From Kevin Glick: Some of you may be aware that I am blessed by the company I work for to receive three months of time off to spend with our newborn baby. As this time is coming to an end for me I would like to share a few thoughts from my experience over the last 12 weeks.
It is important to know that my experience with this much time off after our first was born was an amazing and relaxing experience. It was filled with hours of time with my wife, Lana, bonding with my first son, Paxton, relaxation, studying and the occasional golf outing. We would stay up late watching TV with the baby and then sleep in only to wake up and enjoy more time with him. All in all it was a real blessing from the Lord. Based off this past experience my expectations for my second 3-month vacation were very high. I had visions of relaxation, no stress from work, spending time with my Lana, getting things done around the house and building a special bond with Paxton, who is now three years old. I love my son and couldn’t wait to spend a whole three months with him. To paraphrase Tim Lane I had a high view of my love for my son and was certain three months of uninterrupted time would only serve to prove the strength of my love. Well God had other plans and I would soon find out my love in my own strength was not quite what I thought it was…
I think the crumbling of my 3-month “vacation” expectations began one of the first mornings when instead of sleeping in after a restless night I was awakened at first light by my “beloved” child demanding cartoons, a snack and chocolate milk. In the first few weeks I quickly learned that doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it was out of the question. I couldn’t believe how hard and stressful it was to do simple tasks while simultaneously managing a toddler. (I am currently having to type this one-handed as I hold our newborn in the other). Most of you know that I can be very clean and particular. Lana says there is a name for this, something about being OCD. Well God may be a God of order but Paxton is clearly a son of destruction.
I remember coming to the realization around week 6 that it was completely pointless to clean the house prior to bedtime. I remember one Sunday morning enjoying a large cup of coffee while peacefully playing Legos with him. It was 8:30am so my wife and I were enjoying a mutual confidence that we would have no problem getting to church on time. I don’t need to tell you that the mood quickly changed when after 5 minutes Legos no longer held my son’s attention and he decided to launch a soccer ball at my head only to miss and send my full cup of coffee spraying across the carpet.
I found that I would check my ever-present to-do list at the end of the day to find that I didn’t get to anything I had planned. At the same time I was still exhausted from the day. I would get frustrated feeling that I wasn’t accomplishing anything. A lot of my days were spent with Paxton doing school, taking him to the park, feeding him, playing with him and disciplining him. I kept feeling as if I was wasting my vacation time. As the weeks went on I didn’t exactly find love growing in my heart for him, but to my shame, annoyance and impatience. Sadly these feelings came out particularly during times of discipline. Instead of taking the time to teach and help him understand, I would punish him out of anger and annoyance.
Before I go on I want to make it clear that the last 12 weeks have not been some horrible time that I was constantly miserable. I am very grateful for the blessing it was and immensely enjoyed spending time with my family. It was very different then I expected and God revealed sin and brought conviction but I am extremely grateful for the time I was given. I am happy to say that by God’s grace he has helped me so much with love and patience toward my son and has freshly revealed his love and patience for me.
But the point of this post is to encourage men to show the appreciation, compassion, patience and love towards their wives who stay home every day and raise their children. God has given me a very unique view in the day of a life of a stay at home mom and I am amazed at the many challenges they face. I have given you a very small glimpse in a humorous way of what they face but the trials and struggles are real and difficult.
A few months ago I had been speaking to Aaron about expectations I had for my wife and he asked me the profound question “are you expecting more from your wife then God is?” This question has stayed with me and God has been changing my heart through it. After this time at home I think my expectations will change greatly… After having days where I felt that it was the grace of God that I didn’t chuck my kid out of the car I hope that I will more greatly appreciate Lana as she takes a break from cooking dinner to take the time to correct Paxton for the 10th time that day.
Men, I think it is important to take the time to:
- Make sure your wife never feels that after spending her day teaching, playing, cooking, cleaning and correcting that she has wasted her day. Instead help her sense the pleasure of God and see the glory she is bringing him every day by raising the children that are precious to him up in the way of the Lord. I am eternally grateful for my own mom and the endless hours she spent with me and I know that my two sons will experience the same blessing through Lana. I hope that I can have the same impact on another as moms have on their kids.
- Help her discipline the kids. Never take the backseat and allow mom to do all of the correcting. No parent enjoys correcting their children and to have to do it all day and still show grace toward them is simply impossible apart from God. You can greatly help them show grace to the kids by bearing the responsibility of discipline.
- See and appreciate the good first. Maybe dinner is on the table but the house is a disaster when you get home. Focus on dinner and thank her for that because I can guarantee it was not easy to fix dinner with the kids reeking havoc. Ignore the dirty house and appreciate the grace in her to have prepared dinner.
- Talk about her day. The day to day of a stay at home mom may not sound that exciting but in light of eternity it is actually more important then the work project you just got or that email from your boss.
- Make sure she gets out of the house. This one is simple, take her out or send her out. She needs time with you and to herself and for the safety of the children this is very important.
I hope this is helpful and encouraging. I am sure that I am missing so much of what stay at home moms do, need and struggle with but I hope that I have touched on some important areas. I have so much work to do in this area and will need God’s help to apply what he has taught me as I go back to work. Men, I hope you take some of these things to heart as, believe me, I speak from experience when I say staying at home with the kids is no walk in the park. Praise God for godly women who he has given the grace to do what I clearly cannot.