At least that’s what it felt like I said last night as I introduced myself to this new group of people in a class my husband and I are taking.
Identity is something I’ve struggled with since quitting my career as a journalist and leaving all volunteer posts nearly four years ago.
I used to be able to add tons of titles to my name. Hi, I’m Melissa, and I am a reporter for such and such newspaper, or Hi, I’m Melissa, and I am in charge of such and such organization. I wore alot of hats.
But there came a point when my heart just left those loves. I started to panic about how fast my kids were growing up and what I was missing out on. All I wanted to do was be at home with my kids and take care of them, the house and my husband. I ached for it, fought for it and couldn’t wait for it.
It was so exciting and terrifying to give God that blank canvas and allow Him to show me what my life would be like if I wasn’t the one making the plans.
And the adventures He has allowed me to go on have been incredible, both at home and ‘out there’ – working with the poor, hurting and orphaned. It’s the behind the scene kind of adventures that I get to dabble in now. The ones that don’t come with a title.
So when all the women in the room are introducing themselves with these exciting titles like police officer, journalist, ICU nurse, etc., I just want to melt into the background instead of stand up and say, Hi, I’m Melissa, and I’m an at-home mom.
Just saying those words seems can make me feel so insignificant, so insufficient, so boring.
And for a moment, I let my pride take over and jealousy set in. I could be that. I could do that. I used to do that. I was good.
Dangit, I was good.
There are just times when ‘mom’ and ‘wife’ seem like such small titles.
I see every day that they are not valued within our culture or even within the church.
In my head, I get it.
I made the right choice. Leaving the workplace and coming home full-time with my kids was the right choice. It was impossible for me to do both and do either of them well. I wasn’t making enough money to cover the expenses related to my working. I was constantly frustrated because I didn’t have time to keep the house clean, cook home-made meals and snuggle with the kids. And I couldn’t take on the kind of writing assignments I wanted because the work they required was not realistic for a mother with small kids.
I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.
Motherhood is a ministry. Marriage is a ministry. They are not just sidelines. To do them in the way I want to do them requires tremendous time, energy and even training.
I don’t want to just float through and hope it all works out in the end. That’s not good enough.
I’m committed to being a mom and wife with purpose. There will be no second chances to get this right, so I need to get it right the first time. There’s a lot riding on it.
It’s just hard to remember that when my days feel like they amount to nothing more than folding laundry and scrubbing milk off the floor, and the principal calls because my child has misbehaved again and bedtime has turned into a battle instead of sweet songs and snuggles.
Motherhood can be so inglorious.
No one says thank you. There are no raises, promotions or annual reviews. No awards banquets. No pats on the back. No immediate measurable results that the work you’re doing is yielding a return.
It’s days like these that I have to take my eyes off myself and put them back on Jesus. I have to remember that my identity does not come from titles, talents or achievments. My resume is not going to matter in the end.
Those things aren’t going to make my kids feel loved and secure, enabling them to pursue their own dreams someday. They aren’t going to propel my children into adulthood equipped to serve God and others, including their own families.
My titles aren’t going to teach my daughters how to love their husbands and children well and they aren’t going to teach my sons how to honor God and family.
I know that if I don’t get things right at home, it won’t matter what my resume says.
I have to be the one to teach my kids how to think for themselves, how to make good decisions, how to stay true to good character, how to do the right thing even when it’s unpopular.
And I can see that they know who they are. They know Whose they are. Their foundation is strong, and I can see that. Even in the midst of messes, tantrums, disobedience and mutiny.
I also can’t discount or forget how blessed I am to have the luxury of staying at home, not having to worry about financially supporting my family. I’m not a single mom trying to do it all on my own. I’m not living in poverty wondering where my kids will get their next meal or how we’ll make rent. I’m not a woman in a third world country whose children are starving to death before her very eyes.
I have it really good. I don’t need to work.
And my talents and gifts are not wasted. I use them all the time, just in different ways. I have to trust and do trust that if God means for me to do something, it will happen in His timing, His way.
I feel better now.
Thanks for listening.