I've always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom...but I never guessed how difficult it would be to make that change.
Yesterday I walked out of the door of my beloved workplace, now without a paying job (because hey, motherhood is a 24/7 job!) for the first time in ten years. And it was a lot for my little heart to process.
I LOVE being a nurse. I've loved it since nursing school all those years ago. Yet even then, I knew my even greater desire was to be a mom.
And here I am. All those years of waiting and praying and hoping, and I have an incredible husband, a lovely home, and a precious baby girl. We prayed for weeks before making the decision for me to stay home full time with our daughter and I felt undeniable grace and peace about the decision.
So why did it feel so hard to walk out yesterday and close that chapter of my life?
I am over-the-moon in love with my precious girl and she is truly our gift from God. Having a daughter is a dream come true. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to stay at home with her, care for her needs and our little home, and to greet my husband when he walks in the door after work. But that gratitude is undoubtedly joined by struggles in my heart and mind that have caused me to reflect. In my relatively short experience of being a mother, this is what I've learned. While I believe these are the reasons it can be challenging to be a stay-at-home mom, these really apply to all mothers.
There's a lack of affirmation. While my husband is great at thanking me for caring for our daughter or saying the house looks great after I've cleaned it, the reality is that there's very little affirmation for the amount of time, effort, and energy that go into motherhood. No one is affirming you for every little diaper you change, every load of laundry, every poop or spit-up stain you scrub, or even just for getting dinner on the table. And for someone whose love language is words of affirmation, that can be tough.
There's a lack of definition to your life. It's so easy to define ourselves by outer things like our jobs, majors, or other accomplishments. I loved saying I was a nurse, or that I was passionate about crisis pregnancy center work, sharing about different hobbies or pursuits I enjoyed, or even just the way I did my hair or makeup! In a lot of ways, I was defined by those things. They made me me. With a baby, so much of myself has felt stripped down to the bare minimum and there are moments when I've told my husband I don't even know who I am anymore. The raw beauty of this is that it causes me to recognize that my true definition comes from Christ, not the things I used to define myself.
It can be monotonous. Having been single for years, my life was my own and I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. A freedom to change it up whenever I felt stifled. New activities, rearranging furniture, new projects, outings with friends, and so on. But this young motherhood life is full of monotony-- diapers, nursing, dinners, and sleep (or attempts to do so for both of us!). It can be tempting to lose sight of the eternal worth of the monotonous.
It is so easy to doubt your abilities. With a job outside the home, there are measurable goals and outcomes. You see the results of your efforts fairly quickly. There's progress and success and making a visible difference. But as a stay-at-home mom it can be difficult to see the progress or the success of your efforts. After all, you're a mother for life and may not truly see the value of your efforts until heaven! These are little eternal souls you're raising, and souls grow slowly and sometimes imperceptibly. There are a million books and websites to tell you all the right ways and it can be overwhelming to feel like you're falling so very short. I'm learning that doubt is normal but to turn to God's grace to fill in my many gaps. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but even moreso, it takes faith and trust and surrender.
There is a lack of support from the secular world. From outright disdain for motherhood (Margaret Sanger, y'all??) to a simple nod for it on Mother's Day, the world isn't exactly the biggest supporter of mothering. Women's rights movements are all about liberating women from the "bondage" of homemaking and child-raising. Women are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) made to feel that motherhood is a back-burner sort of job, that the purposeful stuff lies in contributions we make to the world in an outside employment or larger movement. But what can be a greater impact to society than creating, raising, and forming new citizens in a stable family and home life? Thankfully, I've been seeing an increase in new feminism movements that support women to be all that God created them to be and to live it out in spiritual or physical motherhood.
So as I open this both exciting and daunting chapter of my life story, I do so knowing that there will be challenges. I will have to continue to fight off the lies of the world as well as the lies whispered within me. But there's incredible beauty in this chapter along with the fears, the doubts, the monotony. There's sanctification and molding of my own heart and soul by a loving Father. And there's watching that same loving Father work with and through me as I mold and raise this gorgeous little girl moment by moment.
What a gift.
[As always, a small disclaimer: mothers aren't the only ones who have a lack of support or affirmation or those who struggle with monotony or doubt or what defines them. My sweet single friends or my married friends struggling with infertility, I see you. God sees you. You are carrying heavy crosses. You are in my heart and in my prayers.]