Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thoughts From a Reluctant Stay-At-Home Mother

Seven years ago, I quit my job at a law firm. God was very gentle with me. I was pretty broken and very scared. God took a good 2 1/2 years before I realized I was actually getting handed the "Full Time Stay-at-Home Mother for Life Job." Before that moment, I was taking my non-working status on a trial month by month basis.

Eight years ago, I was the poster child for the "I could never stay home full time with my children." I lacked patience. I lacked skills. I lacked a spiritual vision of the real contributions of my vocation as a married woman. I thought I needed "intellectual stimulation". I thought I owed it to the world to take my specialized legal skill set to "make a impact on my community." I seriously doubted that my artistic husband would ever be able to find a decent paying job with health insurance.

I was wrong.

In truth, I only wanted to work for the twin reasons of fame and money. I wanted to be a big shot in the world.  I was also extremely afraid of poverty.

Ironically, God handed me a job assignment specifically targeted to my spiritual weak points. The two paybacks I will never earn as a Stay At Home Mommy is fame or money.

As an unworthy sinner, I've screwed up my job often as a stay-at-home mother. I've screamed at my kids. I've spanked them. I've burned the meat loaf. I've forgotten dinner, or messed up dinner so badly we needed to make an emergency Pizza delivery. I've read novels instead of tending to my toddlers. I've wished the kids could play outside in subzero temperatures. I've been bored. I've cried out of frustration at the sheer impossibility of taking many children with many books through the library check-out line without a mishap.

Through all these mistakes and "mishaps", often the very things I feared while I was still childless, I've never, ever doubted that I was doing the right thing by staying home full time. Instead, there has been this steady increase of gratitude.

I'm grateful that I get to pray every day. I'm grateful that I have a chance to serve. I'm grateful that my role is so clear. That the stakes are so high. That I make our whole crumbling society better just by getting out of bed with a smile each day.

It's an honor to serve the child Jesus. It's a honor to follow so closely in the hidden, human footsteps of Mommy Mary.

My payment comes from doing the job God assigned for me for Him alone. It doesn't even come from doing my job well. Sometimes, my husband has a warm, healthy dinner waiting for him on the table after work. Sometimes he has to call for a cheese pizza himself. Sometimes the kids have all their shoes lined up in the closet cubby. Sometimes the poor things lack clean underwear.

What my husband and my children always have is ME---undistracted by urgent phones call from my boss, or an awards dinner invites, or stimulating creative projects.  Oh, the Devil still finds plenty of ways to get me off track, make no mistake. Yet walking away from the biggest food source to my selfish ego--the urgent need impress strangers as a "contributor" in the world of paid employment--that was a grace God handed me at my baptism.

Embracing my role as a stay-at-home mother was a "game changer" moment between me and God.

11 comments:

  1. Oh Abby-you wrote this for me today. Thank you.

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  2. This is wonderful, and I am truly happy it worked out for you.

    I hope you realize, though, that what was the right choice for you isn't best for every family (...said the stay-at-home mom who decided to go back to full-time work more than 10 years ago, and never regretted it for a single moment).

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  3. Absolutely the best post ever! I love this.

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  4. I stay at home because I'm lazy and never want to work a day in my life. :) LOL

    Just going with the theme of the week. Since I'm practically useless for not paying a single bill to sustain my family. LOL

    Seriously, great post! I'm kind of sarcastic today! Too busy boiling eggs. LMBO

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  5. Thanks for this post. God gradually brought me to the point of staying home full time w/the kids too. He slowly did it over just about the same period of time as you! Definitely not an easy process, as my identity was so wrapped up in my career. But, I am not as far along as you are so I'm still working thru this life changer I think.

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  6. I would definitely give yourself a break. It's not easy to be a stay at home mom.

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  7. I needed this awesome blast of honesty! You are not alone! I kept thinking, "Me, too!" over and over again as I read this!

    Thank you for sharing.

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  8. I needed this awesome blast of honesty! You are not alone! I kept thinking, "Me, too!" over and over again as I read this!

    Thank you for sharing.

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  9. I savor each of your posts, and the wisdom of this one in particular. I resigned a tenured position at a (definitely non-family friendly) university in 2001 to devote myself to full-time motherhood. Recently, while facing dire economic realities, I thought wistfully about the luxury I had had of a "fire-proof" job for life. It was then that a good friend reminded me "no-- what you had was a paycheck for life; your JOB for life is being a mother."

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