Motherhood has changed how I think of myself. Right now, I’m just a mom and that’s okay.
I’ve done all kinds of things in my life. In my twenties, I modeled and worked in local theater productions. I even had a small stint as a regular occurring extra on NBC’s Friday Night Lights. For fifteen years, I worked as an insurance professional, handling major claims and being deposed in lawsuits. I’ve also worked as an artist and later an art curator. I’m a multifaceted woman, but before motherhood, I always staked my identity in my career.
After the birth of my first son, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Those first few months were hard. Honestly, I cried every day. Being a mom was so stinking tough. Being a stay-at-home mom meant I’d never get a break from my child. Everything landed squarely on my shoulders. The house. The chores. The baby. It was all me. I didn’t know who I was. I mean, who was I if I wasn’t the career woman? Who was I if I wasn’t being creative? I had no idea who I was anymore.
My life had turned into a mess of poopy diapers. The only conversation I had was with a babbling little boy who lovingly stared at me, while I toiled with emotions of regret. Had I made the wrong choice? My whole day suddenly centered around feedings and naptimes. I lost my identity. I wondered if I could handle the solitude, the isolation that comes with being a stay-at-home-mom. I literally, had no one. Co-workers soon forgot me. Childless friends moved on.
I hadn’t counted on the feelings of regret. At first, I was happy to leave the stress-filled job I had. Happy to – what I thought – was going to be a break from hard work (I know, I was naive). I thought motherhood was going to be nothing but joy, laughter, and contentment, and while those moments exist, there are just as many moments that have tears, and frustration, and sacrifice.
At about nine months postpartum, I realized I needed to stop wishing for my old identity and instead create a new one. But doing that would require a whole new mind-shift. It would require me to value what I was doing. Or maybe more precisely, it would require me to see this season as my most valuable. A season that utilized my gifts and past experiences in a new, precious way. That everything I had accomplished before now wasn’t actually for my sake, but for my sons.
I am now four years into being a stay-at-home mom and I’m not going to be done anytime soon. You see, I’ve decided to homeschool. So with that, I resign myself to many more years at home. Many more irreplaceable days where I get to watch my babies grow, learn, and become gentlemen. But these days, I love my new identity. I love being “just a mom.”
In this new identity, I have realized that I traded in an important job for the most important job. Any career I’d have would pale in comparison to what I’m accomplishing with my sons. (That’s not a dig at working moms. Every mom’s journey is valuable.)
Not long ago, I reconnected with an old friend. She scoffed at the idea of staying home with children and asked plainly, “don’t you regret wasting your education and talents at home?” Oh friend, if only you knew how intimately my talents and education gets utilized while I’m being “just a mom.” My oldest child is four and he can find Egypt on a map. He can identify the inner anatomy in the human ear. He uses musical terms like “fortissimo, accelerando, and crescendo.” He can identify the systems of the human body and describe their purpose. Trust me, my knowledge isn’t being wasted. It’s being passed on. My talents flourish here and my kids are the joyful recipients.
And likewise my wisdom and my faith. Being a stay-at-home-mom creates a uniquely intimate bond with a child because we are a witness to each other’s lives. We share the daily breathtaking surprises and unexpected adventures. The terrible. The mundane. The funny. The wow moments. Mom and child do it together. An “odd couple” team of sorts.
Those sweet babies? They see me fail. They see me fall short. They watch to see if I forgive first and love first. They watch me cling to Jesus and watch me praise Him in the storm. They’re watching to see how merciful I am to others and how I make friends. They are taking it all in, modeling me in every way. That’s a lot of pressure! I’ve realized this “dull existence” suddenly has a lot of meaning… and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My identity was forever altered when I became a mom – and it will change as my children grow up and need me less and less. One day, I’ll be hoping they pick up the phone and call me in the midst of their busy lives. Right now, I’m just a mom…and that’s okay.