7 Tips for Going Through Surgery With Your Child

A couple weeks ago I took Johnny to the hospital to get new ear tubes put in his ears and to have his adenoids removed. This was the 6th surgery Johnny has had since he was born almost 4 years ago. I feel like I've become a bit of a pro at going through surgery with a kid. I'd certainly rather I were a pro at some other parenting skill, but this is what I've been given. So I thought I might as well pass on my treasure trove of knowledge to the world wide web. Hopefully this post will always be irrelevant for you. But if you ever do end up needing it, I hope it will be helpful.

Here's what I've learned.

1. Fasting is the worst. The required fasting before surgery is so hard for a little kid who can't understand why a meal might be delayed a few minutes, much less a few hours. If you can, schedule surgery for as early in the morning as possible. That way you can just wake up your child and load him or her into the car, leaving no time to even wonder where breakfast is. If that's not possible, distract, distract, distract.

When Johnny was still nursing and couldn't eat or drink before surgery, Alex would be the one on baby duty and I would hang out in a different room. No mom, no milk. Once we got to the hospital there was enough going on to distract him so that he wasn't constantly wanting to nurse.

Now that Johnny is older distracting him means putting on a favorite movie and getting out all the annoying toys. When he asks for breakfast I tell him that we are going to the doctor soon and he can have something when we got home. He seems to understand this at least a little, because he stopped asking for food.

Ear tubes, 2016
Ear tubes, 2017. The fire trucks have saved us from meltdowns twice!

2. Distract again. Once you arrive at the hospital, you may still end up waiting around quite a while before it's time for surgery, and your kid still can't eat anything. So bring lots of stuff to do! Our children's hospital has tons of toys in the waiting area of the surgery center. They also bring you more toys once you're in your pre-op room. I don't know if this is normal for children's hospitals or not, so you may want to bring some of your own toys, or coloring books. Johnny had been given a book of Minions stickers from his Grandma to bring with on this most recent surgery day.

If your surgery is inpatient, and you're going to be in the hospital for a few days, these items will also be helpful in distracting and entertaining your child while he or she recovers from surgery.

3. Bring a lovey. Johnny's lovey is Zebra. Zebra has been with Johnny for all of his surgeries. He gets to carry it with him, it stays with him during surgery, and is there when he wakes up.

Zebra with us for Johnny's 2nd surgery at 4 months old. 

At this most recent surgery they gave Johnny a tiny air mask to practice putting on Zebra, so that when it was his turn it wouldn't be as scary. Well, it was still scary for him, but he had Zebra and Mama with him for comfort.

4. It's ok to be upset. Like I mentioned before, I've become kind of a pro at taking my kid in for surgery. This time around I thought I was doing pretty good. It was just outpatient surgery, it would only last about 30 minutes total. We've definitely been through longer and scarier procedures. But when the time came to take Johnny in to the OR, I couldn't help but feel the lump in my throat, and the burning in my eyes.

It's OK to be upset when your child has surgery, big or small. It's ok to be scared when your baby goes through something that is scary for them. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of love, concern, and empathy. And it actually is a scary thing, entrusting your child's health and safety to someone else. But while you may feel sad and scared, don't despair, pray, and do remember that the doctors know what they're doing.

Johnny after his very first surgery. He was 3 days old. 

5. Waking up can be rough. It might seem like saying goodbye to your kiddo before surgery is the worst part of this ordeal, but seeing them right after they wake up can be hard too. Depending on your hospitals protocol, they may still be asleep, hooked up to machines and monitors, or have wounds or bandages, which can look scary. They may be awake, disoriented, and in some pain and upset about it, which can also be scary. Or they maybe laying in bed groggy and bleary-eyed, but comfortable.

Whatever state your child is in, the important thing is that you are with them. It will comfort them to see you and know they're not alone. You can also help advocate for your child if you think they need more pain management or anything else.

6. Bring some support for yourself. For this most recent procedure I took Johnny to the hospital by myself. I didn't really have a choice. Alex can't miss a day or rotations unless it is an emergency. My mom was staying with Trixie. My dad and other family were working. And my friends either work or are home with their own babes. I thought I would be fine to take Johnny on my own, because it was just outpatient, and we've been through this before. But by the time we were done I was completely drained.

Having another grown up around is really helpful, even if the procedure your child is going through is minor, and all the more so if it is higher risk. It makes such a difference to have an extra set of hands to help hold kids, play with kids, get water, carry stuff to and from the car, if you're pumping to wash those stupid pump parts for the millionth time, wait with you during the surgery, and be emotional support.

If your child is going to be in the hospital for a few days make sure you are not stuck in the hospital the entire time. You will want to be by your child's side every minute of their hospital stay, but it will be good for you to get out a few times. Take turns with your spouse, or have another family member come so that you can step out of the hospital for some fresh air, go for a walk, or go home and shower in your own bathroom.

It's ok to take a break. In fact, it will be good for you. In order to take good care of your child you have to take care of yourself too.

7. Keep asking until you're satisfied. As your child's parent you are their number one advocate. It is important you understand what's going on and that you are happy with the care your child is receiving. So ask questions. If there is anything you don't understand, ask about it. If you concerned about something, ask about it. If you are unhappy about the way something was done, ask, nicely, about it.

It is true that there is no such thing as a stupid question. My experience has always been that health care providers are more than happy to answer questions and talk through anything with you until you feel good about it. No question is too small or too silly when it comes to your peace of mind and your kiddos healthcare.

Sweet snuggles after surgery in January 2014, 9 months old.

Linking up with Kelly for some quick takes!

The Tale of Johnnys Ear Tubes. Or: I'm Still Learning How to be a Parent

We were thrown into some intense parenting when Johnny was born almost three years ago. The learning curve was steep and we had to run to keep up. Parenting Johnny required knowledge of things I never could have imagined I would need as a parent, like how to change a colostomy bag, or how to nurse a baby without pulling out his hearing aids, and what a left superior vena cava is. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the information being hurled at me, like parenting would never be normal, or easy. (Little did I know, parenting is always crazy, no matter your circumstances). But the Lord was requiring of me something different than what I had imagined, and I had no choice but to rise up and face it full on.

And you know what? I survived! We all did.

Facebook recently reminded me that Johnny had his (hopefully) last GI surgery two years ago. It seemed like we would never be done with that colostomy bag, but now it's a distant memory.

Then things settled down for us quite a bit.  Johnny started speech therapy, and we've had to deal with some pretty bad diaper rash.  But aside from that, parenting has been pretty "normal" these last 2 years.

I liked that things were going well and we didn't have to worry about anything, and that life was going the way I expected it to. So when Johnny stopped hearing this fall I think I didn't want to admit it.

It's easy to blame things on toddler-hood.

He's not responding to us because he's a toddler.

He throws a lot of tantrums because he's a toddler.

Speech therapy isn't going well because he's a toddler.

What was really going on though was that fluid was collecting behind his ear drums and not draining, taking his hearing loss from mild-moderate to profoundly deaf. He hasn't been hearing us. And the thing that kills me is that we have no idea how long it's been going on. We do know that in September his ear drums were working normally. And then in December they weren't.

He was referred to get ear tubes, and after the referral it took almost 6 weeks to get it done. So worst case scenario, he went four months without hearing. But now he's got his ear tubes, the ENT said she drained a ton of thick, goopy fluid, so that's good. We still have some follow up testing to do, but it's looking good.

So here's the part where I'm still learning how to be a parent.

Around the time Trixie was born I began to suspect that he wasn't hearing. But I didn't say anything or schedule any tests because no one else noticed it.  That was my first mistake. You can't wait for the experts and the professionals to tell you that something's wrong, because they don't know your kid like you do. You have to speak up for them.

Then, when we finally did figure out that he wasn't hearing us it took SO LONG to do something about it. Everyone is booked out so far. And that brings me to my second mistake. I was afraid of being impolite. Maybe it's Minnesota Nice, maybe it's German Passive-Aggressiveness. Whatever it is, I don't want to inconvenience anyone or ruffle any feathers. So when I called to schedule a consultation for the ear tubes and the ENT was booked out 3 weeks I said "ok, that's fine!" But after one week of scrambling to learn some sign language to use with Johnny and seeing how eager he was to communicate I knew it was not fine.

I was back on the phone with the scheduler, pleading for something sooner, expecting to be denied, when she said, "Are you free tomorrow at noon?"

Parents, you gotta speak up for your kids, even though it may be annoying or inconvenient for someone else. As the old adage goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

The consultation held no surprises, Johnny was declared a candidate for ear tubes. Then it was me and the scheduler again, trying to find a date when we could do the tubes and an ABR hearing test at the same time.  He needs to be sedated for both, so it makes sense to do them during the same appointment and avoid a second sedation. But because this would involve the ENT and the Audiologist, scheduling was tricky and the earliest availability was four weeks out.

Four more weeks of him not hearing.

I had this nagging feeling that maybe in this case it would be better to sedate him twice to get the ear tubes in sooner, but it took me three days to do anything about it. I called our pediatrician (aka Alex's dad) to see what he thought and he agreed with me, we should get the tubes in right away and worry about the ABR test later. I called the scheduler on more time, was annoying one more time, and she got us an appointment one week later.

So I guess this is what I'm still learning about being a parent:  You have to trust your gut and speak up for your child, because no one can advocate for them as well as you can. And don't worry about inconveniencing someone in the process, because that doesn't matter. Usually people are happy to help.  But you have to speak up first.


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what i can do

It's been a tough week.

Trixie, who in the first couple weeks of her life gave us the impression that she was an easy baby who slept at night and would take naps in the bassinet during the day, has followed in the footsteps of her brother in being a demanding baby. Although it's a different kind of demanding. Instead of needing to nurse nonstop (which was Johnny's MO, leaving me totally touched out) Trixie will not fall asleep nursing and needs to be bounced to sleep. Sometimes for a very long time. Upside: it's impossible for me to just be a lump on the couch all day long, I'm forced to get a little exercise with all that bouncing.  Downside: I have to bounce a baby to sleep multiple times a day.

She's also been waking up at 4:00 am like clock work for the last week, not fussy, not hungry, just wide awake with no intention of going to sleep again. Not cool Trixie, not cool.  Especially since by the time we get her back down it's usually only an hour until Alex's 6:30 alarm for school goes off.

But I guess that's why they invented coffee.

School is really ramping up for Alex now. Four weeks from today the semester will be over, but getting to that point is not going to be pretty. I didn't think he could spend any more time studying than he already has been, but, I was wrong. He just needs to be studying all the time, which puts me on solo parenting duty all the time.  Really the work of caring for two children is not that bad, it just gets lonely. I miss the company of grown-ups. Especially my favorite grown-up.

Then to add to the already stressful and sleep deprived state of things, Johnny got sick this week.  He actually is very sweet when he gets sick, he just likes to sit and cuddle.  But now that I have two babies and only one lap, it makes it hard to give both kiddos the snuggles they need and deserve. Also, both of my kids pooped through their pj's today. We are all (including me) on our second outfit for today. I'm pretty used to dealing with poop by now, but that.....that was a lot of poop.

So this is where I'm at right now. A lot of wiping butts and keeping people fed, the radio or group texts as my only window to the outside.  My tendency is to feel bad for myself, and think that life is not fair. I find myself becoming envious of people who get to put on make-up every morning and drop their kids off at day care and then go work with other adults. It sounds so glamorous (as the smell of dirty diapers still lingers in my nostrils.) My life is so hard. being stuck here, in my home. with my children, it's so hard.

Then I saw this link, to a buzzfeed of all things, on Facebook and it broke my heart, shattered my self centeredness, and gave me an entirely new perspective on my situation as a stay-at-home mom.

I get to spend an entire day safe in my own home, while other parents are taking their kids and fleeing their homes and everything familiar. Literally carrying their kids across countries.

I ate my lunch today with both of my kids in my lap, while other parents are scavenging the country side trying to put a meal together.

I got to lay down in my baby's bed with him last night and watch him fall asleep on his pillow, while other parents offer their laps as pillows on make shift beds of cardboard or concrete.

I can't even image.

When I was in high school and college I was so passionate about serving the under-served. But motherhood has made any kind of service, missions, or outreach almost impossible. I struggle to even remember the sufferings of those less fortunate in light of my own "problems".

Why can I not be more mindful? I know there's not a lot I can do but being mindful, being prayerful, that's something I can do. Offering up the stresses I face today as a parent for parents who are trying to care for their children in crisis situations is something I can do.  Every dirty diaper and poop explosion, I offer for them. Every toddler tantrum and sleepless night with a new born, I offer for them. Feelings of loneliness when my husband is at school or studying, I offer for them.

Jesus, be their comfort, peace and protection, and hold them in your Scared Heart, even as they hold dearly to their own children.


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7 tips for solo-parenting

Our weekend was glorious. Alex does not have a test this week and so he was able to take not one, but two evenings off of studying. He did bath time and bedtime. We watched movies and ate ice cream. It was just like the good old days (all of 5 weeks ago). (Seems like a lifetime ago.)

And now it's Monday and we are back to the class schedule and the hours of studying and after a night of almost zero sleep due to 97% humidity (heart you MN summers) and me being too stubborn to turn on the AC, I'm realizing that I need more in my solo parenting arsenal than over-priced cookies from Wholefoods.

It's only been 5 short/long weeks so I can't claim to be an expert here, check back with me in two years and I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say. But so far here is what I've found to be helpful if you find yourself doing a lot of solo parenting.

1. Keep Expectations Low

This is one I have to remind myself of daily. I love to be productive and get stuff done and see the fruit of my labor. But some days you just can't do anything. And that's ok.  The house is still standing and everyone got fed. That's all and that's ok.  Really, it's ok.

2. Get A Mother's Helper

Here's my mother's helper. My 11 year old niece.

Can I just say that this has been the most AMAZING experience. My more seasoned mom friends have told of the glories of a mother's helper but I never knew just how wonderful it was to have one until, well, I had one.

A mother's helper is someone in that magical age group where they really truly love playing with babies/toddlers.  They're not yet old enough to be home alone with them.  I don't make mine change diapers or get snacks and meals ready. But the trade off is that you don't pay them as much as your high school or college-aged sitter who can be alone with the kids and do all those things.

Every Monday afternoon my niece comes over to play with Johnny. And I can do Whatever. I. Want.

I always make a list of a few things I need to do that are really hard to do with Johnny around, like emptying the compost bucket, or changing sheets, stuff like that.  But I always allocate some time for something enjoyable, like writing a blog post, or working in the garden, or knitting. And that right there is all my hobbies.

I also try to make something good for dinner on Mondays because I have a mother's helper, and I can.

3. Get Out Of The House.

Leaving the house with small children is not easy. I know this. But staying in the house all day long with small children is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes a change of scene does wonders. Go for a walk, hang out in the back yard, go to Trader Joe's. GO SOMEWHERE! Whatever you do, just please, don't stay inside all day.

4. Plan A Play Date

I wrote a while back about my need for community.  It's still there. I need to see other human beings' faces during the day.  And it's a plus if they are friends and not the Target checkout guy. And it's another plus if they have little ones for my little one to run around with.

It is true that the play dates don't plan themselves and sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to stay home, but once I get down to planning one, I'm always glad that I did.

5. Make Time For Rest

Nap time is sacred around here.  If I don't want to do something with you between the hours of 12:00 and 2:30 please don't feel bad. It's because that is the nap time window and if we miss that window Johnny and I are both a hot mess for the rest of the day. He needs his sleep, he's only two. And I need the break. I need that quiet 60-90 minutes to recharge, either by sleeping myself, or doing something refreshing, like reading, or knitting, or just sitting and enjoying the stillness and an iced coffee.

Yeah. We like naps.

6. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For/Accept Help

Some of us stay-at-home-moms are very independent and we like to be able to manage on our own. But we aren't meant to manage on our own. We need support and we need community. When a friend asks "can I do anything?"  or "can I bring a meal over?" take them up on it! Reach out to family in the area. Grandparents for the win!

Don't forget to ask your partner for help! My husband needs to spend A LOT of time studying, but surely he is not too busy to take 45 minutes and do bedtime with Johnny so that I can catch a little break!  I have to remind myself that my husband can't read my mind and doesn't always know when I'm headed for a meltdown. I need to ask him for help before said meltdown has a chance to happened. And he is always happy to step in.

This is usually what happens when Alex takes study breaks with Johnny.

7. Make What Family Time You Have REAL Family Time

For us this is dinner time and Sunday afternoons and evenings. We eat together at the table without screens and electronic devices. We ask about each other's days, we have meaningful conversation. We try to do something fun, like walk to DQ, or go to the park even though it's kind of close to bedtime. We just enjoy each others company and enjoy being a family.


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Parenting and the Unexpected

I just want to have a plan. I want things to go according to plan. I want to know what lies ahead, and I want to be in control. But when does that ever happen? I should just get used to charging forward into the great unknown and embrace the unexpected.

Everything about our parenting journey so far has been unexpected.

We weren't expecting the two year battle with infertility we faced before conceiving Johnny. We were two young, and by all appearances, healthy people. Infertility didn't happen to people like us. But it did - it caught me totally off guard, and it taught me that you can plan all you want but ultimately everything is in the hands of The Lord.

We weren't expecting the miscarriage I suffered during those two years of trying. It was probably the most devastating experience of my life, and something I probably still haven't fully grieved over. But it did teach me to take nothing for granted, and that every soul created is worth celebrating and worth grieving over.

Then there is Johnny. Everything about him has been a surprise. Two weeks before I found out I was pregnant with him my physician referred me for a laporoscopic procedure for endometriosis. This would be an expensive procedure, it would most likely not be covered by insurance, and it wouldn't even guarantee that we would be able to conceive afterwards. Everything I thought I wanted for my life was called into question. Was I supposed to have kids? Was I supposed to be a mom? If not, then what did God want from me? I learned through this experience, more than anything else, to surrender my will, my hopes, and dreams, 100% to Jesus.

And then the positive pregnancy test.

"How?" I asked my doctor.

"Sometimes God works miracles." she said.

I had already learned not to take anything for granted and so I spent the first five or six months being excited, but trying not to hold on too tightly to that pregnancy. Once my baby was viable, I began to relax and think, this is really happening!

Then Johnny was born and all his unexpected health complications began to surface. Our introduction to parenthood was like being plunged head first into river of rapids. Miscarriage was still the most devastating thing I had every been through, but that week in the NICU with Johnny was the most difficult thing I've ever been through. I also think that that week has grown my character and shaped my life, not to mention strengthened my marriage, more than any other life event. I've learned that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Parenthood continues to throw the unexpected at us. Some are unpleasant, like the onset of toddler tantrums. But then there is a 10 hour stretch of sleep through the night that leaves us so refreshed and almost afraid to mention it for fear that it will never happen again.

We had one of those happy unexpecteds about a month ago in the form of a positive pregnancy test! We had been trying for a few months, I was getting pretty used to the negative tests and was mentally preparing myself for another long fight for a baby.  And then it happened! Maybe it was getting Johnny night-weaned.  Maybe it was going off sugar for a month. Maybe it was just when God wanted it to happen. Whatever it was, it happened. And we are thrilled!

Tiniest ultrasound picture ever. This was baby at 6 weeks.
But there's still that one thing, the unknown, the unexpected. I know all too well that things don't always go according to plan. I just want someone to guarantee that everything will be ok, but I know that's not possible. And so my joy is laced with caution. We've already been through so much, so I know that whatever happens, by the grace of God, we will persevere. 

And though I'm still new to the job, I really believe that's what parenthood is: a whole lot of unknowns and unexpecteds. And a whole lot of grace to get through it. 

100% officially accepting prayers for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby! Look for baby #2 at the beginning of October!


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Attachment Parenting and What I'd Do Differently


When I was pregnant with Johnny and when he was newly born I had this very specific vision of the attachment parenting mother I wanted to be. Her long, natural hair blowing in the wind as she bends over her back yard garden gathering greens for dinner, baby contently nursing in the sling, bare arms toned from constantly holding a child. This mom is un-phased by no sleep, looks great when not showered, always gives of herself without complaining, and is always gracious to her husband.

News flash: I am not that mom. And I am so painfully aware of that fact as I sink down on the floor next to Alex, crying big, fat, ugly tears. "If we ever have more babies, I'm going to make sure they take a pacifier."

It's not uncommon for moms to feel a little touched-out from time to time. It's happened to me for sure. But I reached a new level of touched-out during Johnny's recent bout of croup, cold, and ear infection when he would only sleep in our bed, attached to me. The very summit of this touched-out-ness happened during a nap that I couldn't sneak away from no matter how many times I tried to unlatch the baby and he bit me in his sleep and it hurt like something torturous. That's when the ugly crying happened.

Long before I was pregnant with Johnny I was aware of the parenting style known as attachment parenting. For those less familiar, this parenting philosophy is centered around the idea of forming a bond of trust with your baby by following your instincts and his cues, rather than relying on parenting fads, sleep training, or feeding schedules. Attachment parenting often manifests itself in the form of on-demand breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby wearing. Of course there's more to it than that, but those three characteristics are the easiest to spot.   

My first successful baby-wearing attempt.  Johnny was 11 days old.
We felt very strongly about practicing attachment parenting. And for the most part we have had no regrets. Following my instincts about Johnny needs and keeping him close to me when he was a newborn felt so natural and gave me a great sense of peace as I got my bearings as a mother. I do however, have only two regrets.

1. I wish we had made some effort to get him to take a bottle and pacifier. Johnny is just about 20 months old, and he has never taken a pacifier and only took a bottle a handful of times when we were in the NICU with him. When we got home we didn't keep up bottle feeding and he hasn't taken one since. Everything I had read about attachment parenting and breastfeeding discouraged bottles and pacifiers until a good breastfeeding relationship was established. I just focused on breastfeeding, then when Johnny was older and I needed him to take a bottle it was too late. He just won't take them.

2. I wish we had tried harder to get Johnny to sleep on his own sooner. It didn't bother me that he wouldn't sleep unless he was being held or lying in bed with me when he weighed only 9 lbs. I could wear him for hours without throwing out my back, and I could co-sleep with him without getting a round-house kick the face every morning.  He was a little squishy baby, in the "4th trimester"; I was everything he needed, and I liked it that way. I never imagined I would want it any other way.

Johnny is now 20 months old. He will not go to sleep for for anyone other than Alex and myself, so we can't ever go on a date the goes past bedtime. Because he never took a bottle I couldn't be away from him longer than 3 hours until he finally started eating solids at around a year old. He doesn't take a pacifier or have a lovie, so when he is sick, or upset, I'm the pacifier. Up until we got his floor bed he was still nursing during the night, so we have never done a night away from him. It takes me about 45 minutes to put him down for a nap in our bed and the stealthy acrobatics I have to do to sneak away from him when he finally falls asleep look a little something like this.

The result is that I am sleep deprived and often feel very touched out. I feel like I'm not getting the kind of break I need to really be refreshed. I become short tempered. I start to resent people who are able to leave their kids for a little get away. I wish I had released myself from the expectation that I had to be the only one meeting Johnny's needs. I wish we had laid the ground work earlier that would have made it possible for someone other than me fulfill Johnny's needs. And I wish that I hadn't beat myself up and made myself feel guilty for the few times I did let other people fulfill Johnny's needs. 

But, you live and learn, right? I don't think anyone figures out what kind of parenting works best on the first try. Johnny is finally sleeping well at night, Praise The Lord! He does really well with babysitters. I don't see any end to his nursing yet, but most days he's only nursing before bed and naps, so the touched-out feelings are becoming less and less. I know he won't be little forever and that I need to soak up his babyhood while I still can. 

But any future babies will take bottles and pacifiers!

What about you? How has your vision of parenting changed?  Have you had to rethink any philosophies or game plans? I'd love to know!


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// 28. selflessness //


To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many
 of their own needs and desires in favor of the needs of their children. 
As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop
 a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths 
taught by the Savior Himself.
-James E. Faust

I know I'm not very far into this whole parenting gig. But I'm already seeing that being a parent requires no small amount of selflessness. My tendency is to be selfish, so I know being a mother is making me a better person because it is forcing me to put someone else first, all day (and night!) long. 

I know that my parents have sacrificed a lot over the years for me and my brothers and sister. Deciding to live off of one income so my mom could stay home with us. My mom spent the last 25 years of her life homeschooling us. I can't decided if I want to home school or not. I have seen how much work goes into home schooling, and I'm not sure I'm up for it! My parents never owned new cars.  Instead they gave us piano lessons, and violin lessons, and paid for club gymnastics, and home school co-ops  I don't think they would call all of this sacrificing because they did everything with so much joy. But now that I'm an adult I see that it probably was a sacrifice. Sometimes they probably just wanted to drive a new car, instead a rusty old mini van.  Sometimes my mom probably wished she could send us off to school and have a few hours of peace and quiet by herself, but there she was, everyday for 25 years making sure we were learning the things we should be learning. 

Selflessness is a hard thing to learn, but giving freely of yourself is what the Christian life is all about. I think it's beautiful that something as ordinary as family life is just overflowing with opportunities to learn to become more like Christ. The family is the domestic church. Everything starts in the home, learning, peace, life, and faith. If we are lucky we have parents who will dedicate their lives to teaching us those things. 

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us,
 and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
- 1 John 3:16

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