Here is my first Torah Women Thursday post. Yay! This is a topic that is quite dear to me. I wrote something a few months back on this and can’t find it anymore. I liked it too but this gives me another opportunity to think on it some more for myself, reminders are good. I am pretty sure it was saved on app on my laptop that suddenly and without warning was no longer compatible on it and I didn’t figure out why it wasn’t working for longer than it probably should have taken me. Backups somewhere are a good idea.
Now, what I am going to say is a personal choice that I made years ago when our children were a lot smaller. This is just something I thought about and decided to change for me, personally. I had seen something about moms and what we call ourselves. I don’t remember much about it but I will never forget how it made me think and reflect. That was the day I stopped calling myself a stay at home mom.
For years, that is what I called myself. After all, I stopped working before our oldest was born. I was taken out of work when I was 34 weeks pregnant for him and haven’t been back since. He is now 18 and I will not be entering the workforce again even after our daughter is grown. I want to continue to be home.
So what changed in my mind? Well, it was natural for me to tell people I was a SAHM. That is after all the whole reason I stopped working to begin with. To be home with our child and raise him full time. I started thinking about why did I refer to myself as that. It made sense to me. I was a mom and that was what I did. However, I started thinking about all the other things I did, my whole identity and what does that mean for my identity when my kids were grown. Even by the time I stopped calling myself a SAHM I knew I would continue staying home after that stage in my life was complete.
Yes, I am a mom who has stayed at home with them, raising them and homeschooling them. I started to think about how I was taking one part of who I was and what I did and using that to identify everything about me. I had my days like every other mother that has struggled with my identity. Everything I pretty much did revolved around them. I stopped doing things for myself. I felt guilty for even wanting to do things by myself or putting something else ahead of them. I had the same problem as so many other women saying “I am ‘just’ a mom”. Yes, housework goes a long with it but I only ever thought of myself as just a mom. Even though that was all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mom since I was quite young.
I am not only a mom, I am a wife, I was a wife before I was a mom and will continue to be a wife after the kids are grown. So why did I only ever say I was a mom? I think so many of us put so much into our kids that we forget all of our other aspects of our identities. It is easy to get burned out, frustrated, feel the monotony and stress of always trying to be this perfect mom. We can feel guilty when we put anything in front of them, especially when we encapsulate our entire identity as being a mom. I am not only a mom, I am a wife, homemaker, crafter, book nerd, love the outdoors, music lover, trying to learn the piano, homeschool mom,trying to learn to cook better, want to take better care of my body, a daughter of The Most High among so many other things. Adonai sees us as so much more than just a mom, so why did I limit myself by only calling myself a mom?
Part of the problem I noticed about myself back then and I know many, many women do too is that we wind up putting our kids first. Of course there are times it is impossible not to based on their age and seasons and etc. What I am referring to is that we put our children ahead of our husbands way more than is necessary, at the expense of our husbands. We get so caught up in training them, teaching them and rearing them that we wind up revolving everything around them. Our husbands and our marriage has to come first. There are a lot of women out there who tell their husbands that they will be higher on their list when the kids are older. How is that even feasible? What is that going to do to your marriage if your husband is not a priority to you? How would we feel if he said well, you will have to wait for romance and sweet gestures until the kids are older, they are our only priority right now…. that would feel TERRIBLE. No one should be put last in that way and put off for years. But many, many couples do this. Putting each other last and not making each other a priority and thinking of your marriage FIRST; what will that all be like when the kids are grown? What will even be left of your marriage? If you think that you can just pick up where you left off after years of neglect, you are sadly mistaken and will be in for a rude awakening. The damage will have been done and will need quite a bit of work at restoring that but isn’t impossible.
Being a mom is not a social status but that is how a lot of women treat it. That is where the “just” a mom comes from. Society does not value moms who stay at home so we say ‘just”. We get bombarded with: Don’t you want your own money? What if you divorce? Aren’t you bored? How do you put up with your kids all the time? When are you going back to work? Don’t you have any ambitions? You’re held back. Why are you wasting your talents? You can even be accused of leeching off your husband! The list goes on and on. Women who only have their identity in being a mom sets themselves up to feel lost when the kids are grown. We tend to put so much of our identity of who we are into being a mom to the extent that when the nest is empty a woman can be left so utterly lost and an emotional wreck. If you are a wife first and mom as a close second then we won’t be lost when kids are grown. If we invest in our marriage and kept it where it should be then when the nest is empty we at least have each other with the marriage still a priority and you can now cope together adjusting to this new stage in life.
I have seen women say that if your kids don’t come first you are a bad mom. They disagree with putting your husband first. I think they misunderstand what is actually meant by your husband has to come first. Some might know what it means and still feel like a husband should come after. I disagree with that sentiment and I think that is very dangerous territory to have the mentality that he can wait until you are done raising the kids. There is no way that is good for a marriage to put it on the back burner for years. I’m pretty sure it would be safe to say that if she were told ok, well, no more romance, no more flowers, no more cuddles, no more dates, no more being a priority to him that she would be pretty upset at that. I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t be.
I call myself a housewife now, on occasion I say a homemaker but I mainly refer to myself as a housewife. I manage the home, the kids and I am a wife. I am multi-faceted. Not always very good at it but calling myself a housewife puts my thinking in the perspective I want it to be in. I am a wife first and that also entails taking care of and training the kids. It keeps me in remembrance that my marriage is my first priority. When your marriage suffers, the whole family suffers. When you put your spouse on the back burner it does affect the home. Always or too often telling our hunny whether in words or actions that they are not a priority to us hurts us too, whether we know it or not. We know that because when we are not a priority to them, it doesn’t feel very good.
I am not saying that you don’t ever put your kids first, not at all. Every day we have responsibilities and tasks we have to do that is all about them. As it should be. We have to raise them, love on them, be silly with them, read to them, spend time with them, cuddle them, take the time to do things with them, teach them, clean them and every one of the 5 million things we have to do that is kid related all the time. That is not at all what I mean. But if we don’t make our marriage a priority and invest in it what will be left of our marriage by the time the kids don’t need us to do these things anymore?
This is one of my little ways that I have chosen to think of myself. I am pretty sure my husband enjoys hearing that I think of myself like that. I have talked extensively to him about these things. He knows all about the identity struggles I have had and he has been so helpful and patient towards me not only defining myself as a mom who shouldn’t be doing other things because of the mommy guilt. He knows all about my abandonment issues I have had due to my mother leaving when I was a baby and the issues I have had to overcome as well from being raised in a home where I was a burden and treated very poorly by my father and grandmother. I know what it is like to not have a mother who chose not to be there. I know what it is like to not be a priority. I know what it is like to want to be a much better parent than what I experienced. I am telling you, your kids will appreciate that they are in a loving home with parents who make themselves a priority in the proper unselfish context. Our kids know they are a priority to us AND they know that their father and I have made each other priorities. They understand the importance of nurturing your marriage and how important it is to us. They know they are priorities to us. They understand how our FAMILY has to come first before everything else as well. We hope they have these same desires for when they are married and have families. Their families ought to come first and their spouses need to be a priority. We think they get it. They both even go out of their way to make sure we have time so we can just be together. They encourage us to have “date time” and alone time. It is far easier now for most of it because of being older at almost 14 and 18 at the time of this writing. When they were younger it was harder, we adjusted everything to the season we are in. Some seasons we had to work harder at it than others and put in more effort. I did make the mistake when the kids were little of not putting their father first, a lot of that was my background and going to the extreme of pouring myself into them so deeply that my poor husband got my leftovers for way too long. I had to learn that it did not make me a bad mom.
I am not telling other moms to stop, not at all. I do not think poorly or have any negative feelings towards women who do say they are a SAHM. That is not the point of this. At the very least remembering our identities goes far beyond just our kids helps with so many other things. Now that they are older I am comfortable taking the time to do things that I have come to love and not sitting there twiddling my thumbs because they no longer need me in the same ways and I now don’t know what to do with myself. I have heard many moms tell me about their own struggles and how they just didn’t know what to do with themselves when things changed with their kids as they grew. I didn’t want that to happen to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have struggles of my own from time to time or that I don’t ever forget and put my husband last because I am distracted with things I don’t need to be. Ugh, guilty of that one.
I am a housewife who is striving to glorify and honor Yah with everything that I am doing. Yah needs to be absolutely first, then hubby is my earthly first, then the kids closely after. We are doing His work and glorifying Him in not only in being a mother but also in all the minute details of our household tasks, dirt, diapers, errands, cooking, loving our kids, loving our husband, our marriage, running our homes, homeschooling our kids, studying His word, everything we do. What we are doing matters to Yah and that is what matters, not some made up social standing of “I am “just” a mom”. We are so much more than that. He sees us as so much more than just mothers. I am a HOUSEWIFE, that encapsulates all of a woman’s work. What a blessing it is!
Until next time!