Since becoming a mom, I do not like being told I am “lucky” to stay at home. My desire, my choice, our decision that I stay at home with our girls has nothing to do with “luck.”
Before you think this has anything to do with the working mom vs the stay-at-home mom, it doesn’t. So please, read this with a gentle and quiet spirit. I am simply wanting to clarify why the job of mom is just as intentional as any other vocational path.
Here is a little history as to why my being at home is not luck- based but rather a well thought out and purposeful choice. In 2006 I met Justin. It was love at first sight. It was also very intense from the beginning. He was 5 years older than me and knew he wanted to get married. Fast. We had many very intentional discussions covering everything from faith, to theology, to our future marriage and family. We both agreed we wanted a traditional family. He would work and I would stay at home. After past relationships where this had been an area of dispute, he was thrilled to find that we were on the same page. Justin once told me he had given up thinking there was a woman in the world who wanted to stay at home.
We were married in 2007. I still had not finished school. I moved from Tennessee to Justin’s home in Georgia. I started the admission process at a local school. Through a lot of really hard and emotional conversations we decided I would not continue to pursue my Social Work major. Reality was that I wanted to be a mom. I could have my degree ( a very expensive one, if I continued on) but I would not even use it. So I did a very taboo thing, something I was so ashamed of for a long time. I quit school. A 21st century woman, without a degree.
In 2008 I got pregnant with Cora, and gave birth to her in 2009. So began my long-awaited vocation as a stay-at-home mom. And let me tell you something: I was really silly enough to think it was going to be the dreamy, romantic, fictional job it’s made up to be. I thought I would have wonderful days of pink dresses and bonnets, long walks in the sunshine, my perfect baby on my somewhat larger hips. Instead I spent day-after-day, night-after-night, hour-after-hour with a screaming baby, a hungry baby, a baby that never slept. I cried. I cried a lot. I was so lonely and I became very depressed. Suddenly the life I had chosen seemed to be the very worst choice I could have made. The constant, the loud, the relentless, the never-can-have-enough-patience career called being a full-time mom. My only means of survival was the ever-present help of our good and gracious God.
It was during this first year of being a mom that He began to break, to mold, to chisel, to refine me in ways I did not think possible. If I was going to be a mom, a good mom, I had to change. I had to learn to live day-by-day and hour-by-hour with never ending neediness and no one to lift or relieve me of that need. I needed to learn to meet needs with kindness, with love, with patience. I needed to choose to be joyful when all I felt was failure. Learn to press on as I faced situations of total humiliation…The stay-at-home mom with the child who was rolling around, limbs flailing, face red…pitching the world’s biggest fit.
So as I began mothering two girls I faced the next big hurdle. Humility. The reality that staying-at-home does not guarantee a good or perfect child. Actually, it also does not guarantee that I am a good mom. Just like any other job it takes hours of intentional time and planning. It takes constant hard work-both mental and physical. I recently had a talk with a dear friend. She was facing the reality of going back to work…having to leave her two boys. She is an amazing mom and I reminded her of how blessed her boys are to have her as their mommy. She is so intentional and loving. They know that they are her priority. I can be at home all day long but if I don’t pour into my children, then what use is my being with them? I don’t have someone looking over my shoulder asking me, “Is it done yet? Have you finished it? Is it done right?” I have to be my own accountability. That is not easy.
As Justin left for work yesterday, Cora was crying, Elinor was going three places at once, and the house was already in total disorder. He cracked the door and he said, “You have the harder job.” Do I really have the harder job? No, not every day, but maybe yesterday my day was harder and maybe today his job will be harder. It really doesn’t matter. We don’t live life to prove we have it harder, that we do more than the other person…we live to glorify Him.
At the fall of man God did not curse man and woman without intention when he said to the woman,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
And to the man,
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground. since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The pain only begins in labor. As we raise our children we face greater pain and hardship. We toil, we labor, and to dust we return.
So would I say I am blessed to stay at home? Absolutely. Am I thankful to stay-at-home? Yes. Do I love being at home? Most of the time. Would I say I am lucky to stay at home? No, because the definition of luck is: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. And I give thanks to God for his sovereign will to put me in our home, in our town, as wife to Justin and full-time mom to Cora and Elinor. A job I pray I carry out in grace, in gentleness, in patience, in humility, and intentionality, that I might glorify Him.
And a little side note…my mom began a blog. Please take a look at it. You will be blessed by her words of wisdom. I promise.