Chalk it up as a successful Family Home Evening. That’s what I’ve decided to do. It’s after midnight, post-Monday-FHE chaos, and I can’t sleep because of what an amazing FHE we had. Oh yeah. What was so great about it, you ask? Let’s see… Was […]
When you pray, you don’t normally expect to get a bad head cold. It’s not usually the way to detect answers from our Heavenly Father. But maybe sometimes it is? I’ve been thinking a lot about the new Disney movie, “Moana,” especially since we’ve watched […]
“So what do you do all day?” An innocent, conversational question. But this time, I was speechless.
We had invited some friends for dinner, a cute newlywed couple. The husband we’d known for some time, and we enjoyed a great evening catching up together. We got to know the wife and learned all about their plans for the future. After discussing education, children, and careers, there was a pause in the dialogue. Then our friend proffered that zinger of a query.
“What? What do I do all day?” I spluttered on my words. “I…I…I do this!” I gestured to my four children. Didn’t he understand? I quipped that I just sat on the couch and ate ice cream all day. He didn’t get the joke.
How does one explain what a stay-at-home mom does all day?
How could I articulate the time it takes to receive sleepyhead children each morning, to snuggle them, to move past the pull of the bed and onto endless needs of the day? The call of laundry, baths, hair brushing, diapers, playdates, sibling fights, bonked heads, chores, everything?
How could I explain how long it takes to prepare and clean up meals and snacks? I live in an area of the world where access to prepared foods is very limited, so most everything is made from scratch, down to boiling a pumpkin, making our own molasses, or just chopping fresh vegetables every. single. day. But no matter the place or situation, the call of hunger is unceasing. And the vital task of teaching children how to help often only hinders the process, with eggs splattered on the rug or sugar glittering over every kitchen surface.
How could I specify how grueling yet gratifying homeschooling is? How to convey the sometimes-vain attempts to laugh through the pre-algebra lessons that my son knows but despises (and rants loudly about) anyway? Or the messes made when we all explore paint colors or extremely scientific experiments on non-Newtonian substances…like slime?
How could I tell about the bombshell of a moment when my husband texted me that our daughter had a serious skin infection and “the doctor says we’ll have to shave her head”? Luckily, we averted that and instead I spent hours of time weekly to administer treatments every morning and night.
How could I verbalize the sense of shocked amusement when my 2-year-old came to me, shamefaced, and said, “Momma, I sowwy, I peed on the dog.” (I’m still laughing–a small stuffed dog had the misfortune of being shoved down the diaper of this small boy.)
The little things add up to become the day.
And we don’t even need to get into the ways the job extends beyond “mom” into helping with our family business, church service, feeding stray young single adults, connections with friends and family, etc. Every mom is different, and not all are the stay-at-home kind, but every mom’s life deserves someone who supports her like my husband did today: after a potentially disastrous math lesson in which crisis was truly avoided only because I intentionally breathed and laughed a lot, he came out, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Moms should have a VIP ticket to heaven.”
I certainly didn’t want to complain to our friend or sound harassed or overworked. I also didn’t want to detail the mundane or make it seem like I was trying to sound busy, or worse, make his new wife feel bad for working outside the home. I totally respect her and any woman’s decision that’s best for their family, just like mine is for ours. So I just didn’t know WHAT to say!
This would be the point in the post where I say that despite all the struggles and tears and trials of mothering, it’s all worth it, and I sleep easy at night knowing I’m doing the Lord’s work. Sometimes that feels true. Other times–even though it’s still true–it doesn’t feel true; it just feels hard. I don’t sleep easy, whether it’s because of wakeful children, worry about the future, or just something I saw on the news. And someday I’ll be worrying about issues different from diapers and literally saving my babies’ physical lives every other minute. There will be dating and driving and heartache and doubt and other turmoil I don’t want to think about.
So why in the world do we do it?!
I believe for me it’s summed up in this one line from our leaders: “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995). Our work as mothers has eternal consequences. And God has made promises that if I truly seek to nurture my children, He will send innumerable and specific blessings in both their lives and mine. And I trust God.
I would never judge another woman on her choices to work or stay home, nor would I endeavor to say that my choice is the only or best choice for everyone. But I’m ever so grateful that I have the blessing of mothering my crazy little family. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the stuffed dog episode. I feel truly satisfied that my son can trust me to work through hard things with him. I’m thankful for the hours I “had” to spend with my daughter, talking, brushing her hair, laughing, practicing our Swedish. Those little things with which I fill my minutes and hours and days add up to so much more than I ever thought possible. My day–my life–is filled up. Filled up with love and learning. Filled up with the work of eternity. Filled up with life.
I don’t know how it works… but I know it does work. When we draw nearer unto God, he draws near unto us. When we ask Him questions, He gives us the answers. I recently attended a beautiful event with Sylvia Allan, who shared a message […]
Yes, I’m thinking like… Napoleon Dynamite style mom skills!!! I need better “skills” as a mother and I intend to do something about it. 2017 is my year to “Master Motherhood!” (or at least make some serious improvements) I have to thank a good Lutheran […]
The Christmas season is always inspiring and motivating for me. This year as I’ve studied parts of the New Testament regarding the Savior’s entry into mortality, the story of humble and faithful Mary, the sacred mother of Jesus Christ, has spoken to my heart. Her […]
Through my recent research I have had this idea of “magnifying our efforts through Christ” on my mind. I was taught this principle again in the most unlikely circumstances: It was a really, really hard morning. My patience was gone before I woke up and […]
This morning I had an hour-long cuddle session with my 2-year-old. You should be jealous–it was heavenly.
He woke up an hour early and I decided not to stress about all that I could have accomplished in that hour. You could call it being lazy but I am choosing to call it taking time to just Be Still.
Maybe some of you mamas have experienced this half-sleep cuddle fun when your little one starts tracing the features around your face. My little guy was drawing invisible lines with his finger from my eyebrows to my nose and chin. It was tender. Then his sweet fingers went down to my double chin and I felt my muscles tighten instinctually. It’s one of those physical imperfections I am not proud of and try to hide at all times. Obviously I have trained my instincts to jerk away if someone touches my horrid physical flaw…
However, to my sweet son there was absolutely no judgement behind his tracing finger, but rather complete sincere love as he traced those features that defined who he called “mom.”
Our children definitely notice differences (and sometimes point them out in awkward and obvious ways that are not always culturally accepted…), but they notice them as a point in fact as opposed to a judgement. For example they may point out that the boy on the swings has dark skin or has big glasses just as we would say that their mom has curly hair or brown eyes.
My husband wears a hearing aide in one of his ears. My children happily sing a new verse of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” with dad that includes his feature of his hearing aide. The familiar game with a baby that asks, “Where’s your nose?!” has often included, “Where is Daddy’s hearing aide!?” at our house. It’s just part of life–no judgement.
Oh, to have the eyes of my children and only see facts without the ever-present lens of judgement! Our first impression of people is almost always how they look or what they are wearing or driving or living in. It’s an immediate habit for most of us, embedded into our perspective through years of culture and society, and we have to re-train our brains to dismiss those judgements to only see facts like a child does.
1 Samuel 16:7 says “…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
I look forward to that day when our eyes will not be clouded with the cares of the world and we will be able to see each other for who we truly are. We have a long way to go to be able to see straight on someone’s heart but first we must look on each other as a child does: without the judgement.
I believe that a very important part of this is how we look upon ourselves. When you look in the mirror do you see all your imperfections that make you self-conscious or do you see yourself how your child does or how your Heavenly Father does?
For me, repairing my vision is a long process but it begins by not allowing those imperfections to shine brighter than who I am as a mother, wife, and daughter of God. I may see my flaws but I hope someday the light of Christ in my eyes shines brighter than them.
May we all be more mindful of the lens through which we view ourselves and others and strive to look upon the heart–particularly when we look in the mirror–and be mindful of the power we give those imperfections in our mind regarding how we define ourselves. It can be challenging at times to see ourselves as God sees us, but next time you see your reflection try to see yourself as a child would.
I have been reading about Martha and Mary and was surprised by the line that struck me with power during this morning’s study. Each part of Martha’s plea was expounded in my mind to teach me what I needed to hear: “Lord, dost thou not […]