Motherhood is plagued by lots of unsolicited opinions. Always has been, always will be. This is even more true when it comes to stay-at-home mothers versus working mothers.
Everyone has a position, and the topic usually makes mothers feel angry or guilty or both. It seems that we stay-at-home types are always trying to justify our decision to be at home. We want everyone to know that we COULD work if we wanted to. We want everyone to see that we aren’t lazy. Working mothers, too, try to justify their choice. They want everyone to know that they love their children. They want everyone to see that they are managing it all just fine.
But, that’s not what this post is about.
I’m writing mainly to myself and to other stay-at-home moms. Because we don’t have a job. I know that it’s the cool thing to do now to say I work inside the home. And, it’s true that we are presumably doing some of the things that a childcare worker would do. In that way, I suppose you could look at your daily chores as a job. But, this is not our JOB, girls. This is our LIFE.
And, it has got to be detrimental to our children, our husband, and ourselves to constantly complain about our life as if it’s a job. Is this a life that involves tons of sacrificing? Yes. Is it a life that involves loads of doing junk we don’t want to do? Yes. Is it a life that makes us want to run away to a desert island sometimes? Yes.
But, I get so annoyed with myself when I start acting like I’ve got the market cornered on sacrifice just because I’m a stay-at-home mom. The idea is simply ridiculous. Working mothers have all the same chores to do. They may or may not have a husband who helps them. Sure, maybe they get to buy better clothes. Maybe they get to enjoy work friendships. But, big deal. We get to snuggle on the couch while Sesame Street is on. We get to hang out at the park with other stay-at-home moms. We get to go shopping on a Tuesday at 10 if we feel like it.
The truth is that all mothers, working or not, have a whole lot going on. And, we all feel the pressure. We all feel guilty about all the things we’re not doing and all the things we ARE doing. We all struggle.
You know who else had all sort of things to complain about in life (even though He didn’t complain)? Jesus. In fact, Jesus had to deal with so much that He was known as the Man of Sorrows. And, I hate to break it to us, but when Christian mothers are in the middle of the craziness and the frustration and the woe-is-me-ness, it’s right where we are supposed to be:
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. 1 Peter 2:21 MSG
So, here’s a little bootcamp exercise for all of us mothers (and maybe especially the stay-at-home variety since we often seem to get martyr complexes). What if we considered our daily battles in motherhood as a whole bunch of small, true ways to identify with Christ? Paul said that one way to get closer to Christ is to experience hardship, like Jesus did. I’m not at all comparing piles of laundry to Christ’s crucifixion, but doesn’t it seem like a good thing to say, Jesus endured all kinds of things. I really don’t want to do battle with my two year old over a peanut butter sandwich, but Jesus understands. I can become more like him if I do this well.
After all, Jesus lived a life that shows us HOW to deal with the cheese cracker explosions of the world. With humility, patience, kindness, gentleness, and all of the things that I am often missing during such an event.
James even says we should consider diaper leaks special gifts that make us better Christians. Really:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 MSG
We stay-at-home mothers are in this for the long haul. This is our life. And, enduring the challenges of this life, however small, help us to become more like Christ IF we do them with love and not resentment. IF we make it our goal, as hard as it sometimes is, to consider this a life that we’re living for God, not for our husbands or our children or society in general. The Bible says doing this produces all kinds of maturity and makes us excellent witnesses for Christ.
He really does care about the challenges of stay-at-home motherhood. He sees our frustrations. And He is working, in the middle of the crazy mess. The more we deal with those skinned knees and the center-of-WalMart tantrums and those sibling rumbles, the closer we are to knowing Christ a little more. We can identify with Him through our suffering, even if other people don’t consider it suffering. You and I both know, stay-at-home mom, that there is suffering involved in this experience. What we let it do to us is our choice. We can complain to anyone who will stand still long enough or we can get some satisfaction from a rough day, knowing that it helped us understand Jesus a little better.
Personally, I think the second option is way better. Besides the second option will never make our children feel like we don’t want them around. The more we accept our hardships, the more we love growing closer to Christ (even if it’s unpleasant), the more we shine as Christians and as mothers. And when we stop wasting so much energy on complaining we have more energy to focus on other people, like those adorable little stinkers God has blessed us with.
One last thing, to all mothers. Someday these technologically-saavy little people will be able to go back and read everything we ever wrote about them on the internet. That fact alone should put an end to our complaining. Let them see that we loved every crazy minute of their growing up, and that when trials did come, we leaned on the God who understands.
And now, if you managed to read this whole post without a toddler throwing a shoe at your head, you’re having a good day. But, if a preschooler just dropped chocolate pudding on your carpet, consider it a gift: you now know your Savior a little bit better.