Being a stay-at-home mom is something that I love and worry about in equal measure. I love it because I get to have a front-row seat to the lives of my children. It’s messy, both in literal and figurative terms, but it’s equally full of joy. I have the opportunity to hear and answer their questions about the world, about God, about kids needing water in Africa. And, let’s be honest, the less honorable things like Why do dogs lick their butts and Mom, do you have another baby in your tummy? Because it looks like it.
The worry comes from wanting “success” at my job. For me that means raising kids who love Jesus, who are polite, who are kind, who think of others’ needs, who are helpful. Because I’m with them all day, heads turn to me when the little angels aren’t all those things [think: mall wrestling]. Their dad is supremely helpful and really creative, but still, I’m the one who does most of the disciplining simply because I’m around them the most.
For me, the issue of their spiritual development [i.e. loving Jesus] is one of thee main reasons why I view my job, despite the wax on the walls and wrestling in stores, as being so important. Deuteronomy 11:19 says: “Teach them [the words of the Lord] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
What is God saying here? He is saying that it is his intent for parents to teach their children about their Godly heritage all the time! Learning about their faith should not, nor can it fully be, just a Sunday experience. I love this verse and could say a lot more about it, but for now, I’ll leave it with that. While I don’t believe that moms who choose to work outside of the home are sinning, it is my belief that staying at home makes it easier to do the kind of things that Deuteronomy instructs. It makes it easier to talk with them while “you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
There are a lot of Hallmark-esque signs and plaques that say things like, “Being a mom may not have a great retirement plan, but the rewards of sloppy kisses and hand prints on the wall make it all worth it.” That is so true. HOWEVER…As many stay-at-homers know, unless you are Mother Teresa [I am not] and don’t *care* about recognition of any sort, there can be days and weeks that pass before a thank-you is uttered for your tireless contributions to their clean laundry folded perfectly in their dust-free dressers which sit upon beautifully vacuumed carpet. Because as you know, my house is always in perfect condition. [a-hem].
So, back to Mother Teresa. Perhaps not hearing a Thank-you or getting a quarterly bonus or having a high-powered business lunch means nothing to you. Perhaps your priorities are so squarely aligned, so Jesus-centered, so other-focused that these selfish thoughts never enter your cerebrum. Good for you. Maybe you should mentor me. Because I’ll admit: the business lunch idea sounds fun. It would mean I could get dressed up in something other than flip-flops and someone else could cook for me, which is like my favorite thing in the world.
In light of this, I guess God decided I needed that “quarterly bonus”, too, because the other night over dinner, I got it.
I got one of those Hallmark moments–delivered by my 6 year-old daughter.
I was telling the kids of something new I’m going to be doing when they go back to school, and she was worried that it would take me away from home. I assured her it would not. And then she said,
“Mom, thank you that you don’t give me away to a babysitter everyday.”
Kleenex, eye pat, sniff.
Kleenex, eye pat, sniff, SOB.
Kleenex, eye pat, sniff, SOB, stored in my heart, forever.
Moms, the world may not value what you do. You may not get the recognition you sometimes crave or feel you deserve. You may feel like things are spinning and your efforts don’t matter. But they do.
A six-year old told me.