Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Mother of all Sacrifices

There is something about becoming a mother than changes your life.  Not in the obvious...changing diapers, the never ending cycle of laundry or the middle of the night excursions.  No, I refer to the fact that when you become a mother, your life is no longer just your own.

I disagree with those who believe they can be a mother and "have it all".  I actually believe you must be willing to "lose it all."  To be a good mom, you have to lose the desire to only look to your own needs, preferences and desires.  Whether it be to sleep a regular schedule, eat a regular schedule...shower a regular schedule, even to use the toilet alone on a regular schedule.  You find that you may lose the choices on what constitutes a meal or a good restaurant.  Little tyrants in diapers are dictating when and where you eat.  Your definition of a good time changes from dinner and a movie to an evening at the local play palace with your children.  Things just change

My definition to be a good mom means that for the next 18 years or so, you are going to set aside your goals, expectations and even your needs to some extent.  I believe that children grow in knowledge and maturity BEST when they have their mother's undivided attention.  A child is happiest when raised by their mother, not the baby sitter, or the day care worker.  Mother's have that God given nurturing love that wants the best for this child.  This means you seek to see that your child's needs are met efficiently.  That baby sitter, that day care are not looking out for your child's best interests, regardless of how caring and loving they are.  It is their BUSINESS to protect and care for your children.  They may be fond of your child.  But they do not, they can not, project upon your child the affirmation that children only receive from their mothers.

Yes.  I believe that when you decide to become a need to consider what is BEST for your child.  What is best for them is always going to be YOU.  It may mean you quit working outside the home and stay home with your children affirming, edifying and raising them in a Godly home with a Godly mother.  It means pointing them toward a Heavenly Father with your every action.  They learn what love feels like from mom and from dad.  They see your humanity and they see you fail at some things.  They learn about unconditional love, mercy and grace.  They learn its ok to fail at something when you tried and made your best effort. Things sadly lacking in the majority of society.

Staying home means that for this season you are setting aside those goals and desires.  It means living on one income.  Downsizing.  It means living with less than you might have if you had the typical dual income family.  It may mean yard sale clothing, a rental home and a 10 year old car.  When your child is grown their fond memories will be of you and the time you spent with them.  Of the things you made them, and of the sacrifices you made.  Not of that car, the neighborhood or what they wore.  They remember that their mom was there for them.  Daily.  She was there, and accessible and loving.

I realize that there are moms who have no choice.  For whatever reason they have been placed in a situation where they must be both father and mother.  So they are required to provide financially for their family as well as nurturing their children. It was never God's plan for children to be raised by one person...Biblically there is the mandate to provide for the widows and the orphans.  There was no other possible reason for a child to be missing a parent in that culture....other than through death.  Some women find they must work because of decisions made earlier in their lives, mandate or require their financial contribution to the family.

So I come to this....and it's a statement that may stir a lot of disagreement.  It is my supposition that a lot of selfishness gets in the way of raising children.  I see so many homes where children aren't being "raised" at all.  They are simply being sheltered.  They are being left alone to learn life by themselves as the grow up in homes with absent parents.  I am not pointing a finger at any one type of mom.  Some moms as I said, work because of choices made before children arrived.  Other's feel they must work to achieve some goal for their child = though I would ascertain that the child would still be better with their mom instead of a pricey private school.  Some moms are working because they want to.  They really don't like being a parent, and working out of the home allows them that escape.  Again, I know not every working mom makes these choices for these reasons but have some of their own.  Regardless of why a mom works outside her home, I still feel it is BEST for her children to have her with them.  I do have to concede one point.  I know there are a lot of women who are working in a position they feel called to work in.  They sought God's direction and they feel just as strongly that they are working for God's purpose and I have to accept that may well be true.  And then are other moms who are working because they are told they will work and share the household expenses.

Unfortunately, young men raised by working moms have bought into the concept that it REQUIRES two incomes to survive.  Many now expect that their wives will work to earn the greater income that people have come to expect.  It is not always that moms don't want to stay home and raise their children.  It is often that their husbands don't believe it's possible.  They have been told the average family MUST have two incomes.  We have been told we have to own  homes, take regular vacations, enroll the children in every sport known to mankind with all it's expenses.  Society has told us that we fail our children when we do not offer them every single opportunity under the sun.  And what has happened is that we raised a generation of spoiled brats who have no CLUE how to sacrifice.  They believe the sun revolves around them and their needs.

You can raise a family on that single income, but it does mean sacrifice.  It requires the decision to downscale your expectations and live on less. It CAN be done, but it is not an easy path to walk.  Society expects more of us.  When we tell someone we are stay at home moms - which most moms know is a misnomer now days as no one just stays home.  But our peers looks at us with distain and question why we don't want more from our lives.  I was told this evening that moms on both sides of the issues feel they are judged....whether for the choice to stay home or to work.  I suppose that's true because they are no where similar in comparison.  I will not say that you scar your child by working outside the home.  I know too many women who have done it successfully and have wonderful, Godly adult children.  It is not my endeavor to send any mother into throes of guilt.  You are doing the best you can.  I am simply supporting those women who want to move to full time mothering, but are presently convinced they can not.  I can't deny my heart was called home and that I do believe that is what is BEST for children.  But what I believe to be BEST does not mean it is the only acceptable answer.

For a time, I bought into the lie.  I thought after 10 years of infertility and 10 years of being a full time homemaker, that to be a "good and responsible" mom I had to go to work to provide the very best for my son.  I went to nursing school and graduated.  I started working as a nurse in the OB unit.  My son cried for me as I left for work.  He was in a day care and he was being care for.  I didn't have to be concerned about him.  I was living the dream...the nightmare that moms around the world attempt to live...supermom and all those expectations.  To attempt having it all and doing none of it well.  Every day, a part inside of me died.  This child I prayed for, this child I cried for, this child I suffered for was being raised by someone else.  I would later learn, he was also being emotionally and physically abused in the day care he attended.

Stronger and stronger came the desire to return home and raise him myself.  So after talking it through with my husband, we made the decision to take the plunge and I would stop working outside.  We took our son out of day care and we became a family.  That was the day that JOY returned to my heart.  My heart still grieves that I allowed him to be in that day care for those 3.5 years.  I can't undo that time.  But I can tell you how I regret those decisions,  to follow the world's concept of a successful family...two incomes, day care and the latest and brightest.  We soon realized with shock that my job as a nurse honestly brought NOTHING into the family budget.  By the time we paid child care, gas, tires and car repairs, convenience foods, and fast foods because mom and dad were so tired....I made a whooping THIRTY dollars a month.   I was just barely breaking even.

To all things there is an end.  Parenting is one of those jobs that as Dr. James Dobson states "Your goal is to work yourself out of a job."  There comes a day when your child is ready to fly outside your boundaries.  You never become NOT a mom, or NOT a dad.  Your heart is always in your throat as they venture further and further away.  When the odd hour call comes in, our hearts leap and the first thought is of our children and "Oh no, what's wrong!"

For me, the active job of parenting is over.  This is when I can once again pick up desires, goals and ambitions that I put away 19 years ago.  Feasibly I could resume a career, finish an education, or earn the income for those extras we dream of.  I don't regret a single moment of those days at home with my child.  I lack not the precious memories of us together, learning and sharing together.

I am well aware that not every mothering experience is the same.  Some moms have poured out their offerings to their children, only to have it discounted, ignored even ridiculed and mocked.  My heart goes out to them and I can no easier explain it than they.  I don't know exactly what happened to create that environment.  But I do see that a whole family is more LIKELY to stay whole, than it is to split and sever.  Building the strong family in childhood has a better chance of staying intact through winds of change and turmoil.

Life comes and goes in seasons.  That season of cleaning bottoms, wiping noses and bathing squirmy little bodies comes to an end.  It gives way to new and equally overwhelming experiences.  But I have learned something much to my joy.

For that season of time, I gave my son my first fruits.  I looked after him with the love and adoration I felt for him.  I considered it my blessing to able to give to him my sacrifices of time, income and need.  He grew into a fine young man.  He continues to amaze and astound me with his eagerness to learn and experience, his desire to forge his own path and not simply follow the herd.  It is with humility that I tell you that my son now returns back to me all I ever gave him with overflowing abundance.  He gives me respect and honor.  He has given me gentle care, tenderness and concern for me as I have gone through some of the darkest and most painful days I've lived.  He has never made me feel disrespected, or discounted.   I marveled at his capacity for compassion and his desire to serve.  When I thanked him and told him how blessed I was, he just smiled and told me he had learned it from me.

I may have sacrificed for a season, but the abundance is overflowing through my life now.

I want to encourage all those mothers in the throes of child rearing.  Your sacrifice IS worth it.  You are investing into your child all that is pure and perfect.  Even when you fall short of that goal.  There will come a day where the little guy in front of you with the defiant posture, stomping his foot and demanding that he WILL do what he know who you are...that same child will indeed one day rise up and call you blessed.

Proverbs 31:28

Her sons rise up and call her blessed.

Her husband also praises her:
“Many women[s] are capable,

but you surpass them all!”(AE)
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,(AF)
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
Give her the reward of her labor,[t]
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

1 comment:

  1. Tina this is soooo touching!!!! It's like I wrote it myself in parts of it!