"Are you a ‘stay-at-home' Mom... or do you work?" I was asked that question countless times during my first 14 years of motherhood (I can see you wincing!). Well-meaning, yet totally clueless people would innocently ask, not even realizing what they were doing. By making it an either/or choice, they were actually eliminating the answer.
Everyone knows that stay-at-home Moms DO work... only their paychecks are in the form of dandelion bouquets and snotty-nosed kisses. And instead of a bank account, it's their love cup that gets filled. They aren't given sick days, pension plans, or recognition on a job well-done. In fact, most of the time, the jobs they do often get NO recognition at all. They're over-tired, under-paid, and all-around taken for granted. And I wouldn't have traded those years for the world. That's why, when I was in the thick of my surrounded-by-children mothering, a certain little message almost broke my heart.
It happened during a busy season of my life. Besides being wife and mother (to 3 kids ages 9-15), I was working out of our home office writing daily devotionals (to share daily on the 100 Huntley Street telecast), writing a column for our monthly Compass magazine, and editing my soon-to-be-published devotional books. Yep. My plate was definitely full.
On this particular day, I had been writing for most of the morning when I had to go and put in another load of laundry. All morning my 9-year-old son had been knocking on the door, wanting some of my time. And all morning I had put him off.
It was as I was coming back to my office that I noticed a homemade sign taped on the door. In simple, uneven printing, it read, "Don't go in here please Mommy". It stopped me cold. Closing my eyes I realized that in the midst of doing what I needed to do, I was completely neglecting those who needed me most. I felt the tears come as I turned and found my son standing… waiting. And I knew what I had to do. With hugs and kisses and tickles, and a few humiliating games of Nintendo (I don't think I ever got the hang of that game), I answered my highest calling.
But isn't that what Moms do? Torn between a gazillion pressing matters, sometimes we need a gentle reminder. Sometimes we just have to let ourselves be stopped cold. To feel the sting. To remember what is actually our highest calling. And it's funny. When we do, we suddenly remember why we're doing all the other stuff in the first place.
And now, all these years later, I find I'm still answering that call. But this time it's in the form of a ride to work, an impromptu conversation over coffee, or a batch of chocolate chip cookies at the end of a long day.
And the payment? It's basically still the same… my love cup is overflowing.
There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.
~ Jill Churchill