From the second you wake to the second you crash at the end of the day, your identity is wrapped up in three life-affirming letters: M.O.M.
But the joys of motherhood also mean that sometimes it can be hard to see yourself as anything else. Where did the time go for your own hobbies and interests? When was the last time you actually heard your name spoken in your own house?
We wanted to hear what different moms think about their roles, so we asked six moms to talk to us about how they view their identities: as a stay-at-home mom, a house mom, a mom raising a niece, a mom married to a pastor, a mom musician on the road and a mom who adopted from Africa.
A House Mom to 16 by Rhona Osborne
As I caught a glimpse of my face today, I noticed more lines than yesterday. There were lines from the stress of the day before, lines from lack of sleep, lines from what my grandmother used to call “borrowing trouble,” but best of all, there were lines from laughter—lines from the joy that being a mom brings.
Being a mom to girls that come from “hurt” places is a choice I made when I chose to follow the calling God placed on my life years ago. Being a mom is challenging at times, but it’s rewarding all the time—whether you have one baby, a couple of middle-school-aged children, or 16 kids of all different ages, like I do. Six live at home at the Big Oak Girls’ Ranch, where my husband and I are houseparents.
How do I know if I do it right? I don’t. I just love those kids and follow my heart. My job as a parent is to invest in my children—every day, I invest my love, my wisdom, and my time in their lives. I used to want to see immediate fruit, but God gently and patiently has shown me that the fruit is up to Him. So instead, I keep investing, trusting that He who is faithful will bring fruit in His own time.
Time Is Important
Something I’ve learned is that my time is important—it can change lives if I use it right. As you might imagine, there are days when I have had to go to the school to pick up a sick child, shuffle transportation and kids for a soccer game, get one child to piano lessons, one to tutoring, one to counseling, pick up a prescription, make a bank deposit, have a costume ready for the next day—the list goes on and on.
On those days, it may have to be a “fend for yourself” dinner, but I have learned that’s OK. I would rather take my time to connect with my kids—to kiss the bruised knee, hug away the hurt, sit and read a story or talk about all the drama my teenagers experienced that day. I will never regret putting aside the four loads of laundry, having grilled cheese for dinner, or not getting that last chapter read in my book if it means my child needed me and I took the time to nurture and meet that need.
Being a mom is demanding, yet rewarding. It’s stressful at times, but it brings so much joy. It’s tiring on some days, but puts a smile—and all of those laugh lines—on my face.
A Stay-at-Home Mom to 3 by Kimberly Girard
My greatest struggle in being a stay-at-home mom is grasping and holding onto the fact that my true identity is daughter.
God has adopted me, through the blood of Jesus, as His daughter, and He says He delights in me, not in my performance, or lack thereof, as a mother. My default is to find my self-worth in the successes or shortcomings of my children or of myself as a mom, especially because mothering is my job. But God loves me, not because of what I do or don’t do, He loves me because of who I am—His child. And He, the Creator of all we see, decided to make me a mother to three specific children, but that is not all He made me.
It often feels impossible not to lose my identity in the chaos of being mom. But God has given us all gifts, and I’m slowly learning that it’s not selfish, but glorifying to Him, to pursue those gifts, even when they fall outside my role as mother. I can never take off the mantle of mom, nor do I want to, but I can be a mother and also pursue the opportunities God gives me to be me.
When I step out of my stay-at-home mom role and take the time to discover and use the gifts God has given me, it reminds me that mothering is not all there is to me. Then I can walk back into my role as mom, being refreshed and remembering that how I mother is not a reflection of how I’m loved.
A Touring Mom of 2 by Cindy Morgan
I will never forget being on a tour a few years back. My husband, who also travels, was on tour on the same dates I was. With both parents gone (something we try never to do, but it happens), there was no choice but to leave our children with a dear family we love and trust.
I was about to go on stage one evening when my cell rang. It was my friend Gretchen, telling me that Savannah, then 7 years old, was not feeling well. She was throwing up, running a fever.
Then Savannah came to the phone. “Mommy,” she said, “please come home.”
I was about 500 miles away and felt so helpless to do anything. Gretchen, the kindest and most nurturing mother I know, did everything she could to make Savannah feel better, but there is just something about being in your own bed with your mom or dad bringing you crackers and ginger ale that is healing in a way that someone else cannot provide. Maybe it is the power of the maternal connection.
In the end, I prayed for her. I prayed that God would watch over her and keep her safe through the night. He did.
Balancing Family Life and My Profession
Through the years, it has been an ongoing struggle to balance my life of travel that I love so much with being there for my kids, which I consider the most important calling of my life. Their lives are busy. Like most kids today, they are involved in school sports, academic clubs, band, and choir. At some point in parenting, you surrender much of your own life to be the taxi, the snack maker, the boo-boo mender, the homework helper, and the understanding ear for whatever new drama is going on.
My husband says that it isn’t necessarily bad when I am away, unable to mother them and dote on them the way I like to, because it teaches them about their own inner strength—their ability to take care of themselves a little bit at a time.
I know this is true, but it is hard to let go. As much as I want to sacrifice every piece of my life for them, I know, even now as I see my oldest daughter at 15 develop her own friends and her own interests, she is creating a life for herself. So, I want to keep my own interests alive while still being there for them as much as possible.
Learning to Say No
I try to say no to most girls’ nights and work things that don’t seem absolutely necessary. I have learned to say no. No is powerful.
I think I gauge how I am doing on the balance of being a mother and a touring artist by how my kids are acting. Are they sleeping well? Are they eating well? How are their grades? I also encourage them to tell me when they feel I am away too much.
Let’s face it, though: sometimes, part of that maternal instinct kicks in, and you just know when you are missing out too much. That’s when you know it’s time to take a hard look at the things worth keeping on your calendar and the things that should go.
Either way, it is a continuous challenge to achieve that oh so illusive word... balance.
Continue Reading: What It Means to Be Mom (Part 2)
Browse Gifts: Get the Perfect Gift for Mother's Day
Article courtesy of Parenting Teens magazine.