Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Where Should You Be?

Note: This post has a lot more of my back-thinking than I usually include. The intended audience for this post is really myself. But I thought others might find it useful to stir their own thinking, so I included it all.

I thrive in the classroom setting. I love having my brain stretched, to learn new things, and see how my learning could be put into practice. I'm a pretty good student, and I have interesting insights to add to the field that I'm in. Although I have felt like school was not a choice but a calling, it has not been drudgery. I actually love going to class.

What about motherhood? I also felt called to motherhood (an experience I won't share here). But stay-at-home motherhood, specifically, I am not good at. My worst days being a SAHM are about 10,000 times worse than the most boring, pointless lecture I've been to. Most of the women I've talked to about this issue, or who've been faced with this dichotomy say, "I wasn't happy at home. That's why I decided to work. I'm much happier now. This is where I needed to be."

Aside from personal revelation (the farther I've gotten in this schooling thing, the more sure I am God calls women out of the home), I want to focus on the idea that because you're not happy somewhere, it implies you need to be somewhere else.

Am I doing stay-at-home motherhood right?

Now that I've been forced to look at my stay-at-home motherhood from another lens, I've been asking myself-

What am I doing that causes my unhappiness?

What, during the day makes me unhappy?

Before all this came about, although I was aware that I could be happier, I thought it a function of the phase that I'm in, three little kids at home. But now I can see it's a broader issue, that, if fixed, can change the way I mother entirely.

What am I doing?

I spend a lot of the day avoiding. I'm grinning every time the kids are all occupied so I can do my own thing.

I have my to do list. It's a mile long and none of it has to do with my kids (and if you saw my house you'd probably wonder if I ever even check stuff off that list?).

I have "dead time." From 3 to 6pm until Ben gets home, I never have anything planned. I've completed any chores I want to do (or given up trying to get them done by this point), but I have to make dinner before Ben gets home, and Ephraim should be taking his afternoon nap. So I usually try to stick close to home. It usually unravels in there somewhere, lots of fighting and screaming by the kids, me trying to decide if I want to feed the kids early, walking around the block a couple times, seeing if there's any chance Ben might be home earlier than expected.

What makes me unhappy?
-Kids screaming.
-Never being alone. Never being quiet. Not being able to think uninterrupted
-Not having someone to talk to
-Time passing too slowly

So if I were to become a working mother, these things wouldn't change. I'm gone for 15 hours, but the way I mother is still avoiding. Kids screaming still make me unhappy. I may have a short bike ride to campus, but other than that I am still never alone.

So what can I do?
I need to learn to actually enjoy being with my kids. I love my kids, certainly, I do. But would I pick being with them over having 3 hours alone? Probably not. What about having an uninterrupted conversation with a friend? Or doing an interesting and challenging assignment? I don't think so.

Does this make me a bad person? Probably. But motherhood isn't something you can "give up" on. It wasn't until I saw how much joy I derived from solving a complex problem that I realized I must be doing something wrong at home. My current mothering tactics are keeping me from the fullness of joy I can experience as a mother.

While I can work on, internally, enjoying every moment, find happiness in every instance, I think there's some basic behavioral things I can do to make spending time with my kids more of where I want to be.

What I didn't realize before was that I can choose activities that I already know are filled with joy and fill our days with those.

Here is my list, yours probably looks different.

-Involve kids in the tasks you have to do and don't be mad about it. Teach them in everything. No more separate to do lists. If there are things I need to do that absolutely need quiet time, I need to reserve it for after the kids go to bed. I've spent too many years of my life considering the day as "my" day and hoping I don't have to spend too much time breaking up fights or cleaning up messes to "ruin" it.

-Recreation. Go outside, exploring, make your kids do hard things

-Spend time talking to other women about their problems. It is such a breath of fresh air to get outside of yourself and spend some time in another person's world for a little while.

-Find ways to serve. I am a huge believer in teaching your kids to serve by bringing them with you. But sometimes you really can't. And it's OK to find a babysitter for the kids from time to time. I am hoping that this is the avenue my schooling with take after I am finished. I still, in my heart of hearts, cannot find it within me to want to work, even part time. So I'm hoping God's plan for me involves volunteering that is infrequent enough I can still stay with my kids the majority of the time.

It's not like I never do these things. But do I do all of them, all of the time? Does it fill my days? No. That's where I want to improve. I hoping that by loading my day with joy-filled things, that joy will spill over and fill my whole day.

Then, no matter what I am called to do on this earth, I can know that time with my kids is filled with happy memories, and it's a place I would choose to be.

If you could improve your mothering, what would your list look like?


  1. I appreciate your thoughts! I know you said our lists might be different, so I was surprised when they ended up being exactly the same. Just reconfirmed to me that I'm headed in the right direction. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for including all of your back thinking. I love to read your blog because it helps me to look critically at myself, which I don't love doing, but it improves me.