Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the work of being content

I've had a shocking realization in the past few days that is not actually shocking at all and right in line with me. I love my kids, I love our home, I love Mike and I love this profession of raising little souls who I can hopefully, with God's grace, help get to heaven. But! But but but, here is the realization I have had, which hit me in the face the other day like the big revelation in of one of the O'Connor stories I've been reading, only with less death: I am not content doing this job, and I all too often without even realizing it, think of it as unimportant.

I have such a hard time when the weather gets cold and we're cooped up in the house allllll day every day, and I have noticed that my cuticles are little (to a lot) more chewed than usual. And that makes sense, cabin fever stinks and it is hard to look at the same walls of the same house all day long. However, I think I have been using my cabin fever to excuse and overall ill-contentedness with just being at home mothering so many small children. There is a constant, nagging, pervasive feeling that what I am doing is unimportant. I know that this is not true, I know it, but it does not feel like it.

Somehow or another, writing a blog post feels more important than sitting on the couch reading Madeline for the 15th time. The urge wells up almost daily to go to Target with the kids because somehow it feels more important to be out at a store perusing merchandise I will never buy than to sit on the floor and stack wooden coasters with Lucy 30 times in a row. I've been cleaning a lot more than usual because it makes me feel like I am doing something. I'm not even necessarily doing it because it needs to be done- obviously it always does- but I feel less useless if I do a load of laundry than when I am breaking up fight number 57 over which girl gets the Fischer Price girl with the pink dress holding the ice cream cone.

I love writing and that's mostly why I blog, so I will keep at it because it is not unimportant- it is good to have a creative outlet and fun to stay connected to bloggy friends. I think getting out of the house with the girls and mingling with the rest society, whether in the aisles of Target or Walmart or a play place is great, I will never stop doing that. And clearly doing house work is an irremovable part of the SAHM job description, it needs to be done, it is good to keep things tidy and orderly.

All the extra curricular stuff that comes with this job of staying at home with my children is good in and of itself, but it will never come close to the invaluable act of just being with my girls. It may feel menial and trivial, but there is something to be said for being content with just sitting them. My physical presence, speaking to them as the person who knows them best in the world, helping Lucy get the coasters stacked just right, reading to them, and being the referee who loves the little team members the most is more important than anything else.

Why am I writing about this? Why am I posting it on the blog? Because it's nap time (glorious nap time!) And because that's what I do. If I don't remind myself of this every hour of the day- wait, no every minute, no every second- I will not remember how crucial the work I am doing is. I have been entrusted with the crazy task of raising little souls who I can hopefully, with God's grace, help get to heaven, and there are only a few precious years I get to do this. There is nothing to do but to be grateful for it and totally content doing it. So if you need me, I'll be here just trying to soak it up and be content.


25 comments :

  1. Nursing, so briefly: yes. Thanks.

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  2. Great post you are not alone in feelings you have. No one pats you in the back or gives an employee of te month pin. The work is hidden and also hard! Keep on writing!!

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  3. You are so not alone in feeling this way :-) I too have been cleaning because I feel like I finally accomplished something and the whole going to Target thing...yup.

    I think part of the reason being a stay-at-home mom is so hard is because we don't get to see the fruits of it like our husbands do with their job (at five they get to come home, etc). Or after cleaning, it's clean and you obviously did it right. With a kid, I don't think we see all the good we did until they're older and it's so hard to persevere through the mundane day to day activities that create that awesome childhood we're giving our kids.

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  4. You said it better than I could. Now I'm off to actually pay attention to the kid who isn't napping!

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  5. Oh Ana - thank you so dang very much for this. I'm in the same boat here with my three boys - and you're right, Target and cleaning do create the "useful" feeling. I really needed this reminder today.

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  6. It is hard to be content as a mom, isn't. It's not just the lack of recognition, but the whole repeatedness of it all. I clean, and it gets dirty again. I feed them and then 3 hours later, they need to eat again. I comfort them, and then they fall again. It can be really hard to do the same thing over and over agai. Thanks for the important reminder.

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  7. I'm tearing up- you hit the nail on the head! I needed this reminder, too, today.

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  8. Thank you for the reminder, Ana! I really needed to hear this today. -Diana

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  9. This was an extra good post, Ana. I know it's important, but as you said, sometimes just being with my kids doesn't FEEL important. I needed this reminder. I love your blog. There are so many mornings when I think to myself at 5am and one of the kiddos is inevitably awake for the day.....serviam. Or I think about your post about kids being little flashlights into our souls, revealing all the grime and dirt that motherhood needs to reveal and sanctify. Keep on, Ana. <3

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  10. Love this. I was so with you just a couple short months ago, and I suspect I will be back there again soon enough even though I'm currently I'm in the rollercoaster of newbornhood where some days I feel like a rockstar because I remembered to put on deodorant and the other days I seek out Curious George a la Netflix by 10am and cry alone in the bathroom.

    You called your work "crucial" - a truly perfect adjective.

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  11. I agree that so many times shopping or cleaning feel more "productive" than breaking up a fight for the 57th time! Cold weather + being stuck inside with toddlers is not fun ;)

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  12. The hidden work of a Mom, I get it! I loved this post and your love for your girls just shines through it!

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  13. Wow, you hit SO many nails on the head with this post! And I really took a hard look at how I feel about staying at home with my kids. I too tend to try and load my day with things to do; heck, I get twitchy if I don't have enough items listed on my to-do list to try and make what I think of as a "productive" week. I've had lots of people say "Oh, you don't work" when I tell them that I am a stay at home mother, and that's led to a lot of guilty feelings on my part that I don't contribute to the family enough because I don't bring home a paycheck. And yes, I get burned out feeling that what I do is just a big circle - clean what will get dirty, cook what will get eaten, shop for what will get used. It gets mundane, and I am guilty of focusing on that instead of the many opportunities I have to be present to my kids. I've focused more on making sure the chores are done, the homework is done, everything else is taken care of instead of being WITH my kids. It's hard, but I am slowly trying to let go of perfect and be more of a mom with my kids instead of to them.

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  14. I hate the winter. It is, unequivocally, the worst. I struggle pretty hard with this same thing, and try to find ways to feel "productive" being home all day. I'm the queen of complaining, so I have to stop and remind myself why I stay home. I want to see my kids. My kids want to see me (why, I can't imagine).

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  15. This is perfect, because I was having this day yesterday. My kids are a little older, but I still have two at home, for homeschool. They were finished early yesterday and off playing upstairs and I was sitting in the kitchen wondering what to "do" and feeling guilty that my husband was off working and I was sitting at home doing "nothing". So I'll just keep reminding myself that raising and educating my children is NOT "nothing"!

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  16. I've been struggling with similar feelings lately. Thanks for writing this, Ana!

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  17. I've been wrestling with this too, and I have older ones and we homeschool. Sometimes I find myself focusing so much on the lesson plan because that is "doing" something. This week I've had to remind myself why I do this, why am I a SAHM, because I love doing this and it's about relationship. But its hard when I know my husband is out working hard at his job and I'm sitting looking at the 105th picture my daughter has drawn and wondering if what I am doing really matters? I know it does, and that these feelings will pass and of course the "cooped up in the house" thing doesn't help at all. I had to take my son to the ER in the middle of the night (he was fine) but the receptionist taking our information says "so, you STILL don't work" when asking for our insurance stuff. I remember thinking "what"?! Did I hear her correctly? My job at home is a hell of a lot harder than what your doing right now sitting there typing at the computer, but of course I didn't say that. No great comebacks from me at that hour of the morning. But knowing the outside world doesn't really see how hard this SAHM gig is can be frustrating!

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  18. Oh you are so very right! There are so many of these moments especially during the winter, they just keep coming! This was really great, Ana, thanks.

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  19. Beautiful post! It is so hard to embrace the season of life that we are in. Thank you for posting.

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  20. YES! Totally. It doesn't help that society is telling us lies all day long. Through Unschooling the past 3 years or so, I have really come to realize that if I Just take a minute, or a day, and observe what the kids are doing and what I am doing, I realize that there is actually a LOT going on here that many people pay a school hundreds of dollars a month to give their child. I feel privileged that I have this luxury of staying home. I treat it as a high honor - really a luxury. I really think of it as that, because that is really what it is - even though everyone else is busy running around, working at their "important" job, but what do they have to show for in the end? A bonus? Money? A nice car? Fancy clothes? I'd never trade my children and our day-to-day experiences & fond memories for any of that. It would be really great if society/culture realized that. But that is why there will be many SAHM's up in heaven! We get our reward in heaven. It is an invisible profession in a lot of ways - I think that is why we love connected w/ other bloggers...it makes us seem a bit visible just for a little while!

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    1. I feel I need to comment to this response on behalf of working moms. We have twins who will be 3 years old in February. I work full time outside of the home. It breaks my heart to be away from my children all day every day, but working is a financial reality for both my husband and I. Please don't assume that just because two parents work they are doing it for "A bonus? Money? A nice car? Fancy clothes?". We are working to put food on the table for our family and a roof over our heads. Yes, it takes two of us working to provide the basic necessities for our family.
      "Judge not, that you may not be judged." Matthew 7:1

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  21. So great, Ana, thanks for posting!

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  22. I had saved this when you had originally posted it and just came across it again in Feedly (I'd saved it) - it's a fitting reminder for me. I've tried explaining this feeling to my husband, but I don't know if he gets it quite like another SAHM. Thanks for the reminder!

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