I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nearly a decade. So I know firsthand the joys and challenges of the job.
Especially the challenges.
Like those painful mornings after you’ve been up all night nursing sick little people and your eyeballs are burning and your brain is melting but your husband leaves for work with a peck on your cheek as if it’s just another day on the farm.
Or the dreams you traded for burp rags and backpacks filled with spelling words and story problems. You wonder if the world sort of moved on and forgot about you.
And then there’s that endless list of self-imposed “good mom” rules we create for ourselves, as if the job description were drafted not by a loving, grace-filled God but rather the anti-Christ himself.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hard stuff.
Which sometimes clouds our vision for the good stuff.
But I saw it. A couple weeks ago, I saw it.
On the last day of school, during the annual awards ceremony, we parents gathered to celebrate our kids’ accomplishments and bid farewell to teachers and classmates ‘til fall. And we were treated to a video—a photo montage of highlights from the year.
Snapshots from the nature center field trip, performing arts field trip, and the Thanksgiving Day feast. The poetry party, field day games, and that Friday morning chapel when the guest speaker wore a propeller cap, remember that? Oh my goodness that was a good one.
I saw photos of the Christmas play, Jump Rope for Heart, and the stacking cup challenge. Smiling faces on the playground, in the gym, in the classroom and at the nursing home visit. Children learning and growing and changing before our eyes day by day, week by week, another school year in the can.
And I realized something.
I was there for all of it.
I recognized those scenes in the video because I had been in them. I lived them. I experienced those special and ordinary moments with my children because I wanted to and I was able to.
And that is a huge blessing.
Please understand my heart in this. Stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms (that’s me), work-somewhere-else moms, whoever you are—we all love our kids to the core of our souls, and we all care for them in the ways that work best for our unique families based on our personal decisions and convictions. And that’s how it should be. What works for me may not work for you, which may not work for the woman next door. It’s all good.
What I’m talking about here is contentment. Finding the positives in the decisions we’ve made. Because how likely are we all to focus on the negatives instead? It’s a chronic disease among us. No matter how you’ve chosen to approach your family life, chances are you’re finding reasons to complain about it. I know I sure do.
But in a simple replay of the school year on a big screen, I saw my decisions for what they truly are.
Mine are right for me. Yours are right for you. Regardless what we choose, there’ll be a flip side. Disadvantages. Bummers. The question is, which side are we going to focus on?
I walked out of the auditorium that afternoon with a new perspective. Stay-at-home/work-from-home mom life has not been easy. It has not been glamorous. It has not been lucrative. It has required juggling deadlines with diapers and wants with needs, again and again and again.
But it has afforded something beautiful, something I value more.
Time with my children.
I’m the first to admit I haven’t always spent that time well, or with the right attitude. And I know I’m not alone. No matter where or how you spend your day, every mother has her own set of challenges and attitude problems, just like I do. We are more the same than different.
But now that my babies are both in full-time school, and my career has a little more “me” time to develop, and my husband and I can have lunch dates without ordering off the children’s menu, well, I can look over a school year and say thank you, God, for showing me that this life is a gift. My children are a gift. My hard-working husband is a gift. My availability to them—as much as it tips me over the edge at times—is a gift.
Can you look at your life that way, too? Find the positives beyond the negatives. You just might discover they’ve been beaming bright all along, begging for you to see them.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).