Saturday, October 13, 2007

Needing Grace, part 2

So we seem to be in agreement on the house issue. (BTW, all the bathrooms got cleaned in my house today! New thing we started with the new house: I clean my bathroom, Elizabeth cleans hers, and the boys clean theirs every Saturday morning. I love having everyone pitch in!) Now, how about the other issue that seems to keep surfacing. The one about being "just a mom"?
I know some of you work outside (or inside!) the home, so maybe you don't struggle with this issue as much. But many women I've spoken to who refer to themselves as SAHMs feel like they don't "do" anything. When meeting someone for the first time and the inevitable question, "So, what do you do?" comes up, many SAHMs respond with, "Nothing," or, "I'm just a mom."
But why? Why do we often feel like we don't "do" anything? Is it just because we don't get paid for it? Honestly, when I get the annual statement from Social Security which shows my income and the amounts I have paid into Social Security over my lifetime I think, Was I really contributing more to society when I was a junior in high school than I am now?
I think this feeling of nothing worthwhile was a bigger struggle for me when my kids were younger. I remember Brian coming home when Elizabeth was a baby and telling me about some great evangelistic conversations he had on campus that day, or the out-reach events he and his students were planning. I would listen and think, How nice. Well, let's see. I changed three poopy diapers today and washed the sheets again. Oh, and I made it through the store in spite of having a crying baby for half the trip. Yeah, I'm really making an impact for the Kingdom. *sigh*
At another time Brian was taking classes toward another degree and would tell me about the things he was learning. It was right about then I realized my brain was turning to mush. Green Eggs and Ham was the most intellectually stimulating thing I had read in months and, as much as I love Dr. Suess, it just wasn't making me feel like I was doing anything which would allow me to make a difference in the world.
As I said, this area isn't as much of a struggle for me personally anymore but I have talked to and heard from enough moms who are battling these feelings now that I wanted to address it here.

Being a mom is important.

Mothering does matter.

Read those statements again, and read them aloud if you need to!

Mom, your children need you. They can't pay you with more than hugs and kisses and they have no retirement plan to offer. (Except they'll pay you back for all the love you're pouring into them right now!) Although sometimes it feels like they're fighting against all the good things you're trying to do for them, you really are making a difference - in the Kingdom and in the world - because you are taking care of your child(ren).

Just as I believe we need to extend grace to ourselves in the realms of our homes, I believe we also need to receive it in our roles as mothers. You matter to God, and what you are doing matters to Him. Though sometimes we think being "just a mom" is insignificant, God doesn't think so. He has entrusted you with a child He created, and your role in that child's life is crucial.
God knew what He was doing when He made you a mom. He delights in you. He is always with you. Now, lift your head up, ask the Lord to strengthen you for the work He has prepared for you, and go love your kids!

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kreed said...

Great post! I don't struggle too much in this area...I think it is mainly because I know lots of SAHM's and those full-time working moms that I do know are so stressed I don't think I could handle being one of them. I also try to stay really busy with community activities and with the church to give me that outlet that chance to "make a difference" outside of my home and family.

That being said, I stress enough about keeping a clean house to make up for not being stressed out about not contributing to society!

Penny said...

Having done it for nine months, I think I SAHM's job one of the hardest jobs out there! Talk about work! My stress has always come around whether "I'm doing a good job being a mom". I've found for me personally, I can be a better mom by having my time away at work. I can breathe a little easier now that I've started to see Dakota's personality beginning to develop....maybe I'm doing ok after all.

A Captured Reflection said...

You are right on the money with these two posts Karen. Bullseye! It is such a battle to keep the house tidy and so much time spent chasing and picking up after the wee ones. Yet I happily extend grace to others but not me, and then it's like... how do I validate my day? God is speaking through you more and more Karen. Thanks for listening to him, that others can hear him too.

Unknown said...

So good. Thanks.
I was wondering what you thought about my way of thinking. I think being a SAHM during the pre-school years is the hardest. I keep hanging on for the day that all of them are in school full time. It seems that "it (mothering)" will get better then. What do you think?

Queen of My Domain said...

What a great post. For the time being my vocation is a full time mom. That is what God has called me to do at this stage of my life. And I have to remember that just by being a mom I am doing His work.

Jenileigh said...

So true!! And one day they'll be grown. Thanks for these!

Melissa said...

I want so badly to be a SAHM - I didn't set out to work full time, but due to circumstances beyond my control (like my husband and I losing both of our jobs within three days of each other, when I was working part time) I found work first and here I stay.

I don't work so we can have nice cars or a nice house - we have neither. I work so we can have a roof over our heads, because my husband works part time and makes less than I do. Of course, that enables him to be home with our daughter most of the time, so at least one of us gets to be home.

Some people (even family members) insist that if I were able to stay home I'd be "bored." Give me a break! I've never had the blessing of staying at home full time, but I'm pretty sure I'd find SOMETHING to keep my mind occupied!

Shawna said...

Gosh, I needed to here that, too. It is hard to say "I'm just a mom." I worked before Scamp was born and a lot of my self-esteem came from doing a good job at work. And, when I'm home all day with Scamp instead, I don't always feel like I'm doing that.

I do get rewards when she comes and kisses and loves on me, or when I see her learning something new, but it's not an instant "good job, Shawna."

It's OK to be WEIRD! said...

BINGO! I was an engineer too, and I could always check off the project list and get things done, and do them very well (you could actually measure the quality and accuracy of the work). That is very different as a mum. And that's OK! Thanks for this voice again... we need to stress this point as many times as we can. Moms need to know that raising the next generation is priceless..

"God knew what He was doing when He made you a mom. He delights in you. He is always with you. now, life your head up, ask the Lord to strengthen you for the work He has prepare for you, and go love your kids!" I need that reminder time and time again! Thanks!!