Mom of Multiple Children: Have You “Lost Yourself”? Don’t Despair!
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“I am not sure I know what I’m good at anymore,” she says, voice cracking, eyes filling up with big tears.
“I question if I am even cut out for this thing,” another one says, anger welling up inside. “Why, God, am I here at home, with these kids?”
“I just stay at home,” I caught myself saying once to a new acquaintance.
What in the world is going on here, moms of multiple children? Have we lost our identities? Are we feeling like we are just stay-at-home moms, as if that is some kind of badge of shame? As if that is all we are? As if we have no other roles or identities?
Feeling lost, mom of multiple children? I have been there. In fact, I have felt that way recently, and will continue to fight against that feeling that creeps into the dark recesses of my heart when I start gazing at what I wish I had or what I wish would change about my life.
I know I’m not the only one who has questioned my purpose and my calling.
It’s a wrestling match. Certain weeks I know I get caught up in thinking there is so much more I could be doing if I didn’t teach and keep children all day, homeschooling and parenting my three young children.
On the flip side, I catch myself comparing and thinking that the Christian woman who homeschools a gaggle of kids under the age of eight and homesteads is the more pious one, the one I should be like. News flash: there are women who have many more children than I have. There are also women who are just gifted homesteaders.
I wrestle to get that image out of my head.
Do you track with me?
If so, here we are: caught in between the lies that our station in life lacks purpose and that if we embodied certain outward characteristics, we would be “better” people.
First of all, I think many women who stay at home do so by choice. In many cases, this implies a monetary sacrifice of money for time with family. In other cases, it’s just a personal choice based on principles.
Whether we do this by choice or not, it is a great thing. It is a station packed with purpose. Hear me out, though: it is not any more pious or good than the choice to be a working mom who has her kids in the daycare or the school. I know, I’m a homeschooling mom. Shouldn’t I be advocating for homeschool? Of course. My family has its reasons for homeschooling. The purpose of my post is not to address our reasons as much as it is to address the INHERENT VALUE I have as a person, and guess what: it is NOT based on my decision to homeschool!!! Praise the LORD for that!
Now that I think I’ve made it clear that my decision to stay at home doesn’t make me a better or worse person than the next mom, let’s talk identity.
The heart is at the root of my words, actions and thoughts. When I speak of “heart”, I am referring to my morality. Morality refers to “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior,” (Oxford Languages). The heart is also referring to the springs of life that flow out of us (Proverbs 4:23, para.).
I am inherently sinful, so my heart cannot really produce anything good without the invasion of the Holy Spirit.
Even though this Spirit of God dwells inside me and seals my salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14, para.), I know I have a flawed perspective. My identity has been a major object of Satan’s attack. Identity is knowing who I am. Of course, I know how to dwell on my likes, dislikes and talents. These do make up my identity, as I have been created in the image of God (the Imago Dei) to have talents, affections, and work that I love. After all, we were created in His image and He is a creative God. Of course we are people who like to think thoughts, create creations, and work (and play) in purposeful ways. As moms, we can carry out our God-given abilities and passions! We can! You can! It just might look a little different in seasons of life that are demanding.
However, there is something much more critical when I speak of identity.
Identity is knowing to Whom I belong. I am not my own. I was created and given breath by God the Father. My identity as a stay-at-home mom who homeschools is not even scratching the surface of my truest identity. Homeschooling and stay-at-home parenting is simply a station that I’ve been given. The vocation, the station, is where I find my tasks each day. I can evaluate the worthiness of each “task”, but that is futile. Identity is truly not what we DO. It is who we ARE. If I AM made in the Imago Dei, then I have a spiritual aspect to my being that I MUST address. As I stare down my tasks for the day, I realize that my station is where I do the work of saying “yes” to the God who loves me.
We Are At War
That irritation that wells up when the kids fight for the twentieth time of the day? The sibling fight is simply a circumstance that requires a bigger, spiritual force to intervene and get to the heart. If the spiritual is ignored, then it becomes a mere behavioral modification, an appeasement scheme. I hate appeasement. Appeasement is the opposite of love. LOVE intervenes to the heart. It casts out fear and fights the fight I cannot handle on my own.
Spiritually-speaking, we are not fighting a war against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12, para.). When we yield to the Spirit, we draw closer to God Himself, as we take shelter and depend on His power to act in accordance with His character. We are empowered by the Spirit to respond to anything that comes our way. We boast in Him, because He is the one doing it.
My point is, these seemingly mundane tasks: intervening to help siblings work through a conflict, the dishes, the laundry, the clean ups, the planning, the cooking, the teaching… the list goes on… are merely our stations. They are our battle stations, if you will. Yet, we are not truly fighting the war. God Almighty is fighting for us. He is fighting the lies that rage within. The lies that whisper, “you will never get past this” and “this is all there is” and “your worth is wrapped up in what you do”. There is an opportunity to take hold of the power He can only give and use it for His kingdom because no matter your station, there is an opportunity to draw closer to God and bring Him glory!
A Word From Ephesians
If I remember I am safe and secure in my identity as one created in the Imago Dei and I have the Holy Spirit living inside me, then I can remember that I am also secure in my identity in Christ Jesus.
If you are a mom struggling with identity, please read Ephesians 1. Here are some truths you can tuck inside your heart:
-We are adopted daughters through Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:5)
-We are daughters that have been blessed with His grace in the Beloved. [Jesus] (Eph. 1:6)
-In Jesus, we have redemption through His blood. (Eph. 1:7)
-In Jesus, we have forgiveness of our trespasses, according the riches of his grace. (Eph. 1:7)
-God has lavished his grace upon us. (Eph. 1:8)
-God is making known to us the mystery of His will. (Eph. 1:9)
-In Christ, we have an inheritance, having been predestined (chosen) according to the purpose of God. (Eph. 1:11)
-When you believed the gospel and believed in Jesus, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13)
-The Holy Spirit is the guarantee (or down payment) of our inheritance. (Eph. 1:14)
Knowing these truths from the Word Himself, how can we doubt His plan and purpose in creating us and giving us our stations? I think sometimes I whine and look at my situations, pointing out how “crappy” they are. What do I really want – empathy, acknowledgement, and… dare I say it… appeasement with niceties and pep talks from well-meaning people? I think there is a difference between what I WANT at that moment and what I NEED. I need the truth, in love. The truth is that I am not enough. The truth is that in griping about my situation (which might legitimately stink) I am complaining against the One who gives my lungs breath. I need to humble myself and realize that I can get understanding and wisdom. But humility precedes wisdom and honor (Proverbs 15:33).
If I look at my insecurities and insufficiencies and forget that Jesus gives me an identity that is truly amazing… then I will just be looking at myself and forgetting the God who is so much better. I forget Him, and I make myself the sovereign one. I boast in myself when I just see my own insufficiencies and do not look to the One who is everything I could ever ask for or hope for. I might not be boasting in the same way we normally think of boasting, but it’s like I’m saying, “I am all there ever was and is and ever will be”. I am living like an atheist, functionally-speaking.
Safe and Secure In Christ
Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. We have hope. Yes, we believe lies and fight against insecurity, bad circumstances and horrible attitudes all the time. We do not have to flounder so badly if we are depending on Christ.
The truth is, mom of many kids: God hears you and sees you. You have not been forgotten. Jesus knows your struggle. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in EVERY respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” (English Standard Version). Jesus was tempted to be discontent with his station, since we are told he was tempted in every respect, albeit without sinning. Jesus also humbled himself in His station, even though He was fully God. By humbling Himself through the incarnation, we have this picture of humility. He humbled Himself, but was exalted. This will be true for us, if we are in Him! Psalm 10:4 promises, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”
We know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing that is worth doing. But what grace we have in being united with Christ.
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,” (James 4:6).
Grace enables us to move forward to the next day, hour, minute.
So when you are doubting the truth:
You are SAFE and SECURE in Christ.
You are LOVED no matter what.
You are CALLED and CAPABLE.
You are RESPONSIBLE for your [own] actions.
Believe first the truth that you are safe and secure. Your identity is in Christ, not in all the things that will become dust one day. You are so much more, in Christ! Walk humbly in your station, whatever it may be, armed to fight the spiritual darkness, with Christ’s Spirit enabling you. Know that your work is more meaningful than you could ever know. One day, all these things will become apparent.
- When tempted to despair, BREATHE IN…”Because Christ is enough,…” BREATHE OUT…”I am secure.”
- Let your body tell you when you are getting overwhelmed and falling into despair. Tension in muscles, increase in heart rate, more shallow breathing, clenching teeth, flushed face and general uneasiness are all indications that we are starting to crumble into despair. Fight the despair. Look to the WORD and remember to breathe. Make a quick escape (if it’s safe to leave the kids) to a safe place and pray to God. Listen to some music that is full of truth and love. Dwell on Ephesians 1.
- Make a list of all the ways God has given you identity in His Son, Jesus. Who does the Bible say that you are in Christ? Make that list and thank God He has adopted us!
Books on Parenting Humbly
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
Are My Kids on Track? by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Crossway
Instructing A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
The One Year Book of Hope: A 365-Day Devotional by Nancy Guthrie
The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books by Nancy Guthrie