Sunday, August 26, 2007

significantly confused

I didn’t know whether to stand up or not.

I sat there for a moment, listening to the pastor’s call for prayer, feeling the tears threaten but not fully understanding why. “I’m not really a stay-at-home mom,” I thought. “I work part time. The call is for stay-at-home mothers.” The tension within me grew as he continued, speaking the truth that I knew so many of my friends needed to hear—that staying home and wiping noses and packing lunches and practicing math facts is significant. That there is worth in the thousands of little sacrifices they were making every single day. That the job they were doing has infinite value. It was a tender, much-needed call for prayer—I just didn’t know if it was for me.

It was a tension I was very familiar with, having dealt with it from the time my first child was six weeks old and I returned to my part time counseling practice. I had the “best of both worlds,” my friends would say. I had three days per week home with my children, but I had two or three days each week of meaningful and significant work (translated as ADULT CONVERSATION) to “get me through.” And though it was not my choice—we needed my income to make ends meet no matter how modestly we tried to live—it did indeed seem to be ideal. The problem was I was both a stay-at-home mom and a working mother, and I didn’t fully fit in either opposing camp.

Nor did I feel I was able to do either one adequately because of the other. What others considered the “best of both worlds” was a constant struggle of having a little bit of both but not fully enough of either. Paying bills and doing laundry and playing “Super Cat” takes time—when your week is short two or three days, time is of a premium. Something has to go. Utility companies tend to want to get paid. Super Cat suffers. Guilt ensues.

Women around me were beginning to stand. I hesitated. “What if someone thinks I’m not really a stay-at-home mom because I work here at the church?” I realized, albeit much later, how ridiculous this was—as if working two or three days a week disqualified me from needing prayer for the other three days. “What if someone thinks I shouldn’t be standing?” I stood up.

Friends tell me sometimes they wish they were working, too, so that they felt they were doing something more significant. Friends who are working tell me they wish their job were more like mine, so that they felt they were doing something more significant. And the truth be told, I love my job for that very reason. What I do matters. Not everyone can say that. But there is a trap hidden within that significance, and as I was being prayed for that morning, God began to reveal it.

The tears that merely threatened earlier began to flow of their own accord. I had been convicted—of believing that what I do outside of the home is more significant than what I do within. Of wishing away my time while at one in a longing to be at the other. Of not always giving the best of myself to my children. I, too, had fallen into the trap. I, too, believed somewhere in my mind that motherhood was somehow a lesser calling. I, too, needed prayer.

I prayed that morning, as I stood in my rightful place accepting the blessing I so desperately needed, that the Lord would help me to truly see—packing lunches is significant. Answering my son’s fifty questions when I’m walking and would rather listen to my worship music is significant. Paying the bills is significant. Making jewelry with my daughter is significant. Reading an extra chapter before bedtime when I’d rather get started on my own book is significant. Play dough is significant. Sidewalk chalk is significant. Super Cat is significant.

I am a part-time stay-at-home mom, and that is significant.


Anonymous said...

yes, f/t or even p/t being a stay at home momma is a tremondous action a parent can do, if they are able to.

i was there sun morning and thought that was a wonderful prayer request by the pastor

i have always had a lot of respect
for stay at home parents.


lorie said...

yeah, i thought it was really good. i had a lot of friends who really needed it. it's a tough job and gets very little respect. i'm glad that was recognized.

jane said...

Gotta tell ya, I shed a few tears over this one. Why, because I see what a great Mom you are and how much you give of yourself. Don't EVER doubt your worth !!!

michelle scott said...

Amen! I stood but did not go forward for prayer. I felt the exact same feelings. Thank you for the reminder that we to are significant. And I am thankful I can make a difference at work and at home!

Julie Morrison said...

I'm glad you went for prayer and overcame "What will people think?" The Lord showed me how significant a stay at home mom can be. When I became a single mom several years ago, He made it possible to home school Sam and covered all my expenses for five years (until I remarried). It is virtually unheard of for a single mother to be an at home mom. We are all investing for a payout that comes later. Yours is a QUALITY investment. You rock.

apriltucker said...

Hi, momma! Despite being told over & over that being "just a mom" is not enough,I recently realized there is nothing I want more, nothing that can label me as "successful" aside from raising my boys. Indeed, being a mommy is significant, no matter where she spends her day. You're doing something important with those lovelies. Miss you!