Eight years ago, I was the poster child for the "I could never stay home full time with my children." I lacked patience. I lacked skills. I lacked a spiritual vision of the real contributions of my vocation as a married woman. I thought I needed "intellectual stimulation". I thought I owed it to the world to take my specialized legal skill set to "make a impact on my community." I seriously doubted that my artistic husband would ever be able to find a decent paying job with health insurance.
I was wrong.
In truth, I only wanted to work for the twin reasons of fame and money. I wanted to be a big shot in the world. I was also extremely afraid of poverty.
Ironically, God handed me a job assignment specifically targeted to my spiritual weak points. The two paybacks I will never earn as a Stay At Home Mommy is fame or money.
As an unworthy sinner, I've screwed up my job often as a stay-at-home mother. I've screamed at my kids. I've spanked them. I've burned the meat loaf. I've forgotten dinner, or messed up dinner so badly we needed to make an emergency Pizza delivery. I've read novels instead of tending to my toddlers. I've wished the kids could play outside in subzero temperatures. I've been bored. I've cried out of frustration at the sheer impossibility of taking many children with many books through the library check-out line without a mishap.
Through all these mistakes and "mishaps", often the very things I feared while I was still childless, I've never, ever doubted that I was doing the right thing by staying home full time. Instead, there has been this steady increase of gratitude.
I'm grateful that I get to pray every day. I'm grateful that I have a chance to serve. I'm grateful that my role is so clear. That the stakes are so high. That I make our whole crumbling society better just by getting out of bed with a smile each day.
It's an honor to serve the child Jesus. It's a honor to follow so closely in the hidden, human footsteps of Mommy Mary.
My payment comes from doing the job God assigned for me for Him alone. It doesn't even come from doing my job well. Sometimes, my husband has a warm, healthy dinner waiting for him on the table after work. Sometimes he has to call for a cheese pizza himself. Sometimes the kids have all their shoes lined up in the closet cubby. Sometimes the poor things lack clean underwear.
What my husband and my children always have is ME---undistracted by urgent phones call from my boss, or an awards dinner invites, or stimulating creative projects. Oh, the Devil still finds plenty of ways to get me off track, make no mistake. Yet walking away from the biggest food source to my selfish ego--the urgent need impress strangers as a "contributor" in the world of paid employment--that was a grace God handed me at my baptism.
Embracing my role as a stay-at-home mother was a "game changer" moment between me and God.