Welcome to the World Hunger and Poverty Blog! This site was created by Scott Hughes (me!) and is based on the idea that it is totally unacceptable that any person go hungry or be deprived basic necessities, especially when there is more than enough food to feed everyone and more than enough resources to provide clothes, clean water, shelter, education and healthcare to everyone. Yet millions starve to death every year. I want this blog to act not only as a call to action but as a place to share information and openly exchange ideas about these incredibly important issues. Immediately below on this page you will find the most recent blog posts.
Recently, I’ve seen a number of posts poking fun at stay at home parents who are “too busy” or “don’t have time” to make Pinterest crafts or do meal planning or even return phone calls. As a stay at home mom of three young children, I know I’m guilty of “not having time” far too often; yet I bristle at these comments. Am I stupid or lazy; do I lack time management skills or not care about my friends and (non-munchkin) family? No, of course not. Before I decided to put my career on hold and stay home, I was a successful attorney who worked 14 hours in a day and still did volunteer work and was there for my loved ones. Now, it’s a good day if I manage to shower. So, what gives, why is it so hard to find time? After all, working parents have to do laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, and pay bills too, AND they do it on top of working a full-time career.
Here’s what I came up with. When you are a stay at home parent, every moment of every day, a huge part of your brain is occupied by your kids and what they’re doing, whether they’re safe, and what they need. I can’t turn off that my chunk of my brain or silence it since I am the only adult responsible at that moment for the wellbeing and life of three small people. I don’t mean to suggest that working parents don’t also worry about their children or love their children. The difference is that for working parents, chances are good that at some point during the day, there is a drive to work, a prep period, a lunch break, a coffee break, a few quiet minutes sometime to think a thought without interruption, plan, organize, make a mental list – a time when the children are being cared for by someone else.
It’s not exactly the same, but the closest I can come up with is this. Imagine being stuck in traffic with emergency vehicles blaring their sirens several feet away. If you wanted to have a meaningful conversation with a friend going through a tough time, would you pick up the phone while those sirens are still screaming in your ears and spend the entire conversation distracted, barely able to hear, and constantly asking your friend to repeat herself; or, would you wait a few minutes until the noise clears so you could focus on your friend and give her the attention she deserves?
As a stay at home parent, those mental sirens are going off ALL the time until the kids are in bed or another adult is around. Even if the baby is napping and the older kids are glued to the TV, a huge portion of my mind is still paying attention to them. Is the baby making weird noises? Is my older daughter imagining the living room is a pool that she should dive into head first from the coffee table? Is my little one about to stick a fork in an electrical socket to see if the fork will fit or eat a marble that looks like candy? And, it’s not just the safety concerns. It’s the little things. Is one of the kids getting too bossy, are they about to start fighting, is the little one getting hungry again, are anyone’s feelings being hurt. It doesn’t matter whether someone has one child or six; if a parent is responsible for supervising a child without another adult around, those sirens are constantly blaring at full volume.
Just the other day, I told my wonderful, caring, and supportive husband that I adore — but who like so many working outside of the home, sometimes just doesn’t get IT — that I needed a break for a few minutes. He innocently asked me why I would need that when I get a “break” every time the kids play on their own for a few minutes during the day. Sure, it’s a break in the sense that I’m not sitting on the floor actively playing a game with the munchkins or chasing them around for yet another game of tag, but mentally, my brain is still listening and paying attention to them.
I can’t turn those mental sirens off when I’m alone with the kids no matter how much I sometimes might want to. Yesterday, one of my best friends in the world was on the phone telling me that her beloved pet dog is dying. Trust me, if I could turn those sirens off to be there for her, to show her how much I care, I would have. But, that’s not possible for me. My stay-at home-mom brain is so busy thinking about the kids and what they’re doing while I’m on the phone that there isn’t much mental space left to be the person I want to be. I felt like a complete jerk when I unthinkingly interrupted her story to cheer for my daughter who had found the baby’s pacifier that had been missing for three days and driving us nuts. If I could take a step back and reflect, of course I know that what my loved one is going through is way more important than a silly baby pacifier. But, in that moment with the sirens blaring, I didn’t have enough mental capacity available to sort out what was important.
I know it seems like it should be easy to focus on a phone call and stop thinking about the kids for a few moments to give a friend or family member the undivided attention she deserves. But, here’s the thing. Let’s say I can somehow figure out a way to temporarily turn off the part of my brain that is focusing on keeping the kids safe and happy and only pay attention to a phone call. Honestly now, how would you respond to the following headlines: “Toddler Opens Front Door and Runs Into Road While Mom Chats on Phone” or “Child Suffers Serious Burns After Turning on Oven while Mom was Distracted.” Kids, even well-behaved smart kids who “know better,” are still kids. They lack common sense and judgment. It’s why our society doesn’t allow young kids to be left alone without an adult. So, whether I like it or not, if I am the only adult caring for children, I can’t and I shouldn’t push them out of my mind even when they’re happily occupied.
The next time your stay-at-home-parent friend takes nine hours to return a phone call or doesn’t have time to make bunny cupcakes from scratch for the school fair, try to remember, it’s not they she doesn’t have “time,” it’s that she has no time without the mental sirens to think, to plan, to focus on others. It’s precisely because I do care so much about you that I won’t take your phone call when I know I’m distracted.
What do you think? Do you struggle to find time? Are you stay-at-home parent? Please post a comment below!
Posted by Jennifer
I just created the #InItTogether category. Why? This slightly paraphrased quote from a mostly forgotten reverend is the reason:
Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
That’s it. That’s the reason.
The quote, while often falsely attributed to Plato, is actually from Rev. John Watson, who wrote under the pen name Ian Maclaren and who authored the bestseller Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush.
Posted by Scott Hughes
My daughter just turned 3 last month. I swear she’s just the cutest thing ever. Pretty much every morning she comes in—apparently after patiently waiting for the sun to just barely start rising—and she says, “Daddy, I want snuggle you.” Yes, she leaves out the word ‘to’. Then she gets in my bed, and she cuddles up to me, and it makes her so happy.
I doubt she realizes how much I love it too.
I know it won’t last. She’s my youngest and my last. I realize she won’t be coming home from college at 20-years-old to snuggle.
I just wish I could pack all my love up in a huge bag for her that she could keep with her for her whole life, so she could always feel the way we feel now when we snuggle—my beautiful 3-year-old daughter and I—in the morning.
When I hold her, I think about things. She teaches me things.
When I hold my my daughter, I realize how alone so many people in the world must feel. I realize how much people need that kind of love and how rarely anyone gets it.
When I hold my daughter, I look back on my life. I wish I was a better friend. I wish I was a better partner. I wish I had never ever passed up the opportunity to try to sympathize with someone, to help someone, to hug someone, to tell someone everything will be alright, and I’m here for you.
When I hold my daughter, I want to cry. I want to kiss her forehead so hard that it makes the world a better place, and that it makes me a better man.
When we get out of bed, I try to be a great father to my kids. I try to bring that love to the world. I try to be the best role model they can have, a father they can be proud of.
Our world has so much awfulness in it. We have more than enough food and resources to feed, clothe, and house everyone, yet so many go without. Tens of thousands of children starve to death every day—every day! Millions of non-violent people rot in prison in a broken system, while millions of other people suffer violent crime and war—terror and poverty.
That awfulness is not caused by some small group of mean-spirited people in some room somewhere. It is not caused by some magical evil demons floating around.
It’s caused by imperfect people like you and me. Not some of us but all of us. By our negligence. By our short-sightedness. By destructive expressions of our mutual pains and fears.
The world can be a tough place. But all human action is either love or a call for love.
For most of us finding some sense of security and peace is not as simple as being a three-year-old climbing in bed with Daddy.
Yet, when I hold my daughter, when I brush her hair back, when I kiss her forehead, when I tell her that she is the most beautiful, prettiest girl in the whole world, I can’t help but wish I could package up that love and ship it all over the world, so my daughter can grow up in a world where she won’t witness all the hurting, all the loneliness, all the callousness and all the human disregard we give to each other.
If I was a better man, there’s a lot of things I would have done differently. I would have done much more to make this world a little less dark. I’m not perfect, though. Very far from it actually. But every morning I wake up holding my daughter I am given the motivation—the gift—to be better.