Just a Mum?

One thing I learned very quickly after becoming a mum is that there is no universally acceptable job title for the parent who gives up paid employment in order to care for their children, as every term offends someone.

“Full-time Mum” – this is offensive because it implies that mums who go to work are only part-time mums, and therefore somehow inferior.

“Stay-at-home Mum” – apparently this implies that all mums do is stay at home and watch Jeremy Kyle all day.

“Housewife”  – too old fashioned.

“Homemaker” – are you kidding me?

Other people say we should forget trying to describe/define it at all, I’m just “a mum”.

Whatever description is chosen, someone on some parenting forum somewhere will explain exactly why that term is so offensive to them. But it’s my job and I (mostly!) love it.

I’m not going to deny that there are days when I push my children through the school gates and run in the opposite direction, or days when I have actually hidden in the bathroom and locked the door because I just want 5 minutes to myself. There are also days when I have cried when looking at my overflowing ironing baskets (yes, that’s plural), or I’ve rung my husband to tell him to pick up a takeaway on his way home from work because I’ve had a difficult day and the thought of cooking dinner is pushing me over the edge.  (I’ve really sold you on this full-time-stay-at-home-housewife-homemaker-mum role now, haven’t I?!)

But when the kids are asleep/in school and I have the time to step back and look more objectively at my life, I feel privileged to be able to do this.

Some women feel that they lose their identity as an individual when they become a mum, as everything they do suddenly revolves around their child. I can honestly say that I have never felt that way. Being a mum can be all-consuming and exhausting, but I was given one valuable piece of advice early on, and that is to remember my primary identity is as a Child of God. I may no longer be a nurse, no longer contributing financially to the home, but my primary identity is always as one of God’s children – He has loved me from before the foundation of the world, He has forgiven my sins, He cares for me, He provides for my needs, and He listens when I pray to Him. My chief purpose in life is not to be a Mum, but to love and to serve my God – and I can do that whether I am out at work, or at home with my children.

It’s very easy to feel de-valued by the society around us when you are “just” a mum. When we meet someone new, one of the first questions we are asked is what job we do – and it can be difficult to admit that you’re not in paid employment any more. But as a Christian I’m called to serve God wherever He sends me, and although I may no longer be in a workplace surrounded by adults who I can share my faith with, for now my mission field is my home (my children, and the friends that I make through my role as a mum). That is just as important as any other mission field He could send me to, because that is where He has placed me.

All of us as Christian parents have the same responsibilities – to provide for our children’s physical needs, to teach them the skills they need for life, but also to teach them about God. As a stay-home parent I have the privilege of having extra time available to me to do this. In Deuteronomy 6 we’re told that talking to our children about God should be something that happens naturally during the day, as much a part of life as teaching them to count, or helping them learn to read, or how to tie their shoelaces. It’s not just about taking them to church on Sunday and reading them a Bible story at night, it’s about bringing God into the everyday situations that we face – showing them the greatness of the Creator as we look at the beauty of the world around us, teaching them to be thankful for even the smallest of blessings, praying with them about the things that worry them. All of us have the opportunity to do this as parents, but when we’re home with them all day we have the privilege of having even more time to teach them these things.

Some days are better than others. We have days when we feel good about our role as parents, the kids are happy, we’ve not made too many mistakes and the house doesn’t resemble a bombsite (well, not all of it anyway). Thank God that we do have those days!  But there are times when we feel like complete failures as parents – we are Christians, but we’re still sinners and we do lose patience with our children and over-react to little things, we get tired and stressed and at times feel completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of bringing up our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. What can we do then? I’ve learned over the last ten years that we have to bring it all to God – the good times and the bad, in parenting as much as in every other area of life. We need to ask for wisdom to make the right choices in the small decisions as well as the big ones, we need strength and grace for each new day, and we need the humility to admit it when we get it wrong.

Everyone tells me that the teenage years are even harder than the toddler years. I feel totally inadequate for the task ahead of me, but I know that I have a Father who is willing to give wisdom, grace and strength – and I plan to ask Him for them daily!

 

Written by: Lis Rowe, member of St. Mellons Baptist Church

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