelming response is that all women’s lives have their challenges. There have been a number of other posts that I have seen on Facebook referencing this topic. But it seems that most agree that we shouldn’t have to compare and contrast and try to decide who has it worse and who has it better.

Let’s be kind to one another. Support one another. And love well.

And The World Keeps on Spinning

Knowing you are going to have a baby for nine and a half months in many ways seems like just the right amount of time. I don’t know about other parents out there, but when I first saw that pregnancy test come back as positive my heart stopped for a moment. It was like experiencing the greatest joy I had ever felt, and yet I also felt the greatest sense of fear I had ever felt. This was for real. We were going to have a baby!

Nine and a half months just seems like the right amount of time. I might have written about that before in another post, but it really is true. It’s like you’re warming up to the realities of what it means to be a parent. At five months there is no way I would have been ready to be a dad. But I was a lot more ready than I was at three months. As time moved on, the more ready I felt.

For me, one of the first thoughts I had when I found out Sarah was pregnant was a line in the movie “Lost in Translation” where Bill Murray is talking with Scarlett Johansson about what it is like to have a kid.

Bob: It gets a whole lot more complicated when you have kids.
Charlotte: It’s scary.
Bob: The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born.
Charlotte: Nobody ever tells you that.
Bob: Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return.

But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.

Charlotte: That’s nice.

That one line stood out to me. “Life, as you know it…is gone. Never to return.”

But as the life I knew has left Sarah and me, I am adjusting to what is our new life. Of course everyone tells us to enjoy the time when he is this small as much as we can. “They just grow up so fast. It’s in a blink of an eye!”

I understand. Micah is so cute. He is so small. He is so precious. And Sarah and I are doing the best we can to enjoy this time of the three of our lives.

The thing is, even though our lives have dramatically changed the world around us has not. Everything has continued to go on as normal. Classes have continued meeting. Meetings have continued to take place. But you’d like to think that when your first baby is born that everyone around you will slow down for you, too. You’d like to think that you’re professors will give you grace when it comes to the expectations for their classes. But that really is only minimally true. People understand that I can’t come to class when I’m at the hospital. That makes sense. It’s after that time that is the issue. They don’t seem understand that it’s really hard to get any reading or homework done when you have friends and family visiting and when you have a baby crying every couple hours and needing to be fed.

I understand. Life don’t stop for nobody.

And in reality, how could I expect it to? In an ideal world, what would I have my professors do? Give me all semester to turn in a paper or read a book? I don’t know. But why aren’t there any standards set up for students who have babies or people who lose loved ones? I feel like it is a somewhat normal occurrence  People like me who feel like their world has slowed down, when in reality the world just keeps on spinning at the same speed it has been since the beginning of time.

On Being a Dad

On Being a Dad

“Are you getting any sleep?”

That is the question that seemingly every person I come in contact with asks. What do you think? We have a newborn at home who eats every two hours.

No, no. I get it. I probably look like a walking zombie. It’s fine. I am just always amazed how everyone always asks the same questions at different stages of life. It’s quite remarkable, really. When I was engaged, people always asked when the date of marriage was. Then the second question they asked is where we were going for our honeymoon. When I was married and in a different location from my wife for about a year everyone said, “Oh! That must be SO hard! How do you do it?”

People are all the same. They ask all the same questions.

In other news, Micah is here. I am a dad. And it is amazing.

It’s interesting. I had months to ponder and think about what he was going to look like. Will he have hair? (Yes). Will he have my fingers? (Yes). Will he have chubby cheeks and thighs? (YES!). All the initial questions are answered in just a few seconds after birth.

(Side note: I really didn’t know whether or not I’d be interested in seeing anything of the labor. You know, like the blood and stuff. In my mind I thought everything was going to look like a civil war battlefield. Moans and screams, blood and organs. I thought it would be a bustling place of chaos with nurses rushing around awaiting the birth of Micah. In reality, however, everything was quite calm. The midwife came in with her Starbucks and was quite relaxed and nonchalant. “Let’s have this baby!” I held one of Sarah’s legs and felt like I was an intimate part of the delivery process. I wasn’t grossed out. I wasn’t overwhelmed. It just felt natural. I felt like this is the way things should be. Sarah was doing a phenomenal job, and Micah came in under 25 minutes.)

The weird thing, though, is even though I had a newborn son – a beautiful and precious baby – and I could see that he had my fingers and toes, he had Sarah’s hair, he had a cute little nose, I really didn’t know who this little guy was. I mean, I didn’t know what his personality was like. Does he have a personality? Who is he? All I know is that he is mine. He is my son. I love him to death.

One thing I realize is how blessed Sarah and I are. Sarah had a perfect pregnancy. Literally no issues at all. She had the normal morning sickness at first, had a great second trimester, and was a bit uncomfortable towards the end. She worked full-time throughout her entire pregnancy. (Sarah is amazing and a tremendously hard worker). We also had the perfect labor and delivery. Her water broke at 2:30 am (I had been asleep for like 15 minutes…) and she started keeping track of her contractions that followed right afterwards. She relaxed, took a shower, ate a bunch of food, and laid down for a while before we called the midwife and told her that Micah was coming. We stayed and relaxed at home (I couldn’t sleep, so I just played Madden 13 until it was time to go…) until about 7:15am. We got to the hospital at 7:45am and got a room soon thereafter.

Sarah progressed pretty quickly. Her midwife commented on how much Sarah was smiling and was in a good mood. But if you know Sarah, you know that she’s wanted this baby for like, well, ever. This was the greatest day of Sarah’s life. She was finally going to have a baby! I will say, I was pretty pumped as well.

Sarah is a trooper, though. She was going to take a relaxing bath at the hospital to help her through her contractions, but by the time the tub had been filled up with the appropriate temperature of water she was 8cm dilated. If she was going to get an epidural, now was the time before it would be too late. Although Sarah had been doing tremendously through her contractions (she really hadn’t made much more than a wimper) she didn’t know how bad they might get, so she played it safe and got the epidural. (The midwife said she could have done it without, judging by how well she had been doing). Sarah got the epidural, which was somewhat of a process in and of itself. The midwife came and said she was going to grab some lunch and when she came back it’d be time to have the baby.

The midwife was right. By the time she came back, Sarah was ready to have the baby. The midwife took off her jewelry, and put on some gloves and it was off to the races. But everything was so calm. Everything felt very natural. The midwife carried on a nice casual conversation in between contractions. During the contractions she was overflowing with positive compliments of Sarah and her ability to push Micah into this world. It was quite amazing. Sarah was clearly so happy. I couldn’t believe how well she was doing. Afterwards I told her how proud of her I was. It was so cool to be with her.

The midwife told me to tell Sarah what I saw. “I see LOTS of hair!” I told her. Then, within minutes Micah made his entrance into this world. He gurgled a bit. But soon came the cry that I had longed to hear for months and months. I cut the umbilical cord and then they quickly gave Micah over to Sarah to hold. And those are probably some of the most precious moments I have ever experienced in my life. To see Sarah’s face as she looked at Micah for the first time. I took pictures, and I’ll get around to posting them sometime soon, but I was tearing up for sure. (I am now…)

But everything went well. Basically, it went perfectly well. He weighed in at 7 lb 10 oz and had no issues. His heart was beating strong, his lungs sounded great. There he was. His first diaper on, his feet stamped for record, and then he was given to me.

Amazing. Others have explained this feeling as floating through the hospital room. I understood what they meant. It’s pretty surreal. It’s like you don’t know what to feel. It’s an emotion that doesn’t have a name. It’s an emotion that in 26 years of life I’d never felt before.

I’m a dad.

So yes, I have friends who have had miscarriages. I have friends that have lost their newborns. Horribly sad stories. Sarah and I do not take all this for granted. We are extremely thankful for this wonderful child and that all has gone so smoothly up to this point.

And Micah is a wonderful child. He sleeps well. He’s incredibly cute. He learned to breast feed very well, and he eats a lot. He only cries when he needs to eat or has gas. He is wonderful. And we are very thankful.

On the way home from the hospital I asked Sarah to pray for Micah and to thank God for everything. There is just so much to be thankful for. It took basically the whole 35 minute trip back to our apartment to thank God for all the blessings he’s given us with Micah. We have a wonderful support network. We have wonderful family members and friends who love us and are nearly as excited as we are for Micah.

Micah is now 11 days old. Sarah and I are still learning who this little guy is. We do know that he loves to sleep on his stomach. And he seems to really only like to sleep when someone is holding him. This can be hard in the middle of the night because you’re not supposed to sleep with the baby. Sarah has always talked about not sleeping with baby in the bed. But he just wouldn’t sleep on his own. Sarah decided to get a baby bed that goes in our bed so that we could comfort him when he starts to cry while we are in bed. It has it’s own little mattress and it has little side rails to keep pillows and things from coming into his area and suffocating or smothering him.

He also only likes sleeping on his stomach. This is like the number one thing they tell you at the hospital and at doctor visits. “Make sure that he sleeps on his back as opposed to on his stomach.” That was no problem for Sarah. I’ve heard nothing but the importance of such things from Sarah for years because she did a report on sleeping positions and SIDS when she was in college.

But Micah won’t sleep on his back. Now what?

Sarah was a bit distraught about this at first. But after asking on Facebook, we realized that we are not the first parents to have this issue arise. Nearly everyone’s response has been, “Oh yeah! We had the same thing. We just let him/her sleep on her stomach.”

So college papers and other convictions have been thrown out the window, and we just cautiously allow Micah to sleep on his stomach in his co-sleeper bed in our bed. So much for education.

I had been warned about little boys who when changing their diaper like to turn on the “fountain of youth.” (That’s what my friends and I have dubbed these occurrences). It has happened to me twice so far (but it hasn’t happened to Sarah. What gives, Micah?) When it happened I totally wasn’t prepared for it.

“WHOAH, WHOAH, WHOOOOAAAH!” I yelled the first time it happened.

Sarah was shocked, “What!? What happened?!”

“He just peed… EVERYWHERE!”

Now I must admit, it was pretty impressive how far that little fire hose of his shot. My guess was a good six or so feet.

Of course some of it got on me. But it wasn’t the first time he got me. The day before he had a loose fitting diaper that allowed for a steady stream to get me all over (somehow) both sides of my pants. I had been christened by my son. I felt I was officially a dad. Welcome to the club, so to speak.

Micah was born into a family in which his father happens to love NFL football. More specifically, Cowboys football. And Peyton Manning football. The Sunday before Micah was born, Peyton Manning had made his return to the NFL with the Denver Broncos. He played like the Peyton of old, picking apart the Steeler defense. It was great to watch. So much fun.

Micah was born on a Monday afternoon. That meant that he got to watch Monday Night Football with me. Not only that, Peyton Manning was playing against the Atlanta Falcons. Yay! I explained who Peyton Manning was and told him that he was the best quarterback ever to play the game. Then, in the first quarter Peyton Manning threw three picks in like a matter of five minutes. It was pretty embarrassing. I told Micah, “Micah, now that is NOT good football. I’m sorry.”

But the thing about Micah being born this season is that there is always a Thursday night game, too. So we never go more than 72 hours without NFL. It’s been pretty great. But he usually goes to bed early with mom, so he doesn’t get to see the whole thing anyway. So he missed the most ridiculous call in NFL history on Monday night. At least I’ll be able to say when they show that clip forever and ever from now until eternity that he was just one week old when that happened. 🙂

Well, being a parent is pretty cool. It’s a privilege. It carries with it a lot of responsibility. But I’m loving it thus far. Looking forward to the journey, for sure. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about in the future. But as for now, I’ll just enjoy the moments when he is this small. I probably should be editing some of his pictures.

Are you still in there, Micah???

My wife looks very pregnant. Not in a bad way. Just the way you look when you’re 40 weeks pregnant. And that’s where she’s at. Today is the official due date of little Micah. However, he really shows no signs of being interested in being a part of this world. Although I might understand the sentiment, Sarah and I feel that he should come now. He’s been in there long enough.

Honestly, I was a little worried that he’d come yesterday, on September 11th. I know it was 11 years ago, but you know…who wants their birthday to be on an anniversary of a horrible tragedy? It was also weird to think that the 20 year anniversary would be his 9th birthday. But he did not come. So, I guess there’s that.

Hard to believe it’s been 40 weeks though. I’ve been on call for the potential text or call from Sarah telling me she’s in labor for about three weeks now. Every text I would get in week 37 I would think, “OH! Sarah’s in labor!”

Nope. Just a text from Sarah asking what I wanted for dinner.

So I’ve been on call so long now, that when I get a text I anticipate it to be something unimportant, as usual. As we get closer and closer to when Micah will be born I’m starting to lose the sense of imminancy that I felt for these past few weeks. Is this really going to happen or not? Is Sarah really pregnant? Is Micah really still in there?

Sarah assures me that he is definitely in there.

I don’t know. I’ve never really experienced something like this before. I mean, nothing in my life right now is different than what it has been like for really the past eight or so years. Perhaps more specifically, in the last two years of being married. Nothing really has been this life altering. But the birth of my first born child will be. There’s really no way around it. My life will be completely different. Today I can lounge about, read a book for a while, check Facebook, play Madden, go to class, hang out downtown. It doesn’t matter. But once the baby comes, that is no longer true. Everything will really revolve around him.

People’s reactions and questions are funny. Over and over people keep asking me when they see me around, “You a dad yet?” or “Has the baby come yet?” — but if they see me, that most likely means that my baby has not come. But I understand. Who knows how committed I am to coming to class? And who knows if the baby came last Friday or something? I can forgive people for that.

What is really strange is when people ask Sarah, “Has the baby come?!” Or, “No baby yet?!” or “Are you still pregnant?”

Either Sarah and I have the most incredibly unobservant friends in the world, or people just don’t know how to respond when they see Sarah is still ridiculously pregnant.

After a woman asked Sarah the other day, “Are you still pregnant!?” Sarah acted offended and said, “Uhh! NO!!”

The woman only could respond with a blank stare.

Sarah is beginning to think that she’s eventually just going to have to be induced. That’s not too uncommon for 1st time pregnancies. It’s unfortunate for a number of reasons, but mostly because Sarah really wants Micah to come ASAP. However, even if Sarah gets induced, it may very well happen very soon. So, at the very least, within the next week and a half we will be seeing Micah in this world.

Supposedly. I’m beginning to have a hard time believing it.

Nevertheless, COME ON, MICAH!

Pushed Out from the Nest

I am currently in the process of moving from my parents house to an apartment that I will be sharing with my two best friends. It is a transition period where there are a lot of phone calls being made, papers being filled out, bills to be paid, and boxes to be filled.  It is a time where I am being pushed out from the nest. I no longer have my parents to help front bills, or to make dinner. I no longer will turn on a fan or take a hot shower without thinking of the money that it costs to do so. Things are changing, it’s time to grow up.

As I am doing this, I am realizing the great number of things I supposedly need in my new apartment. Furniture, and towels, and silverware, and dishes, and a desk, and bookshelves, etc. There is much that is needed, and all these things cost a lot of money. Money is something that a recent college graduate does not have. But in today’s world the things that we seem to think we need are really not needs at all. There are only three things in this life that we actually need: Food, water, and clothing. That’s it. All the rest are luxuries.

I plan to be a missionary to Japan. Japan is considered the most expensive mission field on earth. The more things that I think I need in Japan, the longer it will take to raise the right amount of support to go there. Now of course there are things which are needs in our day and time out of practicality sake. Things such as cell phones, a microwave, an apartment, a car, and a heater. These things are practically necessary today. But wherever I can cut costs by cutting my “needs,” I should do it. I don’t need an iPhone. I don’t need a bed. I don’t need a TV. I don’t need I couch. There are lots of things which are wants, and luxuries which I just don’t need. These are things which will save me money, and allow me to be frugal as much as possible with my money. I need to make sure to give my share to God, and to spend my limited amount of money as wisely as possible.

God does hold us accountable for how we use our money. What a person’s philosophy of money is and how we spend it tells quite a lot about them. We are told that Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). We are also to be content with food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8).

So I am living with the challenge of honoring God with my money. Will I spend it on myself to make myself more comfortable? The things I buy I won’t get to bring with me when I die. Or will I invest my money into the church and God’s kingdom? Let us give God our money because it’s not our money anyway.