And so, this post if for full time, stay at home Christian mothers, that feel a bit overwhelmed....
I wonder if Jesus mother, Mary ever felt she had to get away from her children and husband ? Seems a bit absurd to even think of, almost sacrilegious to entertain the thought of Mary having to get away from her family because she felt overwhelmed. But I am sure the duties of motherhood feel heavy on her shoulders just as they do mothers in modern times. So what makes the difference from then and now ? Maybe it was one simple thing, the relationship we have with God. That's an "ouch" kind of statement and we all have felt like the role of wife and mother is just too hard to handle and honestly, how we handle it comes down to where we get our strength and what kind of commitment we have to the idea that children are a blessing and not a curse 24/7. With children there are no re-do's. Each and every second we spend with them is never to be recreated with the exact sameness. Even if your children are behaving in such a way to make you feel like you want to pull your hair out, you have only yourself to look at. Why are they out of control ? Or, perhaps, why is it that your patience and kindness is not all it should be, why are you not turning to God instead of running off with friends or to the mall shopping ? Is there perhaps something more Dad can do to help when the busy times arrive in the day. Emery would faithfully take the children outside to play every single evening during the week when he got home from work, giving me time to prepare supper without a thousand little interruptions. It meant we ate at 6 rather than the minute he got home from work at 5, but how much he loved the time with the children and how much I appreciated this time to get things done in the kitchen. It was a small thing, but it helped tremendously. Take a day away from the home as a family once in a while, stroll hand and hand with your husband on a hike as your children run along the path. Watch your children with that eye of wonder at how amazing they are. Turn to God when you feel overwhelmed and pray with your husband about it, seek his help too on the days that seem to go on forever.
We stuck to an 8 o'clock bedtime for the children when they were under 10 years old. Which meant we started winding things down for them around 7. Bath time, family worship, story time, so they could be tucked in bed by 8 p.m. That gave Emery and I a couple hours of together time before we went to bed. The children went to bed at 9 even as young teens, which still gave us an hour alone. Of course our children had farm chores that meant getting up early and actually being tired at night, so it wasn't hard to get them to go to bed at night, ever.
Parenthood as well as marriage takes work, and it takes a game plan of sorts, plans to help one another. It also takes having God the strength that we draw from and prayer for patience for the greatest job there is on earth, being a parent.
No matter how many "Mommy's day off" you take, it will not be a cure for what is missing in your relationship with God. No matter how many times you go shopping by yourself and leave your children wondering what they have done to make Mommy want to "get away" from them, you will not regain a sense of purpose in mothering at the mall. No matter how many times you put on pajamas with 6 other mothers and have a "sleep over" as if you were 10 years old, it will not cure your discontentment in your marriage or in raising your children, or take away the deep seeded resentment you feel in regard to your husband and children.
To her absent husband, Susannah Wesley wrote:"I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe, the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles."
Susanna Wesley had a less than ideal life, her husband did not always care for his family as he should, they had 19 children, several of which died, yet she raised men like John and Charles Wesley.
Another example of a mother that we cannot imagine "needing to get away" from her children would be Sarah Edwards, wife to preacher husband Jonathan Edwards.
"The legacy left by the Edwards family is as fascinating as the study of their lives. Over four hundred descendants of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards have been traced. Of these, fourteen became college presidents, roughly one hundred became professors, another one hundred ministers, and about the same number became lawyers or judges. Nearly sixty became doctors, and others were authors or editors. The Edwards family pictures Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
But we read that "The Edwards had 11 children, 3 sons and 8 daughters. Sarah prayed consistently for their children. She disciplined her children with gentleness and firmness. The children demonstrated great respect for their parents, rising from their seats whenever their mother or father entered the room. Jonathan also took part in the rearing of their children, but the remarkable torrents of revival and his proclivity toward studying often occupied his time. He was always available for his family, but Sarah bore the greatest load in rearing the children." http://alvinreid.com/archives/199
There is no record of Sarah having to run off here and there, just to have some time to herself because of the stress of raising a family, instead we read about her deep faith, her commitment to her children and husband and her strength to do the job, coming straight from her close walk with God.
Don't try to escape the greatest job on earth when it feels overwhelming, but run to God and fall on your knees, to ask for strength, determination and to see the beauty of each and every aspect of the work ahead. For even wiping the mud off the floor for the millionth time with patience will show your children much more than you will ever imagine. Think of the strength of the mothers of generations past that were strong and determined, in the face of so many hardships, with husbands gone for weeks on end at sea or on jobs that took them far away, how these very women called on God to give them strength to bear hardships beyond what we could imagine, yet raise up men and women for God that have made our nation great.
in the photo, Emerys grandfather was the toddler on the left.