This post was originally posted on unsteadysaint.com and it really struck home with me so I wanted to share. I hope some of you can also relate. Enjoy!
He coos beside me. She’s been stuck in the princess book since scrambled eggs. I stalk Instagram accounts as pans wait patiently on the counter.
Being a stay-at-home mom runs deep in my blood. Before societal, or parental, or theological voices shared their views, it was my dream. Images of a boisterous dinner table and tucking love notes into lunch boxes felt like part of my design. Part of my self that I someday hoped to meet. And as I field my seventeenth request for crackers at 8:40am, I realize I’m meeting her.
In some ways she’s just who I envisioned. Deeply satisfying, engaged and alive.
In other ways she’s not. Her days are more busy and mundane than I envisioned, more simple and somehow chaotic. 5:45am-10pm (if I make it that far) runs a jagged course I never knew possible, with meaningful highs mixed with naked lows.
She’s also posed a question lately that’s caught me off-guard.
Is being a stay-at-home mom enough? Is just being at home with my children today satisfactory?
If so, why the tension, and what’s with “just” entering the conversation? (When’s the last time you heard someone say, “I’m just a teacher,” or “I’m just a doctor”?)
Women aren’t expected to stay at home anymore. It’s not the norm to “just” be a mother. Even for we “stay-at-home” moms (and even when finances don’t deem it necessary), there’s a pull toward also being a DoTerra rep, or writing another book, or starting a cookbook blog, or…
I often wonder about my grandmothers, who both seemed like a June Cleaver of sorts, draped with an apron, or jotting a thank-you note. What were their layers beneath? What did they worry about, or talk about on play dates? Did they ever feel teased by unavailable pursuits? Did they feel like their job at home was enough?
As a little girl, diagonal brush strokes glided over her subtle cheekbones and I wondered, “How much will be enough to gain mommy’s delight?”
As an adolescent and into adulthood, journal entries repeated a variation of, “When will I be enough to capture a man’s affection?”…“Am I enough, God, to capture Your attention?”
With two down for nap-time and an empty page before me, I’m still pondering “enough”. When will it be satisfied and why does it so quickly lead as my barometer of (lacking) peace?
If I read them each three stories, or the red bump on her eye goes away…If he doesn’t roll of the bed again, or I check off “exercise, clean and cook”…if I maintain joy amidst meltdowns, enthusiasm toward afternoon boredom…have I done enough? If my husband arrives home to savory aromas and a well-behaved household, have I done my job well?
The voice of Enough tells me, “No.”
“There is yet more. Always. That was kind of you to remember her birthday, but why not write a letter instead of just an email. Glad you found the deal on salmon, but how about find a coupon for the other ten things, too. You should at least have time to vacuum and bake muffins for the neighbors across the street. Oh and you missed a spot when shaving your legs this morning. And when you finish these, come back. I always have more to offer.”
In other words, Enough will never be satisfied. If my barometer is about “enough,” I will never know peace.
Sometimes I think my enough questions are about guilt.
There’s a story in John 8 where Jesus is teaching in the temple. Some studied religious folks bring him a woman who’d cheated on her husband. Angrily pushing her through the crowds, they yell,
“Teacher, this woman was caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband. The law of Moses commands that we stone to death every woman who does this. What do you say we should do?”
Jesus knelt down and started writing on the ground with his finger. They kept badgering him for an answer.
“Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.”
One by one they walked away, until it was just Jesus and the woman.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one judged you guilty?”
“No one, sir.”
“I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.”
We don’t know what Jesus scribed in the sand, but it alludes to words that knocked the breath out of this woman’s shame. And rightfully shamed the arrogance of those breathing down her throat.
It alludes to guilt. Forgiving guilt. Telling guilt it has no place anymore.
I also think my enough questions can be about boredom.
A therapist once defined boredom to me as the inability to enjoy oneself. When I’m enjoying my self, the self God has thoughtfully given to me, I feel free. I feel awake and alive. I feel honored to be a mother who gets to spend full days at home with her children. And free to be a mother who in a given day does this, or doesn’t do this, but gets to be with my children.
When peers provoked Jesus with “enough” questions (How much is enough to get me to heaven? or Who’s doing enough to become the greatest?), he knew “enough answers” would never be enough. He knew souls of his children are satisfied only in light of with – only in light of Immanuel.
This name of Jesus is mentioned three times in Scripture and translates to “God with us.” In other words, God in our midst. God in broken animal crackers and rocking chairs and onesies a size too small.
“Guilt” and “Should”, that is, you can “Devise a strategy today, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is now with us” (Isaiah 8.10).
Sometimes when I’m doing dishes, Elliana sits on the floor, nuzzled-up against the back of my knees. It’s not a pushy or winey nuzzle, but more a nuzzle about belonging, an unspoken sentence that she wants to be with.
God, would you help me be with my children today? Would you help me be present, noticing their eyes and listening for You in their play.
Would you help me surrender the part of me that wants to be enough for them? Remind me that I can’t be enough, or do enough, or give enough to rescue someone, to understand and fix and heal the broken stories in their inner and outer midsts.
Would You help me remember my greatest task today, regardless of the job or roles it pertains to, is to be with You. You left home, in a sense, Jesus, to be with us, that we might learn to be with You. Would you teach me to truly be at home in You today, that I might truly be with my children. And to know that being at home with my children, as an overflow of being at home with You, Immanuel, is more than enough.