First of all, I mentioned earlier that I took a lot of criticism from my grandmother because she felt staying home with my children didn’t require the use of my mind. She meant well, but she was wrong. It takes brains to instill a conscience and a work ethic in children. Keeping house, paying bills, managing schedules all require intelligence, creativity, and wisdom. When I was home all day with my children, I was utilizing the very same smarts I use now as a full-time worker in an office, but I didn’t grasp that back then. As my college friends went to grad school and careers, I had to fight for self-respect whenever I compared my kids’ world to theirs.
You may feel similarly as you gaze at the grass your friends enjoy with their careers.That’s because what are you going to be when you grow up? is a question we hear early on. Making money and acquiring possessions are presented as the ultimate aims of life. Being at home full time seems to defy these goals. It’s monotonous and humbling to build tents and wipe noses every day when no one is watching or paying you. You can’t wait to “grow up” and be defined by the money you earn and a title you can put on a business card.
I get it. I was there.
But don’t believe that staying at home full time with children means putting life on hold. That’s the misconception that often made me miserable. I had to constantly remind myself that God says children are greatest in the kingdom and those who welcome them are blessed and rewarded (Matt. 18.1-6). Rather than feel insulted or demoted by child care, I learned how to creatively integrate my brain power and pleasures into full-time motherhood, and all moms can do this. Whether its history, art, technology, or science, let’s engage our children in the things we love. Let’s mentor and equip them with the same confidence and self-respect we would offer an employer. God is our true boss, after all.
I did this by sharing my love for hospitality, writing and music. When we had company, the kids served our guests; they didn’t sit in front of the TV or go to bed early. Because I home schooled, I emphasized how to write and speak with clarity and power, two gifts that I possess. All of my children now express themselves beautifully and engage with fellow humans in Christian love. They are sought after as workers and ministers, and God has used our family – especially Michael – to touch hearts through worship and singing at church services, funerals, and weddings…life’s most precious events.
And then there are the ways we moms can find personal satisfaction by sharing our talents in the community. We don’t have to work full time in order to find balance and additional satisfaction. Volunteering and part-time work are great options. I tutored, lead a home school co-op, started a Bible club, planned mother’s workshops, served on the advisory board for the school superintendent, and substitute taught.
As I consider this list of endeavors, I see the field of education emerging as a life’s work. Did I know when I was a 30-year old home schooler that I would eventually become a private school administrator? Nope. Did I know when I hosted that mom’s workshop in the early ‘90’s that I would blog as The Studious Mom in the internet age? Nope. But God knew. The ambitions and interests I thought were being limited by full time mothering were actually taking root and growing while I was at home.
I now understand that being home full time is part of a wonderful journey of personal fulfillment and Christian service. It’s not a pit stop, or a mud hole, or a step down unless we choose to view it that way. We can be bitter about what motherhood prevents us from doing, or we can seize opportunities to use our intelligence and freedom at home. How satisfied we are depends upon knowing we are in the center of God’s will and being yielded to him through an abiding relationship.
That’s why being a “working mom” is not on another side of God’s fence. We’re all on the same side, moms. Each of us has been assigned a patch of God’s green grass to tend. And virtuous women invest in people at home, at the office, on the mission field, and the assembly line. While some don’t get paid, we have to remember that for Christians, making money is not a grand prize in life. Serving is.
Let’s gaze upon our Shepherd whose servanthood is our example. Let’s serve joyfully wherever he leads. And let’s remember that familiar psalm that encapsulates how he blesses moms: “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. “(Psalm 23.1-2; The Message)