Motherhood & Family

Heart Struggles of a Newbie Stay-At-Home Mom

It has been 16.5 months since I started as a stay-at-home mom and it has been a grace-filled blur. Sometimes I look at my daughter and I can’t believe she’s mine and that I’m her mom!  There are so many lessons I have learned since she was born and God has used my time at home to bring heart issues and big life questions to light.

I love what I get to do, partially because growing up I always admired moms. I loved watching them juggle ten things at once so adeptly and naturally and I think I watched moms changing diapers, in the kitchen or at the supermarket similarly to how some people admire basketball players on TV.  That’s why when a friend pointed out the other day that I had opened up the fridge with my daughter in one arm, holding a cup in another, and as I turned around kicked the kitchen door closed, I was so grateful because I always thought it was so cool that moms could do that kind of stuff!

Still, with the desire I have always had to be a mom and God-willing, to stay at home raising children, ever since a few months after baby girl was born, there has been an internal struggle . It’s not that I disliked what I get to do- I actually really enjoy it, but it felt like I was always trying to justify to myself why I was a stay-at-home mom. I wrestled thus with guilt, frustration, and anxiety. Guilt at not being able to do more or wondering if I am doing the right thing at staying home. Frustration and anxiety in frantically trying to do things that would make me feel more justified to stay at home and like I was accomplishing something.

I started asking God and other people questions, talking to Jeff, reading on the Biblical doctrine of vocation , and praying  for clarity. I have come to see that the things I was asking myself weren’t just about being a mom or staying at home.   There was a dissonance in my heart because  though I value the work of motherhood and homemaking in my heart, something in my worldview, perspective, and thoughts on God and life was off. My time as a stay-at-home mom is just the circumstance that God used to show what I lacked in understanding and how my motives, thoughts, and attitudes still need to be realigned to God’s thoughts as revealed in Scripture.

The things that were hard and the questions I had could, I think, be summarized in three major categories:

  • Not seeing the spiritual value to God of what I did. What does nursing and changing diapers have to do with living for the glory of God? But more generally, what do things that don’t seem outwardly spiritual (“spiritual” being things like talking to my daughter about God, discipling others, etc.) have to do with living the Christian life and living for God?
  • Not being able to measure success and productivity in the ways I have in the past. Pursuing education, there is a clear goal (a degree). And  working in campus ministry, I saw or at least had measurable ways of measuring “impact”.  Now that my list of things on my to-do list seem so mundane, what do I do with the desire to “make a difference”and bring glory to God? And is taking care of my precious baby only worthwhile because of what she accomplish in the future? That would seem to fit into the way I measured success in the past, but it doesn’t seem quite right. 
  • Looking around at other people and feeling weaksauce. I feel like I should be able to take on more than I am right now. Women in my mom’s generation and even my mom had to work and take care of babies at the same time. And of people I know around me, most also work while taking care of their baby right now. How do I justify not doing the same? What do I do with the guilt?  

God has been so good to me in speaking to all these areas and teaching me so much. I wanted to share about it all in this post, but I think I will break it into maybe three posts in the next few weeks. I am still a newbie but I hope that in sharing what I have and am learning, that it would encourage others- whether stay-at-home moms or not- and spur you on toward God and living for him.