Some days, I feel like something must be wrong with me. Being a mom really shouldn’t be this hard. Occasionally, people (without kids) tell me that it’s not hard to be a parent, especially a stay at home one. With statements like “I wish I could stay at home and not work like you do” or “I just don’t see what could be hard about being a mom” and questions like “What do you do all day?” I sometimes start to doubt myself. Is it really that hard to be a stay at home mom? Maybe I’m just a wimp.
Being a mom is my dream job. I’ve dreamed of being a mom my whole life. I babysat any spare moment I could; I taught Sunday School to preschoolers; and I learned all I could about child development and education. When I grew up, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I absolutely love my children and often feel like my heart is going to burst from so much love as I watch these wonderful children.
But being a mom is hard. It’s a constant call to die to self, to give just a little bit more when I feel like I have nothing left to give. It’s a constant struggle to jump in when I don’t want to and to not jump in when I do want to. It’s working all day – and sometimes all night – to love and pour myself empty for other people who can’t give much in return. It’s persistent guilt that I’m too involved or not involved enough; too protective or not protective enough; too lenient or not lenient enough. Someday, it’s going to be driving away, hoping and trusting that I have sufficiently worked myself out of a job.
Ultimately, it’s constant surrender to trusting God and resting in Him because – no matter how great or terrible of a parent I am – ultimately, my children’s safety, education, salvation, and overall well-being are in his hands.
It’s this weird balance between being called to do my best, but knowing that my best is entirely insufficient.
So many days, I feel like I’m going it alone. As I look around mom’s groups and church, it seems like most moms have their act together. Sure, there’s another harried mom in the grocery store sometimes, or every once in awhile someone besides me will carry their screaming child out of the sanctuary. But, a lot of times, when I talk to other moms, it seems like they’re doing just fine. They seem to know what they’re doing, to not mind the never-ending demands, and to be able to give of themselves endlessly.
But, for some reason, Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson wrote a book for moms called Desperate. Did they write a book just for me? Nope, it’s in the top 50 books on Amazonsince it came out… so I must not be the only one.
Knowing that – despite how it appears – I’m not alone in my thinking, I’ve been a bit bolder in my conversations with other moms. And, slowly, we’ve started to share reality. Other moms – some who I’ve known awhile and others who were practically strangers two weeks ago – and I have shared how we love our children deeply and count them among our most wonderful blessings. That each of our children is a miracle and we are so thankful. That we each desire to eventually have more children, but often wonder if we’re insane because we can barely handle what we’ve got.
This journey is so much harder than we had expected and than anyone else seems to think it is. And, usually, we feel completely alone. Most days, it’s nearly impossible to finish a sentence, let alone a conversation, with a friend. We’re never alone, but we still feel so lonely.
Sometimes we don’t want to answer that we’re “fine” when someone asks how we’re doing. But if we tell how we’re really doing, we might come across as needy or weak… We might be rejected.
Often, we don’t know what we’re doing, but feel like we have to pretend we do.
We look around and see moms who are patient, creative, gracious, productive, and balanced and we feel inferior.
We’d love mentorship of older women, but we look around our churches and aren’t even sure who to ask. We’re afraid we’d burden them, but if someone younger asked us to mentor them, we’d be honored and thrilled… and terrified because we don’t know what we’re doing.
We each struggle to embrace the beautiful truth that we are the moms God chose for each of our children.
And, most amazing and surprising to me of all is that recently, I sat in a group of moms who barely know each other as we all confessed just how much we compare ourselves. It turns out we each have looked at every other mom in the room and thought “She has it all together. Look how she ____.” We’ve even mentioned the other moms’ awesomeness to our husbands.
And each of us feels like I do – “how could anyone ever possibly think that about me?”
Through these authentic moments in conversation, these moms and I didn’t break-through in our parenting. We didn’t solve the un-solvable riddles for sleep, food, or obedience dilemmas. We don’t know what we’re doing any better than we did yesterday. But today, we know we’re not alone. And, today, if you’re feeling alone in your mothering, I pray that you also will know that you are not inadequate and alone. There are other moms out there who feel just like you… and I’m one of them.