Monday, November 12, 2018

My Mom's Funeral...A Mentoring Moment

It’s a cheerful title to start a blog with isn’t it? I will be honest that I am writing this blog as a person that loves God, has a strong faith yet feels like a part of my soul is missing with the passing of my mom only three weeks ago. My faith is a non-negotiable and I am not mad at God. The day Tracy and I got married, we used it as a mentoring moment for the teenagers that called me youth pastor. Today, I am writing this blog as a mentoring moment regarding what it is like to walk through such a dark time. I have decided to list 10 things I have learned through the process of losing a loved one.

If you have never lost a parent, a few items on this list could come across the wrong way. Perhaps you have lost a parent…I would expect you to know exactly what I am talking about. Perhaps you could even add a few comments. In my case my mom was my best friend next to my own wife. We talked over the phone multiple times per week and so we had a very tight bond. I am writing this blog from the perspective that I love my parents very much. If you have a fractured relationship with your parents, I would urge you to get it right. On that note….let us begin. 

1. Expect it to be tough. Nothing prepares you for the loss of family member. I was in ballroom dancing lessons with Tracy that Monday night. Earlier that day I called my mom and she did not sound like herself. When Tracy got home that night I told her that my mom was not doing well. During dance class I got the phone call that my mom had passed. Within in a half hour I was on the road to Milwaukee. I picked up my dad and walked him up to the room at the rehab/nursing. It was the room where my mom was now laying dead on her bed. The room was cold because they turned on the AC full tilt (this is protocol until the person is picked up). It was also a bit dark but as my dad looked at his wife, I put my around him and laid my head on his shoulder. He had a good cry and so did I after putting my hand on her and saying a few words. We left together completely broken but with the hope that she was in heaven with her parents, siblings and others.

2. The day after someone’s passing is tough. The day after a loved one passes you are thrusted into dealing with the funeral home. I have been with many families during a part of this process but now I got to see the entire ordeal. When we left my mom that night we had to provide the name of a funeral home. This would be the same if a loved one passes away at home. Due to my mom’s age and health it was suggested there was no need for an autopsy. This is a question you are asked right away. While on the phone with the funeral home the next morning to setup an appointment I was asked “should we go ahead and start embalming her?”. I was taken back as it seemed cold to ask such a question. You will receive many of what seem to be cold condolences but please understand that they are simply wanting to help and do their job. Your loved one's funeral is not the first one they have done and like any other business, they have done this many times. There is a business side to this all and they were just doing their part. I stayed calm. That morning we met with the funeral director. He was as a very nice man. He spoke to my brother, his wife, my dad and I about the process. Expect this all to be pricey less you do cremation or the loved one had insurance, etc. Even then it will not be as inexpensive as you think. Things that go into the price of funeral home costs are casket, vault, spray of flowers for on top of the casket, cemetery plot (my parents purchased their plots years ago), opening of the plot (not included in the plot purchase), pastor’s honorarium, meal afterward, head stone, etc.

3. In lieu of flowers. If things are tight regarding funeral costs or if they are not and you would like funds to go towards a memorial, you can still expect flowers. I will be honest…the money that came in to help my dad was very much appreciated. The flowers that arrived despite the memorial fund were very much appreciated as well. If you say “In lieu of flowers a memorial fund has been setup for…..” You can still expect to receive many flowers. Again, this is not a bad thing. It was very much welcome. I can say for me it was nice to bring a couple home for my house and church. People share sympathies and grief in different ways and flowers are one of them.

4. Expect wrong comments. The fact is that during a time of crisis or grief people are going to say the wrong thing. They don’t mean it and actually mean well. There is no reason to get upset or let it ruin your day. People knew how much my mom meant to my brother, dad and I yet we heard all kinds of comments. Again, they mean well but sometimes it just comes out wrong. I myself have done this before. It’s going to happen…get ready.

5. Expect ignorant comments. I can deal with wrong comments that were meant to be good. It took everything in me to hold back when ignorant remarks were made. While standing by my mom’s casket I had people ask me “so what really did her in?”. Another one asked of me was “which pill did she take that put her over the edge?”. There was one lady that has known me since elementary school days that showed up. She was with a caretaker and told me about how to cast out demons and the fact that we could have a curse upon our family and these are the steps to cast that away. Bottom line…expect ignorant comments and don’t fire back. This is not the place for it. Simply let them share their thought and move on. 

6. Enjoy the company at the funeral because the days to follow will be tough. You will have times of laughing and times of crying. People do not expect a whole lot out of the family that day. It was comforting to see all of the people that showed up for my mom’s funeral. From people I knew when I was a kid to first time introductions of my mom’s social circle. It can feel like a long time standing by the casket greeting everyone and getting hugs, etc. Embrace this time and enjoy the conversation and memories. 

7. If you have held it together through the service, expect to be broken at the graveside service. I had a difficult time getting through the eulogy I prepared but nothing prepared me for the graveside service. When that was all done I just stood by my mom’s casket with my hand on it. I fell apart because it was all so final. In one aspect you have family, friends, etc. standing their to support you. In another aspect you have the gravediggers there ready to lower your loved one down so they can close the vault, put the dirt back in and move on. Yes I know (was reminded many times) where she is now but in the physical I knew a piece of my heart and soul were now gone…and it hurt…still hurts. I hugged my wife and fell apart. After I pulled myself together somewhat, my pastor from my early years gave me a hug and I lost it once again. 

8. When the funeral is over and life continues on the next day, expect moments of emotions that are all over the place. I filled my life with busyness yet even three weeks into life after the funeral I long for a day where I can just be by myself. Where I can visit my moms grave, retrace old steps and mourn in that way. I have not been able to do that yet. Be ready to help as well. For me I told my dad that I would take care of all the thank you cards and other odds and ends. 

9. Follow up with your other parent. If you are blessed to have your other parent; be sure to follow up regularly. It has now become my M.O. to call my dad every other day. Chances are they are by themself now. I know my mom was quite the talker. If she was not talking with my dad, she was on the phone talking with someone else. Now my dad is faced with a lot of quiet time. A phone call from his kid or relative are no doubt always welcomed. 

10. Don’t force conversation. When a person has lost their spouse or a child has lost their parent…talk about it when they are ready. This past weekend I had my dad up for a visit. We didn’t talk about mom’s passing unless he brought it up. I feel that if you pressure a person into making decisions, etc. after a loved ones passing they will feel like you are pushing them into a corner. Death is a big deal and it will be dealt with in days, weeks and months to come. Two days after the funeral I took a van full of hurricane supplies down to Florida with my family and a couple from the church. I was so appreciative that we did not make my mom's funeral the point of conversation other than when I brought it up just to vent a bit. 

Here I am three weeks out from my mom’s passing and there is still not an hour or two that go by without me thinking about her. This weekend I was at Fleet Farm and heard Christmas music. I fell apart in the store. I still hurt and will probably be a mess through the holidays. Her birthday would have been on December 10th as well. I hope to find healing through prayer, reading, remembering and finding some me time. I am so thankful for my church, supportive family, friends and in-laws that have encouraged me.

Feel free to comment on this blog as you see fit. I would be happy to answer any questions anyone has. If it is more personal you can email me

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lessons Learned From Hurricane Florence Trip

It’s been just couple of days since my return from South Carolina. While watching the news coverage of Hurricane Florence, God gave me the idea to head down there with hurricane relief supplies. Tracy got home from work and I told her “What do you think about heading to South Carolina to help?”. She was all for it and so I rented a van (which we ended up not needing) and began to make preperations. 

Since this was my first time assisting in hurricane relief, I thought I would share my observations. I have already known some of these things to be true and others I did not. 

1. When God plants something in your mind, no matter how big it may seem…you have to go for it. 

2. Overplanning will lead to it not getting done. I remember the WLUK Fox 11 reporter asking me what kind of preparations I made in order to make this trip possible. She meant well by asking and I so admire her boldness in wanting to do this story. It really turned out well and we gained a lot of exposure. I simply replied that I just pulled the trigger on it. In my mind I looked at what God has already equipped us with and that was church insurance for the vehicle, a van that was available to rent and a group of people willing to go not knowing the outcome. I have always been the type of person to jump first and then figure out how to land. I knew God planted this idea in my heart and so it was not going to fail.

3. It is always amazing to see where the donations come from. I was humbled when Pick N’ Save let us park our trailer in front of their store so patrons could donate supplies. So many area businesses gave. One of our biggest donations came in from K-Mart where we filled my car on the first pickup. Even more amazing were the people that randomly showed up at church and my house to donate supplies. I have always known this to be true but what was reiterated to me was that those who do not have a lot (by society’s standards not God’s) tend to give the most. Those who do have plenty, give little to nothing. I know this sounds bold but after one has planned a few benefits and now a hurricane relief trip, I find this to be even more true. 

4. No matter how well intentioned you are with your endeavors there will always be naysayers. When the local newspaper published our story online, it was met with resistance from community members even former members of the church. One of the biggest responses we received was that we would be a burden to the people there. That we should just send a check. I wonder if those people leaving negative comments did anything at all to help. I can tell you thoughts and prayers help but I am glad God used us to deliver the answer to their prayers. Once we arrived, I asked the pastor about the benefits of simply sending a check. It would have been ok but the stores are empty in times like this. One of the church volunteers told us because of our donation, they now have more stuff to help their community then the local food line does. There are those that used to attend the church that sit back and look at what God has called us to do and simply brew about it. 

5. Never underestimate who is watching you. The support we received from this trip by simply putting the need out there was overwhelming. Tracy and I are in a weekly ballroom dance class. In that class, two different couples saw the Fox 11 news story and gave us cash for the gas tank to get down there. This happened time and time again. What is even more amazing is that God knew how much we were going to need. We had just a little extra to cover extra costs.

6. Listening to God’s promptings is important. Shortly after I reserved our rental van I went for a drive around Waupaca. I tend to do this when I need to get out for a bit. I drove past Petersen auto and knew God was telling me to pull into the parking lot. I was a bit discouraged because I knew the rental van was going to eat up a lot of unnecessary funds. I called another large dealership in town and left a voicemail regarding borrowing a vehicle. The call was never returned. I pulled into Petersen auto and began looking around and I told God “I am not sure why you have me here…I don’t see a big van.” As I began to leave through the back of the lot, I saw just the van that would work for this. It was certainly large enough! I contacted the owner and he replied right away! Everything else fell into place and we were able to use that vehicle. I will ALWAYS refer people to this business because of their willingness to let us use their van which had only 700 some miles on it. 

7. Churches need to help other churches more often. My original intent was to bring the supplies down to South Strand Assembly of God in South Carolina. A couple of days before we left the pastor of that church called me to say their church survived and the community is doing well. He did however refer me to another church in Loris, SC. I will never forget when I called the first church. The pastor was busy boarding up his house and his wife told me “We have never had another church help us out before”. I was so honored that God was using us to do this but I was also sad. Churches need to help out churches. Did I require the church we were assisting to fill out paperwork or want to meet with the board or anything like that? Absolutely not, it was all about love with no agenda. The church I pastor is not huge but it helps where we can. It goes back to my thought on those that do not have much helping out the most.

7. When you go to help out an area affected by a natural disaster, be good to the organizer. In this case the pastor was dealing with his own water damage at the church yet he was willing to let us come and drop off supplies. I have no doubt he has spent many hours wondering what the next steps would be with insurance, funds, cleaning, etc. When we were getting ready to leave I presented the pastor with a card. I told him pastor appreciation was a few weeks off but I want him to know how much we appreciate him and all he is doing. Inside the card was a generous gift. There was enough for him to take his family out to a restaurant and not have to add anything to it to cover the bill.  Very few pastors make a handsome salary which is why I wanted to bless him with funds so his family could go out for a meal (maybe two) and take their minds off of what has happened. 

8. Bob Evans restaurant is good!

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! I am so thankful that my wife and two oldest kids were able to come. I was also so blessed to have another great couple from our church ride along with us. We can get such a narrow view of the world when all we know is our immediate area. It was crazy to think that just 17 hours one way we saw the National Guard blocking exits because entire neighborhoods were half under water. We saw homes that would not be livable in again. It’s important to gain a worldview by taking time out of our schedules to help, go or simply give.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Not Ready For Summer to End!

Summer…another one has come and gone. I used to think older people were crazy when they would say the years would go by quicker as you get older. You know what though? They were right.

Since kids have come along I reflect back on each summer to see if it was good. Did we have good bonding times as a family while making memories? This is where social networking can be a beautiful thing. It can either remind you of all the good times you had or it can remind you of the lack of things you have done. 

I can honestly say looking back at this summer that Tracy and I gave our kids a great one. It’s a misnomer to think that one must go hours away in order to have a “vacation”. I use quotes there because I have seen some families go to Disney World only to come back and wish they had gone camping instead. The fact is a vacation or outing can look different for each family. In my kids world a night at the hotel with a waterpark is just as exciting as taking a massive road trip. For some couples a nice meal out would entail a restaurant where the bill would come to $80.00. Tracy and I reach our spending brink when we take in a meal from the Texas Roadhouse. We simply do not see the value in spending a lot on food. We would rather spend that at Barnes and Noble on a date night. Not saying one way is wrong but it is all a matter of perception. 

Since June I have coached softball and soccer with my kids in both. Tracy and I were able to get away to Ambergris Caye, Belize once again for our anniversary trip. While biking, Noah and I found a free Little Tikes slide which he has used almost daily. It always brings a smile to his face. My family was able to go on several camping trips which we all really enjoy. A couple of the trips included a ride to my in-laws camper in Phillips, WI. There was go-karting, mini-golf, Brewers game, the joy of building an old school bike with my daughter, visiting friends at their campsite, multiple bike rides with me pulling Noah in the trailer while the other two followed behind, sports tournaments, fishing and so many church activities as well. I can honestly say, I have no regrets about this summer. My kids favorite thing this summer? We will just keep that an Adams secret.

Of course there were some let downs but that is just natural to have those times. Those moments that are out of your control. Perhaps I am feeling reflective because July 10th changed my life and I can say I have not been the same. With Noah by my side we walked into my neurologists office not knowing what he would tell me since the day before they called me with a sense of urgency. The appointment was not the best. The fact that I survived a brain hemorrhage was good news but to know I am living with two brain aneurysms is a tough pill to swallow. Nevertheless, I keep going and know God has it under control. I feel that that doctor’s appointment robbed me of my summer. I think about my health daily and, to be honest, if I let my mind wander I can get into quite a slump. I know God has equipped me to overcome it but sometimes it is just hard. I will stay positive though and walk in the knowledge that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Perhaps this is what finally stirred me to write a book about overcoming obstacles. I have entitled my work "Even If...". In that process I have found humor knowing that my "GoFundMe" campaign has basically fell flat on it's face. I will continue with the project though "Even If...." it is not funded.

So, I guess all of that to say I am not ready for my kids to go back to school. It went very quick but I remain confident they/we had a very fun summer. We made many memories, had plenty of laughs and though not all is perfect and I had some parenting fails, I am so thankful for my beautiful wife and kids. 

Onto the next chapter of life that is James in middle school, Emma starting in a new charter school while Noah is going to learn how to use the potty.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Message Series: Positive Christianity Week 1

You will find more of my messages posted here. These videos are posted just a day or two after they have been given at Enjoy and feel free to comment.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Here We Go Again

Not my brain image but rather an example
*Note: I wrote this blog a few days ago but waited to post after some personal reflection.

It was March of 2015 and I just had my MRI after suffering an aura headache. By the time I could get back to Waupaca to visit my friend who suffered massive brain trauma in 2014, my neurologist was calling. When I answered they told me they found some abnormalities. This lead to my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. Fast forward just over 3 years and I find myself in this same situation. What was to be a routine annual MRI turned into something more. My neurologist knew of a debilitating headache I suffered in April of this year so he ordered an MRA as well. This exam was on Tuesday, July 9th. Before the day was over I received a phone call that has changed my life once again.

On that day my neurologist’s nurse told me they found some abnormalities and that the doctor would like to see me. I asked if they could just tell me because I do not do well with stress. She assured me she could not and that I could have the first appointment in the morning. Anytime you get the first appointment in the morning is a red flag to the severity of what one is dealing with. I am thankful to have a dear friend from my childhood that works in neurology. After messaging him for a bit, he put my mind at ease. In scenarios like this my mind tends to go to worse case scenario and I was just not ready for that. I am not sure anyone is ever ready for worse case scenario.

The next day arrived and with Noah by my side we walked into the doctor’s office to hear the news. I met with the nurse long enough for her to take my vitals and then she was gone. Within minutes my neurologist came in and asked how I was doing. I used medical terminology and said “I am a hot mess and freaking out a bit.” He went on to tell me that the headache I experienced in April was a brain hemorrhage. I have never in my life experienced a migraine like that before which included a fever, stiffness of neck and more. Now that I think of it, I am not sure how people that post on Facebook “I have a migraine” are even functional to type anything on any type of device. None the less he went on to tell me that I must be monitored very closely and that I must watch my blood pressure. When I asked him why, he proceeded to tell me that I have “outpouching” on my ACA A2 and PCA P1 branch in my brain. In laymen’s terms…aneurysms. 

Needless to say I was white as a ghost. While the doctor was telling me this news, my son Noah…intently watching Curious George on my iPhone simply leaned his little head on me. What do I do with this news? Where do I go from here? My doctor said if they get to be 5mm then a clip or coil would have to be put in. Now I know I have been dealing with high blood pressure so no doubt eating right and exercising will/should improve my problems. 

What a gut shot though to be nervous enough about any new changes with MS only to be told this news. I have walked this path before and I am so grateful for a very supportive wife as well. I find great strength in my family and God. I am reminded of the words of David in Psalm 91:1-2(NIV) “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Do I want to be healed? Absolutely! One thing life has taught me is that many MANY strong people of faith have “bombarded the gates of Heaven” with prayer only to be let down time and time again. It’s interesting when the healing doesn’t come that we say the person experienced the ultimate healing when they pass away. I am not trying to be a doom and gloom sort of person because I have literally seen someone brought back from the dead because “the prayers of the righteous are effective….”. None the less there are many others in scripture that had to walk a dark path…Jesus included. I am believing for a miracle…an instantaneous one would be amazing but I believe miracles come from medical professionals that God has given wisdom to. I also believe miracles can come through our own drive/faith that God has placed in each of us. 

So, I don’t like where I am at right now. I don’t like it at all in fact. I am ready to fight and stay positive on this one. I have begun exercising way more and eating way less (and sensibly). In a week I will be joining a gym to stay motivated and to continue to see pounds dropped. I am reminded of the words of the three Hebrew children (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) when confronted about their faith… “Even if……”. Even if the Lord should not bring the miracle I am looking for, I still won’t stop believing.

*Update, I have 9 pounds off since my diagnosis in hopes to bring my blood pressure down and to put less strain on my blood vessels.

Friday, September 8, 2017

It's So Tiring

It has often been said by those that are pastors "Being a pastor is a very lonely calling". I, being a pastor for the past 20 years can say this no doubt is the truth. But how can being a pastor be so lonely? After all every Sunday, Wednesday and beyond a pastor is around people. What could be so lonely about being a pastor? Allow me to explain. 

The past few weeks reminded me of just how lonely being a pastor can be. No doubt you, or those you know have been in friendships where you had to initiate every get together. It would almost appear your phone only works in one direction. Your email only has a send feature and your texts/messages go only one way. If you want to do something, it has to be initiated by you otherwise you probably won't do anything with anyone. Does this sound familiar? The same can be said of being a pastor. I literally had a person lay into me because we were going to do dinner (at no cost to them). Weeks went by without hearing from them so I ended up changing plans. This was met with a very hurtful response by this person that I have bent over backwards to help in the past and treated to meals before. The church I pastor even helped them out fiscally a time or two.

I have had people in my life where I have rearranged my schedule to help them move, do chores, engage in crisis counseling, etc. The classic is being asked to borrow a tool, tech device, etc. and being expected to drop it off and pick it up when done. People are needy and as a pastor, this is part of our calling. We are there for people and it is's what we do. This Sunday I will have a houseful of guys over as we grill steaks and enjoy conversation around a bon-fire. Earlier this year I have connected with people, treated them to lunch after church because I knew they were in a slump. Once a month I organize a men's ministry event. Just three weeks ago I had close to 50 people at the house from the church for a cookout. It can be a lot of fun while at the same time it can be...or rather is very exhausting.

Pastors get invited to a lot of birthday parties as well for kids and fellow adults. They are fun to go to but like graduation season each year, these get togethers have a purpose and include bringing a gift. This adds up quickly when a pastor realizes how many events he/she has to go to that require a gift. If drinking is involved, the after party is usually never met with an invite. It is great to have the pastor "friend" there but don't expect more.

Looking back on the people I have noticed being down and out that my wife and I have taken out to lunch, not one time was it ever met with a "just because" invite to go out for a meal with them. Of my 12+ years at this church and for that matter the previous 8 years at the church I was on staff at in Milwaukee...I could count on two hands how many times, I or my family and I have been invited over to someone's place for a meal. I absolutely cannot remember the last time someone called me (without an ulterior motive or in need of counseling) to invite me out to lunch, dinner, ice cream, etc. Pastors are always taking other people out for these things but hardly ever is it met with an invite in return.

So, yes we (pastors) are around a lot of people but when we are the ones having to do the inviting or when an invite happens it is because of a person is in need of counseling, party, etc. It makes a person feel lonely and honestly...used. How we/I long for someone to just say, "Pastor, can I treat you...or you and your family to dinner some night?" It would make my day.

Don't even get me started on "pastor appreciation day" or anniversaries.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Real Life Mr. Mom and Other Stay at Home Parents

This is a bit of a different topic for me to blog about. Typically, I write about all things pertaining to Christianity, church, etc. However, I have found myself diving more and more into mental well being, spirituality. My last blog was written in February and had to do with male postpartum depression. It has become one of my most read blogs first being about wedding etiquette from a pastors perspective

I would like to clarify that I have found myself to be the accidental stay at home dad. Never in a million years would I have pictured myself in the role I am now. When my wife and I first moved to Waupaca, I was told this new church I was a part of would require us to have our office at home. The main reason being the church building is small and we did not want to use space for offices. I came from a church in Milwaukee where we had to be there at a certain time each day. 

Fast forward a few years from the time we arrived in Waupaca and we found ourselves saying “yes” to a mom asking us to adopt her children. After 6 years of being married with no children we found ourselves saying “yes” to having two children. Our oldest son, James came to live with us at 9 months old on two weeks notice. He showed up at our door with some of his biological family and many totes filled with his stuff. We had no bed and an unfinished bedroom for him. Only a couple of weeks after receiving our son, my wife left for a missions trip to Argentina. I was signed up to go but decided to stay back to be with our son. I was instantly thrusted into having a teething baby while doing a major remodel to our home so that I may surprise my wife when she got home from this trip with her parents. Was I ready for this? I better be because there was no turning back. From poopy diapers to severe teething, I was hit with it all. 

Only four short months later our son’s biological sister was born and we brought her home directly from the hospital. I am so thankful for the FMLA leave my wife could take to acclimate our new daughter into our house. Both kids are a joy but going from a family of two to four in four months can really challenge a person. I still believe God saw something in my wife and I that I did not (and still don't) see in myself at least. This was quite the blessing and challenge at the same time. We were a young couple struggling to have our own children when God decided to do things differently. 

Fast forward 12 weeks from bringing my daughter home from the hospital. My wife goes back to work and here I am with these two kids, both in diapers running around (Emma was more of a roll around the floor kid at this point) the house leaving me to wonder what I am going to do. I must admit that I caught on pretty quick and in no time we were having picnics, going shopping, doing the day to day tasks including dishes, laundry, changing copious amounts of diapers and making meals on the days my wife had to work. I am forever grateful for my in-laws. They helped out when they could which was a lot. This was all stacked on top of the fact that I was/am the pastor of a church with my office at home which presents itself with a few interesting challenges. Being with kids all day, it is nice when my wife comes home. On average the kids will be up for another 2-3 hours but now my work day is just starting. Onward to appointments and all the things a pastor from a smaller rural church contends with.

I realize all of that was quite the setup for the heart of this blog (could be the longest one I have written to date) but with now having an 8 and 9 year old and starting over with our own biological child who is 17 months old, I find myself reliving many thoughts and feelings that I would like to share as an encouragement to other dads (perhaps stay at home parents in general) who find themselves at home. I have simply numbered my observations. Perhaps this could also be insightful to stay at home moms or moms that work from the home. 

So…here we go.

1. It’s a blessing to be at home! I could not possibly begin to figure out just how much money we have saved with not having to send our kids to daycare. Tracy works during the day (mostly) and I have my office hours including appointments during the evening. Not only is it a blessing financially but there is joy in knowing that some daycare is not raising our children. This is not a slam against daycares but who wouldn’t want to say the majority of their children’s time was spent with their parents? 

2. Around kids all the time. The joy of being at home with your children can easily turn into a real life Groundhog Day movie. Day in and day out you wake up, feed, nap, change diapers, feed, nap, etc. One would think when the spouse comes home that life would change. This is not always the case. With an office at home you can be in your room and still here the kids laughing, screaming, pounding (my eldest son hit the floor so hard above my office last night that it killed a bulb in my light fixture), etc. In the earlier years it was met with many knocks on the office door. How can you turn them away? That little knock would usually end with a silly question or a favor. For a person whose office is at home there is no jumping in the car and driving to work. Believe it or not many stay at home parents would be grateful to have that peaceful drive time to and from work. No one crying, barfing, pooping, whining, etc. just peace and quiet. Perhaps I should jump in my car and drive around town for a half hour before returning home to my office. This thought has potential.

3. Family day. When a spouse is working outside of the home it can obviously be difficult on that parent not to be around their kids all the time. The stay at home dad (parent) however is around the kids all the time as mentioned above. When a stay at home parent is around kids all the time, sometimes the last thing they want to think about is having a family day. Many stay at home parents go through a phase where they are drowning with land in sight. That precious hour nap means no one needing them. That ten minute extended stay in the bathroom means peace and quiet before heading out to the front lines of parenting once again. Family days are nice and ever so necessary but a single day or weekend of being left alone would be even more beneficial at times. I can say when my wife takes the kids because I am on the brink of melting down, it pays huge dividends as I am able to find myself once again. I can breathe, relax and gear up to spend more time with the kids. It is easier once kids are in school to think about family day because during the summer or those long holiday vacations…us, stay at home parents, are around the kids 24/7 and every day seems like a family day.

4. We don't take you for granted. It is important for the spouse working outside the home to know that they are not taken for granted. For those that are from a single income home, it would be safe to say that your household probably wouldn’t be what it is without your spouses income. One ought never forget that though you, the stay at home parent may have a hectic day, it is just as hectic for the one leaving the home as well. They may deal with the emotions of wanting to be with the kids. The added benefit is that they get to leave the home ha ha (was that kind of snarky?). 

For those of you in my boat where you work full time from your home office while taking care of the kids, it is just as important to not take your spouse that leaves the home for granted. You are both working to make a great life for you and your kids so a mutual respect is both needed and necessary. Even though life is busy, I still make it a point to take my wife Starbucks, lunch, etc. Just this morning I ordered an array of flowers to be delivered to her office. Dates with your spouse are really important to keep in tact. 

5. Yes we do post a lot.  There can be an easy observation about those stay at home parents. Whether you are a dad or a mom, we tend to post a lot on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. I humbly admit there are days where I post way to much. However, for those of you that get to leave the house or are simply not in this situation wondering what is going on, I would like for you to consider this. How many conversations can a stay at home adult have about poop, farts, Minecraft, chores, relentlessly repeating ourselves and more in one day? It’s no wonder when an adult night out with friends is scheduled that we get a little squirrelly. Unfortunately, those times are few and far between and many stay at home/work from home parents long for some kind of adult conversation/interaction. When none can be had we resort to social media. For myself during the down times I never watch TV. Partially the reason is that the only television we have is in our basement and I am to lazy to walk down there to turn it on. So, instead, I spend time on social media. It’s an outlet to engage in some conversation even though social media can be filled with depressing things.

6. We don’t need psychiatric help. As a guy, and I would like to believe I speak for most guys. We don't need something more on our schedule like another trip to a doctor. What we do need is the occasional day or weekend alone. Perhaps this is why so many guys (and a few women) look forward to hunting season, because it is there time to leave. I have not yet found my niche in the fall which is why I love camping, biking or simply tinkering in my garage. It always amazes me how a toddler can scream, fuss, etc. and women can just deal with it. Meanwhile, the man is ready to blow his stack. It is the culmination of constant talking, noise, questions and screaming that makes a man completely in need of some peace and quiet. I have no doubt men are wired differently and this is just one of many examples that provide proof. There is no need to worry and inquire about a counselor but time alone once in awhile pays huge dividends for the guy and his family.

7. Family vacations. Who doesn't like a vacation? I personally love loading up the car and going. Sure, having a screaming toddler can add stress, but we sure make some great memories. I can safely say my family made some great memories this summer. I will admit in years past I felt bad for the kids because it seemed we did not do much with them. We probably did, but it was my perception of how the summer went. This especially stands true for last summer since Noah was a newborn. Something to consider is that when the family vacation is over, and your significant other returns back to stay at home parent continues to be around the kids 24/7. I have witnessed many parents grateful for the work week to begin after a long family vacation. Please use some consideration when you realize one of those parents will remain home with the very children you are looking forward to getting away from for a bit.

8. Electronic babysitters. It is every parents dream to provide a fun filled day...each and every day. Those days filled with playgrounds, splash pads, picnics, etc. but then one gets in the others space. The baby decides to discharge copious amounts of poop and you are left wondering will this day ever get started. It does....for a few minutes and then it is back to siblings getting on each others nerves and more. Don't even get me started on what it's like on a rainy day. With that said...yes...yes indeed they play on their tablet. I will go out on a limb to say their may have been a day or two during summer break where they played the day away. It happens and they are content. This certainly isn't a habit but I/we are thankful for these electronic babysitters. If you are going to judge, I would simply ask if you have kids? If so, are you a stay at home parent? If so, and you have the perfect house...I don't like you. Okay...actually I do. Teach me. 

So there you have it. It is a titan of a blog but I hope you were able to stick with it until the end. It was my hope to help you understand why stay at home parents and work from home parents that are around kids all the time seem to be a few steps off the main trail. Does this mean we love our kids or spouse any less? Absolutely not, in fact for as much barking as we do at our kids...society would do well not to poke the bear when it comes to his/her family because that bond is so tight. It is amazing how stay at home/work from home parents do get that time to themselves and within a day they miss those kids like crazy. We love our families very much.