When I decided six years ago to stay at home with my kids, it wasn’t really a soul-searching decision. I simply liked the idea of staying at home, and my husband liked it too, and we were financially able to do it, and that was that. I loved my work at the homeless shelter, but after eight years of it, I was ready for a break. Dropping out of the working world to raise kids and make a home sounded like a pretty sweet job.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that my transition to motherhood was a hard one, and that I’ve struggled with doubts about my role as a stay-at-home mom. Even when I’ve recognized the enemy lying to me, I haven’t been able to get rid of the nagging thought that maybe I shouldn’t actually be a stay-at-home mom. Honestly, it is exhausting to think and doubt and wonder about it all the time! But just in the past week, two things have happened that have finally brought me some peace.
The first is that I happened upon the journal Humanum, specifically their issue on the theme “A Mother’s Work.” In one essay there (“A Mother’s Work is Never Done”), the author reflects on what families stand to lose when both parents work full-time:
… it becomes a home with nobody home, where very little happens among those who sleep there, much less with their friends and neighbors. There is no nursing a baby (in the well-appointed nursery), no taking walks to the park, no witnessing first steps (which happen at the “wrong time”), no informal neighborhood clubs after school, no gathering of teenage friends under watchful eyes, no real cooking (in the gourmet kitchen), no dinners with friends (in the non-existent dining rooms), no neighborly charity for sick friends or new mothers. In short there is no time together.
Please understand me here – I know many working moms whose families, and homes, are so, so full of life. I’m not sharing this excerpt to say that all moms should stay at home, but rather because the author articulates, in a way I’ve never been able to, what good things staying at home can achieve. I can’t speak for any other mom’s skills, abilities, desires, or aims, but I know that staying at home is what enables me to make a home where life can happen. I, personally, could not have this kind of home if I were also working.
A second epiphany happened at a women’s retreat this weekend when a dear sister – a mother of three grown children – shared about having served at People of Praise summer camp for many years. Since her children were there, and since she was a teacher with the summer off, it made sense for her to be there; but every year, she would thoughtfully and prayerfully discern whether she should volunteer for camp again. Eventually she heard the Lord telling her, “You know, you spend a lot of time thinking about whether you should do camp. You should assume that I want you here until I tell you otherwise!”
When I heard that story, I finally realized – I don’t need to keep asking whether I should be a stay-at-home mom. I can rely on the Lord to let me know if He is calling me to something else! In all my moments of doubt, I’ve never actually felt that the Lord had something different in mind for me. All I had was doubt. And while I recognized the enemy’s lies, I allowed the doubt to remain. But no longer. This doubt is not of the Lord and I’m going to stop letting it distract me from my work.
For now, until the Lord tells me otherwise, I am going to stay a stay-at-home-mom. I’m going to embrace it, enjoy it, and work on getting better at it. Thank you Lord!