When I Doubt My Decision To Be a Stay-At-Home-Mom
Y’all, I’m gonna be real…
Being a fairly young, fairly new mom, the repercussions of my decision to primarily stay home from outside work to raise my son are still fresh to my heart. And there was a recent period of time where I really struggled to fully embrace God’s calling on my life to be a “stay-at-home mother.”
Honestly, I was often tempted to ask myself: Did I sell myself short by not picking a career to pursue instead? Would I experience less boredom and more fulfillment if I had a full-time job outside of the home? I admit, there were days when I was restless in longing to have a glamorous profession making money by being crafty or administrative. And, to add to the confusion, I had even found myself envying mothers who seemed to so “naturally” love everything about being a mommy from home, because they appeared to posses the confidence in their role that I was lacking.
A few months after my precious son was born, my hormone levels went back to normal and I was no longer doing delirious things like calling out my brother’s name for help with the baby in the middle of the night (when I obviously meant my husband’s). At this time, I was surprised to realize that I was not overcome with love for mothering as my “full-time job”; of course, I was overcome sevenfold with love for my child, but I have since learned that those are not one in the same.
Initially, I was ignorant to this distinction and that led to a guilt-ridden, confused new mommy heart: Am I bad mother? Do these sudden doubts indicate that I misunderstood God’s direction leading me to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), even though I was once so sure of this calling?
I feel like I’m being a bit scandalous admitting this struggle to you. And maybe my situation would be, had the posture of my heart remained unchanged. You see, I do not believe that this struggle was essentially a confused deliberation of the decision to be a SAHM or a working mom. That decision had been established in full confidence years before my son was even born; I knew this was God’s call for my life.
However, my unanticipated reluctance to embrace this role once my son was born was the fruit of the seeds in my heart that I was unaware had ever taken root. Quite simply, I did not value the role of motherhood. I had the “talk,” but not the “walk.” I was valuing worldly esteem and success much more than the opportunity I had to make an eternal investment in my child and future children by closely and carefully rearing them in God’s ways (Deut 6:4-9). The birth of my son marked the perceivable beginning of God renewing my mind about the role of motherhood (Rom 12:1-2).
In conjunction with Scripture, God has used the examples of godly women to correct my worldly perspective on mothering and to affirm his call on my life to be a SAHM. I have had the privilege of working for Dorothy Patterson (wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President, Paige Patterson) for several years. Having the opportunity to closely observe Mrs. Patterson live out her conviction of being “family obsessed” has had a revolutionary influence on the ways I perform my God-ordained roles as homemaker, wife, and mother. In fighting to preserve the sanctity of the home in defiance to our culture, she presents this assessment of a women’s compulsion to pursue full-time employment in her booklet Where’s Mom?:
“Many women have devoted themselves to ambitious busyness everywhere but in the home . . . They have been brainwashed to believe that the absence of a titled, payroll occupation enslaves a woman to failure, boredom, and imprisonment within the confines of the home. How sad to think that caring lovingly for those dearest to your heart and preparing their shelter are not worthy of the investment of a life” (12-14).
This is a stunning evaluation of the “ambitious” restlessness I recently experienced. My doubts about the importance of my calling to be a “full-time” mom were not the evidence of a heart that was valuing those dearest to me. Rather, those doubts were the evidence of a heart that was valuing accolades and wealth. Thankfully, God has since convinced my heart of the worthiness of foregoing a corporate existence in order to have a maximal presence with my family at home as a SAHM.
Please understand: I am not intending to alienate the mother who has a profession outside the home by suggesting that the SAHM is the epitome of a faithful mother. I am simply passionate about edifying this particular group of women, with whom I can empathize. So while much of the practical application that follows will be geared towards SAHMs, I hope that these things I have poured out of my heart will encourage all mothers because all have the potential to make a priceless contribution to society and God’s kingdom through their role.
And so I say, fellow stay-at-home mommas, I hope that God will use what I have shared to refresh your heart about the incalculable worth of your calling. After all, you are on the front lines, fighting alongside God, for the hearts and minds of our children’s generation. If you are ever tempted, as I am, to undermine this calling, I encourage you fight back against this doubt. I have done this in three specific ways:
- Study the Scriptures with a focus on learning what God has to say about the role of a mother. This will allow you to develop convictions about motherhood that are rooted in God’s Word and, thus, not easily shaken when doubt about your calling comes (Jer 17:7-8). I began this study myself simply by reading and meditating on Proverbs 31, a passage famous for describing a woman who undoubtedly faithfully stewarded herself for her family. A couple more ways I “study the Scriptures” about this subject is by listening to messages by godly leaders (which can easily be done as I wash dishes or feed my son), and reading books by authors who uphold the biblical roles of women by expounding upon them (even if I can only read a few pages before nodding off after a long day).
- Surround yourself with women who influence your perspective on mothering for the better. These women can be single and child-less, or married mothers of many who also work outside of the home. Regardless of their life status these women should be convinced of the value of a mother and build you up and sharpen you as you live out your calling as SAHM. Also, just as “we are what we eat,” we are who we stalk on social media. I, personally, can attest to there being a correlation between spending (er, wasting…) time scrolling through the pictures of the celebrities and acquaintances, who value worldly pleasures, and my own discontentment raising kids from home. We need to be intentional about only following up and zeroing in on individuals whose lifestyles are those we want to emulate as we nurture and disciple our precious children.
- Schedule regular outings—without the kiddos! While this might not seem to be a very “spiritual” suggestion, I am convinced that getting some time away from our children once in a while is necessary for us SAHMs. Doing so can help to avoid cabin fever, which makes us susceptible to doubting our high calling. A stay-at-home mother shouldn’t literally only stay home and mother! Ask your Sweetie or trusted neighbor to babysit while you carve out a little bit of time every week or two to laugh with friends over coffee, or go off alone to read and pray. If enjoying a regular outing is simply not an option in your current season of mothering, get creative to implement some indulgent times into your day. I have no qualms watching an occasional show while folding laundry as my son naps. I also enjoy flipping through a home décor book from the nursery rocking chair as my son plays in the same room.
You know what? I will still occasionally find myself fantasizing about a glamorous profession outside of the home. I am thankful, however, that those days are becoming few and far between as I choose more and more often to embrace my calling of stay-at-home mother. Mommas (and aspiring mommas), let’s link arms and hearts as women who value our role, so that we might raise a generation of children who love God and treasure eternity.