The Mom Salute

Miles and Tess have been recovering from an awful stomach virus that resulted in a cancelled birthday party for a very sad six year old and a ridiculous amount of laundry. There was also the incident on Sunday when two children threw up during the Sacrament (communion) at church, but that probably deserves its own post. We kept thinking Tess was better and then she'd throw up again at seemingly random times about once every 24 hours. Poor baby and poor vomit cleaner-uppers (that would be Byron and I).

This morning after I dropped Lila and Cal off at school we were heading to well-check visits for Miles and Mae when Tess had another unexpected relapse and threw up all over her carseat while we were driving on the freeway about 10 minutes away from the pediatrician's office. This was the third carseat barfing incident since Friday. Not to be deterred, I pressed on, stripped Tess in the parking garage, and headed in with her in a diaper. Once we got there, I noticed Mae also had a diaper blow-out on the way. Halsey bodily functions were clearly running rampant today. The appointment went as smoothly as could be expected when you're confined to a tiny room with a very tired infant, an almost two year old who keeps saying "I cared" (scared) in adorable voice, and a six year old who is absolutely terrified of shots and knows he's about to be immunized. 

When the appointment was over, we headed to the pharmacy in our pediatrician's medical building since I had bribed an incredibly upset Miles with the promise of a treat. After an agonizingly long time waiting for him to decide what he wanted, I finally left the building pushing a diapered Tess in the stroller while she held a single serving size of Oreos and a bag of Ruffles cheddar and sour cream chips, holding a similarly naked Mae in one arm, and with Miles trailing behind eating sour skittles. We crossed the street to the parking garage and were about to cross paths with another mom and her two kids when she and I inadvertently made eye contact. I quickly looked away, wishing I could explain to her why my two babies were naked and my kids were eating a ridiculous amount of junk food. I immediately imagined how she was judging me. I'm not sure why I dared to look back her way as she got closer, but I'm so glad I did because as I caught her eye she unexpectedly flashed me a beautiful smile that relayed more understanding, sympathy, and compassion that I knew was possible from a single expression. Then with that knowing smile still glowing, she paused to stand still for a moment, brought her hand quickly to her forehead, moved it straight out in a sharp salute, and then continued on her way out of the parking garage. The mom salute!!! No words were spoken and they didn't need to be. The salute said it all, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Why isn't this something they teach you at the hospital when you give birth to your first child? Every mom needs to know the value of this simple act. When you see another mom struggling with a whiny, wriggling toddler in the grocery store; when you see her cleaning out pooped underwear in a public restroom; when you hear the lamblike piercing cry of a newborn that refuses to be soothed in the aisles of Target; when you see a stressed out mother at the park trying to break up a sibling fight for what is most likely the 876th time that day, I have one recommendation: the mom salute. Try it; I guarantee it will make her day. It certainly made mine.


A peek inside my schizophrenic mind (and the dangers of ingratitude and envy)

I am a minimalist.  I must get rid of anything I own that I don't absolutely love or that doesn't add value to my everyday life.  It feels so so good to have less stuff to take care of, organize, and clean.  I'm so glad I purged all that junk; I don't even miss it.  I'm going to move on the bookshelves next, there's a ton I can rid of in there.  It's almost like I get a high from getting rid of things.  I'm so glad I came across those minimalist blogs...

I've never seen her wear the same thing twice.  She always looks so cute. I really need more clothes, I have nothing to wear.  At least a new outfit for church would be nice.  Oh look, she got new living room pillows... again.  Her house looks so cheery now!  I need new pillows, I'm sick of mine. It would be better to save that money for the kids' college funds though.


I'm so proud of myself for being a mom who doesn't worry all the time about what my kids look like.  I'm happy to let them pick their own clothes, even if it's far from what I would choose.  Let kids be kids and give them at least a bit of control over aspects of their life that really don't matter.  It's so much less stressful not having any battles over what they wear...  

Her kids always look so cute!  There's no way she's buying all their clothes on the sale racks at Target and Old Navy.  Three different colors of saltwater sandals for the toddler and two pairs of freshly picked moccasins for the baby?  Isn't that a bit of overkill?  And they're so expensive!  I wish my kids had cuter clothes and would let me dress them. I do really love those moccasins.  Her whole family always looks so put together.


Being a stay at home mom is the best.  I'm so blessed.  And exhausted.  And often lonely and sometimes even bored, even though I rarely have a minute to spare.  How is it possible to be bored when you're busy caring for four children all day? This is all I've ever wanted to do; what God made me for.  I'm so lucky that Byron's job allows us to live on one income so I can stay home.  I wouldn't trade this time with the kids for anything.  Life feels so right when I'm playing with them in the backyard or when I'm doing laundry in the garage while they ride bikes up and down the street. I keep saying this pregnancy will probably be my last, but secretly I think I'd like at least one more...

She runs a design business from home?  How does she possibly find time for that with three young kids at home?  She must never sleep or have time with her husband.  I wish I had something I could do on the side.  It would be nice to have a creative outlet and I wouldn't complain about a bit of extra spending money either.  She appears to shower, put on makeup, AND dress adorable every day too... how does that woman do it?  It would be nice not to be embarrassed about my shabby appearance half the time. I wonder if there's some kind of business I could do on the side.


I'm so blessed to live in San Diego, one of the most desirable cities in the country, in a comfortable home, near wonderful neighbors. So many people probably wish they could live this kind of dream life. I love our kitchen remodel and wouldn't change a thing about it.  Thank you Lord for all you've given me.  There sure are a lot of other home projects we have left to tackle though...

Custom built-ins in every room? Wow, that is a really gorgeous house.  Do real people actually live in homes like this?  I wonder how they can afford it; I don't think he makes that much money. They probably went into a lot of debt.  I wish we could live out in the country somewhere with a huge yard and lots of outdoor space for the kids to explore and run free. That would be a dream life.  But Byron's 15 minute commute is also pretty dreamy, and we'd have to sacrifice that.  Well, we'll just have to find a new job that pays as well, still has amazing work life balance, and that he likes as much, but in another, much cheaper rural area, near family, where we can find a beautiful historic home on several gorgeous acres and then find the time to fully restore and update it on a budget.  Yes, that's what would make me happy.


Brutally honest, I know.  Luckily most of the time my thoughts drift towards the more positive, uplifting thoughts described above, along with many other happy reflections on my life.  I know with certainty that I am among the most blessed people on this planet.  To come from a family who loves me unconditionally, raised me to know and serve God; to be married to a man whose loyalty and love I can be absolutely sure of, who is an outstanding father to our children; to have easily conceived and birthed four healthy, beautiful children who bring joy into my life every day and easily forgive my motherly shortcomings; to live in a prosperous, peaceful, and free country, where I can feel secure in my family's safety from day to day; to have been raised in an upper middle class economic situation where money, let alone food or shelter, was never a worry, and to continue to enjoy that status in my married life thus far.

I do not exaggerate when I say that I could go on and on listing all of the good things in my life.  I've told people before that I've lived a charmed life because it's true, and it has nothing to do with anything I've done.  I've just been extremely blessed.  I must have an easier, more carefree life than 99% of the people who have lived on this planet.

Why, then, is it so easy to compare myself to those around me (or in some cases not actually around me, but in front of my eyes on the internet or social media) who have what I might view as "more" than me when there are so many more people who have less than I do?  It's a question I ask myself often and the lesson I keep teaching myself over and over again is simple: Stop. Be happy for the beautiful things, families, and careers other people have.  Rejoice with and for them. Stop and think of all you love in your life.  There is SO much I love about being me.  And another thing: Stop looking at the internet if you start to get those kinds of feelings.  They aren't from God and they're actually leading you away from God.  Dwelling on envy will without a doubt lead to a very unhappy life.

I do recognize that comparison isn't always a bad thing.  Noticing another mother's patience and striving to emulate that virtue is undoubtedly a worthwhile endeavor.  If there's a quality another individual or family has that I admire, I don't hesitate to recognize it and implement a plan to incorporate it into my life.  These virtues or qualities aren't material goods or physical attributes and obtaining them doesn't require changing anything in my actual life circumstances.  These are the things I should be looking to change and improve in my life rather than my wardrobe or living room pillows.

So this is my public admission that envy is something that I struggle with from time to time.  In my heart I know that it's ridiculous to be jealous of what anyone else has considering how very much I have myself, but envy still manages to rear its head in my life once in a while.   And when it does I'm going to keep choosing to recognize it for what it is and push those envious feelings to the side and instead focus on gratitude for what I have.  And even more than that, I'll use those negative feelings as a reminder to pray and search my heart for ways I can be a blessing to so many in the world who have less than me and even those who appear to have more, because I know without a doubt they have unfulfilled needs too.

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
Proverbs 14:30

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up."
1 Corinthians 13:4