Anytime I changed out of my home team uniform of joggers and a tee and entered a room of professionals, or at least people who wore clothing with buttons, I would tell myself I didn’t need to feel inferior. Yet, somehow I almost always did. It wasn’t necessarily the way they made me feel, it was more that, there wasn’t much in common to share. Even though I would give myself a B+ at small talk, inevitably we would roll around to the question…
“So what do you do, Michelle?”
“I, um, keep a bunch of boys from sticking their hands in the toilet, the dog’s water, and each other’s mouths all day.”
Okay, maybe I didn’t lead with that, but I also knew I couldn’t talk all about my boys until eyes glazed over, and they were really all I wanted to discuss. So I would wrestle with some anxiety every year when it was time for my husband’s holiday work party. Always held at a swanky establishment in the city, it was an event I both dreaded and looked forward to for obvious reasons. The time alone with him out of the house was special, it was fun to get dressed up, and the once-a-year manicure was nice; but it almost always felt like too much work especially when our boys were little. The preparation was insanely more than the payoff.
The first hour or so was light and breezy, meeting new people and being in a fancy place. I love the city, the lights, the architecture and the cool venues. I even enjoy the car ride in, traffic included, for a chance to just chat and be together. But as the evening progressed with the conversation, I would be reminded of all the world I had yet to see, the professional life I left behind (even though I never really missed it), and the fact that I was “just a mom” in this season. Sure, I was always writing and creating and volunteering on top of building our life, but in the end I never really knew how to put words to it when I found myself in that environment.
Most everyone was kind and always commented on how remarkable it was that we were out of the house together. And it truly was. Add to it that I was inherently an introvert, so I didn’t have a fear of missing out, I would joke my fear was of being included. Yet, I wanted to so badly say that I have never been more tired, overworked, overlooked or underpaid then I have as a mom.
Even after years of aching to be a mom and the deep knowing that home was where I was meant to be in this season, there was some societal residue of this idea that I was just a mom lodged somewhere deep in my head. I knew that the cuddles, slobbery kisses (when they hadn’t first tried to lick the dog’s water) were the very best form of payment ever (in the middle of raising five teens I remember those mushy kisses so fondly); still there was no review of my performance, no upward movement, not even a glimpse that the work I was doing in our home was making a difference. I knew this would come later and I knew that I couldn’t rely on my own thoughts about motherhood in the midst of my exhaustion. I understood the only way that I was going to uproot that thought for good was to have what I knew and felt in my heart about motherhood to be planted firmly in my head—to not only know my work mattered, but to believe it. I needed to know that motherhood was important to God. Now.
It was the wise words of the blessed Mother Teresa that reframed my perspective. When a wealthy business man asked how he could help changed the world, she famously (or so it has been paraphrased) replied, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”
Maybe she meant to inspire a businessman, but she really wrote a divine call of encouragement for all moms everywhere. She affirmed the purpose and meaning of motherhood.
Motherhood is heart work,
Motherhood is hard work,
Motherhood is holy work,
Motherhood is a ministry.
The world is changed through moms.
I’d like to believe if I paraphrased Mother Teresa’s response to, “If you want to make the world more holy, go home and love your family,” she would be okay with it. Because ultimately our desire should be to make our family more like the holy family and impact the world to be more holy too. When I think of the holy family sacrificial love is the thread that binds them together—
Joseph’s sacrifice of self to stand with Mary,
Mary’s yes and sacrifice of self for Jesus,
And Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to save us all.
Sacrificial love, everything we do in love, is holy.
Every diaper change,
Every 2am feeding,
Every late night poster board run,
Every knee bandaged,
Every birthday celebrated,
Every vanilla-iced coffee run,
Every college tour,
Every 2am phone conversation,
All of it, done with love, is holy. And in the currency of the Kingdom, motherhood is to be treasured.
We’re more than just moms, sweet friend, we are drawing ourselves, our people and our homes toward holiness.
Join the Rooted Mama Movement to stand upon this truth always.