How a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Change the World

I saw them walk into the church one Sunday, all five of them, the boys in their long pants and button-up shirts and the girls in their dresses, heads ducked low. They’d just lost their mother to a brain aneurism and I swore I’d never complain about another dirty diaper.

And then the next day my eldest son dumped the potty on the floor, a full potty, and my foster boys were fighting and my youngest fell down the stairs and got a black eye.

How a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Change the World

I gathered him up and ran to the office and sat on the floor and cried, rocking my baby back and forth wondering why God had asked me to be a mom, this girl who’d been told she wouldn’t be able to have children, this girl who had never wanted children—had only ever wanted to be famous. To be known, because of some deep unloved holes in her heart.

Sometimes I escape to the back deck and listen to the silence, to the way the snow falls—softly, uninhibited—smelling the laundry through the chute and wishing for the same kind of significance I felt as a single person. Or even as a newly married person. The ability—and time—to do something profound because I didn’t have four little boys on my lap.

And then I turn and see their tiny faces pressed against the glass of the back door, their foreheads wrinkled and my baby’s lip beginning to tremble and I know without a doubt I’m famous. Despite the spit-up on my shirt, I matter in a huge way. This mothering, matters.

And not only that, but motherhood is revolutionary. It changes the world.

We live in a culture that insists mothers deserve spa-days and hot cups of coffee and time to remember that they are women—and to an extent, I agree. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter whose mother never had time to herself, who was always serving, and she was exhausted and sad. I swore I’d never become a mother because it ruins you, it wrecks you–and in many ways, it does.

Sleeping lady

But in the same way that Jesus says a seed cannot produce fruit unless it falls to the ground and dies, we as mothers cannot produce fruit in our children (or in the world) unless we too die to ourselves.

I’ve been reading a radical little book lately called Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. In it she says,

“You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body… Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of giving your body to another.”

Maybe we don’t get dressed until three in the afternoon, and suppers some days are Delissio pizzas or Chinese take-out. Maybe nine loads of laundry sit piled on our dryer, the floor is perpetually sticky and something brown sits pooled in the back of the fridge.

It’s okay.

Because being a perfect housewife is not the same as being a revolutionary mom. Being a revolutionary mother means taking time each day to snuggle with your children. To read them the same story over and over, to kneel down and look them in the eyes and tell them they mean the world to you. To pray with them and take flowers and meals with them to the lonely and teach them how to fly a kite.

There will be bad days. We are only human but even on those, take your children’s hands and say, “I’m so sorry—Mommy messed up. Can you forgive me?” And this too, changes the world, because your children learn how to say sorry. How to ask for forgiveness. And how to give it.

A mother’s sacrifice is her child’s reward. They will not remember how clean your floors. They will remember how you took time to sound out the words in their Winnie the Pooh book, or how you stretched out your arms and said, “I love you.”

Mother's hand
And this, friends?

This changing of the world?

It makes children of us all.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

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Comments

  1. Elissa Philgence says

    Thank you for this today, Emily. I, like most mothers, struggle with the fear that I am not doing everything I can for my little ones.

    Thank you for pointing out that “we as mothers cannot produce fruit in our children (or in the world) unless we too die to ourselves.” because to die to self is to love my children wholeheartedly.

    It is Satan’s job to hold us down and tell us we are not good enough and we are not doing enough. Let us not listen to his lies, let us trust God.

    Blessings.

  2. Susan says

    I am an empty nester – the years I stayed home with my three children I will always consider “my best work.” Beautiful post.

  3. Satin P says

    Holy tears this was beautiful! So much of what you said ministered to my heart & soul as a step-mamma to a beautiful 6-year old little boy. Life isn’t easy with a split home, let me just tell ya! The quote by Rachel Jankovic was beautiful, as was your words: “A mother’s sacrifice is her child’s reward.” Thank you oh so much, Emily, for being transparent & ministering to me today with your words! Blessings to you! ♥

  4. Priscilla Saura says

    Hi, I’m from Brazil. I would like to know if I could translate your texts to share with other Brazilian Moms that not speak english. Would be wonderful for us! Thank You!

  5. Hannah Guillory says

    I love that Rachel Jankovic book. I keep it on my side table and flip through it regularly to give myself some holy perspective in this season. :~) Also, something my friends and I have been talking about lately is to view keeping house as “home loving,” as creating a safe haven for our families, rather than as “chores.” Simplifying goes a LONG way with that, too. The less “stuff” you have, the less you have to clean and pick up!

  6. Sarah @ The Gospel At Home says

    Gosh, this was so beautiful and so poignantly written. I love it. I’m a new mum and with almost a year down, I’ve learned so many lessons and gifts of grace…But I still struggle not to worry about being the “perfect housewife” as opposed to a “revolutionary mum”. But something in my soul tells me, in the big blue eyes of my son, that I am famous and that every single day matters. No matter what. Thank you!

  7. Brit Rochelle says

    Thank you so much for sharing this Emily. It met me right where I am right now. God is using you in a mighty way to encourage and build up those around you. You have a gift for words…

    Brit

  8. Donae says

    This is a keeper. I can very much relate to everything you wrote…my story is similar to yours in many ways, so I was immediately touched. I plan to print this out, laminate it, and read regularly when I forget what its all about…which I do on a daily basis, it seems. Thank you for sharing what the Lord put on your heart.

  9. Guest says

    Motherhood is indeed revolutionary. I really love your sentiments and these great reminders but I’m struggling with the title…none of these are unique to stay at home moms. All of the moms that I know, regardless of working or SAH, struggle with these same things and can benefit from your perspective. Why exclude when you can include?

    • K8Thiel says

      Not all of it, unique, no; but as a former professional-turned-SAHM, the line, “wishing for the same kind of significance I felt as a single person. Or even as a newly married person. The ability—and time—to do something profound because I didn’t have four little boys on my lap” IS unique to most SAHM’s. Because getting out of the house to contribute to the world in more ways than “just” motherhood can make one need an article exactly like this– to remind them that this thankless job is still rewarding (here, and on earth).

  10. rebecca carroll says

    Thank you! As I am looking at my disaster of a kitchen and trying to ignore the negative attention seeking behavior of my four-year-old foster son, I consistently think of what I haven’t done and wonder if what I’m doing is right. I am a new SAHM and a relatively new foster parent. I feel like I’m not doing enough cleaning, not teaching them enough, and don’t know how to handle the misbehavior/tantrums, but I’m trying and am here 24/7 to hold all four of my babies. This post reminds me of that, and I smile.

    Thank you

  11. Karin Deaver says

    Such a beautiful reminder of what is so easy to forget. I relate to the escape to the back deck. I often find myself in my back yard to find brief refuge in the streaming sun while listening for bird song and hawk cries.

  12. Sherri Comer says

    I am a retired stay at home Mom. My children flew the nest years ago.I wouldn’t trade positions with all the CEOs in the world. I will always treasure the times crafting, baking,putting on neighborhood plays and magic shows.Trips to Gramas house,those lazy days of summer when we could have fun adventures.When they started school the adventures continued with School trips.One in particular was at the Science Center.I never could read a map.We got lost and never did find the cafeteria.I think we ended up eating in the Beer garden! So many fun times,I’ll always cherish those memories and thank the Lord for blessing me with the gift of a stay at home career. Princess Sherri. Daughter of The King.

    • Megan says

      I think that’s awesome but I am curious – how have you handled life since your children “flew the nest”? I sometimes think it would be an easier transition for those who have not put ALL of their time and energy into being a SAHM.

  13. says

    “Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work.”

    And maybe I’ll just cook a frozen pizza for supper tonight. I love this post, Emily. When we tend to people–even if it’s one tiny little person–it matters. And yes, it changes the world. All of us.

  14. Rachel Bueckert says

    Thank you! I was taking ten minutes to think what to do in a rough moment with my son when I ran across this article. Thank you for helping me ‘regroup’ and get a clearer perspective in this moment. God used you. :)

  15. Nelda Rodriguez says

    Thank you for sharing! The more I read, the more my eyes filled with tears! It was as if my thoughts and part of my life were written down for the world to read! As a mommy and housewife, my biggest fears are not doing enough for my children and not having a home nicely cleaned and organized like that in which are portrayed in magazines. I lost perspective of what is important, my children. Not stressing over the laundry, a toy cluttered room, an unorganized fridge, or a dinner that ran too late to get started so take out it is…
    Thank you again Emily. This did wonders for my soul!

  16. Parsley says

    Being famous is something that is held up in our media-saturated culture as an admirable goal. But, really, why?

    Why should we crave the attention and admiration of strangers? Why should we crave to be known by many in a way that is not real… when fame is a projection of a story we polish and present of who we are?

    Could being famous be easier than being really known? Known by loved ones? Known through the daily choices of either showing up or hiding away?

    When you’re further along in your Mothering… you realize the world is a garden of other things. Fame is a distraction. Your Eden is your family.

  17. Christy Exley Hughes says

    This moved me to tears. I started off as a working mom and I missed so many things. Now, I am blessed to be able to stay home and do all the things I missed. I bake treats for class parties, appear as a guest reader, make home made Valentines, pick my kids up from school every day and am there with them to give them a snack, help with homework and tuck them in at night. Honestly, I too struggle with feeling like I am always appreciated and that I am contributing something to the world. Thanks for sharing that I am not alone in this and for reminding me the my greatest accomplishments will always be the two angels God sent to me.

  18. Kelly Greer says

    God’s design is so awesome in motherhood. So awesome that he saw fit to give his only son a mother too. Love that you mother with such love Emily. Thank you for this!

  19. MotheringFromScratch says

    {Kathy} Yes, we are famous. We are as famous as anyone can be in the hearts of our children. Thank you for the reminder. My fan club awaits….

  20. Esther Bautista says

    Wow, that sounds like me. Stay home mom do sign autographs on homework assignments. For me the hardest part is not feeling like I contribute because I don’t earn an income per say. Today I was denied overdraft line of credit because of my lower income. I took it hard and went into this rant about what stay home moms don’t matter. I took it personally. For me its the validation or lack thereof but also I need to validate my position as legitimate. It really is fighting the worlds business opinion vs. what God wants your life to be and look like. And this is where I am.

  21. Liz Mallory says

    This is absolutely the most beautiful piece I have ever read about motherhood. As a married-but-not-yet-with-kids lady, this makes me fear motherhood less :) Thank you!!!

  22. says

    A beautiful reminder of the important things vs. the urgent. I’m so glad to have that prompt, as today is my opportunity to get down on the floor & play with my 3 yr old grandprincess… a part of investing in the next generation.

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