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.