My little sister has seen me at my very worst, because, well… I tend to show up at her doorstep at my very worst.
Like a few weeks ago when I showed up with disgusting children, mascara tears streaming down my face, and begged her for a wee bit of shampoo so that I could wash my hair without taking all three gangsters into the store – which given my state, would've been a complete disaster.
Or last week when I just really needed to get said gangsters out of the house for a few minutes before I completely lost my mind, so I showed up at her house with chai teas and weepy eyes once again.
There's this thing about sisters, isn't there? You can open up, share, and even vent without fear. And so we do.
We talk about the struggles of marriage, motherhood, and the Christian life. We talk about new recipes we're enjoying. We talk about our favorite new curling irons. We share bits of our life with each other – even the bad bits.
So when my little sister started crying a few days ago at the thought of going back to work after her maternity leave, my heart wept with her. And when she said the she thought it would be a good thing because she wasn't super good at the ‘stay at home Mom thing', my heart wept all the more.
Not because I think everyone needs to be a stay at home Mom.
But because, the reality is, none of us are good at it.
Trust me, there are days (I swear!) I would pay someone just so I could work at my old job. There are days when I want to escape and pretend like, surely, this isn't reality.
Surely, my kitchen can't (literally) be messy all the time when I (literally) never stop doing dishes.
Surely, my kids can't be fighting again when I (literally) just dealt with this exact issue.
Stay at home Mom or full time work force Mama, the reality is raising children is hard, scratch that, the hardest thing I can ever imagine doing in the history of the world. And since we're being honest, I'll just put it out there – I know I'm terrible at it.
I'll menu plan. Half the time. I'll fold the laundry. 60% of the time. I'll lose my temper and fail at showing empathy, patience, grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness 100% of the time. Every single day.
Lord, have mercy on me!
When I shout out of desperation ‘Leave me be! Mommy needs a minute alone!‘ I always tell myself that God never tells me he doesn't have the time or patience to love, listen, or guide me.
When I lose my temper for the zillionth time because I've dealt with the same sin in my children a zillion times and I wonder if it'll ever get any better, I remind myself of the same sins I've been struggling with my entire life that I'm still laying at the foot of the cross. Like, ya know, losing my temper and such.
Yes, I'm a stay at home Mom who dreams of alone time… of a clean house… of obedient children… of a balanced checkbook… of a decluttered car… of (fine, I'll say it) using the bathroom without fighting, constant door knocking, or toddlers barging in. I am, by all measures, truly terrible at this job.
(The Lord never leaves us without an ‘and yet!')
And yet, even though I'm terrible, and even though there are days I would give you a different answer, there's nothing else I'd rather do. I first became a stay at home Mom when we were making a below poverty wage for over full time work. We were so poor. But we knew it was important to both of us for me to be home with the little family we were building and made many, many sacrifices in order to make it possible. We didn't choose for me to stay home with the kids because it was easy – we chose for me to stay home because we felt it would serve our family best.
And that's what my job is. To serve my family.
I don't do it perfectly, that's for dang sure. But as the extremely long days pile up, I realize that the Lord is working to sanctify me through the process. And he's also teaching my children how to practice forgiveness – even towards their mother.
Being a good stay at home Mom doesn't mean organized arts and crafts, freshly baked scones (although, hey, I wouldn't complain if I had one of those right now), and a manicured home. Being a good stay at home Mom means saying, despite the days when I want to suck my thumb in a closet and never ever ever ever come out again, I want to be here – at home, with my children – more than anywhere else in the world. No matter the cost.
Be it financial.
Be it sanity. (Sanity? What's that?)
It is, no doubt, a costly profession.
And so, even as I type and preach this truth, I am teaching myself. To let go of ideals, expectations, and idols and to embrace the crusty bathtub, smelly garbage, trail of orange peel, broken eggs, constant need for correction, lost tempers, sink of dishes, and tears. Not because they mean I will quit working towards a healthy and happy home, but because they mean that in this home, there is life. And I want to experience that life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – with this incredibly awesome crew the Lord has given me the blessing of knowing and loving so intimately.
Not that I won't take you up on an offer to clean my house, wash my laundry, or babysit my children. The answer will always be a HECK YES! Just for the record.
And to my dear sister who isn't ‘good' at being a stay at home, sorry, but you're totally wrong. You love and serve your children faithfully. You are raising them to love and serve the Lord faithfully. And that, my dear, is the only requirement. It doesn't mean doing it perfectly. It means doing it faithfully.
Love you, girl. And Amen.