Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Motherhood Is a Job

Motherhood is a job. In the spirit of journalist Pamela Kripke, let me repeat that. Motherhood is a job.  Pamela was recently published at the Huffington Post with an article about motherhood, titled Work, Yes; Job, No.  I beg to differ. Let me set the context for you so that you can understand why I strongly disagree with her on this. 

Her reasons for not calling motherhood a job are too narrowly focused.  She said, "When I became a mother, I don't remember filling out an application, or submitting a resume, or answering silly questions about my strengths and weaknesses."   Is she indicating that if someone does fill out an application, their motherhood can qualify as a job?  If so, then only adopting mothers are doing a job when rearing their adopted kids because they surely do have to fill out an application. They do have to answer "silly" questions about strengths and weaknesses.  They really do.

She said, "If your mothering "job" is not going well, you cannot quit and find a different line of work." Is that what makes a job a job?  The ability to quit that job?  Many, many people are unable to quit their jobs due to a number of  reasons. Does that mean those jobs aren't real jobs?  

She said, "If you solve a particularly challenging mothering problem, you do not get a pay increase." I beg to differ.  Our pay as mothers does not come in a weekly paycheck. It comes in the success of our children and their ability to go into the world and solve problems because we've shown them the patience and fortitude it takes to solve those problems. 

She said, "You do not get a bonus once you've read 1,000 books out loud, or kept your kids away from marijuana."  I beg to differ on this point, too.  You do get a bonus when you've read 1,000 books aloud. The bonus is far greater than a few extra dollars in a paycheck. The bonus is the compassion and care your child learns from you in those moments, then takes into the world when they grow up and make it a better place.  And I might add, a better place without marijuana.

She said, " You do not get the Productivity Award when you have another baby."  I'm sorry that Pamela did not get a Productivity Award when she had her babies.  I did get Productivity Awards!  My husband brought me flowers and take-out and bragged to all our family and friends and rewarded my productivity right fine.  My Productivity Awards are in the form of eight birth certificates.

She said, "And you do not get the closest parking spot in the lot if your colleagues like you. Kids are not colleagues, and they don't have to like you."  How much closer of a parking spot can you get than your own driveway? 

Throughout her entire article, the premise for work to be a "job" is for it to pay monetarily. There are many, many people who start businesses in and outside of the home who don't earn money from it for a very long time. Aren't they working a job?  They are.  Her article didn't consider those people.  It should have because if one is going to write about such a broad base as motherhood, their writing has to include all motherhood.

I am a stay-at-home mom and have been for 30 years.  I have eight children. I have home schooled for 25 years and have four years to go in our home school.  But, we are not rich by any stretch of the imagination; far, far from it.  We made choices to go without certain things so that I could stay home and rear my own kids.  My husband has often worked two or more jobs outside the home, while I have raised money on the internet from home from time to time.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a mother and homemaker.  I tell them I am a writer on the side, but that my first job is more important.  The fact that Pamela, and people like her, only define a job as one that earns a monetary paycheck speaks to the sad state of our nation and how materially-focused we are.

Hilary Rosen may not have intended to insult motherhood in her comments about Ann Romney, but she did just that.  One would think that a highly educated woman in today's world would know better than to say something so insensitive and questionable, good intentions or not. 

I have always taken my job as a mother as seriously as any "job" I see out there.  I took it on as a job because I had goals and did my mothering intentionally, not just because I had given birth.   Calling motherhood my job in no way diminishes my role in my children's lives. It makes it better. Calling motherhood my job is not reducing my role into a list of tasks.  Motherhood is not about tasks, housework is about tasks and motherhood and housework are not synonymous. I could call myself a homemaker and that translates into making a home for my family.  But, even that is not reduced to a list of tasks for me because I'll abandon any and all housework when one of my kids calls out for me to come see the latest bird he's spotted in the grove of trees.  The list of tasks can wait when one of my kids wants to go for a bike ride with me.  The list of tasks does not define me; it's not part of the job of motherhood.  Motherhood trumps all tasks.

Motherhood is a job and those of us who do our mothering intentionally with specific goals for ourselves while we invest in the lives of our children do the "job" well and the "pay" and "bonuses" are truly out of this world.

As a Christian mom, the main thing I learned early on is that, from my home, the only things I can take into eternity with me are my children.  I was first an evangelist in their lives and that job has been successful as all eight of my children know Jesus Christ and live for Him.   Because of the vast job description and what it entails, motherhood is the absolute best title for my job and I, for one, DO tell people that's my job when they ask. 

I am a mom.  It's my job.  I am privileged to have had the luxury of being able to stay at home with my kids all day, every day.  The real praise goes to my husband of 32 years, who has worked tirelessly to provide for us so that I could stay home.  He's worked up to three income-earning jobs at once, yet was not an absentee dad.  He sacrificed watching sports, developing his hobby (trains), going out with the guys (he just never, ever did) and watching television so that he would either be providing for or spending time with our kids.  I am one very privileged mom.  If one looked at our bank account, they would not even consider that I live a privileged life.  But, I am, indeed, very privileged.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More on the Mother Hen, or Rather, the Mother BEAR!

This may be hard for men to understand, but God gives moms a fierce sense of protection when it comes to her kids.  This sense, when activated by any type of threat, obvious or subtle, becomes a force to be reckoned with. Even the most quiet, humble mom who rarely says a word will quickly create a resounding boom when it comes to her kids.

Unfortunately, since men do not understand this sense of protection, they tend to minimize it, which leads to attempts to calm it, or make it disappear altogether.  My husband is not among that group of men. He has grown to respect this in me and support it when it arises.  Not all men are so secure in themselves.  Minimizing this God-given sense in women is a dangerous practice.  Women ought to be encouraged to act on it, not minimize it. When young moms, especially, are supported when this arises in them, they develop a strength they, themselves, didn't know they had.

My first lesson in this came when my oldest son was a baby.  By the time he was 16-months-old, he had a baby sister and I had my hands delightfully full.  My oldest was a rambunctious child, always curious and full of energy - even in church.  And in church was where my very first Mother Bear appearance happened.  He was making noise & acting up. I was trying to calm his baby sister.  My husband was preaching and was going to be baptizing some people soon.  Just as I gave up and decided to take the kids out (our church had no nursery at the time), a lady in the church turned around and said to my son, "If you don't settle down and be quiet, I'll put you in that water in the baptistry!" And the Mother Bear was activated.

My response:  "Mark, she will not put you in the baptistry.  That's ridiculous. She will not lay a hand on you." And I said this right in front of her.  Then I turned to her and said, "Please do not lie to my kids."  And I took the kids to the back room for the remainder of the service.

I was not going to have my kids lied to.  I was not going to allow my kids to think that someone else, not one of their parents, had any authority over them in that way. I was not going to have my kids think that putting them in the baptistry was in any way okay under those circumstances.  It might not seem like a huge deal, but I was a very young mom and this was an older woman who had raised kids, and she was a member of my husband's church, so I was thoroughly intimidated.  However, I did not stop to think about being intimidated. My fierce protection of my son overtook my feelings of intimidation and I did what I had to do.  That woman did not speak to me for a few weeks (as women in the church often do to the preacher's wife) but she eventually came around, apologized, and we are friends to this day - nearly 30 years later!

Young moms, listen to your inner, fierce voice when it comes to your kids - or yourself for that matter.  A worse case in point is this article, which describes how a Minneapolis mom left her toddler at a day care, only to get a "funny feeling" when she was pulling away in her car.  Her funny feeling came from seeing a man on the sidewalk.  That's all. Just a man on the sidewalk. But, she got that funny feeling, so she called the day care from her car.  While she was on the phone with them, the line went dead, so she turned her car around and drove back.  What she found was shocking - 3 people shot to death, people she had just left her child with.  Fortunately, her child was unharmed.  This mom deserves praise!  She listened to that inner voice, that funny feeling, that sense that something was not quite right.  She did not minimize it.  She listened and she acted and she did the right thing.

Moms, if someone in your life tells you that you are making too big of a deal over something to do with your kids, ignore them.  If someone tells you that you need to calm down when your Mother Bear has been activated, ignore them.  That inner voice is a gift from God, it is meant to be there. I find it interesting that it's always been men, in my experience, who try to minimize that voice in women.  Perhaps they are intimidated by it, I'm not sure, but listening to our inner voice rather than to a man who is telling us to calm down is, by far, the better choice.


Friday, April 6, 2012

When It Comes to the Kids

Most people who have survived abuse and live victoriously over it maintain that victory by putting a set of policies, or boundaries in place.  As an abuse survivor, I have such a set.  My set of policies has been in place for a great number of years now and has worked well to help me live in victory.  I did my best to base these policies on the Word of God and it's my desire to honor God through them, even when they might not make sense to those around me.  One policy that trumps all others is the policy that my children will not know the fear of abuse.  I decided a long time ago, before I even had kids, that no child of mine would ever fear the way I have because of any type of abuse.  That's not to say they have not feared me over the years when it comes to obedience, but I've intentionally tried to strike a balance between parental authority and abuse of that authority. 

I've spanked them, yet never taken my anger out on them.  I've pulled them by the arm to get them out of harm's way, yet never left a bruise.  I've raised my voice at them, expressed frustration at their actions, taken away privileges, grounded and given them extra chores.  But, I have never instilled in them the fear that accompanies abuse.   I know that fear.  I was raised in the fear. That fear controlled me for a very, very long time, until the Lord Jesus Christ took that fear and replaced it with peace, determination and perseverance. 

In the movie, Flightplan, Jodie Foster's character is a mom and her six-year-old daughter goes missing on a jumbo jet flying at 33,000 feet.  Her entire focus during the movie is to locate her daughter and ensure her safety.  She's doubted, labeled as crazy, handcuffed and restrained, yet she does not ever give up on finding and protecting her daughter.  The incident awakened the Mother Hen in her and once the Mother Hen is awakened, there is no going back.  At the end of the movie, not only does she retrieve her daughter, she also protects her daughter from knowing about the trauma she'd undergone in locating her.  The daughter was drugged by her captors and slept through the entire ordeal.  It ended as a win/win for the daughter because her mom protected her not only from certain death, but from the fear of knowing what had happened. 

This is part of our goal as parents.  Not only do we want to keep our children safe from harm, we also want to keep them safe from the fear that comes with knowing about  harmful dangers they can't control.  Sometimes, this goal is more easily attained than other times.  Sometimes, a mom has to get worked up to accomplish this goal.  Sometimes, she has to have the energy of being worked up to motivate her to keep her focus in rough times or times of threat. 

Word to the wise: Never try to calm a Mother Hen down. It does not work. She needs her enhanced energy to protect her chicks.  She needs that adrenalin rush to fight potential predators.  Attempts to calm her down result in frustration on her part because it invalidates her concern, leaving her feeling like she has to justify herself. Her energy is better spent being worked up so that she can protect her chicks.

When it comes to abuse, I have learned that there are always going to be abusive people in the world. They simply better not mess with my kids.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Forgiveness is in the news. Forgiveness is on talk shows. Forgiveness is prominent in the minds of counselors.  I have heard it touted as the way to move on after victimization with the idea that a person can't move on until they forgive whomever has hurt them.

I disagree.

Forgiveness is hard and vastly unattainable, whether people admit that or not.  The idea that a person has to forgive in order to move on is not an appropriate response to lack of forgiveness.  It is simply not true.  I want to share a few thoughts on forgiveness which I hope will relieve a struggling person if they run across and read this blog post.

I am not against forgiveness, nor do I want to teach others to hold grudges.  My aim is to set the record straight about forgiveness because I see a lot of people being brow-beat by a demand to forgive, without offenders being required to repent.  This demand is out of their reach and they do not need to forgive in order to move on.  That is a worldly, humanistic view, not at all grounded in Scripture.

A few facts about forgiveness:

  • Forgiveness is not ours to demand or require - Daniel 9:9 - "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness."
  •  Demanding or requiring forgiveness further victimizes the victim.  This type of demand goes against Jesus' claim that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:29, 30)  His yoke is easy because He owns our capabilities to forgive, move on and heal.  The key is right there in His Words, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me....."  It is God Who works in us to heal our hearts unto repentance. 
  • Forgiveness requires intent from the unforgiven.  Luke 19:3& 4 talk about forgiving a brother and it states "If he repent, forgive......."  I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins...."  If.  I have seen counselors demand forgiveness even directed toward people who are not repenting.  Repentance is foundational to our faith.  But, we are led to repentance by the Holy Spirit of God.  He leads us to repentance resulting in salvation by faith - faith which He gives.  It's all God, all the time, in all ways.
Based on these simple truths, I do not ever require forgiveness from the people I help.  I am a domestic violence survivor.  I know abuse. I know what it does to a person and what it takes to heal and not live under the cloud of abuse residue.  Forgiveness is not the key to healing and moving on.  The key to healing and moving on is Jesus Christ, the Compassionate Savior Who understands our hurting hearts when we don't feel we can forgive. 

I am not a big supporter of counseling.  My heart is healed from my abuse and I never had any counseling.  My Counselor has been the Lord Jesus Christ from the time He saved me until even now, and really even before He saved me.......and He will remain so.  The healing process takes a different amount of time for each person as He works in us to do of His good pleasure. The key is consistent exposure to solid, Biblical, expository preaching.  Titus 1:3 tells us that God manifests (makes known) His Word through preaching.  It's the preaching, people.  It has been overlooked in counseling circles. It has been scorned, ridiculed and blasted by many mainstream counselors, who may or may not partake of the preaching themselves.  If a counselor was going to practice counseling, yet they did not, themselves, partake of regular, expository preaching of the Word of God, they are disqualified already.

When I do talk to someone who has been abused, I never, ever tell them they ought to forgive their abuser. I know for a fact that telling them they ought to forgive further victimizes them and I am not about to further victimize someone who has already suffered.  So, what do I tell them?  I tell them about Jesus Christ, His compassion, His easy yoke, His understanding of their suffering since He also suffered.   And I tell them that He owns forgiveness.  And I tell them that it's ok to fear; it's ok to be angry; it's ok to feel anything and everything they feel since Jesus knows their feelings and can certainly handle them.

Forgiveness? It's a given when Jesus is the One doing the healing in a person's heart.  Let's not push for forgiveness.  Don't even ask.    Have enough faith to not even bring it up except in the context of what Jesus is capable of - which is EVERYTHING. Jesus, Himself, that great Counselor, will lead their hearts to forgiveness while they are moving on, it won't stop them from moving on - and their inability to forgive will be a thing of the past.  Jesus Christ is perfectly able to handle any and all human emotion, even anger, despair, fear, unforgiveness, etc.  We often act as though our feelings would shock Him and we must lie to ourselves and those around us for His acceptance.  Silly. He already knows the WHOLE truth, yet still loves us all and died for us.  

Imagine that.

Praise be.