Monday, June 29, 2009

A young wife's vision

When I started writing here, I was in the final year before completing my degree, and already very disillusioned with the idea that feminine happiness can be achieved through a mad race of trying to keep up with a career, family, marriage and home - all at the same time. I knew I just wanted to be a wife and mother, raise my children, and through my daily works give my family a peaceful life. On the outside, I was a promising, successful, educated young woman on the verge of a blossoming career. On the inside, I was a traditional, heart-at-home aspiring housewife.

Now I'm a stay-at-home wife and mother, blessed to be married to a wonderful man who appreciates my efforts at home and has a sound and realistic perspective on how the movement of women out to the work force affected individual families and society as a whole in less-than-positive ways. I live in a little house surrounded by a little garden, and am busily occupied by issues such as: how to raise a family and nurture a home on one income, how to cook healthily and frugally, how to be more efficient with house work.

I still have a lot to learn about the basics of keeping home and other, more subtle domestic arts. Because I didn't have much background in this while growing up, I think I will keep learning in years to come. I'm not anywhere near perfect, but I do love to cook, work in the garden, catch a quiet hour here and there knitting and/or crocheting and/or hand-sewing. I'm passionate about growing as a person through marriage and motherhood.

And I think that only now, I'm starting to truly feel the social pressure most, if not all women today face if they dare to remain at home for their husbands and/or children, rather than be out working. When my degree was all finished and done, I was already very pregnant. Then I had a baby. Shira is not six months old, but I think 90% of babies her age are already staying with a nanny or in daycare around here. More and more, I find myself having to answer questions, such as: why aren't you working? Aren't you bored at home? When are you going to do something useful with your life?

And more: don't you feel a hint of panic when you see all your peers working and gaining experience, while your education is slowly using relevance because you aren't keeping up? What if something happens to your husband and you need to establish yourself in the work force not this year or the next, but 15 or 20 years from now, when it's too early for you to retire but too late to do anything with your education? What will you do then?

Staying at home does not come without challenges. I enjoy society, but I'm also a natural introvert, so making acquaintances isn't easy when company isn't pushed on me (like it was in school). I can get lonely but it isn't easy for me to reach out and make friends. Sometimes I'm discouraged because I can't keep up with a schedule, or because I have a seemingly never-ending list of goals and I can never accomplish more than a fraction of it. But I'm definitely not bored. I'm busy and challenged, intellectually as well as physically. No, it doesn't take much brains to do the laundry or wash the dishes. But it does take lots of effort and thinking to direct this enterprise called "home", and it's certainly challenging to try and find more efficient and economical ways of doing it.

Yes, something might happen to me or my husband one day. God alone is unfailing. My husband is human. However, I think it's hardly constructive to let my life be directed by fear of what might happen. I can work outside the home, limit my family size and give up all the precious early years of my children's lives, thinking I'm being wise and preparing for what might come in the future. And what if, in 40 years, when both my husband and I are retired, I see the years of our lives stretching behind us and realize that I have given up our dream and vision out of fear? What if I end up telling myself - oh wait... nothing happened after all. We could have made it on one income. We could have had something different than this mad rat race we've lived in... why did we give up? What a bitter thought it would be! I want to be guided by love and trust in God, and by my husband's leadership... not fear.

I'm not saying being employed outside the home is ever and always wrong in all circumstances. But if you and your husband are in agreement that it would be the best for your family, and the only thing that is stopping you is fear of possible (present or future) financial hardships, or concern of what others may think, there might be ways to make it happen. It isn't wrong to try and secure the family's future in case something ever happens to the main provider. If you are worried, you may want to invest extra in a good insurance, and/or keep up the wife's qualification for something she might do in the future.

Paying attention to what others think may seem shallow, but it can be honestly overwhelming. If all the women in your family work, if your in-laws raise eyebrows every time they hear you are still at home, if everyone is asking when, finally, you're going to do something useful, if the overall feeling directed towards you is that of concern and pity, no wonder a woman is pressured to leave her home. It's so important for every wife to pray and to consult her husband.

I'm just a beginner along this path of wifehood, motherhood and building a home. Often people write to me and ask for my insight on various matters, courtship, marriage, education for young women, raising children and faith. When I write back, I always begin by saying that I'm a young wife and the main focus in my life right now is learning, not directing others. I'm often overwhelmed when I think about how much there is still to learn. I can only pray that as long as I strive to be the best wife and mother I can, I will be fine.

40 comments:

Joanna J. said...

What a beautiful post, Anna. I love that you are guided by a trust in God rather than a fear of what may happen in the future.

As a former successful career woman, I can attest that in my life nothing has been as satisfying and as challenging as the past two years of exiting the work force and becoming a SAHM.

We have made financial sacrifices to do this, but honestly I am happier and more content now than when our household income was more than double when I was working.

I, too, am blessed to have a husband who sees the value in what I do every day. It wasn't always this way...the women in his family had successful careers and he himself was raised by different nannies/daycares. However, he has grown to see what a beautiful plan it is to have a wife keeping the home and children. For us, it is worth the sacrifice of earthly treasures.

Laura said...

I really enjoyed this post!

Brooke H. said...

I understand completely where you're coming from, as I am even more new to staying at home than you yourself are. It's nice to be able to read from someone who's been in my shoes somewhat. Thanks for posting!

Heather said...

Anna~ I am fortunate to stay home with my children, and everyday for 7 years I have learned something new to make my home run smoother in some aspect. Good luck and God Bless.

Jenny Izirba said...

Anna,

Once again I am humbled by your incredible God-given wisdom and the eloquence with which you express it. I would say that you take the words right out of my mouth, but that would be giving myself far too much credit!

Very often in discussions about the topic of choosing to stay home with one's family or going to work outside the home there tends to be a lot of defensiveness, and not enough thoughtful consideration regarding the motives and (as you rightly noted) fears that accompany these decisions. I very much appreciate your delicate consideration of both sides of the story!

I especially appreciate your consideration of the flip-side of being motivated by fear: the potential realization that nothing happened at all. I am reminded of the parable of the talents. The man who hid his lord's talent so that it wouldn't be lost succeeded in that regard, but at the same time he had disappointed his lord because he had not taken this talent and multiplied it to his lord's benefit.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is shallow to be influenced by what others think. When women criticize the social pressures put on us, we are often told that we should rise above these pressures. But it is a basic human need to be accepted and admired by one's community -- which is why community approval or disapproval is an effective way of controlling what we all do.

I think that is why it is important to criticize religious norms and community norms that want to place us all in boxes of what is appropriate or inappropriate for women to do. (Of course, I come from the opposite perspective of thinking that women shouldn't be pressured to be stay-at-home mothers.)

-- Pendragon

Anonymous said...

Good post! I ran into this this weekend with the question "When are you going back to work" (after the baby is born)?
This after a conversation about brand new furniture and fancy enormous t.v.'s and $500 dollar strollers...
I can't help but think what many women are giving up for things. I mean are $2,000 couches the best thing with a newborn around anyway?
I just listened, but came away feeling like I must be the only one who would rather be there than have all the toys.
The other thing is, do we doubt God so much that if something where to happen, he wouldn't guide us and be with us?

Jessica said...

I know how you feel a bit. I'll be 30 in two months and still live at home (I'm unmarried) and I always get the raised eyebrow. People think I'm scared to move out, or too immature, or lazy, or just plain weird.

I work as a nurse in a large hospital and I save the money I make there for (hopefully!) marriage in the future. I only work a part-time, unbenefited position at the hospital so I can volunteer at a pregnancy resource center (supporting women to choose life), as a doula (childbirth support person), and sing in my church's choir. At home, I also cook dinner at times, take on some of the chores, and provide transportation for my younger brother.

I think it would be foolish to move out and throw money away on rent if I don't have to. When I get enough money and a good deal comes by I may invest in some property. But until then I'll enjoy quiet evenings with my family watching Wheel of Fortune. : )

As far as still being single, it definitely causes me some distress! It's such a struggle for my stubborn heart to be satisfied in Him alone. But I believe that God will bring me a husband at the right time. And if He never does then He is still good.

Thanks for your blog, Anna! I'm a daily visitor! Blessings!!

Jennifer said...

Two things come to my mind upon reading this:

1. My sister-in-law finished her degree at the counsel of her husband (who was in seminary at the time). They moved into the mission field and had 2 children and she stayed home all those years. And then he died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 40, leaving her with 2 young children. She took one year off before going back to work, and God has provided work for her for the past 7 years. It has been difficult, of course, but she is thankful for those years at home, and it all worked out in God's providence.

2. My sister is experiencing some of what you are describing here, as well... the new mommy issues. She just had her first (she also has an adopted 19 mo. old daughter). I remind her often that these feelings are almost universal... but some personalities find it harder in some ways than others. Your description of yourself reminds me of her, so I can empathize with you!

But you are doing a noble task, and finding delight in it. That will take you far! You will have many memories to look back upon with joy. Being a stay-at-home mom is not without stress or conflict, that is the truth. But going to work doesn't take away either one! I think sometimes people want to justify themselves by convincing others that their way is best, after all. It is our jobs as women, mothers, wives, to be discerning as we listen to all these voices.
Easier said than done. ;)

God bless,
Jen

Pom Pom said...

Your blog is an intellectual and philosophical contribution to thinking women all over the world. Your devotion to your husband and your child is holy and sweet. God does not define "success" in the same manner, does He? He's about being not doing. Whew! We exist to know HIM, to love HIM, to worship HIM. That's enough.

Deanna said...

Truly, I believe that there are more women in the universe that think on the lines like you do about the importance of home and family, but are persuaded to think there isn't a significant number believing the same way. The remnant is larger than a scrap. We just have to look for one another through the maze that's getting the way.

There is a sad influence that seems to convince people that being a homemaker, wife and mother is not good enough...that women must be living a life where women run themselves ragged for money while ignoring the home relationships.

This influence becomes a mind set that can destroy the hope and enjoyment that comes from being in a position that will bring contentment, satisfaction and growth.

So I truly cheer you on and praise you for being Anna that so many love and admire that writes from her viewpoint that encourages so many to be contented ladies in the home force that blesses.

I didn't have a cheering section when I was a young married woman, homemaker and mother. In fact I had no one cheering me on or encouraging me...in including family and girlfriends. It's strange. I've been married 34 years and during this time, I have not had people cheering me on and saying what a blessing marriage is.

There wasn't the good news of others saying I was doing the right thing even being MARRIED. I praise you and all women/men that are married, doing the right and godly thing having a covenant relationship in their marriages!

Also tending to our earthly needs being a homemaker. I'm cheering you on for creating a haven! I'm cheering you on for being a momma and nurturer!

I'm cheering ALL of us on that are wives, mothers and homemakers. It is a position of great importance.

I'm pro-haven.
~D~

Maria said...

Anna,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I too am often overwhelmed by the amount of things to learn as a homemaker, but little by little I find joy in each finished project, as I refine my techniques and learn from other, more experienced moms. There is definitely a lot to learn, and it is not as easy as other people may think!
As to being financially secure, my husband and I realized that by (1) getting rid of a lot of debt, (2) being frugal, (3) a lot of creativity, and (4) my husband getting a small raise, we were able to be more financially secure than if I had worked full-time. God is good!

Bethany Hudson said...

Oh, Anna, you know how deeply I empathize, dear. It really is such a blessing to have other young wives and mothers like you to remind me that I'm not crazy for taking a chance on God's promises :)

God bless you,
Bethany

Jennifer said...

This post so beautifully expresses my own thoughts and feelings as of late. I'm six months pregnant with my first child and I've been struggling with having to explain my decision to stay at home. Thank you so much for the encouragement! I'm a new reader and looking forward to reading more.

Front Porch Society said...

You are right when you say fear should not be a motivating factor as to whether a woman decides to stay at home or have a career. It really is up to each married couple what works best for them in their own situation.

Social pressures will always be there. No matter what a woman decides to do. But as long as a woman believes they are following God's plan for her life, whatever decision she makes will be blessed and will be the right one for her.

jiabaoyu said...

Just as SAHM women feel the pressure of going back to work, working women with young children also feel the pressure of being "bad mothers" for working.

It's even sadder that women who are victims of such criticisms are themselves criticizing the choices of other women.

My mother had the opposite problem of SAHM. She worked fulltime all of my life and felt constant need to "prove" that she was still a good mother. Just as SAHM should not feel pressured about their decision, neither should my mother have felt she was selfish or bad for "missing out". As her only child, I will assure anyone she missed nothing in my life.

I don't believe that working women damages families, I believe men and women who can't manage their lives damage families. Yes, if a mother work long hours, that is bad for kids...but so are fathers working long hours. So are neglectful SAHM who don't look after their kids.

It's all about balance. Not everyone can balance home and work, but my mother did, and she, like her SAHM brethren, should not be made to feel inadequate for her choices.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Anna! Interestingly enough, the Christian writer Helen Andelin predicted back in the 70's that if all women insisted on working, that the economy would change (wages per person would lower) and someday women would have no choice as to whether or not they could work. Here in the US, 80% of those unemployed in this recession are men.(Guess what - it's cheaper to keep women on the job - so much for the equality!)
Furthermore, many women, myself included are now forced to shoulder the burden of providing for our families with our husbands out of work. Among my friends, two of us have had to do this and guess what - both of us now have serious and life changing illnesses, which I have no doubt is brought on by the strain. I'd give anything to not have this burden. Feminism did us no favors, ladies. Stay home if you can!

Audrey said...

I hope you don't mind that I linked to this post! :) I blogged about it, as well. I had too much to say for one little comment! :)

Annajean D. said...

Anna,

You are an inspiration to many women (myself included) who also feel that same pressure about working outside the home. Never lose your conviction. It seems as though there are so few of us now with such desires to be at home and we all greatly benefit from each others strength and support. I got married just over 6 months ago at the age of 26 and it has been a very difficult transition for me from independent working young woman to married wife (even though this was always my desire). So many people (even many of those who are close to me) don't seem to understand this way of life. Your blog is such an inspiration to me. Thanks, Anna!

Annajean D.

Hilde said...

You are so right! I gave up my career to care for my family, and I was always happy with it. But in the last 30 years, the pressure to do "something useful" out of the house has become stronger and stronger. And our minister for families, a lady with seven children, sees her most important goal in providing more daycare for babies, as until now the mothers usually stayed at home until the child went to kindergarten at the age of three. How crazy is this?

Shannon said...

Anna, it must be difficult for you at times-feeling as the odd one out in a society that endorses the current state of affairs with wives working outside the home, kids in daycare, etc. I often feel alone with few people to connect with. I am 30 and single, with most of my peers following the footsteps of the feminist regime. Due to the way society is, I often fear not finding a life partner. I believe that SAHW/SAHM's are called to something on the road less traveled. A big responsibility comes with what you are doing. In a sense women in your category are trailblazers for the young women who are victims of the feminist agenda. I commend you for what you are doing and I pray that you will find women to connect to, who share your core beliefs in this area.

Anonymous said...

I am 50 and became a stay at home mom at 38. It amazes me that we have to defend something that only 30 years ago was excepted as a normal choice. I have lived that life, single,my own apartment ,doing just what I wanted , going just where I wanted to, seeing . eating . sleeping just for me! It began to feel like I was eating sugar with a ladel!!!! So its not like I don't know. And my Dad dropped dead suddenly when I was a young girl. my stay at home Mom got to work at training for a job and went to work.I think competent women are able to handle that and those that arent as strong would fold up even if they already had a job. How many working women could actually support their family suddenly? The main goal to me seems to be to live on one income even if there are two incomes, that is the safety net.(worldly) Yet alot of women leave home and family to others because of fear,it is so sad and I doubt many women used to sit around fearful 30 years ago worrying about "what if" I think people excepted that life is messy and has twists and turns along the way and you deal with them as they come along .

Buffy said...

It *is* difficult to swin against the tide. However, in the final analysis if your husband supports what you want to do then that is all that really counts.

Anonymous said...

You have eloquently captured the plight of a stay at homer in Israel. It truly is an unacceptable choice here. The only women I know who stay at home are at the very bottom of the socio-economic scale, uneducated, and just cannot find a job.They would work if they could.

There are a few anglo foreigners where the mother stays home, but they aren't considered truly Israeli.
Israelis are very straightforward and I can only imagine what kind of comments you get.
But truth be told, I'm not sure women ever stayed home in Israel since it was established as a modern country. And it's not about big screen TVs and toys, as one poster mentioned. Women work to survive, and to be a part of the public sphere.

Sometimes I wish I could stay home full time. But one thing you said here resonates with me. Work, like school, forces an introvert like me to make friends. I love the staff I work with at the school where I teach. Without these colleagues, I would know absolutely no one in this city.

That's exactly the reason I think homeschooling can be problematic. Had I been homeschooled, I would not have the childhood friends I have now. There is something about being together day in, day out as a child that creates intense camraderie. It's not the same to just meet up with a few homeschoolers a few times a week.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Is being a SAHM in your country not accepted? I live in the US and a rather liberal part of it at that, and I have to tell you, with small children, people more often than not, expect a mother to be at home, at least part-time.

I think years of conflict as put many SAHMs on the defense, but the majority of people here understand that raising your children right means spending time with them. Just because I work doesn't mean I think that all women should work. I just think that I should work for now.
Nurse Bee

Anonymous said...

As I mentioned above, I have a ton of sympathy for any person who feels she is being judged based on community disapproval of whether he/she works or not. My sympathy extends to working women, stay-at-home moms, and stay-at-home dads. (Working dads are not so controversial, though I am sure quite a few of them would stay home if it were more of an option.)

I don't however have any sympathy for adults who feel economically forced into the workplace. Wouldn't we all like to be independently wealthy or have someone else pay our bills? I think that not having to earn an income is a HUGE luxury, not something that anyone can take for granted as some kind of right. (Not to mention that I don't think feminism is responsible for a state of affairs whereby most people have to contribute to the economy in order to support themselves. That has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with reality.)

-- Pendragon

Mrs. Anna T said...

Nurse Bee,

See Tammy's comment above. Israel, a country founded by Marxists with a 2-year compulsory army service for women, frowns (to put it mildly) on stay-at-home wives and mothers. Moreover, people around here are often very straightforward (and many times, I'd say, rude and insolent) and don't hesitate to tell just what they think.

Anonymous said...

Israel was never a marxist country. It was a socialist one, and still is to a large extent. I actually think its socialist roots have on the whole been beneficial to women, but that's opening a whole new can of worms. Most of your readers seem to be staunchly anti-socialist, and think that even Canada is the devil incarnate, so I'll just keep quiet on this one.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

I also live in Israel and I am not sure that I agree with Tammy about SAHM-s being "unacceptable" here. (I am a full time working mom with 5 kids ages 10,8,6,4,2.) I know several mothers in my neighborhood who are SAHM. Actually, I know very few woman who, like me, have jobs that keep them out of the home until 4PM every day. (Most moms in my area are teachers and have fewer hours.)

However, I agree with Pendragon that staying at home is a luxury (which I wish I could afford). Somehow, when you have few children, and they are small, you can get by with being very frugal and having a single salary. When the kids get older, the expenses get bigger - even if you are trying to save. Just as an example, what do you do if your kid needs braces? I was told that the full treatment will cost about 10,000 sheckels. Even small things, like shoes, become big expenses when you have a large family. (I specifically say shoes since it is unhealthy to wear these second hand.) I dont know if you are planning on homeschooling, but if not, education can be very expensive too, depending on where you live (chareidi schools are generally cheaper than national religious schools).

In Israel, apartments are *very* expensive, in most religious areas. On a single salary, I am not sure if one can amass the capitol for a down-payment or manage a morgage. Of course, many families here are lucky that they have parents who help them buy an apartment. If not, even with 2 salaries, this can be very difficult.

Since I think it is wonderful to be a SAHM, I really wonder Anna if you have a solution for such issues (e.g., if you manage to save enough a month to ward off future expenses). I wish you lots of luck. (I am enjoying reading your blog - finally an orthodox Israeli woman with a thought provoking blog!)

Sara

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should consider moving to the US! :-)

Nurse Bee

Audrey said...

In response to your comment on my blog (which was in response to your blog :) )...

The feminist movement has affected us so much. The men of this generation were raised mainly by feminist. They were not taught how to be men, or how to be the head of their household. Feminism has raised a bunch of wimps who don't know how to provide for their families. This is why we who are against feminism need to do our part to raise children who know their roles as men and women. They need to know that men have a place and women have a place, and God has ordained that. We need to raise women who put their families first and take care of their households, husbands, and children, and we need to raise men who know how to provide for their family and be the spiritual head of the household. We need to do our best to try to undo the damage that was done by feminism by running a "traditional" and "old-fashioned" household, and teaching our children how to do the same with their households.

:)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Sara,

We were blessed to buy a house in cash without any mortgage. We opted to live in an inexpensive area which is not very close to major cities, something which not many people are willing to do. My husband has an 1-hour long drive, but we live in a beautiful area without the burden of mortgage to plague us. And yes, it's a religious area, too!

We hope to homeschool, but this has nothing to do with money, more with how we view education and family's place in the children's lives.

Yes, expenses grow as children grow, but so do work-related expenses as well. I think my potential salary equals about sending two children to daycare, perhaps a bit more.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy, socialism stems from Marxism. The kibbutz movement is a perfect example.

Who were many of Israel's prominent founders? Secular Russian Jews = marxists.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

I am also stay at home mom since 6 months ago. (my son is 14 months old now). Being a mother, i learn more depper about GOD's grace and love and how to depend on GOD alone, Trust in GOD.
Honestly, sometimes , i feel bored or think it's be better and easier to be carreer woman. When i see, my friend who is still working and being a mom, and how they have sweet family and children, it looks ok to have both carreer and family. But, when i pray and remind my self about being Mom is a grace and calling, i am being encouraged again.
When i found your blog, it is really being a blessing for me, in this world there are many moms who decided to be staying at home mom and left her good carreer (maybe it looks fool for world), good education, and it is really worthed.


Mar

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sara that many women here are teachers, which allows them to finish work early (anytime between 1 and 3). But I'm wondering if the SAHMs that you know Sara are Israeli by birth, because really I don't know any (I'm not including women who take an extended maternity leave of a year, and then go back to work).

I also think Anna has a point...if you have a baby every year, and have to send a few to daycare, then it is often logical to just stay home, as you're not earning very much (this refers to women who bear children every year, for many years).

I know socialism stems from marxism.But practically speaking, they are very different. Israel was never a communist country.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Mrs. T.

Our Society needs women, like you, to take a stand. To live the life that you feel God has ordained.
To be married is a blessing and needs to be respected by how one lives within a marriage.
I feel our Society would be so much better if women put their time and attention on home and family; On their husbands, it is a quiet life with not a lot of glory for themselves. They know in their hearts how wonderful it is to have a true home, full of love and satisfaction, that does not come from bringing in a paycheck. When wives work it is never the same.
We have come so far it does have to be a true conviction, because it is not standard any longer. It is not without a challenge.
It is unhealthy for the wife to carry the burden, but it is done so very often and I can only see it changing when a wife has a true heart for the home.

pedalpower said...

When I was at home, I was one of the few moms I knew doing so. All the time, people were wondering why I wasn't working outside the home since my children were in school. I knew that this was best though...I knew where my kids were, and in the summer when school was out, they were at home with me, not unsupervised as many children are. I was home to greet them after school when they are excited and want to talk. I wasn't too exhausted or feeling guilty about enough time with them to provide discipline when needed.

I stayed home until my youngest was almost in high school. Now my daughter is in university, but she says someday she wants to be able to stay home with her children because she loved having me there.

At first my husband thought I should be working too, but supported me because I felt so strongly that this was what God wanted me to do. Eventually, he realized that our lifestyle freed him from many of the childcare worries most couples have. We sacrificed luxuries to do it, but it was worth it, and we gained the luxury of time with each other and a more relaxed home....which is priceless.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Did you serve time in the miltary?

Also, despite what might be presented on many of the American blogs you read, SAHMs are by no means counter-cultural here.

Nurse Bee

Coffee Catholic said...

I live for the day when girls understand that they can have their babies first, raise them, and THEN go to college and get a career. That this college-and-career does not have to happen FIRST. Nor does a mom have to work outside of the home ~ she can do that later, after the children are grown!

His Talmidat said...

A million (sort of!) people have commented, but I felt such "Ah, yes!" when reading about all you are learning and what you want for yourself and family, I had to comment too. I am also very introverted and just beggining to learn all the details of managing (for my husband) our home. Overwhelmed? Whew! Excited? Daily! Thanks for being out there doing what so many of us are doing, loving our families, loving our God, learning everything new.