Hope for Unhappy Stay at Home Moms

You have the greatest job on earth and you know it.

Most days.

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.

But…

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?

 

Our Challenge

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:

“I’m bad.”

“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.

The Healing

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.

If this post has been helpful to you, would you share it? Thanks!

How to Be Free to Be You This Thanksgiving

My bloodline is filled with men and women who lived and breathed their passion and determination to be free.

They didn’t just complain about their state of affairs, like I’ve been known to do, they nearly moved heaven and earth to change them.

William Bradford, of Plymouth Colony fame, came to our continent on the Mayflower in 1620 after suffering religious persecution in England. You know the story.

If you’d like to read the book William Bradford wrote  called Of Plymouth Plantation, you can purchase by clicking HERE. It is the primary historical document from that time.

Those early colonists must have been driven, not only by the desire to escape persecution, but a primal drive to live without any restraint, out from under tyranny.

To say it was tough in Plymouth Colony is an understatement.  Many of those who survived the treacherous sea voyage didn’t last much longer than that.

William Bradford’s wife was one who didn’t make it.

That disastrous first year was followed by many more like it, interspersed with some that were relatively calm by comparison. The Thanksgiving celebration was in gratitude to God and their new friends, the native Americans, for the bountiful harvest in 1621 which followed their first year of sickness, hunger and death.

William Bradford
William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth, was one of 53 who survived the first winter in the New World and my 13th great grandfather.

I marvel at those colonists’ fortitude, grit, tenacity and dedication to what they believed God wanted them to do in this utterly, literally foreign land.

Find freedom.

A part of it, I’m sure, was just that they had no choice but to make it work.  Returning to England was not an option.

They were devoted to establishing a community where they could worship, work and raise their families in liberty.  Out from under the thumb of a dictatorial leader.

William Bradford is my 13th great grandfather.

As I follow the long line down our family tree to me, I find many others like him who sacrificed everything to follow their callings, their hopes, their dreams.

There was something in them, as I think there is in all of us, that screams out for freedom.

Not screaming in rebellion against God or the law of the land.  But for freedom to be who they were born to be.

We are all on this quest to one degree or another. This year I’ve finally found a place of more acceptance of myself, but I still have a long way to go.

Like the Pilgrims, I think we all long for the freedom to express the convictions and values that mean the most to us, such as freedom of religion, justice, integrity, faithfulness and hard work.

It’s usually not difficult expressing ideas that are historically in the mainstream. When we know that there are at least a few people who agree with us, it’s strengthening and emboldening.

On an another level, closer to home than our general opinions on politics or that bad call the referee made against our team on the last play, I believe we are also created to manifest those things that make us uniquely us.

Things like our tastes, preferences, gifts, talents, desires, hopes and dreams.

However, these personal aspects of ourselves are much harder to reveal to the world – at least they have been for me.

If you go deeper, below the surface, into that place where I stand alone as an individual, unlike anyone else, it can be scary and intimidating for me to expose the unique traits that make up the whole picture of who I am.

This year I started to explore that deeper part of myself and discovered a lot.

I realized that not unlike my ancestor William Bradford, I have been living under a tyranny of sorts.  Under a thumb of pressure and expectation from inside and out.

Some of it is just bad mental programming. Some is self-imposed.

At a very young age I developed what I call “survival thought patterns” that taught me to hide my true self.

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For as far back as I can remember, I didn’t feel that my opinions were valued.  I was not truly “seen” by certain important people in my life.

 

If I were to express a thought or a contrary opinion, I was bullied into shutting up or agreeing, or both.

Even as a very small child, I remember having something important to share and being laughed at, misunderstood or ignored.

My reaction to that would sometimes be to get angry because of my frustration at not being taken seriously. Not being heard. That reaction was met with angry punishment.

So, I learned to hide my true self.

I became a chronic underachiever, afraid to express my gifts for fear that they would be minimized, disdained or worse, ignored.

This year I’ve discovered these things and more about my past.

I’ve looked at the difficulty that I had processing my childhood challenges from a different perspective. I see the fallout and how the lifelong, negative, self-critical thought patterns were birthed back then.

It has been enlightening and life-changing and now, I’m ready to move on!

“I’m coming out!” as the song says, and I’m excited.

It’s not that I’m about to start showing off or flaunting anything. I’m not going crazy with it here!

I have no desire to show “the world out there” that I’m actually quite special.

It’s not about getting back at those who could have shown appreciation for my uniqueness when I was an innocent child.

All it is is this: I’m looking forward to becoming the ME God made me to be.

The me that likes to live outside the box, against the flow of current culture.

The me who is the introvert that craves solitude but also loves people.

The girl who is smart and capable and caring.

The lifelong student who loves to learn and enjoys a challenge (even when it’s scary), and has done a bunch of different stuff in her life because of that.

This freedom means breaking off and casting away the old, useless, debilitating armor that I no longer require.

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor. Freedom c

It’s deprogramming my brain from the limiting thought patterns and reprogramming it with eternal ones.

Thoughts that say that I accept and believe that I have intrinsic value.

Value that is not based on performance or obedience to a tyrant for whom good enough never is.

I deeply, in my heart, accept that I am indescribably precious and treasured just because of the beautiful, gifted, unique daughter of God that I am.

There is no more comparison of myself to others, no evaluation, no self-critique.

Just acceptance of what was and what is and anticipation of what can be.

I have a new freedom this Thanksgiving and I’m grateful.  What’s true about me is true about you. I hope you find your freedom, too!

 

 

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Here are a couple of the books that have helped me tremendously on this journey and I highly recommend them!

Charles L. Whitfield, M.D., Healing the Child Within

Curt Thompson, M.D., The Soul of Shame

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