I had always wanted to be a mom, but I would be lying if I said the first few years of motherhood were exactly how I envisioned them.
I have always loved children – it’s why I decided to pursue a teaching career and why I wanted to have a family of my own. But quitting my full-time job to stay home and raise my daughter didn’t feel like a big accomplishment at the time. It was much the opposite. Quitting made me feel like a failure.
I knew how to teach and I had a passion for it, so that’s what I did. Kayla could identify all the letters of the alphabet before her first birthday and was reading at age two. Yet I still felt like I wasn’t doing a “good enough” job. I felt like I wasn’t enough.
One of the most difficult adjustments to being a stay-at-home mom was not having anything to show for my work at the end of the day. No stack of papers that I had graded. No lesson plans that I written. No 5-star evaluation or even a “You’re doing a great job, Jen.” Just a trashcan full of dirty diapers and a messy playroom. Or at least so it appeared.
I started to resent my husband for being able to further develop his career and achieve his goals and ambitions while I was “trapped” at home. I had the “grass is greener syndrome.” He GETS TO drive to work without a screaming baby in the backseat. He GETS TO go to the bathroom without a baby on his lap. He GETS TO sleep past 6 am.
I’m being completely transparent because I truly believe that my “mess” may be the message that another mom out there needs to hear to help her change her perspective before another precious day passes by. Before she spends one more minute staring at the clock wondering when her husband will get home or another second thinking she should be anywhere else than with her child.
I feel somewhat ashamed for how I felt back then, but at the same time I am excited to share how God gave me a renewed perspective that has that has completely changed my attitude on being a stay-at-home mom, in addition to many other areas of my life. If you are experiencing any of these same feelings – loneliness, inadequacy, exhaustion, even boredom or resentment – this is meant for you.
The Lord called me from something I THOUGHT was important to do something was actually MUCH MORE important. In God’s eyes, what we perceive as ordinary is often the path to something much greater – something more valuable and bigger than we can understand. God uses ordinary people who are willing to serve Him to do extraordinary things! He uses people like you and me if we allow Him – if we will say “yes” to Him!
Don’t for one moment underestimate the importance of the job that you’re doing as a mother! Your power of influence is insurmountable and your work is anything but ordinary! You are where you are because you are MEANT TO be there. Remember that God handpicked YOU to shape your children and their future. You have a chance to create a better version of yourself, to “train your child up in the way he should go so that when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Being a mom is an awesome opportunity, but it is also one that comes with tremendous responsibility. It requires us to surrender our own desires for the sake of our children and to follow His will. But, our decision to surrender does not come without great reward.
For all those days you feel like you can’t possibly change another dirty diaper, remember that these seemingly insignificant activities are building lasting relationships with your children and are of utmost importance in God’s eyes. Often times the activities that we perceive as meaningful are NOT what’s most important to Him. Your primary purposes in life are to love and honor the Lord and to love and serve others. God calls us specifically to care for our families, especially for members of our own household. He even calls our children HIS BEST GIFT to us.
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
(Psalm 127:3-5 MSG)
For the first few years I stayed home with my kids I repeatedly brought up the discussion of going back to work. I missed being able to bring in a paycheck. I missed the affirmation that I was doing a good job. And yes, I also missed teaching, but I have since found that I can tap into this passion in so many other ways than working a full-time job that barely covers the cost of putting my kids in daycare. I can volunteer to serve in my church or moms group. I can teach my OWN kids. I can tutor. I can coach. I can start a blog.
I know there are moms out there who have to work to support their family and I respect that. I know there are moms who want to work because they are passionate about their careers and are able to do that while providing quality child care for their kids. The issue with MY old perspective was that my perceived “need” to work outside of the home was based on worldly desires – feeling like I needed to bring in a paycheck, the affirmation from others that I was going a “good job,” and a desire to add to my personal accomplishments and build up my resume because that is what I felt determined my “success.”
I remember a card I once received from my school administrator. “We will see your name in lights one day,” it read. At the time, I believed that was one of the best compliments I had ever received. It made me feel valued and important.
The problem was, I was seeking the approval and affirmation of people and attributing THAT to my self-worth.
“Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
The WORLD says self-worth is based on our own personal accomplishments. GOD says our self worth is determined by our creation in His image and our redemption in Jesus Christ.
As I started to spend time in God’s Word and understand his will and purpose for my life, I began to care less about what others thought and more about the things that REALLY matter. As Francesca Battistelli put it in the song “He Knows My Name,”…
I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
My perspective on being a stay-at-home mom in a society that values money, prestige, and power underwent a paradigm shift once I started attending a new church, becoming involved in small groups, spending time daily in God’s Word, and appreciating the simple day-to-day moments that have enabled me to build close relationships with my children and foster their physical, cognitive, social, and spiritual growth.
I no longer determine my level of importance or success by what is written on my resume. I don’t attribute my self-worth to my worldly accomplishments. I don’t think productivity must be measured by tangible results or success is attained by climbing the corporate ladder. Instead of seeing my name in lights, I want my children and others to see His light shining through me.
What could possibly be more important than raising a child to know he is loved by his family and by Christ? What could be more worthy of your time than connecting with your kids and molding them to be the best version of themselves? At the end of the day, we may not have a stack of completed TPS reports with cover sheets to show for it (did you get the Office Space reference there? ), but we have healthy, happy kids. And if raising our kids to be honest, loving, patient, compassionate individuals who love the Lord isn’t “enough,” than I don’t know what possibly could be.
CALL TO ACTION: Has your perspective on being a stay-at-home mom changed over the years? If so, what initiated that change? Or, if you are still struggling with finding peace and purpose in being a mom, leave a comment below and let us encourage you! We are all in this parenting journey together and can learn a lot from sharing with and supporting one another.