Fighting Insecurity, Finding Contentment

Sometimes, I measure my days in urine-soaked princess panties, my weeks in previously unscheduled doctor appointments. My joy and excitement come from toddlers stating, ‘Poo-poo,’ and actually sitting on the potty before the aforementioned poo-poo hits the floor, and my challenges come in the form of recipes filled with natural ingredients but not more than five steps.

My current lot in life is different than I had anticipated. If I’m honest, I’d have to say that I’m not as good at staying home with my children as I’d thought I would be. I thought I’d find more contentment, peace, but I struggle.

Part of that struggle is the comparison game that I can play mentally with other women. When I was at Matt’s company Christmas party last year, surrounded by career women, I felt insecure. While in one breath I was proud of my choice to stay home with my children, in the other I felt the need to add something to my title–I stay at home, but I also….

And while I love to write and write because it is my passion, a daily spiritual experience for me and something that keeps my mind sharp, I have to admit that there is another element to my hobby. I want to be a prolific writer, not just because I love it, but because a small part of me wants to have an accomplishment to hang on my wall, to tout before other women at Christmas parties. I’m a freelance writer, and I stay at home with my children…

When I left the workforce, I received grief from other women, as if I had somehow pushed back the advancement of the feminist movement fifty years. Now, when I tell women that I stay home, I wonder if they’re judging me, if they assume I’m unintelligent. I want to convince them that I was successful before and challenge any preconceived notions they may have formed.

Part of my problem is that I’m used to succeeding. I don’t mean that arrogantly, but I’m used to doing well at those things that I try because I’ve always worked hard. But, many days, I don’t feel success in parenting. I’m not the mom whose Facebook status update consistently reads “I love being the momma to three kids!”–but I wish I were.

Perhaps, my insecurities in front of other women stem from my insecurities in parenting. If I parented with patience daily, if I knew every day my children learned some valuable lesson from me, if I didn’t feel like I was somehow harming them with every well-intentioned choice I make, sending them on the path towards needing therapy as adults, then, perhaps, I could say more confidently, I stay at home with my children, and I love my job.

Because, if I’m honest, I find more joy–literal cheers of excitement–in my toddler pooping in the potty than all the awards I ever received in my careers. And to those without children, that idea might sound ridiculous or indicate some lack of intelligence. Sure, I’ll admit that I have lost braincells as a result of  moving out of the work force (I am the former English teacher who looked up the difference between ‘passed’ and ‘past’ the other day), but I can’t describe the warmth in my heart that I felt yesterday watching Chloe sit on that potty and the pride I experienced as her squeaky little voice chimed in, “Yay!!”

To be able to watch as my children learn the next step in becoming independent people is a blessing and privilege. So while it may seem unglamorous (and it is unglamorous), potty training is a big deal.

And so is the duty of molding and shaping my children’s hearts, teaching them to put God and others before themselves. Watching as they hung their heads in shame as they stood before their daddy, one quarter of his Valentine’s gift in their hands, the other three quarters in their tummies, was an important moment. They felt remorse on their own, and their apology came from within.

Writing is good for me, and if one day I can take my hobby and make it a career, wonderful. But I don’t want that career to form out of a need for security. I want to find contentment in the lot in life that I have now, not comparing myself to those with careers and those whom I deem better parents.

Because, while God (and my kids and my husband and everyone who reads this blog) knows that I am far from the perfect mother, I try pretty darned hard. And if every day I beat myself up over who I am not, I will miss the joy in who I am:

Their imperfect mother.

Do insecurities ever rob you of your joy in parenting? How do you achieve finding contentment in your particular lot in life?

On a completely different note, can you define ‘forbearance’ without looking it up in the dictionary? If so, give your definition below! Let’s see who are the smart ones in the group! ‘Forbearance’ is our theme for this Friday’s ‘Journeys.’ Click on the Journeys tab for more information.

17 thoughts on “Fighting Insecurity, Finding Contentment”

  1. Good, good words Jennifer. I struggle the same, except for not, because I'm obviously not a parent. But boy am I insecure about certain things. Something you said made me think of something I read at Ann Voskamp's this morning – "The best stress reliever is to be deaf to the deceiver." Those thoughts of not feeling good enough? They. Are. Lies. I know this sounds kind of childish, but something I've done recently is written down on some index cards lies that I believe on one side and then the actual truth on the other, along with a scripture that says why that lie is a lie. If that makes sense 🙂

    And forbearance, if I remember correctly, means to put off to a later time. So, like, if I owed you some money, but you gave me forbearance, than I don't need to pay you until later. I may not have used that correctly. Oh well. 🙂

    1. Rebekah, your ideas don't sound childish at all–on the contrary, you are very wise to take hold of those untrue thoughts and put them in their place.And, yes! You used forbearance correctly. For the purpose of 'Journeys,' we're looking at forbearance as a fruit of the Spirit. An older NIV translation that I have says 'patience.' The definition of forbearance is:a refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due (according to merriam-webster.com)

  2. How many times we women do this to ourselves! We should only care what God thinks of us. Satan loves to undermine everything we do. You know, Jen, i would bet some of the ladies at the Christmas dinner wished they could stay home with their children. You are blessed that Matt makes a decent living allowing you that privilege. And i know firsthand, what an amazing mom you are and NO ONE could do the job you do everyday. Sure, poop and urine get old; but today, right now, you are where God wants you.

    Patience is the companion of wisdom. (St. Augustine)

    Today i pray for all moms who stay home with their children, that God would slow them down, when they feel hurried and harried. Lord, when they are frustrated by the demands of the day, give them peace, Lord. And, heavenly Father, let them trust in You, and in your Master plan for their life.

    1. Trust me–I know I am blessed that I got to choose whether or not I stay home with my kids. Yes, I do need to just slow down and enjoy life.

  3. You're not alone. I'm always a fan of poop in the potty! 🙂 And Rebekah's comment reminded me that the next book on my Mommy-reads-something-without-pictures-on-every-page list is Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are." I think, from the bits I've seen, you might enjoy it, too!

    1. Oh, she writes so beautifully. I think we're two of the only Christian women not currently reading her book…I'll get to it when Chloe starts sleeping in her toddler bed at night! 🙂

  4. I think my greatest struggle is being excited to be home. I was so excited about it when I wasn't, but once it was my reality, I started to let discontentment set in. I know how blessed I am, but I don't always remember it. Thanks for the reminder today!

    1. It's hard because I do want to be home with my kids, but it's easy to get worn down. I don't know your situation, but I think a lot of my discontent and insecurity comes strictly from the fact that I'm tired and worn out. My husband doesn't get home most nights until seven or later after leaving around seven in the morning. Day in and day out of dealing with the kids and the home by myself for that many hours starts to wear on me. But like you, I know I'm blessed and just need to remember that fact! Thanks for commenting!

    1. It was a tough post for me to write because the thoughts are so personal–I almost didn't write it. I'm ready for our coffee date–tell me when!!!

  5. I think about that a lot- what am I going to want to do when I have kids. Quit and stay home or work? Thankfully, I'll have a job where I could do both if I want. But I think I'll suffer a bit if I quit- because I'll always be thinking what you were talking about.

    Okay- forbearance. Without looking at the dictionary, I feel like it means something to do with fortitude/sticking it out sort of thing. I just googled it- I guess I was sort of right, although they said 'patience/endurance'.

    1. I definitely don't regret my decision to stay home with my children, but I do think it is important for mothers who stay at home to have an outlet for themselves, whether that be part-time work or a hobby that can be theirs for their enjoyment and sanity!

  6. Jennifer, you are absolutely not alone. Your story is just like mine, except I taught Spanish, only have two children and don't write nearly as often, prolifically or well as you do. But other than that, I'm right there with you. All the thoughts, the doubts, the insecurites, and all the joys, the thrills and the responsibilities.
    It is nice to know that if we are honest and transparent with one another, we will find much company and much strength. So let's encourage each other on and remind each other why we find ourselves in the season in which we are. I'll be your cheerleader!
    PS: I, too, have not yet read Ann's book. I will after I read Radical, k?

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