Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sacrificial Mothering

“He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

- Jim Elliot


I’m going to attempt to pour myself out here a bit.  Somewhat to share with you what’s been on my mind, but also as a way of processing some of what I’ve been dealing with, meditating on these past days, weeks, months…Let’s see what comes out…

I am currently in the process of obtaining the clock hours needed to renew my teaching license.  I have yet another two years before it expires, but with 125 clock hours needed I know that digging in before it sneaks up on me is probably a good idea.  As I’ve been researching classes, in-services, conferences, online programs, etc. I have had this excitement stirring in my heart.  I am excited to “get back out there”, even if that just means taking a few self paced classes.  I was talking with Chris a few days ago about the envy I sometimes feel towards other women (and men) who I see carrying on these amazing careers, obtaining higher education, getting professionally dressed every day, and just doing something with their lives. (Ooh that’s an ugly word)

Sometimes I look around my life and I wonder – What value am I adding?  What am I doing to further myself? Better myself?  Push myself?   (Do you see the selfish common denominator there?)

And yet, at the same time this inner battle rages as I know that if I were anywhere else besides the walls of this home right now I would not be content.

I guess it’s one of those grass is always greener complexities. Smile

And so – it’s something I’ve been really working on, thinking on, praying on…

And part of what I’ve seen is this.  And part of what I’ve known is this.

Mothering is all about sacrificing.

Laying myself down.  Laying aside my own wants, my own dreams, my own goals, my own desires – and investing myself in to the lives of my children.

Now, I carefully say all that above while at the same time having a respect and appreciation for not losing ourselves in our children.  I AM going to be taking the courses required of me to keep my license, and I fully support (and appreciate) those around me that juggle full time work and parenting, or schooling and parenting, or whatever the case may be.  In fact, I think of the mothers that I know who work.  It is incredibly sacrificial to work all day to support your family.  I have heard from many of my friends that it isn’t always the easiest to juggle it all.  Work, chores, kids, husband, and perhaps a tiny bit of “me” time snuck in there. This is not intended to be a battle of stay at home vs. working outside the home. Not AT all. 

I don’t think it comes down to the number of hours that we spend with our children – whether we are given the full day or whether we are given the evening, or whether we are given the weekend…it instead comes down to a matter of the heart.  Quality vs. quantity I guess you could say.

I have been convicted this week in how much I truly sacrifice myself for my children.

I care for them all day long, but how much of my care is given with joy? There are nights when I finally sit back on the couch and reflect on our day.  There have been days where I have realized that I never once just stopped and read a book to my child, or held them on my lap, or played a game with them, or had a conversation with them eye to eye.  It sickens me. Yes, I was physically with them all day long, but yet there was so much emotional separation taking place.

How often throughout my day do I sigh or show exasperation when one of my children needs their nose (or something else) wiped for the fifth time, or when I need to break up yet another fight when I am just trying to get one simple chore done?

How often does my daily list of to-do’s take priority over the loving and nurturing of my kids?  True loving and nurturing?

I have been placing a focus (and asking God for help cuz I don’t think it always comes natural) on having true joy in the work that I am doing.  When I am folding the third basket of laundry. When I am sweeping the floor again.  When I have to clean up yet another accident from a little girl.  Whatever it may be I want an attitude of joy.  A servant’s heart.  If I can’t be a servant to my own children, to love on them and sacrificially joyfully give, then what good am I as an educator, as a friend, as a daughter?  What good are my other dreams and ambitions if I can’t start here?

This is my battlefield.  This is where I have been placed for this portion in my life and I want to thrive here.  I want to look back on this time of my life as an amazing one.  One where I am setting my children up to be such awesome individuals.  Not one where I had an amazingly clean house and incredible meals on the table – but yet kids who would claim that they barely get to spend any quality time with their Mother.  It’s hard to do that though!  It’s such an expectation of society that we should be able to do it all.  The Super Mom mentality.  I know I have written about that before. I constantly have to fight against it and let myself be free from the pressures of trying to do everything to perfection.

Yesterday at the dinner table I just took some time to look at those precious faces around me.  So often I can become lost in the fact that my children are little.  Naively forget that they aren’t always going to stay that way.  I sat there thinking about the people that they are going to grow in to.  Who are they going to meet? Who are they going to mingle with?  Who might they influence with their lives?  How are we preparing them here, in the walls of our home, for the impact that they may make on this world later? 

My mind even took it a step further after a short discussion with Ethan on bed times, and with twinkling eyes he said, “Someday I’m going to be a daddy and I’m going to put my kids to bed and then I get to stay up late and make sure they stay in bed!”  My little Ethan – a father?  The reality of that just struck me. 

I looked at that table of those three amazing kids of mine and I thought about the grandchildren that may come in to this world someday through them.  What kind of parent is my child going to be to them?  Will they sacrificially give and love them?  Even when it isn’t easy?  Even when all you want to do is just finish one cup of coffee while it’s still warm? Have one adult conversation that doesn’t need to be interrupted?  Take a shower without a child pounding on the bathroom door? 

Today I choose joy.  It is a constant choice I need to make throughout the day. When my flesh wants to sigh (or scream), or roll my eyes.  I instead want to choose thankfulness.  Every battle I face has something I can be thankful for behind it. 

Let that be my focus.



  1. You are doing the most important work that a woman is given to do...raise those dear ones up for Him. and the Joy giver does give you joy and strength in the midst of it...i see it!!! Good blog Beth!!
    I am proud of you!!!

    1. Thanks Mom. I'm a work in progress that's for sure!

  2. Beautiful. I hear you. I feel what you're saying here. You are a fabulous mother!

    1. Just earlier today I was thinking about you Cassie and missing you and your beautiful blog and wondering how you are. Thank you for commenting. It's good to know I'm not alone in the thoughts and feelings I have sometimes. You're a fabulous mother yourself!

  3. what a beautiful Blog beth. I'm so proud of you for the woman,mother,wife,sister,daughter you have become. I know there are days where life seems complicated but when you look back at these years at home with your children they will be the best memories a mother could have. I love you so dearly ..

    Your Papa

    1. Thanks Dad. That means a lot coming from you. I love you dearly too. :)

  4. Its like your words were coming out of my mouth! I feel the same way when I get a chance to do someones hair. I ache for the time I will be in a salon again (silly, I know) kuz I miss that. I just miss that. We are doing the greatest work ever right now though, not the easiet but the greatest by far. Kuddos to you to start early and get your hours... I would be the one that got on it right ;)
    Happy Thursday girl!

    1. I guess there is just some sort of yearning that comes from the professional career that "used to be", but how quickly that time will come back again right? Speaking of which - why can't you live closer to me so that you could cut my hair? Thanks for commenting friend!

  5. Beth, you are a precious child of God...a precious human being who strives (and accomplishes) being a great mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and daughter-in-law. There is noone I would rather have nurturing those precious little ones than you as their loving, devoted, and Faithful mother. Your honesty is so real...and I appreciate your willingness to share, because let's get is tough being a mother with 3 little ones all day every day...especially after you have been a professional in a professional position over which you were able to maintain a great amount of control over your day...then BOOM here are 3 little ones who want to maintain control:) and explore:) and push the limits:) and make messes:) and simply take your breath away a lot of the time. But I see you as the excellent mother you are just taking a deep breath and finding in your heart the goodness and light and life and joy and peace and fun that comes with the raising of these precious little Gifts from God. God bless you on your journey Precious Beth...share your feelings and know that you are loved, loved, loved. Peace and God's blessings to you.

    Love, Mom H.

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mom H! You get it! I used to pride myself on good classroom management as a teacher...and then I had children! :) Just continually trying to process this ride of life I'm on and the changes that have happened in it over the past five years! Thank you for your love and support through it all!

  6. I could have written this post! Mothering has been such a chore lately. Sadly, I have thought to myself lately about how I don't even like my kids. But of course, I DO love them. I do want to cherish those cuddles and stories and sweet conversations. I too, need to remember to let go of the busy schedules and lists of chores. I too, want to remember to find the joy in the endless hours and days and nights that I spend with these little ones. It is a choice, isn't it? I don't think that joy comes completely naturally. We have to learn to see it and keep it. Thanks for reminding me to CHOOSE it.

    1. I am sorry to hear that parenting has been a chore for you lately. But I get that. There are seasons that have been very difficult for me, and I know there will continue to be more. I truly feel that yes, it is a choice. Every day we have that choice. And even in that choice there are going to be moments that stretch us and pull us and really challenge us - but to try, even in the midst of it, to find joy. It is not always easy, and every day I fail at doing that correctly, but I'm a work in progress! I think too the more we lay aside our own priorities and must-do's the easier it becomes to find peace in the pattern of our homes. Hugs to you!

  7. I can't tell you how much I appreciated this post. I've never met you in person, but I LOVE your blog, you, your kids, your whole extended family--everyone I've met on your blog. (Can you tell I'm a social person who became a stay-at-home-mom? Blogs and FB became my social life at that point!) It was just this week, I was literally crying my eyes out because I had failed--again--in my role as mom to my kids. I just wanted so much to be more like you, like Davene, like my sister Miriam, all the people I knew who just love their kids to death and never yell at them and enjoy being a mom every moment of every day 365 days a year. The Mom who just laughs and hugs their kids even when everything is going wrong. I had NO IDEA someone like you was more like me than I thought! I thought I was the only one who turned out mechanical smiles, who sometimes a lot of the day talked in a quiet, all-too-well-controlled voice to my kids to make very sure I didn't yell at them, who sometimes is literally shaking on the inside (and outside) because I'm so stressed and my nerves are so stretched, and there's NO WAY OUT! I thought I was the ONLY mother who somedays wanted to just walk out the door, across the yard, and just keep walking and not come back for two solid weeks (but of course I'll never do that!). And, I thought I wasn't the mom I should be because at times I too yearn for the day when I can, perhaps, return to my profession and work a job that comes to a close, a job I can come home from, a job where I can actually make a difference, a job where people look up to me and respect me for who I am and what I do, a job that I can be GOOD at (I don't feel "good at" being a mother.), a job where others will be able to see me operating in my strengths, rather than laboring doing something that I'm not gifted at.

    Anyway, all this is to say, I'm so encouraged that even one of the best mothers that I know has some of the same struggles that I have. That makes me feel like I'm not entirely alone. Thanks so much for this post.


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