@Home for the Holidays

@Home for the Holidays

3.8 10
by Meredith Efken

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Sitting by the fireside, humming carols and knitting mittens…not! For these stay-at-home moms, the weeks before Christmas are anything but mellow. How can you balance housework, home crises and the husband without losing your mind? Plug in your laptop!

Meet Dulcie, Zelia, Jocelyn, Rosalyn, Veronica and the rest of the women of SAHM I Am. An e-mail loop

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Sitting by the fireside, humming carols and knitting mittens…not! For these stay-at-home moms, the weeks before Christmas are anything but mellow. How can you balance housework, home crises and the husband without losing your mind? Plug in your laptop!

Meet Dulcie, Zelia, Jocelyn, Rosalyn, Veronica and the rest of the women of SAHM I Am. An e-mail loop of stay-at-home moms, they've seen each other through months of domestic drama: babies who won't come, bills that won't leave, kids who won't listen and spouses who won't talk. Now, as the yuletide approaches, the SAHMs are on hand once again, bearing gifts of sisterhood, sanity and the real Christmas spirit.

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Steeple Hill Books
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From: Rosalyn Ebberly

To: SAHM I Am Subject: [SAHM I AM] We're in the newspaper, Ladies!

Dearest SAHM I Am'ers,

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I asked for volunteers to be interviewed by Farrah Jensen, a reporter for our local paper, the Hibiscus Herald, for an article she was doing on stay-at-home moms? Well, it's been printed at last. I thought you all would like to see it, and Farrah said I could reprint it for the loop, so I'm cutting and pasting below. But as always, please DO respect the noble copyright laws of our land and don't abuse this privilege by forwarding this e-mail to anyone else. I've always felt strongly about upholding our nation's long tradition of protecting intellectual property rights, and the Internet and e-mail have really eroded those rights. So resist the urge to forward! I know those of you mentioned in the article will probably want to show your friends and family, so just e-mail me and I'll be glad to mail you as many photocopies as you'd like!

Blessings, Rosalyn Ebberly

SAHM I Am Loop Moderator

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Proverbs 31:27 (NASB)

From: The Millards

To: SAHM I Am Subject: Re: [SAHM I AM] We're in the newspaper,


Wow, great news, Rosalyn! But...you forgot to include the article!


From: Rosalyn Ebberly To: The Millards Subject: LOOP GUIDELINES

Dear Jocelyn,

According to ourloop posting guidelines, you really should have sent that reply to me directly instead of the entire group. As it turns out, I really didn't "forget" to include the article. I meant to send it separately, so as to keep the loop messages from getting too large. I really did! It's never a wise idea to jump to conclusions, you know.

Much love, Rosalyn

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Proverbs 31:27 (NASB)

From: The Millards

To: Rosalyn Ebberly Subject: Re: LOOP GUIDELINES

My apologies. I must have misunderstood what you meant by "I'm cutting and pasting below." :)


From: Rosalyn Ebberly To: The Millards Subject: Re: LOOP GUIDELINES

Jocelyn Millard wrote:

Of course. That makes perfect sense. That comment was for the benefit of our good women on digest mode. You know they read a group of 20 or so loop messages by scrolling through one long e-mail, and I wanted to make sure they knew to keep reading farther down for the news article.

You are completely forgiven. I know you are just over-wrought with excitement about the article. You'll LOVE it--it's a great article. I'm going to have my original framed and signed by Farrah herself.

Oh, Jocelyn, it's such an amazing responsibility to be in the public eye! Now that we have media attention, I imagine our loop will grow at an even faster rate. We'll need to all work together to maintain the high-quality interaction these new SAHM I Am fans will be expecting when they join.

What a privilege and honor it is, don't you think? Rosalyn

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Proverbs 31:27 (NASB)

From: The Millards

To: "Green Eggs and Ham" Subject: Fact Hunt, anybody?

I'm offering the reward of undying friendship and eternal gratitude to the first one of you ladies who can find out for me what the circulation is for the Hibiscus Herald out of Hibiscus, WA.

Love, Jocelyn From: Brenna L.

To: "Green Eggs and Ham" Subject: Re: Fact Hunt, anybody?

What, you can't Google that yourself, Jocelyn? :) It took me like thirty seconds. The circulation is exactly 526--with two pending, apparently. Why did you want to know?

From: The Millards

To: "Green Eggs and Ham" Subject: Re: Fact Hunt, anybody?

Brenna wrote:

Oh, no particular reason. Just curious. 526, huh? Wow. "Privilege and honor," indeed.


From: Rosalyn Ebberly

To: SAHM I Am Subject: [SAHM I AM] The Hibiscus Herald Article

A Woman's Place Is...In Front of the Computer By Farrah Jensen

Hibiscus, WA--Over fifty years ago, housewives, wearing their high heels and pearls, gathered at each others' homes to bake chocolate chip cookies and exchange tips on how to keep their husbands' work shirts stain free and well starched. Politics were left to the men while the wives' pursuits consisted of weightier matters such as making sure a hot supper was on the table when hubby got home and seeing that the children finished their homework. The term "stay-at-home mom" was unknown--what other kind of mom was there?

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. In a world where most women have now embraced the financial freedom and personal fulfillment of a career and have even outnumbered men in many universities, there is a growing number of women who have chosen to trade in their suits and PDAs for sweats and a cookbook, to follow in their mothers' and grandmothers' footsteps. Instead of hosting dinner parties, however, they gather in front of their computers for some old-fashioned female bonding with a technological twist.

Local "domestic diva" Rosalyn Ebberly is one such stay-at-home mom, or SAHM (pronounced "Sam"), as they call themselves. She and best friend, Connie Lawson, also of Hibiscus, operate an e-mail discussion loop called "SAHM I Am" where SAHMs across the nation can exchange e-mails with each other. Ebberly regales the rest of the loop with her sage advice on everything from exercise to where to find organic cotton diapers and lectures the women about having the proper "Godly" attitude toward typical SAHM trials such as potty-training and cleaning the oven. According to Ebberly, "SAHMs need a way to support each other in this highest of all callings--being a full-time mom. It truly is an art, and I use the gift of technology to help each woman aspire to ever-greater levels of domestic and parenting skills."

About five hundred women create this cyber support group, and many have formed deep friendships utilizing this unlikely tool. Lawson, the group's founder and mother of five children, says, "The women on the loop are like daughters to me. They all tend to look up to me and Rosalyn for advice and support. It gives me so much pleasure to know I am helping so many."

What do these ladies chat about in their virtual therapy sessions? Dulcie Huckleberry, mom of three from Spring-field, Missouri, says discussion topics range from daily events in the lives of the women to favorite books and even the occasional current event. These SAHMs have come a long way, baby. What about those recipes, though? Huckleberry's good friend, Jocelyn Millard, a soccer mom of four in Colorado Springs, laughs at this. "Recipes? Who has time to cook?" Apparently, e-mailing her friends all day takes up too much time and energy.

The Internet has brought together a surprisingly diverse assortment of women, considering that the world of the SAHM tends to be dominated by white, Christian, middle-class, SUV-driving suburbanites. Millard and Huckleberry are part of a particularly close group of friends that include Phyllis Lorimer, a preacher's wife from Scoville, New York, Brenna Lindberg, a farmer's wife from Oklahoma, and Zelia Muzuwa, wife of British-Zimbawean immigrant Tristan Muzuwa, of Baltimore, Maryland. New to the group is earth mother Marianne Hausten, of Omaha, Nebraska, who was the college roommate of fellow SAHM, Dulcie Huckle-berry.

Their interests are as diverse as their geographic locations. The Muzuwas are months away from completing an adoption from Ethiopia. Zelia Muzuwa is also active in Baltimore's art community--one would assume she excels in crayon drawings and finger paintings. The Lindbergs are working on a different type of "adoption"--the more controversial so-called adoption of leftover frozen embryos from another family's in vitro fertilization procedure.

Of the six friends, Phyllis Lorimer is the only one who has retained any educational or career aspirations. She hopes to eventually return to graduate school for a Ph.D. in English and become a professor. "I have a responsibility to nurture my children," Lorimer says, "but that doesn't negate my responsibility to also nurture my God-given talents and abilities and to strive to use them for His glory." Spoken like a truly devoted preacher's wife.

Regarding matters of faith and religion, Veronica Marcello of Houston, Texas, has keen insights. Marcello is the sister of loop moderator, Rosalyn Ebberly, and is also the token agnostic of the decidedly Christian-dominated group. She joined SAHM I Am several months ago when she decided to toss out her new promotion at a top marketing firm in favor of a crash course in Step-SAHM 101. "I don't mind the religion talk," she drawls in her Texan accent, "at least not from most people. As long as they're sincere in their beliefs, it's not my job to judge them." What people does she mind "religion talk" from? She refused to comment.

How healthy is all this housewivery and e-mailing? Psychiatrist Anna Furmin, who recently published a study about the emotional health of women who choose not to work, says, "Depression has always been most common among housewives and stay-at-home mothers. While these sort of e-mail groups undoubtedly aid in creating an illusion of socialization, they cannot negate the sad truth that the majority of stay-at-home mothers are among the most isolated and dependent cross section of American society."

Economic analysts, such as Rick McTavish of Delmar University, also point to the financial burden of this staying-home trend. "When women leave the workforce, it often means a family must make do with less buying power. For a nation that relies primarily on consumer spending to drive the economy, this is a pretty big blow. It also results in a loss of potential jobs, since these families are not utilizing child-care services."

However, the psychological risks and economic costs do not seem to deter these women in their quest of becoming perfect wives and mothers. It seems that theirs is an art for which we all should be willing to suffer. As far as their own mental health or the national economy, Huckleberry sums it up well: "I let my husband worry about that."

From: Zelia Muzuwa


"I let my husband worry about that." She says in her cute, little I-need-a-big-strong-man voice.

What on earth were you thinking, Dulcie-babe? My goodness, I choked on my own tongue when I read that! Zelia

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Meet the Author

Meredith Efken has experienced much of what she describes in her debut novel, SAHM I Am. From cleaning up smelly diaper wall art and surviving temper tantrums to displaying innocent bouquets of half-wilted dandelions and being covered in slobbery toddler kisses, Meredith enjoys the life of a stay-at-home mom--despite the challenges. She and her husband, Jason, find that parenting and homeschooling daughters Jessamyn and Catrin keeps their lives entertaining, interesting and busy. They live in a tumble-down fixer-upper Victorian in Omaha, Nebraska, where they are jail wardens for Tadi and Tara, the Houdinis of Siberian huskies who make an art form of escaping the backyard.

Meredith struggles with how to be an attentive mom and a productive writer. Housework? Gave up on it long ago. In addition to writing and homeschooling, she's a student in the Vineyard Leadership Institute, so she's pretty much insane. But she hides it by doing nearly normal stuff such as playing keyboard and singing on her church worship team, co-founding a local Christian writers group and drinking a lot of chai. Meredith also hangs out with other writers in American Christian Fiction Writers, where she's fooled them into thinking she is sane and rational enough to manage their email loop and web forums. Shh...don't tell.

Meredith's writing tends to have themes about personal identity and becoming who God designed you to be. This often makes her characters collide with what their culture or even their churches or other leaders say they ought to be. And then she discovered she can write humor. She's been declared by fellow author Randy Ingermanson to be "funnier than Erma Bombeck," which she often questions, but hey, it's a great quote. You can decide for yourselves if it's true.

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