Do you remember the post Why Being a Mom is Enough? I read it. You should if you haven’t. It’s great but it’s not entirely true. It’s just being mom isn’t enough.
Tough love, right?
This one might not sit well with some out there. That’s fine. I want to stir thought, to encourage discussion, to inspire, and to promote action. Why? I stood there in front of the same dirty dishes in a messy home, exhausted, in need of a shower, staring at the clock, surrounded by little ones yet utterly alone, and aware a tiny part of me died. I know
A few days ago, it resonated out of the mouth of another early-stage mother.
“It’s like a little piece of me is dead inside,” she muttered.
I am here to tell you…
IT’S A LIE. The truth is you are still fully there, all of you. It’s just being mom isn’t enough.
There might be seasons in a mother’s life where this might not be completely accurate. Actually, I cannot think of any. From the second the baby is born, you become a mom but you are still a friend, sister, daughter, spouse, etc. Another hat to be worn instantly got placed on a vacant rung on the wall of your heart. Rest is given, if not expected, but only in the form of decreasing the duties your other responsibilities require until your health returns. Those prior tasks may have included making dinner, calling your mother, planning outings with friends, or celebrating your sister’s birthday. Life is not only about being a mother. The various titles held by a mom are precious gifts; work is needed for upkeep in all areas.
And, guess what? This is where the emotional experiences of loneliness and the deaths of parts of you disappear as you parent, in the blessed trenches of serving others.
“Blessed trenches” seems like an oxymoron. What is pleasurable or honorable about being in a deep ditch?
I cannot remember the exact conversation my husband and I shared but I am certain it occurred. Here I sit typing, almost 10 years after quitting my job, to be home and tending to my family. Although I continued to work out of our house after my office resignation, I could not even handle being a mom of two and a part-time engineer. Thus, I became a Stay at Home Mother, a.k.a a SAHM (until 3 years ago).
I hate the acronym SAHM. It’s probably because I still pronounce it “sham”. That is exactly what my truth became in my selfish mind. I questioned why I gave up on all my accomplishments in school and at work to change diapers (?). I whispered privately that it was for the sake of the kids. It must be the right thing, I reminded my soul. (Don’t get me wrong. Caring and raising children is a gift from God. I am thankful He still finds me fit for this worthy and noble task.) However, I pretended then to be happy giving my time, my energy, my being to raising our children, to just being mom. No other hat I wore held as much importance as mother. Months and years went by, all the while deep down in my inner most being, bits of me continued to break away. What did I really enjoy any more? Did he still find me funny, smart, attractive? Did I contain value other than providing provisions? I did not know. Yet, I fooled everyone. I even tricked myself into thinking my mom status was adequate. I acted as a sham, a fraud, as a woman who stayed home striving only to be a sufficient mom.
IT’S A LIE. The truth is I was still fully there, all of me. It’s just being mom wasn’t enough.
I heard it said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. If my math is correct, then 20% of jobs outside of the work force are left undone and 80% of the people are not helping out. In other words, the same people serve over and over again but they cannot complete all that is needed. How does this apply here?
Let me tell you…
I got an email from a lady at church one afternoon while the boys napped. This mother of 5, who counseled people, home-schooled, and led several other groups, needed to find someone to replace her leadership role on the Children’s Worship Team. For some reason, she found me to be the perfect fit. (I admit flattery goes far in getting me to do something.) Although at the time, my 3rd pregnancy and two toddler boys demanded my full attention, I figured her to be crazy or in desperation for picking me. After prayer, discussion with my husband, and divine intervention, I accepted the volunteer position. My life and mom life changed from then on.
This one act of willingness to serve others outside of my family flipped a switch bringing light to shine on the parts of me I thought died. It lit a spark, a passion, a gratitude for other people in the world around me, and a purpose bigger than myself, all which I thought left me long ago. As just a mom, I lost sight of my place as a friend, a sister, a daughter, a spouse, etc. I lived the lie. The puzzle pieces that fit together to make me did not vanish. I ignored them during those early parenting years and they got hidden in the dark. My priorities were not equally balanced then but the light of love brought them back into harmony.
The truth is that being mom isn’t enough. Rightfully so, being a mom who acknowledges her talents, gifts, and uses them within all her other roles is sufficient.
Loving on people outside our families may put us deep in the trenches when it comes to time management but the joy it brings is a true blessing. I encourage you to give more of yourself this holiday season and throughout the year.
Here are some ways you, as a mother, can serve as the light to those around the town:
- Be the Room Mom at school or Team Mom in sports
- Create a carpool with another busy parent
- Volunteer to coach recreational kids’ sports
- Provide meals to a family going through a difficult time
- Invite a single parent and their children over
- Get involved with the PTA
- Organize a neighborhood social
- Lead or support a Girls’ or Boys’ Troop
- Offer music lessons free of charge to kids or parents
- Collect donations for the needy
- Check in on an elderly neighbor
- Start a crafting day with friends