Thursday, July 21, 2011
Just a Mom, part one - It's Okay to Want More
A question I often hear, especially from young moms with one or two little (busy) ones, is some variation of "How do you do it all?" What they mean is, "How can you possibly be involved in other things, like ministry or writing or a small group or (fill in the blank) when you've got five kids? I can't imagine being able to do anything else. It's so busy with these little people!"
When I'm asked that, my heart fills with a mixture of compassion and excitement. Compassion... because the long, lonely, overwhelming days of being a new mom are never far from my memory. Excitement... because I love watching the thrill overtaking the face of a new mom who discovers she is not (and was not meant to be) just a mom.
I realize that what I just said may ruffle some feathers, but before anyone gets too worked up let me add this... I do believe that motherhood is one of the most important, profound, blessed callings. I also believe that many of us have a tendency to fill our lives with other stuff and neglect the importance of interactive, intentional parenting. What I'm saying is not to oppose the importance of mothering, but to enhance it.
For many of us, those first years of motherhood are a time of isolation and loss. We begin to question... Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Will the rest of my days be marked by an endless cycle of changing diapers and sweeping floors? In my experience, even a woman who's always dreamed of becoming a mother experiences some level of identity crisis when her child(ren) are young.
So when a mom of young children asks me how I do it, I try to encourage her with these five thoughts:
1. It is less a matter of how I do these other things than how I could survive without them.
There's is nothing more refreshing to an overwhelmed mom than hearing someone honestly say to them, "It's okay to want more. Don't feel guilty. I want more, too."
2. Grandma always said, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket!"
In twenty or so years, these children of mine won't need me (at least not the way they do right now), and if they are my everything, I will eventually be left with nothing.
3. Doing things other than being a mom helps me be a better mother.
Spending a couple hours in a committee meeting with six other women as we plan our church's women's retreat, for example, fills me up. I feel energized and rejuvenated, both by the fellowship and the sense of purpose. So when I come home to my family, my joy spills over into how I interact with them.
4. Being a mom doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't serve in my church and my community.
In His Word, God calls us to show a special love to fellow believers and to take care of widows and orphans. Nowhere does it add, "unless you're busy being a mother." Having small children changes how we do ministry, but it does not make it impossible.
5. Being involved in other things is a beautiful example to my children.
It is good for my children to see me serving God and others. Seeing that the world doesn't revolve around them helps to tame their selfish nature. Sacrificing a small amount of time with mom teaches them that it's better to give than to receive. Observing my passion in ministry inspires them to ask God how He's calling them to serve.
Ultimately, we all make time for things that matter to us. We find time to go on Facebook, read blogs, and watch our favorite TV shows. We shuffle our schedules in order to get to the gym, create scrapbooks, or even attend appointments. It's not impossible or insurmountable to get out of the house and get involved in something. But it does require making a choice, making a plan, and being a little creative.
Tomorrow, I hope to share a few creative ways to get out of the house and allow yourself to be more than just a mom.