Monday, August 9, 2010

One for you, Three for me

My experience at the temple two weeks ago can be classified as a life-changing event. Unfortunately, changes to perspective and desire and attitude don't always translate directly to changes in habit and character. While I am now fully committed to being a successful stay-at-home mom, I do need a little help with the successful part. One source of insight and inspiration I have found thus far is reading.

Without knowingly intending to, I discovered that I was simultaneously reading at least one book pertaining to each individual in my family, with a few extra for myself. I thought I'd share.

For Megan

The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau

and For Jane

The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers, by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau

I generally do not read a lot of parenting books. I often find them a little rigid and strict to one supposedly fool-proof program--not always a lot of wiggle room for differing children and/or situations. I like the Baby Whisperer because her theories and suggestions are more middle-of-the-road. She advocates parenting based on the needs and disposition of the child, rather than what is convenient or most desirable for the parent. I like that I can pick up and read a section regarding one particular issue I'm facing without having to read the entire book to really understand what she's talking about. I also find that I have no problem, with these books, completely disregarding some portion or another while still remaining faithful to some other part. That works for me.

By the way, if you are at all familiar with these books you may be interested to know that Jane is a Textbook/Spirited toddler and Megan is a Touchy baby.

For Christopher

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver

Besides actual parenting, I believe that being a stay-at-home mom also includes being the best possible wife. This book is based on Dr. John Gottman's years of research in his "Love Lab," where he studied the interactions of married couples. He claims that by watching 15 minutes or less of one argument, he can predict a couple's chances of divorce with 96% accuracy.

I'm not so much interested in that, though. His basic idea for a successful marriage centers around two main principles: One, happy couples treat each other like best friends. Two, happy couples have healthy and productive ways of dealing with conflict. This book gives suggestions and activities to help build skills in both those areas. Besides being useful, some of the activities are also quite entertaining.

For Myself

In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Thank you, Erin, for the recommendation. This book is all about attitude. I have enjoyed reading it both for the validation of being a stay-at-home mom in the eyes of the world and the attitude check for myself in what I need to do to make it work for me and my family. Good book.

Spiritual Roots of Human Relations, by Steven R. Covey

Of course, family is an eternal matter. One of my biggest struggles thus far has been giving up my control and personal wishes in favor of what is best for my children and our family. This book--don't be fooled by what I think is an ugly cover--is a collection of articles that can be read consecutively or independently. The idea is that the root of all problems, be it in the family, the community, or the world, are spiritual and thus the solutions are spiritual, too. Each article addresses a different type of problem that can be solved by studying for and correcting the spiritual root. I have only read a handful of the articles so far, but I already feel that I have made significant jumps in my spiritual strength and understanding in those few areas.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Yes, zombies. No, this book does not have any advice on being a better wife or mother. In all of my reading to better myself--which requires a certain amount of humility and pride-swallowing--sometimes I just have to set it all aside and enjoy a little vanquishing of the undead. I don't want to let myself get overwhelmed, nor try to solve all my problems at once. Reading can be a good source of advice and it can also be a good escape from reality.

By the way, if you are a Pride and Prejudice fan with a healthy sense of humor, and you don't mind a little blood and guts, I do recommend this book. I find it hilarious.

* * * * *
In the working mom versus stay-at-home mom debate, I consider myself to have some experience and a little bit of perspective on both sides. I can give a full list of pros and cons to each argument. My personal standing, however, is no longer on the fence between the two.

I have come to realize that my own desire for working stemmed more from a worldly standpoint. I enjoyed the praise and recognition of colleagues, success in the work, and the financial and material benefits of the paycheck. Yes, it was necessary for me to work while Chris finished school in order to support our family (and not postpone having children), but I believe that my working now, when Chris is able to fully support us, would be purely selfish--"seeking after the pleasures of man."

Through the plan of salvation, we know that our purpose in this life is to be tested and tried in order to prove our worthiness to return to our Heavenly Father. I want that for my children as much as, if not more than, for myself. Does it not stand to reason then that I would want to do everything in my power to make sure they have all the knowledge and tools they need to get there?

I do not deny that there were great benefits to being a teacher, beyond the paycheck. I was part of many a child's success and growth, a blessing that cannot be given a dollar value. And I know that circumstances may dictate a mother's working outside the home. I, however, am glad that I can be home to raise my children in the gospel without merely hoping they'll make it with guidance from me coming only in the evenings and on weekends.

I'm not there yet. I still have a long way to go in building up my own skills and spiritual strength. But I'm at least headed down the right path.


Molly said...

Good for you Laura. Isn't it interesting to know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, but the roads to the end result are sometimes different? But sometimes the same too. Good for you, I think realizing a problem or need isn't necessarily the hard part, its the action and trying part that is hard - but also that makes the difference. I think that sometimes with things like this, the hole in our heart for want or need of something will eventually be filled, and we'll one day realize that it was filling up all along we just didn't know it.

Kelly A. said...

Go Laura! I loved reading your thoughts on this! Truth be known, I STILL miss teaching!! BUT the thought of not being with my kids all the time now makes me want to tear up. I have grown quite attached to them :) And while I, of course, still have my days I know that FOR ME (I realize, it is not for everyone, and for some not even possible) being home is where I can do the most good. Maybe one day I will find myself back in a classroom setting at an elementary school. But if not, I will ALWAYS cherish the memories I made and the things I learned while teaching :)

Erin said...

I'm glad you liked it! I will have to check out some of the others you recommended. Do you have a goodreads account?

I have felt all of the things you described about being at home with my kids. It's like I go on a roller coaster of emotions - sometimes I just love it and have a good perspective. Sometimes I just wonder why I even bother trying, and I sort of crave that feeling you get when you work and someone notices how awesome you are. It's a struggle to keep the right attitude sometimes. I think you learn as you go how to be happy where you are. But good for us for at least trying and being started in the right direction. I like what Molly said.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I like this post Laura. I've always loved being at home with my kids, but there isn't a week that goes by when I don't miss teaching too. Sometimes you have a wonderful week or day or even month with the kids and wonder how you could do any thing else. And other times you have to search for your reason for being at home with them.

I got your e-mail and I'll reply soon. :) I'm excited!

Kacey said...

I've been thinking a lot about working while raising kids. (Don't ask me why since I'm not even married yet...haha) But a I love reading all the stuff you blog about. It gives me more to think about. :)

Liz, Karl and Madison said...

Are you really reading THAT many books? Man... I can't even imagine. I guess I'm just not much of a reader :) I'm glad you are feeling better about things though.