This week I find myself burning some ships of my own. I have taken one more very solid step into being a stay at home wife and mom. While I do not believe that every woman is required to be a full time stay at home mom, I do believe that every woman is called to care for her specific husband and kids. To give my best care to my specific husband and kids, it is super important that I stay home full time. For me, being a full time stay at home wife and mom is a continual practice in the reality of dying to self.
You see, once upon a time I was a successful educator, training other teachers, and feeling fully alive in my profession. Then I married my (amazing) husband, had two (awesome) babies within the first 2 ½ years of marriage, and grappled with letting go of my identity as professional educator and adopting my reality of staying home full time.
I realize that the sheer ability to stay home is a privilege. And I do not take for granted that I’ve been given the privilege of staying home full time with my kids. However, as much as it is a privilege, it has also been a struggle for me to live contentedly in my new reality. I definitely do not get the same accolades nor do I get the same marks of success that I once did in a professional setting. I often do not feel as important as I did when I went to work every day.
However, I feel peace in my new current life position because it reflects truths I believe at my very core. I believe that it is my responsibility to love God, love my husband, and love my boys in that order and before everything else. Throughout Scripture, God talks about women taking care of their homes and families. Some women can do this well and work outside of the home. I am not one of those women. Or rather, I should say, that my family is not one of those kinds of families.
Not only am I in a season of processing and transforming many things in my own heart (with said process requiring much prayer time and listening to the Spirit), but I also have a family that needs me to be fully present. My husband has a non-traditional work schedule. My boys are both under three years old. Just these facts alone are enough for me to see the practical side of my staying home. The emotional reality of my family is even more convincing. My husband loves for us to be together in our life pursuits. For me to love and care for my husband well, it means being purposefully engaged together with him in our life direction. One of my sons struggles with some moderate anxiety. This anxiety makes it vital to maintain a secure, peaceful, and consistent environment. More than even our practical realities, these personal/relational/emotional realities solidify the importance of my staying home.
So, with that, I’ve opted to lay part of my identity down this week. You see even as I’ve stayed home, I’ve kept my Nevada state teaching license current (just to have in my “back pocket”). Now is the time that I should start working on continuing education classes if I want to keep it current for another five years. I’ve held onto this safety net, this identity so tightly, even registering for classes for this spring. The truth, though, is that unless a devastating reality happens in our family, I do not foresee myself going back to formal classroom teaching any time in the next decade. So, to invest lots of time and money to keep something current that I am not going to be using any time soon, is really rather self-focused of me. It’s as though in my mind, as long as I have my teaching license, I am valuable and important…I am not “just” a stay at home mom. It’s been really eye-opening to see that I, myself, struggle with the identity of being a stay at home mom, even though I fully believe in what I am doing.
Now, of course, I recognize the wisdom of having a developed skill that can be put to use. I am all for that. In fact, should I need to teach again, there are steps I can take to reinstate my license. But for the moment and the [extended] foreseeable future, I will not need that license. To maintain that license would take a lot of energy away from the current priorities God has already placed in my life.
So, I took a deep breath last night and cancelled my classes.
I woke up this morning feeling the freedom and reserve to invest more of my heart into my stay at home reality. There are things I’ve wanted to work on with the boys, things that I now have time to plan and prep. I now have the “life space” to work on my book as soon as my editor finishes it. I can throw myself into planning the three to four retreats my husband and I have running through our minds right now. It’s scary to “burn the ships,” but it is also so freeing to know that I’m not holding on to a way out from this life that I am in right now. I feel the freedom to throw myself into my current reality of stay at home wife and mom. And it is good.