Have you ever prayed for something so hard, got that one thing, and then realized God had the best sense of humor?
When I was young, all I wanted was to be a mother. My freshman year of high school someone asked what my life goals were and I responded with, “I want to marry a guy that will support me, so that I can stay at home with my kids.”
And because I didn’t grow up in the 1950s, that answer wasn’t enough for most people.
“That’s it?! Tracy, you’re too smart for that. Let’s think of some ‘real’ goals that will challenge you a bit more.”
Looking back, I think statements like that changed the trajectory of my life. I began to think that being a mom wouldn’t be enough and that I should strive for more. I think a lot of women feel this way. That being “just” a mom—AKA “just” the most difficult and demanding role we could possibly fill—is not enough, and that we also should try to go out and conquer the world, start our own business, etc.
Today, I have lots of jobs. I own and operate my own business. I also coach CrossFit, I’m a social media specialist, and I volunteer twice a week for BSF international. And let me tell you, not ONE of those jobs is more challenging than mothering.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
These words used to confuse me. Take up my cross everyday? What in the world is Jesus asking of me here? Then I became a mom and He ripped my eyes wide open. You see, I didn’t realize how many selfish desires I had until I became a mom. Remember the days when you used to dread going to the dentist or standing in line at the DMV, Tracy? You will soon categorize these events as blissful if you get to do them alone.
Motherhood is dying to self Every. Single. Day. It’s not about what I want to do. It’s not about my own desires and needs. It’s surrendering my own plans to serve the precious little ones that He’s entrusted to me. I prayed like crazy for God to grant me the desires of my heart by making me a mother, but I had NO idea how freakin hard it would be and it’s required me to hang on to Jesus for dear life.
Have you ever met a bone marrow transplant donor or known somebody that’s given up their entire life to become a missionary in another country? That’s the awe and wonder with which we should look at women who stay at home with their children.
Because of this, I cringe when I hear the words, “JUST a mom.”
When I meet a stay-at-home mom I want to say, “Oh, you stay at home with your kids full time, so you’re basically Mother Theresa, nice to meet you.”
When I’m working, I feel valuable. I feel appreciated, accomplished, and motivated to give more. Mothering, on the other hand, often sucks me bone dry. When Ollie wakes up from his nap cranky, I hold him while he cries anywhere from 20–45 minutes. This also happens to be exactly when I have to pick up the boys from school. I tote my screaming toddler to and from school pick-up. Once home the big boys throw their backpacks on the floor and immediately take off their pants (you know how my kids feel about clothes), nobody can find a pencil in this house to do homework with, and through it all, Ollie is still screaming. At some point I move on to fix dinner, which on a good day, 60% of the household eats. Then we get ready for wrestling.
When I manage to juggle these seemingly impossible tasks day in and day out nobody stops and says,
“Wow Mom, you’re crushing it!”
Mostly Siege and Milo are just mad that I forgot to charge the iPad.
Last month Milo was recognized as “Responsible” student of the month. I forgot and didn’t show up to the assembly. Recently, I bought my kids tickets to see The Lion King, and yesterday I realized we missed the show. I had both Milo’s assembly and the show dates written in my calendar, but because I’m running in 12 different directions I forgot. When I realized yesterday that I don’t forget to do my daily insta-stories, client check-ins, or show up to blog events or coach’s meetings, I cried.
The reality is, mom life has not been very enjoyable for me lately. And when moments
arose that would have been enjoyable—such as the assembly and the show—I missed
out on them due to being so busy.
Just maybe you’re feeling a little like me—under-appreciated and struggling to find your value as a mom. Maybe you also feel that the world keeps pressuring you to do more and more. I’m not telling you to forget about your dreams, and if you want to start a business, I’ll be first in line to cheer you on and support you. But don’t feel that you have to do more, because as a mom you’re already doing the most important thing. And also know that doing more comes at a cost. Happiness isn’t on the other side of flashy accomplishments that the rest of the world recognizes as success. My biggest fear is that my own need to feel self-worth will end up hurting the most important people in my life, all because I was getting my self-worth from the wrong things.
If I could go back in time and have a conversation with my 14-year-old stay-at-home-mom dreamer self, I would say,
“Tracy, that’s a really honorable goal. Mothering is THE hardest job. It will test your faith like nothing else, and you’ll likely never find anything that will challenge you more.”
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