Archive for the ‘Culture’ Tag

The Butterfly Effect   1 comment

buterflies

This is from the blog See, there’s this thing called biology . . .:

The butterfly effect is this idea that suggests that a butterfly fluttering it’s wings
on one side of the world, has the ability to impact the weather on the other side of the
world. It speaks to the inter-connectedness of us all and points to the fact that for
every action there is an equal reaction. The theory was received with some mockery,
became a thing of myths and urban legends, and eventually became accepted
by science itself.

Ideas like the collective unconscious and the butterfly effect demolish the belief
that a man can be an island unto himself, orbiting his own little planet and creating
his own little reality. Instead, everything in the world, including us, exists in a
kind of symbiosis, and the tiniest little thing we do, like a butterfly fluttering
it’s wings, has an impact on the world around us. Every kind word spoken has the
power to alter the fabric of the universe, to change someone’s destiny, to rewrite a
story. So does every cranky word, every famine, every war…..oh crap……

When I first learned about the butterfly effect, I had an anxiety attack, which
eventually progressed into a full blown existentialist crisis. One of the fun
things about being a Christian is that you can have a good existentialist crisis,
stare into the abyss, let go, free fall…and you’ll land in hysterics about three
feet down at the foot of a King. Plunk! I’ve done it so many times, I imagine the
angels just roll their eyes and say, “it’s that crazy woman again, questioning the
nature of Creation. Must be a girl thing. Seems to be some part of their design.”

At least that’s what happens when you’re a Christian and have the Lord’s favor.
If you don’t have His favor, you may well plunge into the abyss and the angels
watch you go by in a free fall and sing, “wheeeee, look at that one go!”
I have no idea and no desire to find out. It’s a long way down to the bottom
of the abyss.

We really do create reality for ourselves and for those around us. Everything we do,
no matter how small, has an impact on those around us and on those not around us, and
on those yet to come. People are far more important, far more valuable to the equation,
than most of us realize. Every single one of us, every word spoken, every breath we take,
every thought we have, alters the very fabric of the universe.

It’s a huge responsibility, enough to trigger a good existentialist crisis, and
underscores the profound implications of the Greatest Commandment.

Our lives really are the greatest love story ever told and we are called to live them
as if we are all madly and passionately in love with every breathless moment. As if
that is not the most awesome thing ever, our lives are only the first chapter.

truly, madly, deeply

Why My Wife’s Job is Harder than Mine   1 comment

herjob

This is from the blog Bowling with Ed:

I work at a large, top-200 law firm in one of the ten most populous cities in the country. The hours can be grueling, there are constant deadlines, and the work is mentally demanding.  Any partner in my particular practice area can assign me work, which means I have more than 30 potential bosses.  At any given time, I am working on projects for three to five partners, all of whom believe that their assignment should take priority over any other work.  As a result, there have been many long days (and long nights).

Moreover, being a lawyer at a large firm is a high-stress endeavor.  Even small mistakes can have significant implications and, as a result, tensions can run high.  And of course, because excellence is expected, partners are unlikely to give much positive feedback for a job well done; instead, the reward for good work is more work.

It doesn’t get much better when I venture outside my office.  Lawyers are often the butt of jokes, and society, in general, has little regard for my profession.   In fact, 34% of Americans say that “lawyers contribute little to nothing to society“?

I do not share this to complain or to engender any sympathy. I’m well compensated for my work and am grateful for the opportunity to work at my firm.  My point is simply that the position of “associate” at a major law firm is generally regarded as a very difficult job. With that said, I make the following observation with great confidence: my wife’s job is harder.

My wife is self-employed.  She has only two clients to respond to, sets her own hours, has no dress code to follow, and primarily works from home.  Stated differently, she has two demanding, needy, and childish clients, is on call 24-7, is so busy she doesn’t even have time to shower some days, and is essentially a prisoner in her own home.

The astute reader has deduced her occupation: My wife is a stay-at-home mother (“SAHM”).

In our society, it seems that being a SAHM is frequently misunderstood.  SAHMs are often asked if they “just” stay home with their kids and, if so, how do they fill their days? They are asked if they look forward to “going back to work,” or if they miss having a job. Others (often singles or married women who don’t have children) express their longing for the day when they can stay home with their kids, rhapsodizing about the glory of motherhood and peppering SAHMs with questions about the glorious existence that must be the life of a SAHM.  In other words, our society seems to have concluded that SAHMs are either

  1. On a sabbatical of sorts from the real world, treading water in some sort of slow-moving existence featuring too much free time and not enough significance; or
  2. Living an idyllic life, consisting of snuggling and playing with soft cuddly babies, participating in fun-filled play dates with other moms and babies, and having plenty of time to engage in fulfilling hobbies and friendships.

With these two polar opposite characterizations of SAHMs, I imagine most young mothers feel either an overwhelming sense of insignificance, because the first assumption paints them as unmotivated or unqualified members of society, or a deep sense of personal failure, if their experience as a mother fails to resemble the blissful scenario described by the second assumption.  It’s a bit surprising these views don’t drive young mothers to an institution!  And that is just the external pressure and misunderstanding a SAHM may face from family, friends, (obnoxious) strangers, and the media.  There is still the actual work of motherhood to contend with.

Make no mistake, my wife has made it abundantly clear that she feels extremely blessed to be a SAHM and would not choose to do anything else.  But, that does not change the simple, incontrovertible fact that it is hard work.  Here are just a few of the hats worn by a SAHM (along with the approximate annual salary):
  • Activity Coordinator / Planner – This encompasses not just trips to the zoo, play dates, and parent-tot “craft projects,” but also all the daily activities that keep a child engaged for twelve hours a day.  (Salary: $41,000)
  • Educator and Facilitator of Cognitive Development – SAHMs are working with impressionable and fertile minds. A Harvard study states what “[w]e have long known that interactions with parents, caregivers, and other adults are important in a child’s life, but new evidence shows that these relationships actually shape brain circuits and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes, from academic performance to mental health and interpersonal skills.” No pressure, right?  Sure, it might be easier to duct-tape their diaper to the floor in front of the TV watching Barney for the greater part of the day, but a good SAHM (like my wife) looks for, and creates, opportunities to stimulate her child’s brain development. (Salary: $28,000)
  • Chef/Hostess/Waitress/Busboy (girl)/Dishwasher – A SAHM’s kitchen duties go well beyond food preparation.  Having observed this process in our home, it goes something like this: (1) prepare the food; (2) convince the child(ren) it really is time to eat, which may or may not involve physically “escorting” the child(ren) to the table; (3) serve the food to the child(ren); (4) field complaints regarding the type of food prepared, its texture, its temperature, its color, its shape, or its taste; (5) confer with the “chef” as to whether an alternate entree is available; (6) return to the table to advise the child(ren) that the kitchen is closed, and risk enduring verbal harassment; (7) pick up food that has been dropped (or thrown) to the floor; (8) after the meal, wipe down (or hose off) the child(ren), the table, and the floor; (9) collect the dishes, rinse them, and load the dishwasher.  In fact, one of the only things separating this experience from an actual restaurant is payment of any kind (and after-dinner mints)! (Salary: $85,000; $23,000; $26,000; $18,000; $22,000)
  • Mediator – For SAHMs with more than one child, conflict resolution is a regular necessity.  Whether they are toddlers, young children, middle schoolers, or high schoolers, allegations of “that’s mine,” “he hit me,” “I was watching that,” “she ruined my jeans,” “he ate the last piece,” and similar claims are sure to resonate within the halls of your home. (Salary: $60,000)
  • Interior Decorator / Organizer – When you walk into a home and it feels warm and inviting, there is a high probability that you are benefiting from what is commonly referred to as “a woman’s touch.”  If, in contrast, the home looks like this:
    empty house

     

    …you are likely experiencing “a man’s touch.” This ability and effort naturally carries over into the children’s rooms and affects not just the aesthetics of those rooms, but also the organization.  You may not have realized, but children are messy.  So any day that you come home and do not trip over or step on multiple toys in the hallway, your room, or on any other available floor space, your wife had something to do with that. (Salary: $51,000)

  • Hazardous Waste Technician: Diapers. Spit-ups. Projectile Vomiting. Potty Training. Need I say more? (Salary: $43,000)
  • Nurse: While some injuries (or perceived injuries) may only require a kiss from mommy to jumpstart the healing process, other slips, tumbles, collisions, and flying objects cause more significant damage.  A SAHM must do triage and carry out the appropriate level of treatment, all while comforting her child in his or her fragile emotional state. (Salary: $65,000)
  • Taxi Service: When my wife was growing up, it was not uncommon for my mother-in-law to drive in excess of 20,000 miles on an annual basis.  Much like at mealtime, the process involved in going anywhere is extensive.  A SAHM must round up the children, load them (and an extensive amount of supplies) into the vehicle, drive to the destination while enjoying the musical stylings of “musicians” like the Wiggles, unload the children and supplies, engage in whatever activity is on the agenda, and then repeat the process to return home.  Moreover, this scenario fails to take into account the various “wrinkles” that may complicate the journey: for example, (1) a child decides that what was inside his tummy after lunch belongs outside his tummy and all over the interior of the car, or; (2) the travelers arrive at the destination only to discover that the activity was cancelled and they didn’t get the message because mommy’s phone is still drying out from having been thrown in the toilet the night before. (Salary: $25,000)
  • Supply Chain Manager – Lest we forget, all the roles filled by a SAHM also require extensive supplies.  Diapers, clothes, laundry detergent, food, books, toys, and copious amounts of carpet cleaner are just the beginning.  Managing inventory, purchasing and restocking essential items is a never-ending process. (Salary: $90,000)

There was an article in Forbes in 2011 suggesting that SAHMs should charge $115,000 for their services.  The total annual approximate salary for the positions I listed above is $577,000.  Granted, a SAHM is not dedicating 40 hours per week to each of these roles, but if someone suggests that it is possible–without paying a substantial salary–to locate an individual that was not only sufficiently skilled to assume all of these roles, but also willing to take on a job with this many responsibilities . . . then I would like to introduce that individual to a little thing I like to call “reality.”

Finally, and lest we forget, merging all these professionals into one SAHM only covers the actual physical labor.  It doesn’t even begin to address the immense feelings of responsibility, and the hopes and dreams for the futures of their precious children.  Nor does it account for the fact that most SAHMs accomplish all of this in a continuous state of sleep deprivation.

If you are wondering what to do with this information, here are two suggestions:

  1. If your wife is a stay-at-home mother, recognize her contributions to your family, thank her (often) for the very important work she does, and try to make sure that you aren’t the only one that gets to take advantage of vacation days.
  2. If you know stay-at-home mothers, stop asking them if it is nice to not have a job, and bless them with the opportunity to have an adult conversation once in a while by taking them out to lunch or dinner.  (And if she leans over to cut your food for you, just let it go!)

———————————————————————————
Update: 1/24/2014

 

This post has gotten a tremendous response–one I could not have imagined (300,000 views and counting).  Thank you for reading and sharing it!

I wanted to address something that has come up in some of the comments.  I wrote this post as a tribute to all the work that my wife–a SAHM–does on a daily basis.  Because it was written from my personal perspective and is about my wife, it does not address stay-at-home fathers, or mothers who work outside the home.  Certainly no family has the exact same circumstances as any other and I am confident we all know moms and dads in a variety of situations who are amazing parents and very dedicated to their children.

My hope is that this post encourages all of us-–no matter our particular situation-–to seek to understand and appreciate the contributions of our spouse.  With this in mind, perhaps the best thing we can do is to use this article–and any comments–to support and recognize the contributions of our spouse, no matter the situation.  Thanks again for reading!

_45_4506_LYGBG00Z

Posted January 25, 2014 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Cauldron of Cackling Crooks and Criminals   Leave a comment

mother-and-children

Painting of devoted Mother, immortalized forever

Cauldron of Cackling Crooks and Criminals

A Confederacy of Fools   6 comments

“The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting an inexperienced man like him with the presidency.  It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.  The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America.  Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.  The Republic can survive a Barack Obama.  It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”

–From the newspaper Prager Zeitung, Czech Republic, April 28, 2010

_____

“A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.”

–Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

Some Quotes from Range Magazine