Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bon Bons and Other Myths of the SAHM

I have been decluttering my house and desk, both of which are in dire need of it. I have stumbled across some writings of mine from the last five years, so I will be posting these in the next few days. Here is one from Fall, 2006. For those of you who know me, you will find an allusion to a pregnancy that was never fulfilled. I miscarried shortly after writing this. Yet, the conclusion still holds true, and God has blessed me since with another beautiful child.

One day last spring I was at the mall with my two boys, ages 5 and 3. We were there for their annual haircuts (to clean up the previous six I gave them) and to do a little shopping. When we were done, I decided to get my eyebrows waxed, the one luxury I afford myself in order to tame the ever-encroaching uni-brow. The nice woman at the salon took me to the back room. I sat in a reclining chair with my head back while my boys waited in chairs along the wall, probably wondering why their mother would subject herself to hot wax and cloth being ripped from her face. Actually, they were engrossed in the daytime drama I was hoping they wouldn’t notice on the salon TV. The technician made a comment about how well behaved they were, which, of course, immediately endeared her to me. Since she was clearly pregnant, I asked her if this was her first baby. She said it was, and she wondered if I stay home with my kids. I happily replied that I did, as she continued the 5 minute deforestation project on my brow. “Well, I’m going to have to work when the baby comes,” she said. “I just can’t see myself staying home and watching movies all day.”

The loud, deep belly laugh the bounded from me surprised us all and could not have been contrived (had I tried), nor softened to a dainty cough. Did I just hear her right? Is that what she thinks moms like me do all day? I wasn’t feeling quite as endeared now. “Oh, I don’t really watch much TV,” I laughed. No, in between getting dished washed, clothes laundered, toys organized and picked up, floors cleaned, play dates arranged and attended, meals prepared (3x/day), groceries purchased, hurt feelings soothed, scrapes bandaged, play-doh set up and put away, library books picked out and returned, errands run, manners taught, bathrooms cleaned, beds made, garbage out, phone calls returned, menus planned, porches swept, stories read, and shirts ironed…all the while trying to take full advantage of the countless teachable moments every day… I just didn’t seem to find much time for movies. And I didn’t even have an infant anymore. I remember when feeding alone became my full time job—an hour to feed, every 3 hours, round the clock, equals 56 hours of breastfeeding per week! As this mommy-to-be leaned over my face, all I could think was, “This woman’s world is about to get rocked.”

For my baby shower, my sister had all the ladies, veteran moms in my opinion, write their mothering advice in a pretty little book that was presented to me. One of my dear friends wrote, “Welcome to the toughest job you will ever love.” I don’t think I fully appreciated those words until after my son was born. How could I? How could I know the wonder and awe I would feel as I held him for the first time? How could I know the utter delight I would find in watching and helping him grow? How could I know the depth of love I was capable of having for another human being? I would die for this little boy. And how could I possibly know how challenged, stretched and vulnerable I would feel when lack of sleep, hormones, and a screaming baby made me feel like I was dying for this little boy? How could I know how profoundly my life would change?

As I now wear maternity clothes again and contemplate going back to baby-land with our baby due next year, I am comforted by these words:

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd. He shall gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those who are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

Although parenting is the toughest job I know, I also know that He will feed me and my family. He will provide for me, in every way. He gives us the wisdom we beg Him for, the love to carry us through, and the privilege of passing His truth and love to the next generation. He will gently lead those of us with young. He knows it’s a tough job. But it’s a job I wouldn’t trade for anything, not even a chance to watch all the movies in the world.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


If you have been in Christian circles for even a short length of time, you have probably met her. At first you were impressed. Perhaps a little overwhelmed. You definitely admired her. Inwardly, you hoped to be like her. Over time, you began to feel frustrated by her lack of ... being normal? Perhaps you even asked yourself, "Does she ever sleep? How does she have time for it all? Does she ever go out for coffee with her friends?" Then, you may have started avoiding her altogether because you only compared yourself to her and saw your shortcomings glaring back at you. Yes, I'm sure you know her. The elusively perfect Proverbs 31 woman.

It as been helpful for me to remember that the Proverbs 31 woman is an ideal to live up to. It is not a snapshot of "a day in the life of..." It is a picture of an entire life well lived. The Proverbs 31 woman probably did not have time to buy real estate and manage her vineyard while she had babies at home (although the part about her lamp not going out at night, might very well be referring to that season!). I wonder if her husband was already sitting in the respected position at the city gate when they were newlyweds just home from the honeymoon? Or was that referring to a position he eventually reached in life with her influence, support, and goodness (see verse 12)? It was when her children were grown and her husband seasoned, that she received the highest praise. Here is a picture of a woman who had the long view, and, as Jonathan Edwards resolved, "lived with all [her] might, while [she did] live."

One verse in this passage, however, has always eluded me personally. It is verse 25. "She smiles at the future." Some versions even say, "She can laugh at the days to come." Really? No worrying, fretting, wondering if all this hard work will pay off? No furrowed brow in the middle of night, wondering if your kids will stray from the faith, if you will live long enough to see the fruit of your hands, if God really notices and cares?

I recently received some insight into this issue. Last week, I heard a pastor speak from Psalm 121, addressing mothers on Mother's Day. As he spoke about the keeping power of God expressed in the psalm, he gave a reason for why a woman can confidently look to the future. As mothers, our tendency may be to look ahead and let our hearts be consumed with dread and worry at the myriad scenarios our minds can generate. We have all been there and done this when the anxieties of life take hold. But the problem with these imaginary scenarios is that they often leave out one very important thing. Actually, one very important person: God.

Pause for a moment and consider: Has God led you? Has He not shown His goodness and mercy, following you all of your days, right up until now? Hasn't He proven His faithfulness time and time again? Take one minute and time yourself. Think about all the ways God has been good to you and how He currently is caring for you. Now let your thoughts of the future include Him. We do not know what the details will be. Honestly, we do not know what a day holds. But God will be there, just as surely as He has been and as He is now. He will be there.

With God, the God of Israel, there is always hope. He promises in His eternal Word to work all things together for the good of His people and for His glory. Not only are there blessings to come, but God, God Himself, your Rock, Defender, Deliverer, Advocate, Shelter, Helper, Strength, and Reward will be there. If this is true, how can she not smile at the future? So, the next time I find my mind wandering into the future, imagining scenes fed by my fears, I will stop. I will shake off those thoughts and remember. I will remember that my God is in the future just as well as the past. And I just might even laugh.