Being a homeschooling, stay-at-home wife and mother has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I am honored that God has chosen this path for me, and I have been in awe of how He has moved in our family within the context of our home life throughout the years. Life, as a whole, has been wonderful …I have a godly husband, amazing children, a nice home, freedom that I don’t take lightly, and most importantly, Jesus —cuz’ if you have Him, you truly have everything. Even though it’s been wonderful in so many ways, it hasn’t been a picnic– it is work! I have seasons of renewed purpose, energy and refreshing, and I have seasons of brokenness, exhaustion and weariness. Recently I wrote in my journal:
While I type this, my toddler is playing in the bathtub happily —it’s the first moment today where she hasn’t been crying, screaming or demanding to be held, nursing or at least sitting in my lap. My 5-year-old has entered into a new phase of : “But I want to ____________.” with every instruction we give him, –from eating his meals, to taking his naps, right down to the specifics of his playtime! My 10-year-old insists on repeating EVERY negative thing he hears. It’s a daily battle every day to get my teenagers to do their schoolwork and my adult son is struggling to move forward in life. Did I mention my husband has started a new business in the midst of great trial and adversity? This particular winter has been especially trying: the kids seem to get sick every time they leave the house, which means we’ve been locked up in the house for more days than I care to count… and then there’s me: Sleep-deprived, exhausted, trying-to-hold-it-together me. I’ve struggled with hurts and what feels like a lack of purpose since being back in our home state. I can’t remember the last time that my husband and I had time alone and I miss us, my hair hasn’t been done in a year and my house is held together by the bare minimum of chores. Even if there were other things I wanted to do, I don’t have the energy for anything else.
Have you been there? It’s not just from the activity of living with a big family– it’s all the stuff you don’t see too: It’s the middle of the night praying, it’s the mental energy that it takes to not freak out when your two middle boys are arguing AGAIN about the same thing for the hundredth time that day. It’s worrying about the friend you want to be there for but can only offer up prayers because it really is all you can physically do. It’s fretting about whether or not I am spiritual enough, whether or not I’m losing ground on the proverbial highway to heaven because I am so bound to these priorities, these gifts that I know deep in my heart God has given, but leave me so drained at the end of the day and leave me wondering if I am really making any difference at all. It’s thinking how I can reach the one child, no PRAYING about how I can reach the one child who doesn’t talk at all, who doesn’t give us even a small clue as to what is going on in his heart. Some may say that I just need to ‘hand it all to the Lord’…and while that’s true, a woman’s heart doesn’t sleep concerning her family…
It’s laying down my plan to paint my toes so that I can be a listening ear to the family member who needs talk right at that moment. It’s laying down eating while the food is hot because a diaper needs to be changed and face needs to be washed. It’s laying down reading that extra chapter in the book so that the small wide-eyed wonder can show you his Lego creation…again…just like 5 other times today. It’s cutting the peanut butter and jelly sandwich into triangles not squares for the child who won’t eat it any other way.
It’s a laying down…it’s a laying down… it’s a laying down… of SELF.
Being a stay-at-home mother isn’t just staying home. It can be, but any woman who takes her role seriously will tell you that it most certainly isn’t. It’s so much more than the physical daily tasks– it’s counseling, mentoring, teaching, disciplining, problem-solving, interceding, speaking, writing, organizing, listening, administering, praying, crying out and much more. I have often thought about what a force of power might look like if it could only harness the mental energy of a wife and mother– I believe it would look like a modern-day superpower! We have to accomplish so much in a day it’s mind-boggling! I’ve heard of million dollar company CEO’s who ‘came home’ and declared life as a stay-at-home spouse and parent as ‘the hardest job on earth’. That speaks volumes to me!
It’s a laying down… of Self.
But one thing I have discovered over and over is that this job requires a laying down of self that I never personally experienced before making the decision to stay home. I realize and relate to why Jesus had to ‘steal away’ to the remote mountains just to spend time with God alone as I stand in a shower that washes away my tears of exhaustion and I ask the big questions in life of my King… in the shower– because it’s the only place I can really get alone these days.
As the demand for my time invades my space, I realize just how selfish my heart is when the children ask for ‘one more story’ and in that self-centered moment my heart wants to regret ever nurturing their wild imaginations and hunger for good stories in the first place– but I lay myself down and read the story anyway… Or when they ask me to cut them up an apple or orange for the fourth time that day and I think, “It be so much easier to just hand them a bag of chips right now, why do they insist on being so healthy?!” It means not talking on the phone anymore because, seriously what’s the point when there will be interruptions every 5 seconds? Oh do I have the most interesting of thoughts throughout my days! But I lay me down…and I ask God constantly to add His “SUPER” to my mere “natural”.
“If you’re gonna do it, do it right.”
Integrity. Good stewardship. Faithfulness. Do the right thing. These were not messages I always heard when growing up, but after I came to know Christ, I heard them everywhere I turned and I realized that it wasn’t just the “big things” in my eyes that Jesus wanted me to do right– He wanted me to love my husband right, love my children right, guard our home right, teach them right. It all takes time and it all takes a laying down of myself… being a wife, mother and keeper of our home has proven to be the primary place I have had to learn these lessons over and over and over again.
I look at my oldest boy, who is a 20-year old man-child, and the years testify that it does indeed go by very fast. Too fast. I don’t get a ‘do-over’ with the children, that’s why it’s important to read and re-read the bible stories, to talk with them along the way of life about God’s principles, to teach them to pray and encourage them to walk by faith. I don’t get a do-over with my husband to support his dreams, and to truly be his helpmeet and partner in life. They need me now and I need to lay myself down so that the right things get sown and accomplished at the right time.
At a time when so many of the women my age are moving on to their next phase of life, I am still in the laying-down-of-my-life-parenting phase, but I know that I am never released from the laying down of my life. Sometimes it feels as though I will never get to that next stage–(you know, the one where I drink coffee all day and write till my heart’s content of the great revelations God shows me in a clean, never messy house and I feast on food that’s all mine and untouched by sticky little chubby fingers…oh how I have a feeling I will miss those fingers some day! )–but then again, maybe the point is that I am never to leave the laying down of me and the sooner I accept that, the happier I will be no matter what stage of life I’m in.
When we die to self, we offer up a sweet fragrance to the Lord of our pure obedience. When we say, “Not my will, but Yours be done Lord”, it’s the kind of devotion His blessing can get behind. Our families need that kind of blessing in today’s world– but first we must choose to lay ourselves, our wants, our plans down in order to sow the seeds for the good of the family. This is how our children will first experience the love of God:
With that said, I have a flock to tend to and a meal to prepare…
Lord, help me to lay myself down as You laid Yourself down for me. Help me to be the wife and mother You designed me to be. Help me to bear the fruit that shouts of Your sacrificial Love, Your Unending Mercy and Undeserved Grace. When I’m struggling with selfishness in my daily tasks, help me to remember that the seeds sown now will produce a beautiful harvest of righteousness in my family that is well worth the laying down of my momentary desires. In Jesus Name, Amen.