The Culture of Self Righteousness

I spent the first nineteen years of my life in the LDS/Mormon church. There were many beliefs and mentalities that I abandoned upon converting to Christianity, but one of the most prevalent — and one that I still have to work on — is self righteousness.

Self-righteousness is not unique to the Mormon church. It can be found in all sorts of people and circumstances, but most notably in any legalistic culture among those who fulfill the requirements relatively well. Active, and particularly temple-”worthy,” Mormons are often self-righteous. As a regularly-attending, non-swearing, sacrament-taking, temple-worthy, young women’s-attending, tithe-paying Mormon, I fit right into that niche.

It’s generally not even a conscious thing. You’d never say “I’m better than them,” and you might even never think it, but there there’s still an air, a feeling, an attitude. The person who struggles, who smokes, whose life is falling apart, who doesn’t attend church regularly, who drops a swear word sometimes when they’re not even angry…there’s an unspoken, often un-thought, but very real attitude and feeling of self righteousness towards them. Sometimes this is a feeling that they should just work harder and change, because, well, you and lots of others have. Sometimes its a silent acknowledgement that you don’t have their problem. Sometimes is patronizing advice, or gossip about other peoples’ issues that you don’t actually need to be talking about but you’re glad you don’t have those issues and, well, they brought it on themselves with their pride or sinfulness.

It’s all very Pharisaical, even as they take pride in not being like the Pharisees. Because, well, I would never pray in the temple the way that Pharisee did.

But you don’t have to pray it, or say it out loud, or even expressly think “I”m better,” to have the same attitude.

Luke 18

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Self righteousness misses the mark. We’re all sinners.

Romans 3

23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Our righteousness isn’t about us, profits us nothing, and means nothing apart from Jesus. We don’t come to Jesus “good enough” to be “worthy” of him. We don’t come to Jesus having “done our best” and present that to him. We come to Jesus as sinners. Some sins may be more serious in their consequence, in their rebellion against God, in their persistence and recurrence, but all sin separates us from God, and self righteousness separates us just as surely as greediness, adultery, or lying. Who are we kidding when we see ourselves as better, subconsciously or overtly, just because we actually attend church and tithe faithfully? Who are we kidding when we pity someone because they said the wrong thing and we didn’t? Who are we kidding when we think someone is getting what they deserve for their actions when we’re busy feeling higher in our “worthiness” than they are?

Our self righteousness cheapens what Jesus did.

Why do we think we’re better than someone else, when we need Jesus just as much as they do?

I have to remind myself of this regularly. It’s gotten easier over the years, but as someone who likes to try to pursue knowledge and wisdom and apply it to my life and enjoy the fruits of doing so, it’s all too easy to look down on people who don’t, or get frustrated with them. Such an attitude totally misses the mark on loving them where they’re at, and loving them into a better place, all the while never losing sight of my own sinfulness and need for the Spirit’s transforming power in my life.

What do you think? Don’t think about other people’s self righteousness. Look for your own. Where do you tend to feel superior or better than others, even if you’d never expressly think or say it?

Food Prep and Figuring Out Being a Railroad Wife

Food prep can be a significant time saver when it comes to making meals, and can even save money by getting produce to last longer.

I’ve never been very good at it.

Mostly, I just don’t take the time to do it shortly after grocery shopping. As a result, I have to do everything when it comes time to make the meals, and often waste produce that goes bad too soon.

bnsfMy husband recently started working for the railroad, which means he’s gone for as much as three days and nights at a time now. Since he’s still training, his schedule is especially busy, since he doesn’t have any days off yet and they’re working him constantly. Apparently, the idea is not only to train him, but to show him what “the worst” is so he knows exactly what he’s in for. By extension, that means me too.

On the road, he’s put up in hotels each night, none of which have a kitchen in the rooms, only a mini fridge and a microwave. That means that even if he has a grocery store within walking distance, and I’m not sure he does as most of the hotels, he’s stuck with precooked or microwaveable food, almost none of which is healthy, more or less Paleo. If I were in his place, I wouldn’t even want to spend my time off the tracks walking to grocery stores and figuring out my food for the next day, I’d much prefer to be utilizing my free time with a book, a laptop, or the hotel gym or pool.

As for me, it’s much harder to bring myself to cook full meals when Steven is gone, because it feels like I’m just cooking for me, and I have a baby who’s still young enough that he rarely can entertain himself long enough for me to cook a full meal. This has resulted in me eating fast food way too much, and in neither my hubby or I eating Paleo very well. Neither of us are as healthy — or as low in body fat –as we’d like.

For me, this means that meal prepping is getting very important. After I chatted with both my husband and with another railroad wife, we got Steven a cooler just big enough to hold a few days’ of meals, and I plan on making a few meals in a single day a couple times a week, probably when he’s heading home or when he’s sleeping right when he’s gotten back after working all night. .He’ll be able to take all or most of his meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — in his cooler, which means better quality and healthier meals through his trips and little or no money spent on food while he’s out. He may get teased a bit by the other guys on the road for bringing his cooler, but as the other railroad wife I talked to said, they get jealous when he pulls out a home cooked meal for dinner. For me, it means I have meals ready to go while he’s gone, which means I’ll be able to just heat them up and not have to worry about my son being either entertained or sleeping while I cook, or about cooking for only me every day, so I’ll also spend less and eat healthier. 

Bell peppers, strawberries, blueberries (in the colander), romaine, spinach, and broccoli and cauliflower (in the sink).

Bell peppers, strawberries, blueberries (in the colander), romaine, spinach, and broccoli and cauliflower (in the sink).

Today, I started in on it all. I chose a bunch of meals — more than a weeks’ worth, perhaps as much as two weeks worth depending on leftovers — to go shopping for. I did one big shopping trip for it all. And then I started doing prep.

It’s true that prep takes time, but it’s worth it. It just takes a bit of planning. Do it on a day when you actually have time to do food prep, so you don’t have to worry about it on days that you don’t.

My big goal was to get all the produce washed. Washing produce is helpful for removing dirt and such, but also for making it last longer. Washing it in the (clean) sink in water and a little apple cider vinegar helps kill bacteria that will cause it to go bad faster. I also removed stems from the spinach and broccoli (the cauliflower was already chopped) and separated the leaves on the romaine hearts before washing.

Prepping greensI recently learned of a good way to make greens last longer, so we’ll see how it goes. Wash them well, and then spread them out on a towel or paper towels no more than a couple layers deep so they’ll dry. After they’ve dried fairly well, transfer them onto a dry towel or paper towels, no more than two layers deep, and lay another towel or paper towels over top. Roll it up and rubber band it, and store in the fridge. This will allow moisture (which makes them go bad faster) to wick away, and make it easy to pick out any individual leaves that are going bad. Throwing out produce that is starting to go bad and leaving the produce that is still good preserves produce longer, as the produce that is going bad speeds up the process with produce that is still good.

Next on the list of food prep will be to cook up a few meals and food items in one go. For instance, I have breakfast sausage links to go with breakfast, and I can do multiple meals with ground beef, and then maybe the next set of meals I cook would be with chicken, which makes thawing out meat ahead of time easy to plan for.

 

Do you  prep your food? How do you do it?

A Wife’s Words

Proverbs 3112 She does [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 21

9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. 19 It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

Proverbs 27

15 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike Proverbs 12 4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 16

24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

I am self-sufficient, opinionated, and stubborn. I like to get things done. I like to be efficient. None of those are bad in the right contexts and when used in the right way, but one way they can be detrimental is when I become less than respectful or thoughtful in how I speak to my husband because of them. This is a huge problem for me. I can even be right, but if I don’t speak to him in the right way, being right doesn’t do me any good.

It can be hard for me to see what the right way to speak to him is, especially in the heat of the moment. We’ve had a lot of broken communication in our marriage, which is slowly but surely mending. One of the things I’ve been most convicted on over and over is of how I’ve spoken to him. There have been many instances where what I was asking of him or telling him wasn’t wrong, but the way I spoke to him and handled the issue was wrong. Realizing that has been very convicting.

I remember reading The Excellent Wife, which is based on Proverbs 31, and being bombarded with realization after realization that I had often failed in approaching him in a biblical and respectful manner when trying to address an issue. There is a great set of principles listed that includes handling it if a husband refuses to work things out, and I was very convicted in not following these well. It was clear to me how the steps involved could be very effective, and how not approaching problems in such a manner had been damaging. I often missed the Biblical part in how I spoke to him, and generally failed when it got time to go passed step four or five.

There are eight resources a woman has for conflict resolution or dealing with a husband’s wrong behavior, usually applied in order. These are:

  1. Communicating Biblically
  2. Overcoming evil with good
  3. Making a Biblical appeal
  4. Give a Biblical reproof
  5. Biblically respond to foolish or sinful demands
  6. Seek Godly counsel
  7. Follow the steps of church discipline
  8. Involve the governing authorities

I still struggle with this. Our ability to communicate well has been improving markedly for a while now, but there’s still a ways to go. I’ve spent this morning considering how best to talk about something in a manner that problem solves instead of accuses because my first instinct is to accuse and challenge.

Ladies, the above scriptures are so convicting and important. Who in the world wants to make their husband prefer a desert over her? What wife doesn’t want to be her husband’s safe place and confidante, speaking wisdom into his life, rather than being rottenness in his bones?

It’s amazing how waiting for — and even creating — the right time and mood can help, too. Let’s imagine two scenarios real quick. In both cases, the wife would like the lawn to get mowed that weekend, as it’s her husband’s responsibility and he’s a bit behind on it.

In the first scenario, he gets home from work. He walks in, puts his stuff down, hugs her, and immediately she says, “You haven’t been very good about getting the lawn mowed lately. I’d like it if you did it on Saturday.”

In the second scenario, he gets home from work. He walks in, puts his stuff down, hugs her, and she says, “I’m glad you’re home. How was your day?” Later, after he’s had some time to relax, maybe eat dinner and vent about a frustrating coworker, she sits down and says, “Honey, I would really appreciate it if the lawn was mowed this weekend. Would you be willing to do that for me?”

Can you see the contrast in environments? In the first, he’s likely to feel overworked and under appreciated. He’s likely to feel that his wife doesn’t think he’s good enough. In the second scenario, he’s been able to decompress and relax, and his wife has made him feel cared for and supported. In the first, she points out a shortcoming, even though he’s likely aware of the need to mow, and he may hear it more as an attack than a request. In the second, its a reasonable request with no blame assigned, and its easy for him to understand why she has made the request. Even if he’s not thrilled by the chore, he’s probably not going to be upset at his wife.

Wives, this has little to do with feminism or misogyny or gender roles, and everything to do with making sure you are respectful towards your husband and communicate well with him, just as he should with you. It can be hard to do, especially if you’re stubborn, opinionated, and easily impatient like me. Its hard. It’s really hard. But the more I learn about how my words — and the environment in which I say them — can impact my relationship with my husband and play a role in determining our health as a couple, the more I want to try to do better with them. How about you?

The Four Birth Control Options: Why Hobby Lobby Opted Out

The Hobby Lobby ruling has, of course, created an uproar. People are jumping to the conclusions that this ruling is going to cause other companies to take it too far. And unfortunately, some might, but that doesn’t mean that freedom of religion should be violated because of it; it means that those individual issues should be addressed, ideally by the employees and customers. Anyways, that’s another story. What I want to look at today is why Hobby Lobby didn’t want to cover the birth control options that they chose to opt out of, and look at whether these things are actually necessary for women’s health.

One of the common things I’ve been reading is that people think that all forms of birth control, or at least all female forms, are no longer covered by Hobby Lobby. Wrong. They still cover 16 out of the 20 FDA approved forms of birth control. I also see criticism for the fact that vasectomies are covered, but birth control isn’t, which is also both partially wrong and misses the issue. And finally, I’ve seen people claiming that the four forms of birth control that Hobby Lobby has opted out of aren’t abortifacients, and that Hobby Lobby is ignoring the science on these. So let’s look at all of this.

First of all, Hobby Lobby still covers:

  1. Male condoms
  2. Female condoms
  3. Diaphragms with spermicide
  4. Sponges with spermicide
  5. Cervical caps with spermicide
  6. Spermicide alone
  7. Birth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill)
  8. Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill)
  9. Birth control pills (extended/continuous use)
  10. Contraceptive patches
  11. Contraceptive rings
  12. Progestin injections
  13. Implantable rods
  14. Vasectomies
  15. Female sterilization surgeries
  16. Female sterilization implants

This means that pregnancy prevention, sterilization, and birth control for health issues are all still covered. Further, both  male and female forms of birth control are covered. In fact, only male condoms, vasectomies, and maybe spermicides are under men’s control, while the 13 other forms (14 if you count spermicide as being also under female control) are in the hands of women. Nor are the four that aren’t covered by any means chosen for sexist reasons, but because of their ability to end human life. A vasectomy doesn’t end human life, so of course it wasn’t something that Hobby Lobby would feel the need to object to.

Before I get into the four that aren’t covered, let’s establish something. Let’s establish when life begins. To do that, go back to your high school biology class. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, or 46 total. Each sperm carries 23 individual chromosomes, and each egg carries 23, so that when they come together they form the 23 pairs. As soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg, you have the complete DNA of a brand new human being. Fertilization is the moment where a new human life begins. Everything from there is a matter of development.

However, for practical purposes, the medical field doesn’t generally consider a woman to be pregnant until after implantation, when the fertilized egg implants into the lining of the uterus and signals to the body that she is pregnant. A pregnancy can’t be detected until this point, and implantation is such a precarious process that many of these pregnancies are lost before they’re even detectable. For medical purposes, a woman is considered pregnant only after implantation, when hormone levels can verify pregnancy and miscarriages can be confirmed.

This difference between when a new human begins to exist and when a woman is medically considered pregnant causes some frustrations. While it is practical from a medical standpoint, it means that those who value life from conception may be misinformed if they simply ask if a birth control method ends pregnancy. If the method prevents implantation, the medical professional will likely answer “no,” but a human life is still being ended when it potentially would not have naturally done so.

The first two methods of birth control that Hobby Lobby opted out of are both emergency contraceptive pills, one commonly known as Plan B and the other as Ella. These involve a large dose of hormones, which result in three mechanisms of preventing pregnancy, one of which is to thin the lining of the uterus to prevent the implantation of an already fertilized egg. That makes it an abortifacient.

This large dose of hormones also isn’t particularly healthy for women. Think of all those warning labels you have on a daily hormone birth control pill. Now imagine taking the whole package at once. That’s essentially what a woman does when she takes a Plan B. About 13% of women experience a delay of at least 7 days in their next period, and ectopic pregnancies are at about 10% of pregnancies that occur after taking emergency contraception, compared to the normal 2%. There are many uncomfortable side effects, most commonly nausea but also including vomiting and abdominal pain.

The IUD also works to prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg in the uterus, because of it’s shape and presence in the uterus, thus we have another abortifacient. The IUD can also cause a miscarriage if a pregnancy occurs and the IUD is removed, or cause birth defects if it is left in through pregnancy. Risk of ectopic pregnancy is also significantly increased if the pregnancy occurs while an IUD is in place.

The IUD also has a horrifying list of possible side effects, and has even been responsible for the deaths of women. Honestly, I find it hard to argue that something that causes deaths is “women’s health care” where there are safe alternatives. I myself got an IUD before I understood its abortifacient nature a few years ago. I got an infection. I went in to the doctor as soon as I realized I had an infection, and she gave me two different antibiotics, which I took religiously, but I still ended up in the hospital four days later and had to be on IV antibiotics for a weekend because the infection was turning septic, which is deadly. I had the IUD removed, and had a chance of infertility because of the episode. Thankfully, my pregnancy with my son proved that I was fertile, but it was a real fear when we were trying to get pregnant. IUD’s also have risks such as uterine perforation, cervical scarring, and other major and minor side effects. Honestly, it seems that not providing IUDs is for the health of women.

I’ll be frank: I think these forms of birth control should be illegal anyways, so I applaud Hobby Lobby for being against them. I am not against a number of forms of birth control, but I have problems with the ones that can and do end human life. I think this isn’t just a women’s health issue, but a human rights issue.

My personal opinions aside, we’ve established that Hobby Lobby’s selection of birth control methods isn’t sexist, that the four that they won’t cover are abortifacients, and that those methods of birth control aren’t necessarily healthy for women anyways. So let’s stop making the argument about things it’s not.

 

 

*It has not been definitively proven that these methods prevent implantation, but it is thought to be highly likely. Even if they don’t prevent implantation, IUDs would still be problematic for causing miscarriages of known pregnancies.

Church, We’re Failing Our Youth

I recently bought a copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, when I saw it at my local thrift store. I don’t particularly want to read it. I expect it to have a lot of misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lapses in logic, and to generally be very condescending towards my beliefs. But I also expect it to be a fair representation of how many atheists and agnostics feel and what they believe, which is important to understand, both for apologetics and effective evangelism.

You see, people get to high school or college and hear liberals and atheists and skeptics bashing their faith with intellectualism all the time. Sometimes this happens later in life, too, but it’s endemic among our young people. I don’t want my child to leave the Christian faith in eighteen years because I didn’t equip him with the answers or the ability to find answers.

I find it annoying when atheists try to say that Christians shouldn’t seek to include intellectualism in their faith. This idea probably comes from a basis of believing Christianity to be inherently non-intellectual or pure make-believe, and that true intellectualism leads to atheism. Okay, fine. But if Christianity is true, it will be intellectually compatible. If Christianity is true, intellectualism will support it. What does the atheist lose if Christians seek to be intellectual in their faith? Either they will find support, or they will find that their faith lacks the support truth should have.

Jesus told us that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27)

The church tends to approach faith, and what it should be based in, in two ways.

First is to base faith primarily off of emotion and experience. There’s a moving alter call at summer camp, a teenager gets saved. There’s a powerful sermon, someone raises their hand in church. The songs are moving. The experiences are stirring. The problem is that, while you’re loving God with all your heart, there’s very little mind going on here. Experiences are encountered in many worldviews, so they’re not a very strong basis for faith. When it comes to loving God with the mind, this faith is very weak, and it can be enough to cause people to lose their faith when they’re confronted with atheists’ intellectual views.

The second is a more legalistic, controlling approach. This approach tends to be very conservative, even to the point of fundamentalism. This approach often discourages questioning, or controls questioning in such a way that someone may feel that they’re allowed to ask questions, but it’s mostly an illusion because they’re subtly guided into asking “safe” questions with “safe” answers that can be obtained from “safe” sources. These people tend to be strong in their faith in/love of God, but their mind is neglected. When confronted with skeptical or atheistic views, they either shut them down and exercise blind faith, or they lose faith.

The most dangerous is a combination of these two approaches. Cults and false religions often use the combination, because it makes it easy for members to justify and maintain blind faith and to avoid challenges to their faith. The combination is also the most likely to produce atheists when a member does actually confront the hard questions.

There’s an alternative, though. We can obey Jesus and nourish our minds when it comes to loving God. We can feel the feelings, but we know the feelings are going along with reasonable beliefs. We can be strong in our faith, but not blindly so.

Most importantly, we can train up our children to have this sort of faith of the mind as well as faith of the heart and strength in their faith. To do this, though, we have to be willing to seek out an intellectually honest faith and be able to answer the hard questions.

This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to read The God Delusion like I will be doing. It does mean that if your teenager is given a copy by an atheist friend, you should have equipped them to know how to deal with the contents.

If you don’t know where to begin with this endeavor, here’s a few books to start with. The first four are easy enough that you can probably read these with your children by middle school, if not sooner, and the last one should be readable no later than high school.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

On Guard by William Lane Craig

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek

Ten Tips For Surviving Early Motherhood

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My son is four months old. He’s pretty much the cutest thing ever. He’s also the most challenging, time-consuming things I’ve ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, he’s actually a pretty easy baby as far as babies go. I don’t get screamed at much, and when I do there’s usually something I can do to fix it within just a few minutes. But even the best baby (which he isn’t) is still demanding and time-consuming by nature.

But I’m surviving it. Not only am I surviving it, I’m enjoying it. To do so, I’ve had to learn some things, and learn them fast. You see, I barely even babysat, and never infants. I think the last diaper I changed before having my son was when I was fourteen. Under duress. And supervised. Seriously. Heck, I didn’t even want kids until I was about seventeen, when I finally realized that creating another person who is half of you and half of the person you love might actually be kinda amazing.

My mom was a bit worried about how well I’d handle motherhood, at least at the beginning, because of this. How well could a completely inexperienced person who had barely known what to do with a baby except support its head take to motherhood? Thankfully, I’m a listener, and I pay attention. I’ve got seven nieces and nephews thanks to marrying a man with said nieces and nephews, my own mom had plenty of tips, and I listened to other parents. Maybe I hadn’t changed a diaper on my own since I was fourteen, but I’d sure seen my sister-in-law do it a few dozen times, and the concept is easy enough.

Well, I’ve been doing fairly well, I think. My mom says so. I haven’t had to call anyone because I’m having a complete freak out or break down. I’m crazy about my son, and love time with him. I’m not saying this to brag; I’ve gotten tons of good advice, and I would have been lost if I hadn’t paid attention to it. So I want to share some of that advice — and what I’ve had to figure out — with other new moms.

1) Sleep when the baby sleeps. 

I know many moms’ first reaction to this is, “When will I do anything else?” Well, a baby’s minimum sleep requirements is greater than your maximum, so if your little one gave you a few hours less sleep during the night than you need to function well, sleep during one or even two of their naps. You’re probably still going to have at least one of their nap times where you don’t need to sleep and can get other things done. I promise, you’re going to be a lot more functional and able to handle the baby — especially a colicky or cranky baby — if you’re not running off of too little sleep.

2) Don’t be afraid to baby-wear.

This recommendation isn’t just some granola it’s-good-for-you-and-baby thing. This can be extremely useful to your ability to get things done and be semi-normal even if your infant is being clingy. There are limitations to what you can do with a baby strapped to your chest, but there are a lot more things you can do than if you’re having to hold them. If your baby just won’t be comforted or entertained in a swing, on their back, or wherever else, strap them on and figure out what you can do with them on you.

3) Accept down-time.

There have been days when my son just needed to cuddle me while he slept. Even being next to me wasn’t enough; he needed to be sleeping on my chest or in my arms. Well, moms, we’re so quick to complain that we don’t have time to just sit and read a book anymore. So do that. Or watch a show. Whatever. I’ve had a number of times where I just propped myself up on some pillows and read a book, played on my iPad, or watched How I Met Your Mother while my baby napped on me. It’s okay. Your baby will give you opportunity to get something done later, or tomorrow, or sometime.

4) Forget perfection and quickness.

It took me a month to scrub my kitchen floor. Part of that was because I don’t think any previous tenants had done it in years, so the dirt had compacted into the lines in the linoleum to the point that I literally had to scrape it out with a screwdriver. Yeah, that’s as gross as it sounds. No way I was going to leave that undone knowing my son would be crawling on that floor in just a few months. But what would have taken a few very long days before I was a mom took me a month, because I was limited to a few hours a day and couldn’t get to it every day. That’s okay. It got done. Don’t get me wrong, I was sick of it and relieved when it was finished, but I don’t have to do it again and I won’ t be horrified when his little hands go from that floor to his mouth in a few months.

5) Smile when they cry.

No, really.

A baby has only a few simple needs, and you’re capable of handling all of them, which means that you don’t need to stress or freak out when your baby is letting you know they have a need. Are they hungry? Need to burp? Need a clean diaper? Tired? Want to be held? If they’re older, do they need to be put down to play? Be engaged or allowed to look around? Are they teething? And sometimes, a baby just needs to cry. That can be tiring, but it’s okay. You’ve got this, and they aren’t going to cry forever.

Keeping more or less positive when they cry is probably harder with some babies than others. I know my little man has a pretty easy-to-handle cry. It’s not shrill or annoying. He’s also got the most ridiculously cute pout. Not all babies are like that. So if you’re at a point where your kiddo won’t stop crying and you just can’t handle it anymore, it’s okay to set them down somewhere safe or hand them off to someone trusted and take a break for five or ten minutes.

6) Take a walk.

My son loves when I go on walks, whether he’s in the stroller or the Moby wrap. Most babies love the outdoors and taking in new sights. My kiddo often falls asleep, or is ready to do so by the time I get home. More than once, he’s been fighting sleep or being cranky, so I’ll load him up in the stroller or strap him on in the wrap and head out. Sometimes I just walk a couple of blocks to the coffee stand for a chai tea and come back home. It’s my plot to get him to sleep while getting myself a pick-me-up, and it’s usually successful. Walking is also very good for you for a number of reasons, such as exercise and endorphins (which can help combat any baby blues), so make it happen. If the weather isn’t great, just bundle up yourself and your baby, but short of it raining too heavily, go anyways.

7) Think of them as an extension of you. 

Breaks are good, but you can only get them so often, so when it’s just you and baby, just take it as a matter of fact. Checking that you have an extra outfit and enough diapers and wipes in the diaper bag, loading them up in the car seat, and getting them, their stuff, and your stuff out to the car is your new routine. Accept it. It doesn’t have to excite you, but don’t get grumpy over it either. I know life is way different with a kid, and nothing is quite as simple, but it will be a lot easier on you emotionally if you accept that instead of living in a constant state of annoyance or negativity over it. Finding tools to make this as easy as a possible is helpful, of course. Swings, bouncers, boppy pillows, Bumbo seats, floor gyms, a wrap or carrier, a good jogging stroller…whatever you need.

8) Cherish (and ask for) breaks.

I’ve loved the couple of date nights my hubby and I have had child-free, thanks to my mom babysitting, and I love handing my little mister off to people I trust when I’m around them so that I get small breaks. Even five minutes of him not being attached to me is a blessing. I know that most of the time I exist in number seven, so number eight is very helpful for staying sane. If you have to, ask for a break. See if a family member, trusted friend, or your spouse can give you time to nap, or run to the store baby-free, or entertain the baby long enough for you to shower and do the dishes.

I remember a couple of days after we got home from the hospital and I was rather short on sleep. It was bad enough that I felt somewhat disconnected from my baby, which is not a good feeling. My mom came over, and I handed off the baby and took an hour long nap. It was magical. There was a night and day difference in how I felt after that.

Take breaks, and make the most of them.

9) Prioritize your time.

When your kiddo is sleeping or entertained, sometimes your first instinct is to scrub your house from top to bottom. I get it. But when your baby gives you time, sometimes you need to put off the dishes in favor of a shower, or vacuuming in favor of a big meal. You can’t take care of your baby well if you don’t take care of you well. When your greatest needs have been handled, then move on to your house. It may not be as perfect as you’d like it, but I promise you’ll find enough time to make sure that monsters aren’t growing out of your toilet.

10) This will end someday.

There’s two sides to this one.

The first is that they’re not going to be helpless forever, or teething forever, or unable to communicate forever. The colic will pass. Waking up every couple of hours through the night will pass. Just get through this, because it will end someday.

The second part is that this is the only time they’re going to be this tiny, this in need of you. Someday they’ll no longer curl up in your arms with a precious little hand on your skin as they nurse. Someday they’ll be starting school. Someday they won’t want to be held. Someday they’ll learn to tell you “no.” Cherish this time for what it is, because it will end someday.