Saturday, September 8, 2012
Tales From a Stay-At-Home Mom (a.k.a "Manager of Chaos") - Part 1: Who Am I??
As a stay-at-home mom, I feel as if I have better insight into why the dear Shona mothers of Zimbabwe are no longer called by their first names after becoming mothers, but by "Mother of (insert name of firstborn child)" (see my older post about this here). For some reason, in our culture, the identity shift following childbirth is not always seen as a positive one; many new moms look negatively at this shift as a loss of some important parts of their former selves. The Shona mothers, however, appear to understand that, even though some of the old identity appears lost,what has really happened is that it has morphed. A mother pours herself into her child, emptying herself morning by morning, night by night, until less of the mother's "self" and more of the child's being fills her life and character. It is a natural morphing, a necessary part of growing as a woman and mother - and this type of change is OKAY. Let me repeat that in another way - it is OKAY if you feel as if you're missing a part of your former, before-kids life - I'm sure caterpillars miss their numerous legs (in one sense or another) after becoming Monarch butterflies. However, if we lived in Narnia and they could speak, I think they'd say that they wouldn't trade their wings for anything. I certainly wouldn't trade my motherhood for anything that I had in my life or personality or dreams prior to motherhood.
Don't let our misled culture fool you into short-changing your precious little ones by pouring more of your blood, sweat and tears into your own desires (or unmet desires) than into the well being of your children, who depend on you to raise them up in the way they should go. Our children are more important than the idols we have worshipped since our youth - US. That is a hard word to swallow, I know. This is a Bible verse I like to read when I struggle with this concept: "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalms 127:3-5a). Children are a reward, a blessing, a treasure to value and take pride in. They are well worth the sacrifice.
Back to the butterfly analogy: I'm going to wager that caterpillars, while in the cocoon, are rather confused. First of all, it's dark in there, and they can't see the change occurring in their body. Secondly, it probably feels funny. We, as mothers, are in a similar position: It's hard to see the changes happening in us, and as a result, our world appears a bit dark at times. Kids can be frustrating and challenging, and even annoying (don't judge me, I know you know what I'm talking about :). Often, we pick up more toys and crumbs, and wipe up more poop than we'd like to admit. We can't see the future, so we don't know just how beautiful our children or our lives are going to become, which makes that "dark" time all the more disheartening. One thing we can take courage in knowing is this: God knows the plans He has for us. He knows exactly how the tapestry of your life is going to turn out, because He's the one weaving it. He alone knows how gorgeous your wings are going to be. Whether you're working full time or staying at home full time, don't lose heart during your cocoon season. You might not recognize yourself for a while when you emerge from it, but you'll be astonished - and in awe - at what you've become.