You have the greatest job on earth and you know it.
Other days, you’d rather just stay in bed and pull the covers over your head, screaming silently (or aloud!), “Leave me alone!!”
But, of course, you don’t stay in bed. Precious little ones are putting their adorable faces right up to yours and saying, “Mommy, I’m hungry” or your infant is crying.
Commitment and instinct rule the day and you drag yourself into the bathroom to start the all-too-familiar routine over again.
You brush your teeth, throw your hair into a pony tail, wash your face, don some jeans and a t-shirt and wonder when you’ll be able to fit in time for a shower. Taking a long, hot shower has become the extent of luxury in your life.
Before you know it, you’ve put in your first load of laundry, fixed a quick breakfast for the kids and now you’re sweeping Cheerios off the floor.
That’s how you begin another exhausting day of meals, cleaning, wiping rear ends and noses.
There is also another battle going on. The one that can’t be seen.
I chose this life.
I know it’s best.
I love my kids.
I’m bored and frustrated.
I feel undervalued and unappreciated.
I feel guilty for taking it out on my kids.
How dare I be down when I’m so blessed?
I don’t want to give up.
I can’t give up.
But how can I continue when I’m so unhappy?
Some days are easier than others. There are plenty of days when our hearts are full, and all is well. But even then, there can linger an underlying sense that we are missing out on something that a job outside the home would give us.
Many stay-at-home moms feel undervalued and unappreciated by society and maybe even by their family and friends.
Those who had a high-paying, prestigious job before deciding to stay home might miss the daily, positive feedback they received. There are no paychecks, glowing annual reviews, raises or Christmas bonuses for a stay-at-home mom.
For others, the unknown can be just as trying. “What if I had a career instead of this. Maybe I need to get out there and make something more of myself.”
There’s little positive feedback. That’s why leaving the home can be so tempting.
The Hidden Issue
I don’t think our choice of vocation or the lack of positive feedback is the real problem. Even moms that our culture applauds for succeeding as “go-out-and-work” moms can feel inadequate, and many do!
The cause of our discontent is not found in what we’re doing.
It’s found in what we think about ourselves while we’re doing it.
Long before we have children and decide to care for them full time at home, we can have an underlying feeling of not being good enough.
This year I’ve been looking at my childhood as I’m working through some negative self-perceptions that I’ve carried around all my life.
My dad was a fun-loving Irishman with a great sense of humor and he loved his family. However, I’m seeing now that he lacked the good communication and parenting skills that would have made me feel valued and important.
When I was four years old, my dad decided that I would no longer go with my mom when she went shopping. He thought I was getting spoiled.
My mom has a memory of me standing on our porch, crying as she drove away. It must have been hard for her, too. But she didn’t argue with my dad. I remember feeling scared, confused and alone.
If my dad had taken me inside and played a game or read a book with me, it might have lessened the sting of rejection. But he was not that type of dad.
So, I was left standing there on the porch believing I’m spoiled (I’m sure I had no idea what that meant), something is wrong with me and whatever was going on, it was all my fault.
Circumstances like this root deep into the minds of children who naturally lack the maturity to process them in a way that prevents those negative perceptions of themselves. They hear:
“Something is wrong with me.”
“I have to be better so that dad will be happy with me.”
Those are the messages that we take with us as we grow up. We keep trying to prove our worth by performing to win approval. We hope it will make us feel better about ourselves.
We finally realize after wearing ourselves out, that no matter how well we perform, it doesn’t seem to take away the sense that we don’t quite cut it.
I recently read a book called The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson, M.D. It’s full of insight into the areas of the brain, shame, unworthiness and how to heal.
Dr. Thompson explains how our brains are literally wired when we are children in response to the way we are treated. If we’re not validated by the people closest to us, even before we were born, we internalize shame and lack of self-worth.
The great news is that our brains can be rewired by replacing the negative thinking with the positive. It’s simple, but not necessarily easy and won’t happen overnight. However, it’s worth it!
One of the reasons that I love children is because they are naturally unashamed, full of love and free. I want to be that way, don’t you?
There’s hope! We can restore that childlikeness that makes every day an adventure and turns work into play. It’s never too late.
First, start by replacing the destructive recordings in our mind with these truths:
- I am specially created by God.
- I am and always have been worthy of love and appreciation just for being me.
- I am and have always been more than enough.
- I am a gift to the world.
Next, consider finding a qualified pastor or therapist to help you work through some of the shame and hurt in your life. It can hide just about anywhere and uncovering it can be the start of a life-changing healing process.
Third, consider getting these books to help you on your journey. They helped me and I know they could help you, too.
The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson, M.D. Rewrite the story of your life and embrace healing and wholeness as you discover and defeat shame’s insidious agenda.
The Anatomy of the Soul, Curt Thompson, M.D. An amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind.
Shame Interrupted, Edward T. Welch, PhD. Look at Jesus through the lens of shame and see how the marginalized and worthless are his favorites and become his people. God cares for the shamed. Through Jesus you are covered, adopted, cleansed, and healed.
Healing the Child Within, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D. Healing the Child Within describes how the inner child is lost to trauma and loss, and how by recovering it, we can heal the fear, confusion and unhappiness of adult life.
A Gift to Myself: A Personal Workbook and Guide to Healing the Child Within, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D. Using numerous experiential exercises that the reader can do at their own pace, physician and author Charles Whitfield takes us on a healing journey into our inner and outer life.
Stay-at-home mom, you truly are doing the most important, valuable, impactful vocation there is on earth, no matter what anyone else says.
I wish you well on your journey, dear one, and I’m rooting for you!
Feel free to contact me directly by clicking the Contact tab or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your stories.
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