Some mothers glow within motherhood and feel a sense of completeness and worth. Others feel a sense of loss from what used to give worth, perhaps it was career or freedom. Perhaps having children was the opposite of what you expected. Possibly you have a special needs child or a child with a disability. Maybe you find yourself in the role of sole parent.
Yes I used to do good stuff. I created, I connected and I accomplished much. Now what? I have become someone who can create nothing? Why do I feel empty when people ask what I do? Or when I have to answer that dreaded question on the form: 'Occupation?'. When instead of writing 'home duties' I'd rather write 'homeland duty'.
A mother's role can begin early in the morning and goes all day, and for some, it continues throughout the night as well. At the time she wishes to sit down and have a rest, coincidentally it turns out to be the time the household needs her the most.
The voices of family and friends ring in the ears "It gets easier".
As the mother of a teenager and a one year old, I have homework, clothes, school and peers at one end of the scale and nappies, goo-gah's, tantrums and sleep schedules at the other end. However, now that I mention it, there's possibly some similarities...
Some days I have looked at my current status and thought, "What has happened to me?".
After leaving school and being in a few small 'jobs', I was employed by an Engineering Company. This is where I first felt a sense of professionalism and worth. In the midst of this I discovered I was going to be a mother. It threw a curve ball into the 'career' sector of my life, but I was comfortable with it.
After a few years I got a job as a bank teller. I didn't know the industry very well and back then I would have described myself as being fairly useless with money management.
I was well supported by family and friends to be able to enter this occupation as a sole parent. I got into the groove of being back in an office/customer service environment and excelled within my role. I became well-known to our business customers and locals in the area and felt a sense of belonging and servanthood to my community, as well as a returning awareness of professionalism and worth as a career woman.
A management position became the next position I felt I should be in. I built up a small business and felt a sense of achievement and position. The connection with the community became extremely important to me. I put my everything into the role and the business. I lived and breathed the day to day operation.
Getting married, moving states and becoming a mother for the second time was next on God's agenda for me. This transition was difficult.
A friend of mine, Claire, 35, from Western Australia has also been through similar transitional difficulties. After working a high-stress job that she thrived on for many years, she began to suffer from anxiety and was medicated during her first year of marriage. She continued striving to be a professional career woman alongside being a mother of young children and was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety soon after the birth of her second daughter.
Now a mother of four, she says, "I had a revelation from God to give my husband back his pants. Not only to put him in charge of our family, but it also released me from thinking that I had to hold everything together. It released me from the bondage that my career had over our lives. Our marriage has bloomed since then. We have had a sea change and our life is so much the better for it."
When I asked Claire how she came to peace with motherhood and career, she responded, "I had come to peace with the fact that my identity was not my job. My identity was with Christ and fulfilling the role that He had planned for me my whole life. Which also meant going back to work at a later stage, but to realise that when people asked me what I do, I could reply, ''I am a mother'' without cringing. Motherhood is so undervalued in our society."
I then asked Claire how she is going now that she is back working with a shift working husband and four children. She replied, "I have reconciled the two, motherhood and career and have settled for working part time in a job that I still love, but my family comes FIRST. It helps that I have an amazing supportive husband, great day care and a fantastic boss (who comes from a family of 10 - so he totally understands where I am coming from)."
A mother's worth
On salary.com I did a very rough calculation of what my salary would be as a stay at home Mum of a baby and a teen. It came up as a 96 hour working week, bringing in $130,000 annually.
A mother's role in the home is very important, no matter which direction she finds herself going with her family and work situation. Ultimately as mothers we need to care for ourselves and make sure our sense of worth and value is high. Sometimes it is easy to lose ourselves in the sacrifice of motherhood.
"Just because someone doesn't earn a salary doesn't mean that they don't make significant contributions to the family that could be costly to replace," Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation, says. (businessinsider.com.au)
If you are a mother identifying with this article, whatever you do, find the time to continue to develop your sense of self, your personal perception of worth and feed your need for activities outside the realm of nappy changes and homework coordination. You are valuable, and every bit of energy you invest in yourself will only enhance the kind of mother, wife and friend you can be.
For such a time as this
Esther 4 verse 14 speaks of the great calling of Esther. Her cousin Mordecai says to her, "If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?"
We have little people in our care that will one day leave the nest and become a contributing member of society. Our responsibility is to know we have done our best and input our best into these little ones; providing for, caring for and loving.
For me, this Bible verse helps me identify with the great calling of motherhood and the role that standing up and realising our worth as queen of our house is.
Perhaps I was made 'Mum'....for such a time as this.
Belinda Croft has been writing for Press Service International since 2010. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Russell and their two sons. Her passion for understanding the things of God in simple ways, social justice and news issues influence her writing style.
Belinda Croft's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/belinda-croft.html