A friend and I were talking yesterday about the ministry of being “just a mom.” It’s such a beautiful, fulfilling, exhilarating, godly ministry. And it’s such a frustrating, unappreciated, mundane ministry.
I think it wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating to us “just moms” if it weren’t so unappreciated. And the fact of the matter is, I have it better than most. I have a husband who totally understands and appreciates it. I have in-laws who totally understand and appreciate it. I have children who may not totally understand and appreciate it, but who bring me enough joy and fill me with enough love that I can overlook their “naivete” (someday they’ll rise up and call me blessed, right??).
But the world. Oh, the world. And even the church. Sometimes the church is the worst. I get the message that being a mom and wife is not nearly enough, that I should be doing more. I should be running this ministry, and giving my time to this ministry. And it’s not just our “new” church or our “old” church I’m talking about. I’m thinking of friends in other churches who are so stressed out about teaching Sunday school and children’s church and mid-week clubs that they stress out their husbands and their children and themselves. And all because they don’t think it a worthy enough calling to be “just a mom.”
Or we think that the ministry (outside the home) would fall apart if we didn’t help out. And we can’t let that happen. My aunt said something to me this past week that was a revelation to me. You see, my philosophy is that if there is a ministry that is offered, and MM and I pray about it and feel like it fits into our family nicely, then we can give it a thumb’s up and join in. But for me, that doesn’t equate to a calling to head up the ministry, and in fact, if it came down to me running the ministry or pulling myself or my kids out, well, unless I really felt the Holy Spirit saying “RUN IT,” I would pull out very gladly. Because I truly feel that putting my babies and toddlers in nursery or with babysitters in order to volunteer just doesn’t fit my “just mom” ministry. It’s not fair to my family, which is my main ministry.
So I’ve always wondered why moms with teenagers or moms with older kids didn’t step up to run these other ministries. Back to what my aunt said: “I don’t volunteer at all with church. I put in my time when my kids were young and now it’s the other moms’ turns.” Woah! To me, it’s like we got things backwards. To me, it makes much more sense for us to be with our families while they’re young, while they’re impressionable and while we can have the most influence over them, and then move outside this sphere when our kids are older.
I struggled for years with feeling inadequate because I felt like I was “just a mom.” Other people made a real difference. Other people dug wells in Africa. Other people built shelters in Haiti. I changed diapers and did laundry. Why didn’t God let me do more for Him? Why didn’t God understand that I wanted to do something BIG for Him? Not big in order to get glory, but BIG in order to shine His light brightly.
So I volunteered where I could. Lead that group? Sure. Help in that ministry? Sure. Be the director there? Sure.
And I was so stressed out and mean to my own kids. We ran late. We ate on the run. I stressed out MM because I felt he wasn’t helping enough.
And then I said enough. Actually, God spoke to my heart. He told me that if I would be “just a mom,” He would be glorified. His light would shine through our home. My children, His children, would flourish in a loving, less stressed environment. We didn’t need to look like the families in the world, running around to this event and this class and this vacation spot. We could be “just a family.”
It took a while to get used to this new calling. I stepped out of ministries slowly, and sometimes unwillingly. I said no then yes then no again. I felt I was doing the wrong thing, the EASY thing (ha ha). And slowly over a few months, I grew to love being “just a mom.”
I like to wake up and know that we can stay at home all day. I enjoy going to church because there’s no pressure to prepare a lesson or worry if one of my children doesn’t feel well because we have to be there. And MM is more free than ever to give of his time and talents to ministry because he knows that I am happy to support him by being “just a mom.”
For those reading and shaking their heads, it’s not like we don’t do anything outside the house or give of our time or our money to other ministries. I’m very involved in our homeschool group and in my husband’s ministry at church and at school. And we try to help others around us, talking to our neighbors and inviting them to church, making meals or cookies for those who are sick or in need. Sending little notes of encouragement to friends who are ill or struggling.
And I also know that this season will not last forever. And someday, because I won’t be burned out on all the volunteering I did while my kids were young, I’ll be able to step into some ministries that now I love but don’t feel called to lead. I’ll take that class and go on that trip and dig that well. For now I’ll pray and give money and be “just a mom,” knowing that very soon there won’t be just 1 going out and shining God’s light, but 6.