As a mom of 3 young children, my life revolves around…um…kids. Yep, kid stuff reigns in the Mathews household. Any given day finds me making PB&J sandwiches, vacuuming crushed Fruit Loops out of my couch (I know, the health food of champions), yelling “Go potty! Quick, run!” to the almost-3-yr-old holding out her diaper to me, hunting for shoes, picking up toys as I walk up the stairs, depositing said toys in appropriate places, explaining why “I’m sorry and I’ll never do it again” is the correct follow-up to stealing your sister’s special lovey, scrutinizing a 4-yr-old brushing his teeth, enforcing the completion of homework…I could go on.
Each of the above activities does have significance—I know that, in my more adult moments. Being Mommy means I am the most important person in three little people’s worlds right now. The Mommy role is a life-long privilege. Yet when the totality of my day or week consists of diapers, discipline, and domestic duty, yanking my hair out and screaming (in the privacy of my own closet, of course) seems a reasonable response. Please, somebody tell me there is more to life during these “MOPS” years! Or must I wait until those days are over before I can pursue other, non-mommy-type dreams?
I have a theory that the demands of motherhood are not the primary reason moms defer long-held dreams. What else might be holding us back?
Fear? (What if I fail?)
Distraction? (Life with babies is already too much to handle.)
Guilt? (You mean have a life outside of my family? Take time away from serving them?)
God desires us to follow him with our entire being. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart….” (Col. 3:23). That word for “all your heart” is “psuche” in Greek, translated psyche. It means passionately, heartily, with fire, energy, determination, all-out effort. Its source is our life-giver—God! So mothers are to love and serve their children with passion, joy, and commitment. Women, many of whom are also mothers, must follow the dream or purpose that God has for them with the same soul-energy. This God-given drive will propel them—us—into another arena of fulfillment, to become another means by which He can be glorified. He gave us gifts and abilities beyond mothering, and He wants us to use them wisely.
I’ve felt that pull to do something more during these pre-school years. God has dropped in my lap countless opportunities to pursue ministry through my gifts in writing, teaching, and leading. If I were to ignore those abilities and not pursue those occasions to use them for His glory, I would be disobedient. Unfulfilled. Dissatisfied. Maybe even unhappy at some level.
And my children would miss out on countless teachable moments if I focused solely on them. Sounds contradictory, but stick with me. I recently joined a group of other women—many of them mothers—on a mission trip across the country. Some of them struggled to leave their families for six days, but they believed in our group’s purpose of communicating God’s love, verbally and physically, to women living in an urban shelter.
We were all thrilled to see our kids when we returned. Some of those children were old enough to understand that their moms were serving God somewhere other than at home.
Even better—why not drag your kids along, if your activities allow? Include them in your preparation and brainstorming. Invite them in to a larger purpose than meeting their needs. Can they help you decide which orphan you may adopt through Compassion International? Can they help you shop for Operation Christmas Child? Maybe the older one can babysit the younger while you are leading a local writer’s group. They can attend weekly bible studies that you teach.
Each mom has a unique dream or purpose beyond her kids. For Jen, it’s missions. She’s making it happen even with toddlers at home. For Anna, it’s mentoring urban youth—hauling her six-month-old with her to monthly gatherings. For Marty, it’s turning her organizational skills into a home business to help other moms who struggle with the domestic side of homemaking. Each dream is different; each is sacred.
Children learn healthy, godly living when they see that mom’s purpose in life is serving God, not them. Pour your heart into those diapers, discipline, and domestic duties when the moments call for it. But don’t forget to devote time and energy—your heart—to the other dream(s) God has given you. Your life doesn’t start after motherhood—motherhood is only part of God’s plan for you.
What’s your dream?