Identity and Motherhood, Part 1

Identity and Motherhood seriesIt’s been quite the summer at our house.  I broke a bone in my foot (on a toy!) at the end of June, re-broke it two weeks later, and have been out of commission now for six weeks and counting. As a homemaker who derives great satisfaction from doing my job well, it has been so humbling to let go of pretty much all of that job description.  Grocery shopping?  Taken over by friends and husband.  Cleaning?  My kids have done their best, but I’ve had to call in professionals twice.  Menu planning and cooking?  We’re eating whatever my friends from church bring us.  Laundry?  My husband and son are trying to keep up.  Running my kids to swimming lessons, sports camps, and any other activities?  I’ve hired babysitters multiple times a week to do the driving for me.  Gracious hostessing?  We’ve had house guests three times who all basically ended up waiting on me.  As I told my husband one day in a fit of tears, I feel like this piece of dead weight in the family, unable to push through the pain and get my normal work done because even bearing weight on my foot would prolong, if not restart, the healing process.

How timely this all was to me.  Because this week, Anna and I are starting a blog series on identity, womanhood, and motherhood.  This spring, as we explored reasons moms go back to work, we skipped the most common one we hear, something along the lines of work providing an identity and meaning in their lives that they didn’t have staying home with their kids.  I don’t think I fully wrapped my mind around this reasoning until everything I do in my life was stripped away to “just” being with my kids.  I can’t cook, clean, organize, or exercise, so as I sit on the couch for yet another week, I’m really having to look at who I am aside from what I do.  With the amount of yelling I’ve been doing this summer, I’m not the biggest fan of myself at the moment.  My competence at homemaking and the more-active aspects of mothering tended to overshadow my innate selfishness.  Is this impatient mother who I really am?

Thank God that the most important part of my identity has nothing to do with my actions.  I’m a daughter of the King, saved by grace through faith, the wages of my sin paid in full by the free gift of Christ’s blood shed for me.  The discipline of scripture memory 15 years ago with Anna and our college accountability group is still bearing fruit in my life as the verses we memorized come to mind just when I need them.  Here are a few more descriptions that remind me of who I am in Christ:

Those things are true of me, whether I’m spending the day on the couch or whether I’m checking off my long list of homemaking tasks.  And they’re true for any Christian woman, earning a paycheck or working quietly in her home, lauded by the world or criticized for “wasting her IQ” on her children, feeling super productive or totally unfruitful.

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2 Responses to Identity and Motherhood, Part 1

  1. Marya DeGrow says:

    Thank you for your blog and this series. I am really looking forward to reading the series on identity. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time, but didn’t realize that it was an identity problem. My story of finding freedom in my identity in Christ is here:

    You also mention all the help you’ve had. I think it’s incredibly hard for women, probably especially Christian women, to accept help. When we tie our identity to what we do, we feel like failures when we need someone to step in and do those things for us. But we all need help and you’ve allowed other people to use their gifts in serving you during this time.

    May you heal well and quickly!

    • Emily says:

      Marya, it HAS been hard to ask for help! I didn’t give in and ask our church for meals until I broke my foot a second time. But you’re so right that it’s an opportunity for my friends to use their gifts to serve me. If our roles were reversed, I would be so happy to bring a meal or run some errands, so why do I assume that no one else wants to help me? Thanks for commenting and reading.=)

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