Sunday night I had another cry-fest in bed with Evan about this stay-at-home mom gig. I was sad that the weekend was over already, but not in a normal “boo hoo it’s Monday” feeling. I had a sense that I didn’t have anything to look forward to this week. (That feeling wasn’t TRUE, of course, but it was REAL.) It came from more than just staying home–it came from missing my friends, missing my job, feeling discouraged in my writing, feeling uncertain about whether I’m doing a good job parenting Ian.
At any rate, being the normally emotional person I am (and pregnant on top of it), I just cried. And then I cried harder when Evan said sweet and encouraging things because it was such a relief to hear them. (Of course, his response is then, “Oh, great, I’m making you cry more. I’ll just shut up now.)
The truth is, I do love my time with Ian, but I also find it stressful and draining. And I’m so hesitant to talk about my struggle with this because I have dear, dear friends who would love the privilege of staying home with their kiddos, and I know this gig is just that–a privilege. It’s something that wasn’t at all feasible for us even six months ago, and now it is, and I don’t want to miss it. Every moment I get with him–at home or at the grocery store or in the park–is a chance to build the kind of family we’re hoping for and dreaming of, like Ann Voskamp says. I don’t want to take it for granted.
And yet, I also have to admit that I feel distracted by the end of the week and stressed by the beginning of Monday, because I’m often thinking of the other things I’d love to be doing. I don’t want to be doing something else besides being at home with Ian, but I want to do something in addition to being home with Ian. This makes me feel selfish, as if I can’t give up my own self-centered and faltering desires for what is the most important thing I could possible do in this world.
I read that C.S. Lewis quote, always popping up as I scroll Instagram and Pinterest: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” It fills me with guilt for every time I ever thought, “I could use some alone time,” or “I want to write,” or “I feel stuck.”
But here’s where I’ve landed, today: it’s not that any of these other things I love are more important than mothering Ian. But they are also important. (It seems so simple to write it down, but guilt has a way of wrapping it’s tight little fingers around you until you can’t quite see straight.)
The most important thing I can do is abide closely with Jesus, loving Him, loving the people around me, becoming more fully the person He created me to be. Mothering is part of that, but it’s not the only part, and even though I feel like all those disparate parts can’t possibly coexist, I know He holds it all together. Yesterday, I prayed, “Gather me Lord to be with you as you are with me.” That’s what I keep praying. If I am being selfish, I want to repent and hand it over and love more like Jesus. But if I’m not, I’m praying for the freedom to embrace it, to widen my definition of what it will mean for me to be a mom and be myself.
Ann Voskamp wrote, “Parenting isn’t overwhelming when we simply understand how to serve in this minute.” So I’m handing each minute over, asking Jesus how to serve and love and be right them. Maybe it’s to write, or to walk across the street to the neighbor’s house, or to meal plan, or to read, or to journal, or to sit down on the floor and play cars with Ian again.
I’m praying that Jesus with gather up all the pieces and use them to make me whole.