Some of us moms, you know, the ones who stay at home types, find ourselves entrapped. We get invited to baby showers, special dinners, see friends go out on their lunch breaks with coworkers, husbands, girlfriends to get some coffee.... and we are stuck. We're stuck in our homes with a snotty-nosed toddler, a cranky preschooler who refuses to take a nap, a newborn that kept us up half the night, a teething infant who won't stop being needy, and if we're crazy enough, a bunch of school aged kids we keep in the house to homeschool who won't stop bickering, fighting amongst themselves, and running through the house breaking things all day long. If our kids are on a schedule, we can't even get in the car for doctor's appointments and running errands without looking constantly at our watches before a meltdown ensues to get them to bed for a nap. Scheduling everything revolves around getting out and getting home before hell unleashes its furry in the backseat. The world sees us as uneducated women who don't know enough to get a real job, are insignificant in society, and as lazy housewives who just sit around and watch soap operas or sit on our phones reading sappy articles on Facebook all day. We wish they could set up a camera and see what we really go through. And we feel tired, unappreciated, beaten down, and without much value.
We are on house arrest.
We are stuck in this stage of our life, counting down the days until our kids are out of the house, either going to school where the system can take care of them so we can have a real life again, or until we can get them to graduate out of home school and be released into the world where they can take care of themselves and we can have our freedom back.
But what is that freedom? Seriously. Is it freedom to be self-centered again? Freedom to do everything we've been wanting to do as we watch from the our dismal, confining pasture at those friends of ours frolicking in those lush, green, rose-filled ones on the other side. We always feel like we're missing out on all the fun, all the relationships, all the adult time, all the opportunities that our kids are robbing from us while they are little. The best years of our lives are wasting away in a house and minivan. But are we really missing out?
Have you ever walked on the other side? Yes, we all have. We remember those days before kids when we went to school, worked, took dates with our husband before we got married, and had all that liberty to get out that we crave so much now. When you really think about those days, was it all really that good? Were the days waking up to an alarm (instead of waking up to a crying baby) that much better, the days when you had to go to work sick, when you dealt with disgruntled people in the workplace, when you had to put plans on hold because you couldn't get a vacation day? Didn't you come home dog tired those days at the end of a long shift and find yourself plunked down in front of the tv just to unwind and get away from your long day? Was that really the greener pasture you so fondly remember?
Sure, you had great friendships. You got out and shopped in the mall a lot more, hung out with friends a WHOLE lot more, and stayed out late on the weekends. But do you remember thinking "One day, I'll have kids like that family over there. Then life will be wonderful and full of happiness" Am I not the only one who craved the day when I could wake up to sweet snuggles of a newborn in the bed with me (who happened to wake me up every 2 hours, but I didn't really mind).
What I'm trying to say, is life is teaching me that every phase, every season, has its good and bad. We can wallow in our despair, looking longingly at the other side of life, wishing to have a taste of it again, or we can find joy in today.
Find joy in being on house arrest.
Find appreciation in being at home because your husband is working enough hours at his job for the two of you to make that possible. He would love to see those first steps, first words, and not just have to hear about all the cute things your kids did during the day while he was out of the house.
Find peace and contentment with the ministry you have to be the living gospel to your kids. You are the only Bible they read when they are little.
Find purpose in what you do. Do you know that people are watching you? They may not tell you very often how you inspire them, encourage them, or silently teach them from your life at home with your kids, but know that they are watching. They may even be looking up to you and might even admire you for your patience when you are brave to run around in public with little people attached to you!
Find gratitude. We often don't appreciate the gift we have to be moms. For some of us, parenthood came easy. For others, we have suffered grief, infertility, and long waiting to be parents. Being a mom is the biggest blessing (other than being married to my husband) that I could ever receive in this life.
Find value. Do you know how valuable you are? You are a precious daughter of the king! Your value doesn't come by what you can contribute to the work force. It isn't measured by what ministry position you have in the church. God sees you as valuable because you are His. He has redeemed you as His treasured possession. Hold your head high because you are royalty, whether you have spit up on your shirt, find yourself wearing yoga pants to the grocery store, or haven't painted your nails in three months. Your value comes by who you are, not by what you do. Don't listen to the world. Listen to God's Word.
One day you will wake up and the house will be silent. Your kids will be out and about, and you won't be dressing them, fixing their hair in pigtails, and buckling them in their carseats. Will you wake up that day and say "YES! The day I've been waiting for! I'm FREE!" I don't think so. Sure, being in every season of life carries its bright sides. You can go to the mall now. You can go out for lunch with your girlfriend. You can even travel the world if your kids didn't drain your bank account first! But will you be yearning back for the days when you could hear giggles and running through the house as your kids played hide and seek, the days they woke you up to let you know they had made you a special present and breakfast for Valentines Day (yes that happened today)? Will you realize then that it wasn't really house arrest?
There are never too many flowers, but one day those flowers won't be in our care anymore. Don't listen to those voices telling you to crave freedom from the life you are living right now. Enjoy it. Love it. Take the migraine prescription and smile again. Clean up the messes and be thankful for the exercise you just got for free. Get creative and unashamedly let others into your little world, so they can experience that it may be chaos, it may be loud, but it's the blessing you've been given for this season. And it's a spectacular one.