“Don’t waste your God-given talents.”
That was the phrase I repeatedly heard during my teenage and college years when asked what I wanted to be.
My answer was always the same. “I want to be a wife and mother.”
Well-meaning school counselors, teachers, friends, church members, and even family would quickly reply, “You’re too smart to stay home. You need to get a job and make a difference.”
They suggested I become a lawyer, pharmacist, nurse…anything but a homemaker!
I began my teaching career immediately after college, but once my first son was born, I knew my place was in the home. However, for the sake of making ends meet and appeasing others, I continued working. My second son was born eleven and a half months later and though my boys had the best caregivers I could ever ask for; my heart was breaking every single day because I wasn’t the one raising them. After two years of teaching, my husband and I decided to walk in faith and make the sacrifice for me to live my dream and become a full-time mom.
My mother, who had also been a homemaker, was very supportive of our decision, but most people were extremely critical…especially once we found out we were expecting again.
“Oh, no, another one?”
“Are you trying to be that Duggar woman?”
“Don’t you know what causes that?”
“Do you need to know how to prevent that from happening?”
“How will you afford three babies on one income?”
These questions came from our closest family, friends, and even strangers. It seemed as though everyone was critical of our decision and had an opinion about our family planning.
We were barely making ends meet, but we were happy in our tiny house filled with baby boys. However, even though we lived far out in the country, I still couldn’t escape the constant pressure and discouragement from those who made me feel worthless for wasting my talents. I dreaded running errands because everyone we met felt the need to comment. People assumed I was lazy because I stayed at home with “too many kids” and since I wasn’t earning a paycheck they treated me as though I was uneducated.
The degrading comments and discouragement began to steal my joy and make me question whether my choice to be a keeper of the home was what I really wanted. Satan also opened my eyes to all that I was “missing out on” as I compared myself to other thriving mothers who posted their best snapshots of so-called happiness on Facebook.
Eventually, I became discontented as my identity seemed to be vanishing. No one knew me in my husband’s hometown. I was only known as his wife or their mom. My friends back home were still single, skinny, stylish, successful, driving cars that didn’t have fries between the seats, and they even had the extra money to hire help to clean their house – houses void of kids, toys and mud!
My absolute lowest moments came when I went to doctor appointments. Time after time, I never quite knew what to say when the receptionist would ask, “Do you work?”
Expressionless, I would stare at the innocent lady asking a simple routine question that would immediately break me out in an angry sweat. All of the obstacles during the previous hours with three rambunctious boys would flood my mind as I stood there worn slap out and proud of myself for being punctual and fully dressed. Then I would quietly answer in defeat, “No, ma’am. I don’t work. I just stay at home.”
In an effort to feel like I was a somebody, not just a mom, I began searching for ways to “contribute to our family income.” However, in all honesty, I was really just trying to prove that I still had skills and I wasn’t just a plain young mother who was too ignorant to get a real job.
So, I wrote three books, opened up my own business, bought into pyramid schemes, taught fitness classes, dabbled in photography, and even attempted to be crafty...which I’m not.
But no matter what I was chasing, I can look back now and see that not one of those things led me closer to God. In fact, as I pursued them, I can clearly see that my wants and wishes became the god of my life. Not one of those grand ideas aligned my heart under my husband’s, but instead, it divided us, because I was seeking independence and a name for myself. I truly believed that I could provide more “things” for my children if I had a part-time job, but the part-time job always became the full-time job and someone else had to watch my children for me. My kids didn’t even want “things.” All they wanted was their mom. Another interesting fact is, no matter how hard I worked and devoted my time to the “side job,” our finances were never enhanced, but always hindered.
As I talk with other mothers, especially stay-at-home moms, most of them are no different. They are searching for ways to contribute to the family funds, hunting a hobby that gives them recognition, or seeking a job/project that will make a difference in the lives of others. I immediately pray for them and try to caution them. Though our intentions seem good and the pressures put on us feel unbearable at times, we have to start opening our eyes to see the war that is being waged against mothers in our country.
We don’t have to prove to the world that being a mom is enough nor do we have to feel ashamed of making our children our priority.
We don’t have to work ourselves silly to give our kids the world, because that is exactly what will happen. We will forsake our calling as their mother and literally give them the world instead of Jesus.
We don’t have to believe the lie that in order to fit in with society we need to separate ourselves from our mothering role because “we deserve to be happy and do our own thing,” for when we do, we will surely seek our own passions apart from our families who desperately need us.
I believe mothers definitely need hobbies and times of refreshing, but contrary to the world’s teaching, our babies are not burdens, they are our greatest blessings. We need to use our time wisely and take our child-rearing season seriously.
Our influence on them is irreplaceable.
Our prayers for them are powerful.
Our persistence in pointing them to Jesus is imperative.
Our purpose to give them to the Lord (not the world) for all of their days (1 Samuel 1:11) is profound.
Being a mother is hard. There have been days that I wasn’t sure I could survive. I’ve felt overworked, overwhelmed, and overly exhausted, but thankfully God has graciously allowed me to see who I am in Him and what He expects of me as a mother. Since we now have another son for people to comment on, I can proudly face worldly judgments and negativity with victory in Jesus.
I actually look forward to being asked if I work. I just smile and say, “Absolutely. I don’t receive a paycheck, but I currently run a home for boys!”
Whether we work outside the home or inside the home, send our kids to school or educate at home, we are so fortunate to be the most powerful and influential voice in our children’s lives. We may not hear their appreciation often, but we do make a difference in their lives daily. No matter if you have one child or too many to fit into an SUV, we do work and we do put our God-given talents to use. Thankfully, we are generously equipped with the skills to be nurses, pharmacists, teachers, lawyers, chefs, and a host of other things, but most importantly we are the heart of our home. Being a mother will never be less than the best. It’s our highest calling.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
3 John 4