Hanging on for Dear Life

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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.

The HARDEST job in the world.

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.”

The HARDEST job in the world.

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.

The HARDEST job in the world.

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.”

The HARDEST job in the world.

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  1. I find myself very fortunate to have married someone who will support my goal of staying home with baby no. 2, due in April. For financial reasons, I couldn’t do so with our first son. I was lucky to find a part-time position and we also live close to both sets of grandparents. I work mornings now but I plan to be a full stay at home mom by next April. I spend my afternoons and evenings taking care of our house and our son, and my husband is always appreciative of the work I do, but I’m guilty of not verbalizing the same appreciation for him. He’s pursuing a physics degree while working full time, and I admit I do feel guilty about the decision to stay home – I’ve been able to help out so much financially and I will miss earning my own money, but I definitely know it’s a calling (and a blessing) to stay home with this new baby.

  2. Tracy, this is beautiful. I’m right there with you. I have turned down outside “opportunities” and even ministry because of it. Our household is our biggest misitry, and I just cannot allow any sort of pressure get in the way of that. Worst part is, I still feel
    like I’m constantly falling short in spite of how much I try to simplify? It’s a reminder to be constantly on our knees pleading for grace, though❤️ Desperate is a good place to be when we have such able hands to carry us through.

  3. Tracy! I love all this! You nailed it! My childhood dream was the same as yours and I’ve chased so many things to be “accomplished” and “successful” while still trying my best to be a good mom… here I am almost done raising kids and as I look back, the ONLY thing I care about is how much time I gave to my family… I hope I can instill in my 3 daughters and actually in my son as well, the nobility and importance of a mother. We REALLY need to get back to that as a society! Satan works so hard to make us forget! Thanks for having a voice!
    ❤️ Jenna

  4. Tracy you are one of my favorite people. I have been following you for a long time. Started off with workouts and I am seriously inspired by you. I made the decision to step back from my nursing career to raise my 2 boys and although sometimes I think but “think of all the money we could have.” Honestly this is what I need to hear. I wish I could give you a great big hug. Thank you for all you and Krista do.

    1. Aw, thank you so much for following along all this time, Cyndi! Your boys are blessed beyond measure to have you! I’m sending you a virtual hug right back. ?

  5. Thank you for sharing this, Tracy. I needed to hear this. My biggest struggle is the feeling of low self worth because I don’t have a fancy career and money to contribute to my family’s pot. It really is an honor, and a privilege to be able to stay home with our children, why can’t we feel that?