Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Embracing Motherhood

Being a stay-at-home Mom isn't something I grew up wanting.  Some girls dream of it all their lives.  I dreamed of being a teacher.  I found my identity in that at a very young age.  So when I first stayed home with my son over a decade ago, I didn't know that I would have to redefine myself.  I wasn't ready for a piece of me to be suddenly gone.  It's not that I didn't love my son or having the opportunity to spend so much time with him - I did.  It's just that - well, it isn't always roses and sunshine, this stay-at-home thing.  It meant lots of sacrifices and saying no to a lot of things I was able to say yes to before.  For me, I also thought that without something else to define me, I had some how lost my value.  When it came time for our son to go to school, not only did I know he was ready (I had been teaching him for years), I was desperately ready.  I needed my identity back.

Many thanks to my husband, a self timer, and a couple other helpers for these pictures.

Then I got back into the classroom, and frankly, it wasn't the same.  In the four short years I was gone, expectations had changed.  They changed so much that I went from having a career I adored, to having a job I sometimes dreaded.  To top it off, I felt like I was failing at everything.  I was failing at being the teacher I wanted to be, failing at being the mom and wife I wanted to be, even failing at being the friend I wanted to be.  Of course, if I am honest, classroom expectations weren't the only thing that had changed; I had changed too.

When I walked away a second time, while I was more sure that the decision I was making was long term, I still didn't know that I would be walking away permanently.  What I did know was that the pressure to succeed in the classroom had taken its toll on my health and my family and I knew I couldn't go through that again.  I also knew that I had seen the impact of  parents who worked long hours and it showed me I had more value in my identity as a mom than I previously thought.  And then God planned an addition to our crew and I found myself readjusting to motherhood and staying home all over again, amidst learning a new skill and trying to start up my small business.

So, here I am now, a few years older and a few more miles on my journey, and having a better understanding that God's plan is so much cooler than mine.  Don't misunderstand.  Being a stay-at-home mom has been a rough road for me at times.  There are days, a lot of them frankly, that I have wondered what I am doing.  I complain to my husband that I want to go back to work because staying home can be so emotionally and mentally draining.  Through it all though, I have learned A LOT about not only motherhood, but myself and God's design for me in motherhood.  In the fall, I'll be sending my girl off to school and the questions abound from all over - Is she so excited?  Is she ready?  Am I ready?  What will I DO with myself?!?!  I wish I could tell you it is going to be easy to send her off because I have done it before or I am ready, but I know that's a lie.  While I am excited about having more time to develop my business, I know it's going to be so much harder this time around.  I am not often good about looking ahead without reflecting back.  And Lord, even with this stay-at-home thing being hard, I know I am going to miss these times.  I have been working hard at trying to put aside my frustrations and soak up as much as I can because I know that once school begins, our time together will be forever changed.  

So, in the busy of life, I find myself pausing to smile and try to be present, and typically grabbing my camera to bottle it up.  I want to remember how much I love the way my girl finds joy in creating and playing.  How I love that she will break out into song and dance on a moments' notice, or how she loves to take walks with her dolly in her stroller.  I love what she looks like when she sits at our kitchen table to draw or paint.   To me, this is what it has looked like to embrace motherhood.

The reality is, the way I feel about the role I get to play as a Mom has more to do with the role I am asking God to help me define through Him and how I am embracing that.  After over a decade, I have found value in the role I play as a stay-at-mom, even though sometimes I want to throw in the towel.  I see that my kids see value in my job as a stay-at-home Mom too.  My teenage son has no interest in me going into a typical job and missing out on our afternoon chats.  And I know that my daughter will be so excited to come home and tell me all about her day.  Until then, I'll do what I can to soak in the time and remember it won't be too much longer until times like these will be few and far between.  The reality is that my value to God is not reliant on any of that - if I stay home or work or if I ever became a Mom at all - He loves me and deeply desires that whatever I do, I first find my identity in Him.

I hope this Mother's Day and the days that follow, you take the chance to soak in the beautiful moments of your life, regardless of what that word Motherhood looks like for you.  I pray that you are finding your value and identity in whoever God has created you to be and wherever He has called you to be.  And I pray over you Mommas, that as the days are hard and you are ready to throw in the towel in your most defeated moments, you take a deep breath and ask God to come in and remind you to be still and listen for His voice to remind you that He is with you and that He loves you so very much.

Until next time,