It was a last minute rush to the grocery store at 5pm with the birthday girl and the toddler, leaving the two other kiddos at home with daddy. I was in my sweatpants, big puffy coat, Ugg (look alike) slippers, and without a smidgen of makeup on, and looking and feeling a bit frazzled. As I attempted to wrestle the huge toddler into his shopping cart covered seat and push his wide feet through the leg openings, my daughter kept asking me to push the hood of her coat up. I heard a clicking sound and saw a woman in high heels, perfectly done hair and makeup, and professional work attire calmly walk into the store – and I was jealous.
I remember when I was working in an office and had the time to put on makeup and style my hair every day. When I could put together “outfits” and wear something other than a tank top and some variation of stretchy yoga pants with an elastic waist. I envied the fact that she looked so put-together when I obviously was such a mess. I resented that she could actually go to the store by herself and leisurely shop for her groceries with
out having to keep a toddler entertained and an inquisitive girl out of the path of other shopping carts.
At this stage of life, showers must be planned, and any exercise time I have, out of necessity must take place inside my home or outside but very near to the house. This involves extensive planning and all kids must be tucked away doing something that will keep them happy to buy me even 30 minutes to myself. When I am running laps in my driveway, sometimes I find myself longing to be able to leave the boundary of the end of the drive and to run down the road, feet pounding, heart racing, and wind in my hair- ultimately I want to “feel free”. Now before you become worried, NO, I do not run down the road, but the longing is there, and if you are a busy mom of one or multiple kids, you have probably felt this way too at some point.
I gave up my independence and freedom and now have the responsibility of a husband and four children, and sometimes my selfish heart doesn’t appreciate my life. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I view my family as a responsibility. However, when my heart is in the right place, I know that my husband and children are blessings, and that I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom! I have exchanged my long commute for a job where I can literally roll out of bed and I’m there. Instead of having my hours and entire day dictated by a boss, I can choose what each day will hold and decide if it’s a playdate with friends, or a day at home. I have learned the skill of multi-tasking and that yes, I can cook, clean, and take care of four kids, a dog and chickens and we all are surviving! I have learned that I cannot control everything and that when I relax and embrace flexible routines, we all enjoy life more. I have the privilege of having my kids home with me each day, of teaching them to read in the same phonics book my mother taught me, and seeing their intelligence and curiosity as we learn more about the world together.
Yes, my house is messy and there are perpetually crumbs on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink and a mountain of laundry to fold. Yes, it is usually loud and chaotic between 7am and 7pm. Yes, I have days where I feel overwhelmed. But let’s be honest, no matter if you are a stay at home mom or have a career, there are always going to be times of discontentment and stress. When I focus on just myself and what I think I have sacrificed, I forget that my home often is a place full of laughter, creativity, affection, and fun impromptu “dance parties”. I wouldn’t trade a sticky hug or kiss for even the most affluent career out there because I know this investment in my children is where God has placed me and He wants me to find contentment and joy in all things!
On a practical note, I have had discussions with my busy husband and we are striving to schedule times where I can get away for myself. Whether it is going for a quick run down the road, or just going to the grocery store solo. We have both noticed that after a brief time away, I return home and am energized and see my children with a renewed love and appreciation. If I never leave my house without my children, I can’t enjoy the experience of opening the door and having them run towards me yelling “mommy” and eagerly jumping into my arms to give me a big hug! But regardless of if I can or cannot “get away”, it isn’t my circumstances that needs changing, it is my heart and my outlook. My messy and chaotic life is exactly where I want to be, and even when I don’t realize the desires of my own heart, I’m glad that my maker does. Wherever you are at, appreciate the blessings of your situation and give it your all. The grass will always appear greener on the other side, but if your lawn is looking weedy or starting to turn brown due to neglect, it may be time to weed, fertilize, and water your own grass. Even if you don’t appreciate your life, I’m pretty certain someone else is looking over the fence and wishing they could be you!