Dear Stay at Home Mom
Words by Laura Dinges
find more of her writing at: laurasletter.com
It’s the kind of morning where it’s not even 8 a.m. and the thought of the long, empty day stretching out before you is simply unbearable.
Out of desperation, you reach for your phone, a lifeline to the outside world, and shoot out a barrage of text messages to anyone and everyone, because each reply is a much-needed reminder you are not truly alone.
Or maybe it’s late at night and you’re lying in bed, exhausted. You know you’re going to regret staying up, that you should unplug and attempt to get some of that elusive thing they call “sleep,” but this is your only “you” time, and the sooner you fall asleep, the sooner morning arrives, and you’ll have to do it all over again.
Maybe this is one of those in-between moments where you’ve given up supervising your children and are trying to zone out for a measly five minutes.
Maybe you haven’t properly washed your hair in days (because dry shampoo doesn’t count), or changed out of your pajamas. Or, possibly all your clothes could pass for pajamas?
Maybe you feel weary and discouraged, and like you’re really sucking at being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).
My boys don’t want to sit and play quietly. They want to rip up the bamboo thresholds on the flooring of our rental, or hammer drywall off the corners of a wall with a cheap plastic hammer, or climb up and perch precariously on the top of the cat tree. I won’t even get started on the treatment those poor cats patiently endure although, we adopted them from a family with five little kids, so I kind of like to think we rescued them.
All I want to do is scream, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!”, or lock myself in a room and try to drown out my noisy life with a thin door and a loud fan. Neither yield good results, for the record.
Most of the time, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a SAHM. It’s a hard job for anyone, I know, but I can’t help suspect some people are better suited for it than others. For example, I prefer spending my time thinking, intuiting, reading and writing. Alone. In silence. I even wear earplugs to the library, and that’s the honest truth.
So yeah. If that's not a recipe for an irritable, impatient, checked-out parent, I don't know what is. It's certainly not a recipe for a fabulous, fun, Pinterest-inspired, 'why-yes-son-I-would-LOVE-to-play-trucks-with-you' SAHM — the kind of mom I believe my children deserve.
Right about now is where you would expect this letter to turn around a bit and transition to a more upbeat, peppy tone. For me to pull myself up by the bootstraps and say something positive like “But I do it because I just love those precious little babies, and at the end of the day it’s just so incredibly rewarding!”
And then I would encourage you by saying something inspirational like “So you just hang in there Mama because what you do matters! Raising Godly children is the highest, most worthy calling of all!”
But in the midst of the daily grind, I have yet to experience statements like those as reassuring, regardless of whether or not they are true. Forced optimism and strained cheerfulness just ain’t me. If something stinks, it stinks. Period. I’m not gonna try to “fake it till I make it.” And I hate being called “Mama” by anyone other than my actual children.
So truthfully, I felt far from motivated to write this letter. Heck, most days I don’t even want to read a letter called “Dear SAHM.”
But then, wouldn’t you know it, God stepped in.
Through a single line in this week’s sermon at church, my attitude toward writing this letter changed from a definite “No” to an eager “Yes!”
“What your parents didn’t do for you is what led you to the cross.”
Just let that sink in for a minute, into all the places occupied by guilt and shame over how you fail your children and fall short. Let that truth lift the heavy burden from your soul and allow air to fill your lungs.
Because God is in the gap.
That uncomfortable, discouraging space between what we are able to provide for our children... and what they truly need? That’s where God lives.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,'" 2 Corinthians 12:19 (NIV).
Where we are weak in our children’s lives, He is strong. In my own life, it’s been amazing to experience God stepping into my brokenness, which includes the places my parents weren’t able to be everything I needed, much as they tried. I wouldn’t trade those beautiful experiences with God for the second-rate experience of having perfect, human parents, were it even possible.
So rather than continue to beat ourselves up, let's rejoice that God is able to compensate for our weaknesses as parents? How about we pray for the Lord to use the places we’ve failed our children to manifest His love, grace, patience, gentleness, and healing?
Let's put our confidence in God, and not in ourselves.
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man," Psalms 118:8 (KJV).
Let's let God be their perfect parent.
Because when my children are grown and my SAHM days are over, I hope there is more evidence of God’s hand in their lives than my own.