I was thinking lately about what a “good” mother and homemaker looks like. I think we all have an image in our heads of what we should be, and what we sometimes think everyone else is. I know that I sometimes think:
- A good homemaker doesn’t get behind on laundry
- A good homemaker doesn’t leave dirty dishes in her kitchen overnight
- A good mother doesn’t yell at her children when she’s tired
- A good mother is always prepared with snacks when she travels
- A good mother never forgets to bring along diapers and extra clothes
How many times have you thought any of those things…and more? How often does it seem like everyone except for you manages to do those things, but you just don’t? How often do you feel like you just aren’t really that good at what you do?
It’s Not Fair
Here’s the thing. My husband has a job. He works in the corporate audit department of his company, which means he checks up on other departments to make sure they’re doing their jobs well (and people just love that…hahaha). But the thing is, his job requires particular skill sets. And it never changes. He has to have people skills, and he has to know a lot about computers and programming.
But he doesn’t have to play sports. He doesn’t have to clean up messes (like the janitors). He doesn’t have to be a good salesman (although he is). His job has quite a few responsibilities, but it has parameters. And the major parts of his job are skills he’s really good at and which he enjoys.
Motherhood is not the same.
Motherhood and homemaking doesn’t have parameters. Anything can be thrown at you. You’re responsible for everyone and everything that happens in your home. That means you have to find ways to clean chocolate out of throw pillows, how to throw a baseball to a young batter, how to roast a chicken, how to sew a button back on or sew up a rip in a favorite blanket, how to balance the grocery budget, and more. There’s no end to your requirements, and no guidelines to follow! A mother and homemaker has to wear more hats than anyone else.
It’s not fair.
We are not magical and perfect because we are mothers and homemakers. And these days we often don’t have anyone showing us how to do all these things! We don’t have examples because being mothers and homemakers isn’t valued. So we’re left fumbling, trying to figure it out.
Even once we get it (sometime around the point when our kids are grown, I think), we still have such diverse responsibilities that we simply cannot be good at everything. We can’t. Where you shine, another fails, and vice versa.
That is okay.
In this spirit, I’m going to own all of the areas where I’m not so good. I’m going to share where I fail. I hope that you’ll share some areas where you fail in the comments, too, so that we can all celebrate that we are not perfect! And yet we are still awesome.
(By the way, as I was writing this post, I asked my husband, “What am I not good at?” and he said “I really don’t think I should answer that question.” Ha….)
Where I Fail
Now is one of those rare times that most of the laundry in my house is actually done and put away. Often I have a couple of baskets that should get washed, a couple more “in progress” and even more sitting around, clean. This is a particular sore spot for me because out of all the household chores, my own mom was most of top of this. She did laundry about every three days, and she carefully sorted all the clothes according to their care labels, went through them and used stain removers, never stuffed the washing machine too full, never scheduled errands on laundry day, never left a load sitting in the washer or dryer, never left clean clothes unfolded, and never left baskets sitting downstairs. It all got done, and done right, by the end of the day. Always. I keep asking myself why I can’t do it if she could…and I don’t know.
2) Picking Up “Stuff”
I can’t count how many times a day I walk by some stuff on the floor (trash, kids’ toys, clothes, whatever) and think “Hmm, I ought to pick that up,” and then I don’t. I’m such a global thinker that I just take in the room as a whole and think “It’s not that bad.” I forget the details…until the room gets too messy and I can’t stand it and I clean it. I’m terrible about just cleaning as I go and keeping stuff picked up. Just the other night I was thinking how clean my house would be if I would take the extra 10 seconds to just pick up the stuff I see as I walk around….
A good mom never yells at her children…unless, you know, they’re about to run into the street in front of a moving car. And then she tearfully apologizes for it. Not me. I try really hard not to yell, but sometimes I get so frustrated that I do. Especially if one of the bigger children deliberately hurts the baby. I’m working on it, but I will probably always yell more than I should.
A good mom is super sweet and sincere all the time, right? Not me. I’m sarcastic. Often too much. I might be cutting some vegetables and a child walks in and says “What are you doing, Mom?” and I reply, “What does it look like?” I tend to be more sarcastic if asked the same questions three or four times in a row, which we know happens often with children. It’s not a good thing, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. (Not excusing it, just saying…I struggle.)
This one’s interesting because I often feel so motivated to be creative with the kids, and sometimes I am, but other times I want to keep my butt on the couch and just let them do their thing. Even when I know I shouldn’t. I have a million excuses — the baby kept me up last night, the kids won’t quit fighting, whatever. But sometimes I have no plan, and no desire to make one, either.
6) Happy Heart
This kind of goes along with sarcasm. I struggle often times to have a positive attitude. Something drives me crazy and I let it show. I’m over-tired or not feeling well and the kids are well aware. I need to work on having a more positive attitude or, as many say, a “happy heart” even when I’m not feeling it. I’m trying — the other day I stepped on a kid’s toy and I wanted to scream, but instead I stopped, closed my eyes, and then looked at the kids (who realized I had hurt my foot on the toy that I had just asked them to clean up and jumped into action without a word). It wasn’t perfect, but it was better. I will always struggle with this.
I let my computer distract me too often. Good moms don’t even get on the computer when their kids are awake (mine are not, as I’m writing this). But I do…too much. I’m at least happy that I don’t have a smart phone, so that if I take the kids out, I am just with them. But when we are home I keep my laptop open and I at least walk by and glance at it here and there, and sometimes I sit at it and try to get stuff done while they’re playing. This is not always a good thing.
I sort of hesitate to even say that word as a homeschooling mom…it’s like playing to everyone’s fears. But I’ll say it anyway. I, personally, am an introvert. I never know what to say to people. I don’t really like parties. I’m okay with staying home a lot (and I went to public school!). Good mothers sign their kids up for lots of teams and activities and take them on lots of play dates, and they enjoy organizing events and being the team coach or cub scout den mom or whatever. I really…don’t, in many cases. My kids still go on plenty of play dates and out to museums and church and have plenty of friends. And they are not shy in the least — everyone at the playground is their new best friend. But for my part, I’ll never be the one making those connections for them. They’ll have to do it for themselves (when I provide the opportunities, of course). (The baby seriously crawled over to another family’s blanket and tried to pull snacks out of their bag at a recent play date. I had to stop him but I didn’t know what to say other than ‘sorry’ as I moved him.)
9) Bringing Stuff With Me
Last weekend, I was just going to run to the butcher to pick up the meat. It should have taken about an hour, round trip. I got all the kids changed and fed and loaded in the car. And I didn’t bring anything with me because, you know…it’s only an hour. But then I had to wait 30 minutes to leave because my parents were almost here. Then we got there but the order wasn’t ready, so I took the kids to a nearby mall to play. Anyway, by the time we got home it had been almost 4 hours and my older son was complaining his diaper was wet. Oops. And unfortunately I’ve made this same mistake a bunch of times. You would think I’d learn…. (Yes, there are now two diapers, one for each boy, currently living in my car. Until I “forget” and use them and don’t replace them, of course.)
10) Spiritual Leader
I’ve talked about this before, but I didn’t grow up in an overtly Christian home. So frankly, I’m kind of jealous when I hear about these moms that frequently pray with their kids, read the Bible with them, and always seem to be so surrounded by spirituality, so effortlessly. I have no idea how to go about that. Sometimes I pray with my kids (but see the above point about being an introvert — it’s not easy for me to pray with anyone really), and we do read Bible stories. We talk about Jesus a lot. But I don’t really get how to be a spiritual leader and I’m just hoping God’s grace will cover me and my kids will sense my heart and forget my stumbling around.
If you feel like this — like you can never do it all or never be perfect — there’s a new resource out there for you.
It is a collaboration of 13 different bloggers and it is called The Heart of Simplicity. You can click the link for more details about the book, but it’s encouragement for the Christian mother and homemaker. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link and I will earn a small commission — thanks!)
Here’s av excerpt from the “about” page:
It can be easy to rush through the day in a constant effort to stay on top of everything that must be done. We have the demands of our homes that need attention; our children, who need love, training, and discipling; and, most importantly, we have our husbands, who need our attention, affection, and our help in building homes that glorify the Lord.
With all of our modern conveniences and time savers, you would think we wouldn’t struggle to fit into out day what needs to be done, but we seem to be more pressed for time than ever before. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed when it seems what is demanded of us is more than what we can give. You may feel like you’re drowning in dishes and laundry. Maybe you’re losing the battle with winning your children’s hearts to the Lord, or maybe you’ve given up on keeping up and have fallen behind on maintaining your home or paying your bills. Your marriage may be suffering under all of these demands. Maybe you’re barely keeping your head above water.
I don’t believe our problem is a lack of time. The Lord has given us ample time to do His work. The struggle we face is in determining kingdom work from all the extra that can fill up our schedules. In our hurried, busy lives as wives and mothers, it can be easy to rush through our days, checking off our to-do lists as we accomplish the tangible. But while much of that is important, it’s the eternal, the intangible, that matters most. This is why we’re here. This is why we get out of bed every morning and go strong until our head hits that pillow at the end of the day. As keepers of our homes, we have a unique opportunity to make a generational impact, both within and outside the walls of our homes.
Check it out!
Do you struggle with feelings of inadequacy as a mother or homemaker? What do you struggle with most?
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