By Tammy Darling
Recently a good friend confided in me that she was struggling with being “just a mom.” With four children, one of whom has special needs, this stay-at-home mother is anything but just a mom.
The conversation provided me with the opportunity to speak into her life. As a stay-at-home mom of four myself, yet 15 years older, I’ve been where she’s at.
I too have struggled with being just a mom. Honestly, sometimes I still do. Sure I have other titles: wife, homeschool teacher, freelance writer. But it’s the mom title that always gets to me most. Maybe you can relate.
Perhaps you find yourself struggling to put dinner on the table and get a shower on the same day. Maybe you’re fishing toys out of the toilet or picking peas out of ears. It is on those days that you realize the phrase “well-behaved toddler” is an oxymoron.
Or maybe you’re a little farther along on the parenting spectrum. Preteens and teenagers are just as capable of making us want to scream. But we don’t, lest the neighbors hear us and call the cops or our children have us committed—whichever comes first.
Gifts from God
I think we intrinsically know that motherhood is a noble calling, yet we feel so lacking, so incompetent, so unqualified.
Do our children ever hear or take to heart anything we say? So often we feel as though we’re wasting our time, our energy, our sanity.
Break up a sibling squabble. Administer discipline. Discuss biblical principles. Repeat as needed—and it will be needed. On and on it goes, day after day, year after year.
We wonder if anything we say matters. (It does.) We worry we’re raising the next prodigal son. (Maybe, but God will also welcome him back home.) We hope there’s more to life than this. (There is. It’s a matter of perspective.)
You long for a clean house, a clean car, and clean kids—and not necessarily in that order. Clean anything feels like a dream, a distant memory that you just can’t grasp. You may have laundry scattered in every room of the house, school backpacks threatening to obliterate the kitchen counter, and wads of crumpled up paper strewn about the living room floor. (OK, that last one may just be my own doing.) But you also have some pretty awesome kids. So do I.
Let’s be honest: Even on their worst days—and ours—we wouldn’t trade our kids for the world. (I would not, however, be opposed to swapping for a day or two. Just saying.)
All kidding aside, we know our kids are a gift from God—sometimes we just lose sight of the fact. And all this from a God with a sense of humor. Why else would I receive a rock for Mother’s Day? (Yes, I actually did. “Mommy, it’s so beautiful. Just like you.”)
Your kids love you. They really do. If you’re anything like me you haven’t been to the restroom by yourself for years. That’s how much your kids love you.
The fact that my idea of a perfect meal is one I didn’t cook doesn’t make me a bad mom. The fact that you removed your kids’ bedroom doors so they can’t be slammed doesn’t make you a bad mother either. (I’m actually warming up to that one; just not sure how I can effectively preserve my sanity if I can’t banish my kids behind closed doors from time to time.)
As a mom there are moments you may feel invisible. You may even wish you were invisible—this would afford some bathroom privacy.
The problem with labeling ourselves “just a mom” is that a label doesn’t define who we are—Christ does. Being a mom seems so common, so unimportant. But truly, we know better.
You may or may not have a college degree—I don’t, but I can kiss boo-boos like nobody’s business. Don’t let the world define success for you. Ask God what he has to say on the matter.
Roll with It
As moms, it’s important that we learn to roll with it. Sometimes God has a different plan for the day than we do. And that’s OK. Really. The fact that you don’t check off every item on your to-do list isn’t going to affect the world’s equilibrium or prevent your children from becoming what God created them to be.
It is you God has entrusted to love, care for, nurture, and train the children you have. No one, except for God, will ever love your children more than you do.
When I look in the mirror, I see a mom who doesn’t have it all together. Maybe you see the same. Let me tell you what I told my friend who worried about being just a mom: You are not just a mom. You are so much more. Receive it. Believe it. Repeat it daily as necessary.
Let me encourage you moms out there: We are not just survivors—as God’s kids, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Those other moms who seem to have it all together? It’s just an illusion. People wear masks; they portray what they want you to see, what they want to be in their own minds. What a blessing we could be to one another if we would remove the masks and be real, openly sharing our struggles and encouraging one another.
As a mother, I fall short. Every day. I argue with my children, yell at them, and otherwise behave in ways I swore I never would. I compare myself to other mothers and wonder if I’ll ever measure up.
I even wonder why God ever chose me to be a mother, and then I thank him profusely that he did. His love and grace cover all my failures, all my shortcomings, all my sin.
More than Enough
We moms certainly have plenty: Plenty to do. Plenty to worry about. Plenty of people wanting our time and attention.
But God gives us plenty more: Plenty of grace. Plenty of strength. Plenty of love to cover a multitude of mistakes.
We don’t need gifts on Mother’s Day—unless of course you really do want to start a rock collection. Perhaps all we really need is a fresh perspective on the gifts we’ve already been given.
Motherhood is nothing short of an adventure. Too often though, we see it as a mind-numbing, thankless job where the proverbial empty nest gets better looking every day. But it really is OK to take five minutes to sit in your car with your iPod plugged in and sing at the top of your lungs. In fact, I recommend it.
Trust God. Trust his plan. Every day will not be Disneyland. There will be trials, even pain. But these are the moments in which we grow the most.
We’ve all heard the advice, “Enjoy your children. They grow up so fast.” And just as we’re thinking, “Not fast enough,” they really do grow up right before our eyes. One day they’re cruising the backyard in a battery-operated car and the next day they’re lapping the block in a real one. So the advice stands. Enjoy them now.
Delight in the beautiful gifts God has given you. Rejoice in their uniqueness. Embrace them while you can.
Looking back over the last 17 years since my first daughter was born, and then three more following her, I shudder to think what my life would have been without them. I cannot imagine a life where they do not exist.
Motherhood isn’t about status or labels. It isn’t about raising angelic Einsteins. It’s about the love of family, of sharing Christ with our kids. “Just” a mom? I don’t think so.
Tammy Darling is a freelance writer in Three Springs, Pennsylvania.
You’ve Earned It!
Mom or not, it’s a challenge to be a modern woman. Jennifer Johnson takes a humorous look at feminine feats in her blog post “Girl Scout Badges for Today’s Women.” Here are some highlights:
“The Big Event: Automatically awarded upon completion of your 20th ladies banquet, tea, or retreat involving hats, finger sandwiches, scrapbooking, and/or ‘spa’ manicures.
“The Clothes Call: One badge awarded for each shopping trip with a daughter age 8-18 in which you successfully prevent purchases of halter tops, low-rise pants, short-shorts, and anything designed to show one’s navel. Award is not invalidated by daughter’s tears or public outbursts proclaiming her hatred of you.
“The Shear Magic: For blow-drying your hair into a style remotely resembling anything you left the salon with after your last cut.”