Seems like every time I talk to a new mom, she tells me that she’s wondering if she’s “doing enough” with herself by staying home. And if she’s not wondering, her working friends/old colleagues/family members are asking her why she doesn’t want to challenge herself more or use her education or reach her full potential. I find it hard to stomach the notion that it’s not challenging or important to spend ones days caring for little people, shaping their souls, training them, watching over their health and development.
I think that we moms sometimes struggle to justify our vocation because there is so little to show for it right now, today. My kids don’t give out glowing performance reviews, thanking me for disciplining them and teaching them to clean up after themselves. My days are spent largely on intangible things like building relationships and addressing character issues. There isn’t a hidden camera measuring how much I smile. When my husband comes home to a messy house and a dirty kitchen, he doesn’t see physical evidence of the two hours I spent reading to our children, the 45 minutes it took me to calm down a screaming toddler in the midst of a horrible temper tantrum, the hour or two combined that I was nursing the baby, the half hour we spent in the middle of the day cleaning up the duplos (only to pull them back out before dinner again), the time we spent homeschooling, or the three loads of laundry I washed, dried, folded, and put away. My husband is great about identifying and praising me for those invisible tasks, by the way, so it’s more my own struggle with having something to show for my day’s work. Four live children? Check. The house is still standing? Check.
We’re in this thing for the long haul, girls. Unlike a lot of our husbands’ and friends’ jobs, our vocation doesn’t always bear fruit right away. Kids misbehave, houses get messy, and laundry is never done. But the faithful repetition of caring for children–feeding, clothing, cleaning, rebuking, training, encouraging, exhorting–is an investment in the future. We will not regret the kissing of boo-boos or answering the thousands of questions, the refrains of “Jesus Loves Me” while sitting by the potty chair or the cookie baking while surrounded by little helpers. We are creating a treasury of memories, relationships, and love that our children will carry with them through the rest of their lives. Being everything to four little someones is as challenging and rewarding a job as I could ever hope for–it’s more than enough for me.