70 Things I Gave up for my Son

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day who has no desire for children. This concept is completely lost on me so when I asked why, she replied, “I just want to travel and not have to worry about another person. I have things I want to do. A child just hinders you.” Boy, isn’t that the truth!! Let me tell you about all I have given up since having my son, just to really drive her point home: 


  1. Having the option to stop during a road trip for coffee without rousing a monster who has finally fallen asleep in the backseat.
  2. Wearing jewelry.
  3. Taking a shower at a normal and relaxed pace.
  4. Eating my food while it is still hot.
  5. Keeping my television at a decent volume because no one is babbling or screaming.
  6. Sleeping.
  7. An organized house.
  8. Experiencing Christmas without the worry of how much wrapping paper someone will consume.
  9. Having the freedom to leave my house between the hours of noon and 2 o’clock because no one is napping.
  10. Going for a run in cold weather.
  11. Turning my radio up to ear-splitting decibels in the car.  
  12. Drinking profuse amounts of caffeine.
  13. Enjoying a thin, pre-baby body.
  14. Various pairs of my skinny jeans.
  15. Wearing high heels without regretting it.
  16. Leaning my chair all the way back to catch some shut eye during a road trip without bumping into a car seat.
  17. Keeping the dog food out at all times.
  18. Sleeping in.
  19. Making a quick grocery run.
  20. Cleaning the house quickly, thoroughly, and without interruption.
  21. Being able to vacuum without someone chasing me around.
  22. Smudge-free, lick-free windows.
  23. Reading a book without little hands reaching up in attempt to rip the pages.
  24. Having nice things.
  25. Having clean clothes.
  26. Completing my morning routine in its entirety.
  27. Eating a snack without trying to hide it.
  28. Sitting down for more than 45 seconds at a time.
  29. The pleasure of knowing I am only responsible for myself.
  30. My career.
  31. Uninterrupted adult conversation.
  32. Money.
  33. The choice to go to Target or not to go to Target.
  34. A day guaranteed not to involve a poop discussion. Not even one.
  35. A peaceful existence.
  36. Getting to stay out later than 7 pm without dire consequences.
  37. A clean floor.
  38. Spontaneity.
  39. A day without laundry.
  40. Blissful ignorance concerning the dangers of the world.
  41. Scream-free dinner times where I actually get to visit with my husband.
  42. The necessity for an alarm clock.
  43. A day devoid of hurdling a baby gate even once, let alone 60,000 times.
  44. Kid-free friends who actually understand me.
  45. The ability to unload my dishwasher without someone climbing into it.
  46. A mind not consumed by jingles from a toy fridge made by the sadistic Fisher-Price company.
  47. A self-absorbed lifestyle.
  48. Being able to use both of my hands to perform everyday tasks.
  49. Getting to eat all of my McDonald’s fries by myself.
  50. Not wondering what to do with the other human in the house when I have to pee.
  51. A love of winter, free of baby snow suits and car seat maneuvering.
  52. The ability to watch the news without worrying myself sick.
  53. Hearing rumors of a miscarriage or stillborn without falling to my knees to pray for those involved.
  54. A night absent of exhausted cries to God to just make the screaming stop.
  55. Bumps and bruises being a rare occurrence.
  56. A life lacking the constant where-will-you-get-hurt-next radar.
  57. Not budgeting specifically for an extensive supply of Gerber puffs.
  58. A bottom drawer whose contents actually remain inside the drawer.
  59. An existence that doesn’t concern itself with life insurance, guardianship, or wills.
  60. A fridge that does not have the Poison Control number pasted to it.
  61. The freedom to learn the Heimlich or not to learn the Heimlich.
  62. Saving for a vacation instead of a college tuition.
  63. Driving a reasonable-sized car instead of an over-sized suburban.
  64. Napping on the couch without being roused awake by little hands swatting my glasses.
  65. Not having one clue what is on TV at 4 am.
  66. Having no need for an aspirator and not even knowing where one would find one.
  67. Living in a world where regurgitated lentils still gross me out.
  68. Not knowing or caring what a bumbo, boppy, or bouncer is.
  69. The decisions to baby wear, get a bucket seat, or buy a running stroller were nonexistent.
  70. Getting through a whole day without saying, “Be careful. You’re gonna hurt yourself.”


This is quite an extensive list of all the things I have lost since having my son. Do I miss these things? Of course, but when I compare them to what I have gained, they are shallow and meaningless. I would imagine this would come as quite a surprise to my acquaintance. I would do anything to help her understand that what a mother gains far surpasses all that she loses. I don’t want to get all into it and bore you with another list that will be quite obvious to most of you, so I will keep it short:


  1. Love that has no limit.
  2. A deeper understanding for what Jesus feels for you, His child.
  3. Profound and heartfelt gratitude that God has let you be a mother to one of His children.
  4. Living with a man who used to just be a husband, but now he is a father.
  5. Baby giggles. Need I say more?

I Married a Hand-Raiser

Well, my husband and I are church shopping. Yes, that’s right, the most dreadful component of following Jesus. I have always considered myself a master shopper of clothing and shoes. My closet makes that pretty clear. Grocery shopping, on the other hand, has always been one of my least favorite species of shopping. However, church shopping takes the cake for most miserable, most awkward, and most likely to be avoided, although it is the cheapest. Alas, it is, at one time or another, an inevitable part of any Christian journey, as it should be.


Only a lucky few will avoid this troublesome business. Eventually, a church will falter and cause a parishioner to look elsewhere for spiritual guidance. There are some churchgoers, however, who simply desire to feel good at church, indifferent to its actual teachings. This is more troublesome than choosing to leave a church. It is imperative that we, as Christians, require churches to remain unwavering in their commitment to the Bible and their congregation. If either of these fail, it is time to go church shopping. I would imagine the most common reason a person decides to shop around is an opposition of beliefs between the individual and the church. However, the youth group might not be up to par, the pastor might have offended, the congregation might be too big or too small, the Bible might be ignored, the music might be too fast or too slow, the church might ask for too much money–all are reasons people choose to leave a house of worship and embark upon the perilous journey of church shopping.


I have been somewhat forced to vacate my current church and muddle through the local church roster, experiencing a full array of disturbances and pleasantries along the way. In its simplest terms, my husband and I are looking for a church that says Baptist on the welcome sign yet still bears an uncanny resemblance to our old Lutheran church, which had a number of fine qualities. The reason for this nonsense is because I, in my naivety and relief he wasn’t Catholic, married a Baptist. Sigh…


No matter the church, being a visitor in a congregation pretty much guarantees, however varied in degree, the same form of awkwardness. My husband and I enter, greeted by the designated greeter dude, always whom is overly friendly when we are trying to stay under-the-radar. I attempt to keep my eyes low and my judgment lower as my peripherals catch glimpses of the regular attendees. My sinful self generally observes two things automatically, how is everyone dressed and, somewhat less sinful, will my son have kids to play with. We take a seat in the back, trying to blend in but being dreadfully aware that half the room has already noticed us and probably nudged the person next to them commenting, “They’re new.” I see a friendly, always elderly, face approaching us but try not to notice as I’m wrestling with my son’s jacket, let the awkward conversation commence.

church visitor

“Hello, I’m Greg,” Greg says as he extends his shaking hand.


My husband, bless his heart, always leads these conversations, “Hi, I’m Alex and this is my wife, Tara, and son.”


Greg, intentionally prodding, but trying to remain aloof and keep his eyes from wandering over each of us like vultures circle a nearly dead creature, “Are you guys from around here?” To the untrained eye this question appears to be simple and direct; however, Greg is really asking, “If you aren’t new to town, why are you new to this church? Do you need to be saved? Should I tell you about Jesus? Are you a Heathen?” While the simple question as to the state of our residence is hanging in the air, my mind, and probably body language, is screaming, “We are Christians, born and raised. We are VERY church savvy and we do not need you to tell us about Jesus. We could tell YOU about Jesus!”


My husband, unaware of Greg’s need to be told that we are, in fact, church people says, “Yes, we live on the South side of town.” What he has actually just told Greg is this, “We are Heathens. This is our first time inside a church.”


Now Greg is on the prowl. He doesn’t want to scare us off, but he wants to make sure we come back, so he turns on the charm and says, “We are so glad you are here, and we hope to see you again.” The is always followed by some random facts about the building and the pastor, as if we asked.


Despite the intense amount of God-given grace residing within the three adults involved in this discussion, the conversation always ends painfully ungracefully as Greg goes back to his pew, which he has probably sat in every Sunday, with his lovely wife, for the last 30 years. As he walks away, I desperately strive to send him a definitive look that will explain in vivid and accurate detail, “We go to church. We are just church shopping because my husband wants his family to attend a Baptist church. We have attended a local Lutheran church for the past two years, and I myself have been a member for many years. We are Christian. We love Jesus and we absolutely do not want an email from the pastor on Monday morning and please stop judging us!”


We, recently, attended a church that was a little bit my style and a lot my husband’s style. Even though we were not able to avoid the prototypical conversation described above or the seriously-everyone-is-watching-us feeling, I will say, the church was alright. The people were friendly and the pastor was knowledgeable. We even went back for a second Sunday.


My husband and I did not have the pleasure of sitting together on either of the Sundays that we attended this church due to our son’s complete abhorrence for sitting still. On Sunday #2, my husband took him to the spacious area behind the pews where parents seem to regularly pace with their rowdy children. The pastor was a guest from somewhere in the South, and let’s just say, he spoke with a bit of zeal. I, being a Lutheran, am completely unaccustomed to “fire and brimstone” sermons and can honestly say I have never actually witnessed one. I watched, in awe, as the pastor spoke, or yelled. He made eye contact with me numerous times, lasting significantly longer than I would have liked, and I panicked, not knowing if I should look interested, offended, happy, or contemplative. I was struck by the power of his voice, and his unique balance of humor and conviction. I was also fairly surprised he made it through the entire sermon without having a stroke.


He probably wasn’t five minutes into his heated harangue, when I heard it. It slipped out of the mouth of one of the parishioners and bounced its way up to the front of the church, urged on by the numerous nodding heads and risen hands. Amen. Okay, wait a minute. Amen is for concluding a prayer and that is absolutely its only purpose. I was distracted by my thoughts on this topic when I heard it again, and again. I am a Lutheran, people. Lutherans do not say amen. They do not. They do not. They do not.


This wasn’t the first time I had heard an amen tossed willy nilly into a congregational atmosphere as the pastor inculcates Biblical know-how onto his parishioners. However, it always comes from a visitor, completely unaware they are sitting in a Lutheran church, or a regular Lutheran attendee who has gone rogue. I didn’t have time to dwell on this rudely verbal audience because I was too busy wondering if the man ahead of me had a question. Why, on earth, is his hand up? Is active participation encouraged? Are we allowed to ask questions? Am I back in high school? The man wasn’t called upon and his hand was joined by many more, perhaps they only had rhetorical questions. With these distractions, it’s a miracle I heard any part of the actual sermon. I thought my perfect Lutheran box had been shaken enough for one day, but as the pastor made his final points and was approaching a conclusion, I heard an amen I will never forget. It came from the back of the room, and the voice had many similarities to that of my husband’s.


Consider my Lutheran box shattered, tattered, torn, and ragged. Two years into my marriage and the realization has finally struck me like a rattlesnake in the Rockies, I married a hand-raisin’, amen sayin’, Bible-thumpin’ Baptist. Pray for me.



Dear readers, I consider it absolutely our Christian duty to welcome visitors into a church. I thoroughly enjoy visiting with congregation members and getting to know new people. I love all the Gregs of this world and Jesus blesses them for their hospitality. This post is meant to be only satirical and serve as entertainment for my readers.

A Mom’s Biggest Threat

Today, I just have a couple of words to ponder: stomach flu. The sound of these ominous and revolting words are enough to send shivers down the spine of any mom. I, myself, have always had a particular and unique hatred for them, practically banishing my husband to the porch when he comes home with some sort of dire situation centering around the stomach. However, before a household experiences the expanse of the stomach flu’s wrath, it is difficult to prepare for.


When the dreaded stomach flu season is upon us, it is pivotal that every mother do her best to prepare for her family’s, often inevitable, encounter with this contagious creature. She may choose to arm her bathroom cupboard with pepto bismol, tums, and in some micro-managed households, an exceptionally well-chosen bucket may even be set aside. Let me pause while we all remember a time we had an extremely ambivalent relationship with a bucket…


Every mother will do her best to weaponize her household against all kinds of medical marvels, which seem to breed threefold inside a public school: strep, common colds, lice, influenza. However, there is a particular way in which one can literally see the stomach flu as it slithers through a household, laying claim to any body caught unaware. There is also a definitive foreboding which falls upon the parents of a home that just heard the words, “Mom, I don’t feel so good…”


My own life experiences have taught me that the stomach flu is not to be trusted. It lives a life of covertness and deception as it waits to strike at the absolute least convenient moment. For instance, let’s review my wedding day. I was married to my marvelous husband on December 28, 2013, the pinnacle of stomach flu season. Now I understand why nearly everyone chooses to be married in the summer, when the very existence of this plague is a distant and faded memory. This bug chose to lay claim to my family, as well as my husband’s, the week prior to the wedding. The realization that we were under attack came upon us slowly, as did the panic. We watched in horror as this illness subjugated the bodies of first my sister, then my niece, his brother, my nephew, my dad, and my brother-in-law. As the uncertainty of who would be present at the wedding mounted, my husband and I consumed more Vitamin C than is probably recommended. It began to seem as if we would not escape this inexorable torture, so I began praying, perhaps begging is a more accurate term: Please let us get sick on the 29th. Just give us until the 29th. We have to stay healthy until the 29th.


Miraculously, my husband and I remained healthy even through our honeymoon and the stomach flu was not heard from for two years. Perhaps it was simply waiting for me to forget about it and get comfortable with my life of health. Despite all of my striving to avoid this calamity on my wedding day, my household recently fell victim to this merciless bug, and let me tell you, it is merciless indeed. It was as if this plague just missed us on our wedding day, so it waited for us to be as unsuspecting as possible, poised to pounce at the precise moment. It may not have been our wedding day, but it certainly was inconvenient. My son was the first to fall ill while we were on vacation in Colorado, then I was ravaged by it immediately after arriving home. Just as I was beginning to think I would never recover, my husband came down with it. Since his parents were incapacitated, our poor little boy was so neglected.

It is truly a phenomenon that any of us survived. However, I now confidently know my family has what it takes to defeat the stomach flu. Something I was not so sure of as I heard other mothers detail their tales of stomach flu hardship within their own homes. I am not naive enough to believe it will not strike again, but when it does, I will have a nice bucket set aside.


Oh good. It’s 3 a.m. I think that he may have slept for 2 straight hours this time. Maybe if I lie here as still as my husband in his deep, undisturbed sleep I will not have to get up. I should have about two hours of night left before I have to be awake for the day. It looks like I will be spending those two hours dozing in the La-Z-Boy in my son’s nursery. I will get up on the count of three before his screams get any louder…1…2…3….


My baby does not sleep. I am not being melodramatic. My son literally does not sleep. He hates naps. He hates nighttime. He hates being rocked. He hates his crib. On the rare occurrence that the idea of sleep enters his 8-month old mind, he will fight it and fight it until he wins. He always wins. Sleep NEVER wins. I think he is going to be a boxer. A successful one. Oh goodie. I am entirely convinced that minions occupy my son’s crib, we will call them cribions, making it impossible for my son to fall asleep. Perhaps they look something like Santa’s elves and do something like build toys in the middle of the night which consequently causes my child to scream louder than the pounds of their hammers. Perhaps they simply act as his friends, so he must wake up in the darkest of hours to visit with them, then when they fall asleep, he gets bored and consequently screams for me to keep him company.

His pediatrician has been kind enough to call him precocious. If you ask Webster, precocious means “unusually advanced or mature in development, especially mental development.” Isn’t that nice of her to say about my little baby genius? Although, I know what she really means. I know what is underneath that somewhat patronizing smile of hers. She is saying, “Oh you poor dear!” I get that smile pretty frequently from mothers of various backgrounds. It is a smile that says, “Well, he is certainly going to keep you busy.” Or she may be saying, “I don’t envy you one bit.” Or even worse, “I wonder how tired you will be once he is a toddler.” Precocious. A compliment shrouded in ominous mystery.

I have tried just about everything to get him to close his eyes, aside from tying my hands behind my back, standing on my head, while simultaneously doing air jumping jacks, but if that would work, I would do it. I have spent the night with him in his crib while I sleep and he tugs on my hair, ears, eyebrows, eyelids, and lips. I have listened to his shrieks for hours while my husband and I attempt to accomplish the dreaded ferberizing, also known as sleep training. I have strapped him in his car seat and driven around the block roughly 6,208 times. I have set him in the middle of the living room with every toy in our house and let him play. I have turned on the TV hoping it would hypnotize him to sleep. I have cuddled with him in my own bed. I have stripped him down and wrapped him in the softest of blankets. I have tried tough love. I have tried soft love. I have tried this. I have tried that. I have tried everything, and now I sound like Dr. Seuss.

The result: my son does not sleep.

There are moments when it is funny. There are moments when his complete, unwavering commitment to hating sleep is downright hilarious. When my husband and I look at each other and simply smile because we can’t wait to see what he will try next. There are also moments when I feel like I have fallen right off the sane wagon and plunged headfirst into crazy loon mom. I can see in my husband’s eyes how terrified he is that someday I will not find my way back from the pure, unadulterated and unhinged animal that I morphed into the night before.

I know that I am not alone, but I also know that in the loneliest hours of the night when my husband is sleeping so soundly he may as well be on another planet, I become entirely convinced that my baby is the only 8-month old who still screams on a nightly basis, similar to how I would if I were to be chased around by a clown holding cilantro (I hate clowns… and cilantro). I have prayed a lot of prayers in my day, but my desperate and heartfelt entreaties to God to just let my kid go back to sleep have no doubt become a bit repetitive.


In my small, human mind, it appears as though God never answers these prayers. My son always keeps screaming. It is usually during my 27th prayer of the night that I imagine God looking down on me with some Joker-type smile as he rubs his hands together and laughs like a hyena. He just never seems to hear me, so I never seem to sleep. However, on the night that I am fraying at every end, on the night that I can’t take one more second of my screaming son, God answers. He does not stop the screaming, but he provides me with a moment of clarity, a moment of peace. He reminds me that my son belongs to Him. Because of my precocious little boy, I never get to cuddle him. He is way too busy to bother with cuddles. Except, in the middle of the night, when all he wants is his mom to be awake with him, the cuddles are the best of the best. They are so good that when he does finally fall asleep, I have to force myself to do the same, because I would much rather stare into the face of the beautiful baby that God is giving me the opportunity to raise. This is when I can hear the whisper of my Lord and He is saying, “Tara, enjoy my gift.” That is His answer to my 27th prayer.