I’ve been debating when I should write about this particular topic. It’s a bit of a touchy issue for a lot of people. But here I go anyway!
For anyone who knows me, you are aware that I value womanhood but not in a femi-nazi sort of way. I started a class at my old church (boo hoo, I miss you ladies) on the role of women as explained in the Bible. This sets off all kinds of red flags for a lot of women because many of you automatically assume I mean “you have to be a stay-at-home-mom, homeschool your children, cook gourmet meals every day, keep a spotless home, and serve your brains out by being completely hospitable all the time” (or any other combination of “that woman”). It’s just unfair! That could be several examples of different ways women express their God-given roles, but I seriously doubt that every woman could do all of those things (or should do them…). For this post, I’m only going to hone in on one particular role: mother.
I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of being a mom. I know, stone me now, what kind of a mother am I anyway?! Well, I’m one of those mothers who has grown into her role as a mom. And I’m still growing… But I definitely believe in the importance of being a mom and raising the children God has given me. I just don’t feel like I’m very good at it. Yet.
You see, I had lots of dreams about what I wanted to do with my life (I know, it sounds awfully selfish written out like that). I was going to get my master’s degree and start out in a great job then have children. I am a planner. This was my plan. But God had the real plan, and enter at stage right, my first child. All of the sudden my perspective changed. I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, so this new addition to our family meant I would be staying home. No master’s degree. No great job. No pats on the back for a job well done.
I began to learn very quickly that mothers, particularly those who don’t work outside of the home, get stuck in a vicious cycle known as “it’s never enough.” No matter what you do all day long, you feel like you don’t have anything to show for it. So what do you do to remedy this awful feeling? Enter stage left: works. Anything that makes you feel like you’re doing something that gets results. It could be ministry. It could be volunteering for a noble cause. It could be part-time work. Anything but parenting and taking care of the home (because who wants to work at something that doesn’t get immediate results??).
The world tricks you into thinking that what you do in the home is not “real” work. It gives you no warm fuzzies (only occasionally when that one child does the cutest dance you’ve ever seen or picks up his toys without you asking). It tells you that what you’re doing is not worthwhile because you can’t see immediate progress (and who decides what is actually progress anyway?). And let’s be honest, we believe it almost all the time. When you aren’t acknowledged for that brilliant way you handled a sibling tussle or how you prepared a meal that turned out perfectly, even according to Emeril’s standards, you get discouraged. You begin to question if you’re doing this whole mothering thing right. You wonder if it’s really worth it.
Now take away all those “works” and all those voices that whisper (or scream) that you’re wasting your time. That’s kind of what has happened to me in the last 2 months. When you move to a new place, all you have are each other. You have no church home (yet) where you can serve (cross off ministry). You don’t have a place to volunteer because frankly, you’re still trying to figure out how to get the grocery store to buy food for your family (cross off noble causes). You have no part-time work and no desire to try to look for any for that matter (cross off that job that you can measure your success at). But you do have your children and husband. Suddenly I’m getting better at being a mom because that’s all I have right now!
Those distractions (though they can be very good things to do, don’t get me wrong…it’s all in the motives and in the calling) have become less and less, and I’m able to see with more clarity what I can be doing with my boys right now. Does that mean I’ve got every minute filled with exciting science projects, fun new adventures around the neighborhood, educational field trips, creative snacks and games? No. I told you I’m a mom, not super woman (P.S. neither is anyone else in this world…she doesn’t exist). However I am taking the time to settle into this mom role. Those boys are worth it. One day they’ll be our leaders, and I don’t want anyone looking at me wondering what’s gone wrong with our society. I’m taking this thing seriously, and I hope you do too. After all, we’re not doing this for anyone on this earth. What God thinks is what really matters in the end. He is our standard and the One who determines real success.
So please, be encouraged today if you are a mother. What you do in the home is important because God says it’s important. Remember that Abraham wasn’t running around the country speaking at men’s groups or volunteering at the soup kitchen to find his worth. He already found it in his God. And this God expected him to go to a new land in faith that God would bring about a promise that he could not even fathom. Later this same God speaks to the Israelites (Abraham’s legacy) about what they are to do – “teach these things to your children…” (Deut. 4:9). No big audiences. No pats on the back. I’m sure God expected Abraham to teach his children who his God was. He was to be found faithful with what God had given him, and I believe you’ll find that he did just that (see the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 and Genesis 12-23). May we be found in that last day as women of faith who did well with what He has given us.
P.S. I’m speaking from a stay-at-home-mom viewpoint. I am in no way downplaying a mother who also works outside of the home because I have a feeling she also deals with some of the same issues I face. My desire is to encourage all mothers to see the importance of what they do in the home whether or not they are there 24-7. Whew. I feel better now that I got that off my chest…