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Courage to be Authentic: “A Letter from a Working Mother to a Stay-At-Home Mother, and vice versa”

By Dr Carolyn Ee, the healthy doctor, posted on February 8, 2014

Dear Stay-At-Home Mum

Some people have been questioning what you do at home all day. I know what you do. I know because I’m a mum and for a while I did it too. 

I know you do unpaid work, often thankless work, which starts the moment you wake up, and doesn’t even end when you go to sleep. I know you work weekends and nights, with no discernible end to your day or working week. I know the rewards are joyous but few.

I know that you seldom have a hot cup of coffee or tea. I know that your attention is always divided, often diverted from a moment to moment basis, and you cannot ever count on completing a task in the one go. I know that you probably don’t get any down time when you’re on your own at home, unless you have a single child who still naps in the daytime.

I know the challenges you deal with daily, usually with no peer support or backup. The toddler tantrums, the toilet training accidents, the food battles, the food on the floor, the crayons on the wall, the sibling rivalry, the baby that never seems to stop crying. I know how the work seems incessant, like an endless cycle – you shop for food, prepare it, cook it, attempt to feed it to your children, clean it off the floor, wash the dishes, and repeat in three hours.

I know you fantasise about having an hour to yourself to eat your lunch in peace, or about having an afternoon nap. I know you sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it, and feel envious of your friends who are having coffee breaks at work. I know that sometimes when your partner gets home in the evening after his work is done, he wants to put his feet up exactly when you need a break the most, and this can bring you to tears. 

I know that you are misunderstood by so many who do not appreciate the difficulties of caring for small children on your own, all day, and refer to you as joining the “latte set”. They imagine you spend your day sipping coffee while your children play quietly. I know you miss your financial independence. I know you feel amused and sometimes annoyed when others proclaim “TGIF!” because to you every day is the same – there is no Friday, no break from your job. I know that many people do not understand that you work – you simply work an unpaid job at home.

SAHM, I don’t know how you do it. I admire your infinite patience, your ability to face each day cheerfully and bring joy into your children’s lives even when they wear you down. I admire your dedication to being a constant presence in your children’s lives even if it isn’t always easy. I admire the way you work without expecting any reward – no promotions, no fame, no salary. I know you want your children to feel important and loved, and SAHM, you do this the best.

I just wanted you to know that I understand. We’re both mothers. And I know.

Love from the trenches

Working Mum


Dear Working Mum

I know you sometimes get judged by others for leaving your children in the care of others to work. Some people imply that you don’t love your children as much as us SAHMs do, and that it’s best for children to be at home with their mothers.

How can they say this about you? I know you love your children just as much as any other mother. I know that going back to work was no easy decision. You weighed up the pros and cons, long before you conceived a baby. It has always been one of the most important decisions of your life. You thought about this even while you were in high school and were choosing subjects for Grade 11.

I see you everywhere. You are the doctor I take my children to when they are sick. You’re my child’s allergist, the one who diagnosed her peanut allergy. You’re the physiotherapist who treated my husband’s back. You’re the accountant who does our tax returns. My son’s primary school teacher. The director of our childcare centre. My daughter’s gymnastics teacher. The real estate agent who sold our house. What sort of world would it be if you hadn’t been there for us? If you had succumbed to the pressures of those who insisted a mother’s place had to be in the home?

I know you weigh up every job to see if it will suit your family. I know you wake up an hour before everyone else does, just so you can get some exercise done or some quiet time. I know that you have attended meetings after being up all night with your toddler. I know that when you come home in the evening, your “second shift” begins. The nay-sayers don’t understand that you run a household AND hold a job. You come home, cook dinner, bath your children and read them stories. You tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. You pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, the laundry, the dishes, just like every other mother does.

I know that you often feel guilty about having any more time away from your children so you sacrifice your leisure time. I know you can’t bring yourself to take a “day off” for yourself when your children are at daycare. I know you accept that work is your “time off” for now. I know that when you are at work you don’t waste a single minute. I know you eat your lunch at your desk, you don’t go out for coffee, and you show complete dedication and concentration to your job. You chose to be there after all. You want to be there.

I know how discerning you are about who is looking after your children, and that many long daycare centres offer excellent care. I know you only leave your children in a place where you confident they are loved and well looked after. I know that you spend many days caring for your children at home when they are sick, and sacrifice your pay. I know that you secretly enjoy these days, and revel in being able to be with your children.

I know that sometimes you feel guilty about not being there all the time. But WM, I know this. You are setting a wonderful example to your children. You are showing them that a woman can have a career, contribute in some way outside the home, and still be a loving mother. You are showing your daughters that they can do anything they want to do in life. You are displaying strength, endurance, dedication, tenacity, and you do it with so much joy and love.

I just wanted you to know I understand. Because we’re both mothers.

Love from the trenches

Stay-At-Home Mum




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September 19th Meeting Recap

We had a great turnout at our second meeting and were thrilled to see lots of new faces!

With Linda’s “Be You Bravely” devotional, we had an opportunity to share some personal stories of something in our life that took courage to do and to think about something that will take courage to do in the future.  While more “intense” than our usual meetings, this type of sharing and reflection really helps us get to know one another.

The devotional was based on Joshua 1:6-9 “Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go.  This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it.  For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.  I hereby command you:  Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Linda highlighted a few points in the passage:  (1)  When we get away from the Lord, there will be negative consequences; (2) Success in the eyes of the Lord is different from success in the eyes of the world; (3) It is important to meditate on God’s word, i.e. keep in touch with God, praying continuously; (4)  We can be strong and courageous knowing that the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.

Thanks, Linda! We always enjoy your devotionals.

As an additional way to get to know our MOPS sisters, we are trying something new this year: Secret Prayer Sisters.  If you decide to participate, you will have the opportunity to share prayer requests with your Prayer Sister and at certain times bring a “gift”–no cost or low cost items (e.g. a book you’ve read, something you’ve made, a note of encouragement, etc.).  More details to follow!  If you missed the meeting and would like to participate, Vanessa G. can hook you up at the next meeting.

Jessica (Special Events Coordinator) provided a calendar of upcoming MOPS special events. Copies of the flyer will be available on the welcome table at our next meeting.  The dates are also listed below.  Details on times and locations will be provided at upcoming meetings.


October 31  Trick or Treat (nursing home)

November 14 Fondue dinner

December 12  Ornament exchange


January 9 MOPS and POPS game night

January 23 OFLC Women’s Banquet

February 27  Bunko night

March 27  Chick Flick movie night

April 24  Canvas & Cocktails

Hope to see you all at our next meeting on October 3!



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Be you, Bravely: “The Mom Stays in the Picture”

The Mom Stays in the Picture

By Allison Tate, Huffington Post, 10/02/2012

Last weekend, my family traveled to attend my oldest niece’s Sweet Sixteen party. My brother and sister-in-law planned this party for many months and intended it to be a big surprise, and it included a photo booth for the guests.

I showed up to the party a bit late and, as usual, slightly askew from trying to dress myself and all my little people for such a special night out. I’m still carrying a fair amount of baby weight and wearing a nursing bra, and I don’t fit into my cute clothes. I felt awkward and tired and rumpled.

I was leaning my aching back against the bar, my now 5-month-old baby sleeping in a carrier on my chest (despite the pounding bass and dulcet tones of LMFAO blasting through the room) when my 5-year-old son ran up to me.

“Come take pictures with me, Mommy,” he yelled over the music, “in the photo booth!”

I hesitated. I avoid photographic evidence of my existence these days. To be honest, I avoid even mirrors. When I see myself in pictures, it makes me wince. I know I am far from alone; I know that many of my friends also avoid the camera.

It seems logical. We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe (ducking). The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think.

But we really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?

Too much of a mama’s life goes undocumented and unseen. People, including my children, don’t see the way I make sure my kids’ favorite stuffed animals are on their beds at night. They don’t know how I walk the grocery store aisles looking for treats that will thrill them for a special day. They don’t know that I saved their side-snap, paper-thin baby shirts from the hospital where they were born or their little hospital bracelets in keepsake boxes high on the top shelves of their closets. They don’t see me tossing and turning in bed wondering if I am doing an okay job as a mother, if they are okay in their schools, where we should take them for a vacation, what we should do for their birthdays. I’m up long past the news on Christmas Eve wrapping presents and eating cookies and milk, and I spend hours hunting the Internet and the local Targets for specially-requested Halloween costumes and birthday presents. They don’t see any of that.

Someday, I want them to see me, documented, sitting right there beside them: me, the woman who gave birth to them, whom they can thank for their ample thighs and their pretty hair; me, the woman who nursed them all for the first years of their lives, enduring porn star-sized boobs and leaking through her shirts for months on end; me, who ran around gathering snacks to be the week’s parent reader or planning the class Valentine’s Day party; me, who cried when I dropped them off at preschool, breathed in the smell of their post-bath hair when I read them bedtime stories, and defied speeding laws when I had to rush them to the pediatric ER in the middle of the night for fill-in-the-blank (ear infections, croup, rotavirus).

I’m everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won’t be here — and I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now — but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.

When I look at pictures of my own mother, I don’t look at cellulite or hair debacles. I just see her — her kind eyes, her open-mouthed, joyful smile, her familiar clothes. That’s the mother I remember. My mother’s body is the vessel that carries all the memories of my childhood. I always loved that her stomach was soft, her skin freckled, her fingers long. I didn’t care that she didn’t look like a model. She was my mama.

So when all is said and done, if I can’t do it for myself, I want to do it for my kids. I want to be in the picture, to give them that visual memory of me. I want them to see how much I am here, how my body looks wrapped around them in a hug, how loved they are.

I will save the little printed page with four squares of pictures on it and the words “Morgan’s Sweet Sixteen” scrawled across the top with the date. There I am, hair not quite coiffed, make-up minimal, face fuller than I would like — one hand holding a sleeping baby’s head, and the other wrapped around my sweet littlest guy, who could not care less what I look like.




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First Meeting Recap

For those of you who weren’t able to make our first meeting, I thought I would post a brief recap of Pastor Abel’s devotional message. He spoke on “Be You Bravely”, starting with how we can “Bravely” overcome our fears of failure, criticism and the unknown by remembering that Jesus is in control of our destiny (future) and that we can give our children to Him. He talked about “You” from the perspective of where we find our identity and how words of affirmation from the world come and go and will never be enough for us. We need to find our identity in Christ–something that can never be taken away.  And lastly, he spoke about the “Be” in “Be You Bravely”.  More than human BE-ings, we seem to be human DO-ings.  As moms, we all feel the pressures of long to-do lists, hectic schedules, and busy lives. Instead of getting stuck in the ‘work-so-you-can-rest’ cycle, we need to abide in Christ and find time to spend with God first in order to be more fruitful.

It was a great message to kick off our MOPS year!

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Be You, Bravely! (Beginning Friday!)

We are so very excited to invite you to join the Our Father Lutheran Church MOPS group for 2014-2015 year. We meet on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month in the Community Room (lower level of the church).  Our first meeting is this Friday, September 5th, with check-in and childcare drop off beginning at 9:15 AM.

It seems that we spend all of our time doing two things, living and waiting to live.  We are often held back by things that require us to find the courage to act … conversations we need to have, risks that we have been avoiding, and taking the steps toward goals we want to accomplish.  This year’s theme, “Be You, Bravely” will nudge us out of our ruts and routines so that we can focus on making choices that will inspire us to step into healthy risk and become more our true selves.  And, we’ll do this all in the context of a community where we will cheer each other on.

Some of our planned topics for this year include: Courage to be Strong, Courage to be Intentional, Courage to be Significant, Courage to be Grateful, and Courage to be Passionate.  We also have monthly creative projects during our meetings, as well as special events that include Mom’s Night Out gatherings and fun outings with our kids!

The link to our pamphlet is:  http://www.ourfatherlutheran.net/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=L1bUea%2fWpH4%3d&tabid=256.

The registration fee is $90 per semester or $15 per meeting. Remember, your first meeting is free and we have tuition assistance for those who need it.

You can register online from this website or at our first meeting. Please plan on joining us, and feel free to pass this e-mail to any mom friends you may have. We can’t wait to see you!!

Melissa Trujillo and Jeri Hucke, 2014-2015 Co-Coordinators

Melissa: mtrujillo313@gmail.com 719-271-0847

Jeri:  jerihucke@gmail.com 602-577-4575