Ponderings of {This Particular} Stay-at-Home Mom

We hear a lot today about the "mommy wars".  I have to admit, I'm not totally sure what that term means, although I'm pretty sure it has something to do with working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. Frankly I intentionally avoid reading on the topic because the thought just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  *Sigh*

Stay-at-Home Moms in Transition

My mom was a stay-at-home mom during a time of real transition.  When I was very young, very few moms we knew worked outside the home.  They might sell Tupperware, or Avon, but that was about it.  By the time I was in about the 4th grade, though, many more moms were working.  It was about that time that I decided my mom should get a job, too.  A couple of "friends" at school had told me they didn't want to be friends with me because I didn't wear the right kind of jeans. *Sigh*  All the "cool" kids were wearing Luv It jeans from the little children's boutique downtown.  We couldn't afford those; my jeans came from Sears, which was not cool.  My solution: my mom could get a job (like the moms of most of the girls wearing the "cool" jeans) and I could have cool jeans, too!

Other than that brief period, however, I've always been thankful that my mom was a stay-at-home mom, and I decided fairly early on that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom someday, too. 

My life as a stay-at-home mom hasn't looked much like my  mom's, though.   While my mom never worked outside the home from the time I was born until I was in high school, I've done various types of part-time work off and on through the years.  My mom's house was always immaculate; you could literally eat off the floor at most hours of most days.  I am not anywhere near the housekeeper my mom was (and I wouldn't suggest eating off my floor at any time!)   Our family didn't start homeschooling until I was in high school, and I did my work mostly independently with weekly meetings with my dad, so my mom only really homeschooled one child.  We have homeschooled our four children from Day 1, with an age range of 6 years. 

I've also seen the lines blur a great deal between "stay-at-home mom" and "working mom" over the  years.  I have a number of friends who homeschool their children and also work anywhere from a few hours a week to nearly full-time hours.   Some work from home, others have grandparents that help, and still others have older children who work independently.

One Size {Doesn't} Fit All

I've learned that God's plan for each family is different. I am so thankful for the freedom (and responsibility!) we have as parents to seek God's will for our own families and then obey Him in that leading.  We shouldn't do anything just because it is "the thing to do" in our circles, but because through much planning and prayer we've determined God's direction for our family and we are following in obedience. 

I've realized that the real question that should concern me is not whether or not someone is a stay-at-home or working mom, but this: As a mom, am I seeking God's leading with all my heart and living in His grace every moment as I love and nurture and raise my children?

I fail at that so, so often.  And I know that Satan will do whatever he can to get my focus on anything but my responsibility to seek God's power and grace to fulfill His calling for me as a mother.  Some days, that may include discouragement over the areas in which I've not measured up.  Some days, it may involve frustration with my children's failures (not that mine have any, you understand...ahem. :))   

And some days Satan's attack may just consist of getting us all worked into a dither over "homeschool vs. public school", "working mom vs. SAHM", or "tiger moms vs. earth mothers". 

God just keeps teaching me that His plan for each of us is different.  We aren't supposed to all raise our children exactly the same way any more than we are all supposed to look alike.  We are all to raise them "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord", but that may look very different from family to family.

Personal Ponderings...

Did you catch the parenthetical phrase in the title? Ponderings of {This Particular} SAHM?  It's important!  Because all SAHMs are different (as are all working moms), I can't begin to speak for all or even most SAHMs.  I can only speak for this one!  But these are some of my ponderings on this role God has given me.


1. I'm a SAHM by choice.  I have a college degree.  I had a good career.  (More on this in #2.)

2. We couldn't "afford" for me to stay home.  When I quit working full time just before Peter was born, I was making quite  bit more than Billy was.  However, we prayed and felt God's very definite leading that I was, indeed, to be at home.   I still remember visiting Billy at work in the early years and hearing over and over again, "That's nice that you can afford to stay home," or "I wish I could afford to stay home."  These comments were often made by women whose husbands had much higher salaries than Billy. 

But we made decisions that resulted in our living in an old house in an old neighborhood (although we never, ever intended to be in it this long!), driving very old cars (and often only one), and not taking a vacation for 10 years.

As I said, I've worked part time at various times in the years since, but for the most part, we've lived on Billy's income.  That has meant struggling financially at times.  It's also meant accepting (but not asking) for help from others at times.  There have been many times that we have prayed for provision during very lean times, and God has provided for our needs through the generosity of His people.  This is truly humbling.  There have been many other times when we have prayed for specific provision and God has provided opportunities for one or both of us to do some extra work.   We are thankful for those times as well.

We know that we could be living much more comfortably, income-wise, if I were working full time (especially now that we are past the daycare stage), but for many reasons, our priority for our family has been for me to be home. 

Nothing Special
3.  I'm not some "specially gifted" mom for whom staying at home with my children is always a breeze.  Another thing that I heard often when the kids were little was "Well, my kids are better off with me working...I'm not cut out to stay at home all day!"  I remember telling Billy at the time, "I don't know that I'm "cut out" to stay at home all day either, but I'm not here because I'm "cut out" to be, but because I am called to be.  If God is calling me to be home with my children, then He will give me the grace to do it, and for me to say, 'I'm not cut out to do this' is sin."

Although I've failed many times along the way, God has shown me over and over that this mom thing is all part of His process of sanctification, whatever the circumstances.  God's plan for one mom may be to work outside the home...and  if so, all the struggles and difficulties that come along with that are part of God's way of teaching her to depend on Him fully and become more like Him.  God's plan for me has been as a {mostly} stay-at-home mom, and He has used and is still using that role to shape and mold me and cause me to depend on Him totally. 

Soapbox :)

4. My husband is not a babysitter.  I know this isn't exclusive to families with stay-at-home moms, but it seems to come up a lot, and it's one of my soapboxes.  When I'm gone and Billy has the kids, he is not babysitting-he is being a dad!  He's their parent, and he is just as capable in that role as I am...and probably more capable in many ways!  (Bless my children's hearts...they just hope that Daddy's home when they are injured or bleeding...because Mom is no help whatsoever in those situations!) 

And I know this may not apply to all dads, but Billy enjoys being with his children.  When life gets busy and we are all going in different directions, he gets antsy fast.  He craves family time, and I am thankful for that! 

Not "Stuck at Home"

5.  These two go together.  A. I'm not "stuck at home all the time", and B. I enjoy being at home.

First....I do get out of the house on a regular basis (more than I want to, most weeks!)  We have church, I run errands with and without kids, we take fun outings as a family, and as my kids get older, I seem to be running somebody somewhere fairly frequently.  I've always gotten out to go to the grocery store or run errands by myself if I wanted to, although more and more in recent years, I've realized I don't like to go to the store by myself!  I enjoy having one or all of the kids with me, or now that the kids are old enough to be home alone, Billy and I making a quick run to the store by ourselves. 

I also get out with friends fairly often, and would more except that we're all just running different directions much of the time.  Billy encourages that, and is even known for scheduling it himself when he can see that I'm needing it (and even occasionally when a friend is having a rough time and he thinks it would help her to have time with me! Yep, he's a keeper!)  Whether it's a quick trip to Sonic with a friend, craft night or shopping with friends from our former or current churches, or a girls-only road trip (like our trip to Minnesota last year or our trip to Claremore a few months ago :)), I probably get "out" more than a lot of moms.

Second...I enjoy being at home.  Yes, there are days I want to tear my hair out.  Yes, there are days my children drive me crazy (and I them!)  Yes, there are parts of being a SAHM I don't particularly enjoy, and times I am completely overwhelmed. The most overwhelmed times, though, tend to come when I'm too busy outside home.

I'm always thankful when God provides opportunities to help out our budget by working for a period of time, but it's not a good long-term situation for our family. Being employed away from home does nothing for me in terms of feelings of worth or freedom or fulfillment or whatever it is that working outside the home is supposed to do for women.  Mostly it makes me tired and homesick! :)  I'm hoping to eventually be able to supplement our income through less-invasive-to-our-schedule means.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom!  I am thankful for a husband who supports that with all his heart, and for God's provision to enable it all these years.  I am thankful for the blessing of having my children at home, and for the lifestyle learning in which we are all constantly learning.  I'm thankful for the friends who have encouraged and prayed and supported me along the way. 

Most of all I pray that I will seek God's leading with all my heart and live in His grace every moment as I love and nurture and raise my children.

What is your prayer as a mom?  What would you like to share with others about your role as a mom?  Share with us in the comments, please!


Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.  (And if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment below, or drop me a note via the email box in the sidebar. :))


Simple Woman's Daybook {April Edition}

"The good news is that there should be a ton of new content coming in 2014! "  Famous last words, anyone?!  One of my goals for 2014 was to blog more consistently.  As I posted on January 1, I had quite a few posts in draft at the end of 2013, and my anticipation was that that would lead to much new content in the first few months of 2014. 

Alas, we are now into the second quarter of the year, and I have posted a grand total of eight times.  And not once in the month of March!

Time to get on the ball and start posting!  :-D  

It's been a weird few months.  We've been dealing with some med-related sleep issues that have had the whole house in a bit of chaos.  This last week has been SO much better, though.  Many friends have been praying. We are thankful for sleep!  I'm beginning to feel a tiny bit human again. 

There are so many posts...both those languishing in draft, and those still trapped in my fuzzy brain...that I hope to finish and publish soon.  I decided that perhaps the best way to start things off would be with a Simple Woman's Daybook post:

08-09 April 2014
(Yes, it took two days! :))

Outside my window...
Sunny with a few clouds.  Feels like spring right now, but Thursday it's supposed to be over 80*, and Monday it's supposed to be back in the 50s.  Arkansas weather is just all over the map these days! 

I am thinking...
How thankful I am for spring this year!!  I don't know that I've ever been so glad to see spring arrive.  We had some crazy-wild winter weather this year, and this lifelong southern girl got tired of it really fast.  So ready for warmer (although not hot) temps and sunshine and budding green things and colorful blooms!

I am thankful...
for our new Orange Belt!!
Bayley had her first Tae Kwon Do belt testing on Saturday.  She has worked so hard, and this is such a milestone for her.  We are so excited for and proud of her!

I am also thankful for Christ First TKD.  We have prayed for years for an opportunity for Bay to be involved in martial arts/self-defense, and Christ First TKD has been SUCH a huge blessing.  As their creed says, "We are a Christian black-belt school, dedicated to excellence and following Christ on a quest to be the best!!"  We love the Christian focus and are thankful that it is an affordable program. 

In the kitchen...
Working on a goal this month to reduce food waste in our household!  It seems we get to this point occasionally...where life gets crazy, and I don't keep up with things as well as I should, and suddenly we're tossing food.  Not just the occasional leftover, but produce, and bread, and buttermilk, and occasionally...eek!...meat. Then meal planning...and implementing...becomes a major priority until it becomes routine again. 

So far this week, I've cooked three batches of meat...enough for supper Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and freezer portions for 6 meals later in the month.  I've also made buttermilk ice cubes (to preserve some almost out-of-date buttermilk for future use).  Billy is even getting into the challenge...he pulled some foil packs of tuna out of the pantry and tried one yesterday.  Someone (I have no idea who at the moment) gave them to us some time ago, and we've never tried them.  Yesterday we tried the garlic and herb..it was surprisingly good!

I am wearing...
My "Advice from an Owl" tshirt Billy bought me last year.

I am creating...
Order, bit by bit, in our home and in our schedule.  We've gotten so far off track in so many areas recently-time to rein it in and restore order! :) Hoping to post more on some of these changes soon!

I am reading...
Due to the sleep deprivation issues we've been dealing with, I haven't been reading nearly as much as usual, other than "easy on the brain" fiction during some of the late night/early morning hours.  I've recently discovered a new fiction author I'm really enjoying: Alison Strobel.
I'm trying to get back to more "real" reading, though.  Books I am getting back to now include GTD for Homemakers and My Sacrifice, His Fireby Anne Ortlund.

I am hoping...
That our "fence switch" goes smoothly.  There has been a welded wire fence around the backyard of this house ever since I played in it as a little girl.  The city is now requiring that we replace it with chain link or privacy fencing.  *Sigh*  We can't afford to hire a fencing company, so we are doing it ourselves.  I'm a bit anxious about that, as well as sad to lose our current fence.  There is honeysuckle growing on this fence that my grandmother started many years ago, and I love to take pictures of the birds perched on the wooden fence posts.  Glad I have lots of photos to remember it by!

I am looking forward to...
Church on Sunday!  I've missed the past two Sunday mornings due to pain issues and kids' illness.  We didn't have evening service this past week, and the week before that, we had a meeting on our proposed constitution, followed by a fellowship.  The meeting was interesting, and the fellowship was great, but I'm looking forward to worship Sunday morning and then getting back to our Behold Your God study Sunday night!

I am learning...
More and more about the benefits and uses of essential oils!  I'm hoping to do a whole post soon about our experience so far with oils.  So thankful for friends who've shared their experience and knowledge with us, and for the benefits we've seen in our family (particularly with the above-mentioned sleep issues!)

Around the house...
About to dive into some spring cleaning/decluttering/organizing around here! Hoping to do some serious work in the dining room, kitchen, and my bedroom over the next few weeks.

I am pondering...
This week's Behold Your God Bible Study, on the subject of worship.  Pondering these thoughts:
"...the church should answer its many questions about worship by asking, 'What pleases God?' instead of asking 'How do prefer to worship God?'" ((Robert Godfrey)
"Fundamental to offering God acceptable worship is having a correct view of Who He is.
The measure in which we know God is the measure in which we will be able to worship Him.
Instead of spending all our time discussing 'how' we worship, we need to be asking God to help us change the way we think about Him." (Ron Owens)
"Worship might be defined simply as viewing the worth of God (His character and actions) in His Word and responding to that worth in every area of our lives. It involves bending our hearts, minds, and wills. It includes an intentional self-forgetfulness as we become preoccupied with the splendor of His majesty."

More from this study soon!

A favorite quote for today...
"God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependence on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. To live with your ‘thorn’ uncomplainingly — that is, sweet, patient, and free in heart to love and help others, even though every day you feel weak — is true sanctification. It is true healing for the spirit. It is a supreme victory of grace." -- J.I. Packer

Feeling much weakness these days...help me lean harder and harder, Lord! 

One of my favorite things...
My new Erin Condren planner!!  I've wanted one forever, and they went on sale right when I was desperately searching for something to replace my handmade calendar that was about to run out of space.  Because we're headed into a new and somewhat more involved in the outside world season, Billy told me to go ahead and get something good. I carried a thick DayTimer/DayRunner/Franklin planner for years, but for the past few years, our life just hasn't justified something quite so heavy-duty (or expensive!)  With the sale, my Erin Condren planner was a great compromise...not quite as involved as my former beloved refillable planners, but definitely a few steps up from my handmade and make-do versions of recent years.  (Watch for more on my new planner soon!)

A few plans for the rest of the week:
A slow week this week...thank goodness!  School, church, TKD, keeping up with the kitchen, working on the house a bit.  Peter and Bayley are working for a friend for a few hours on Friday, so Em and AG and I have some errands planned for that time.

A peek into my day the last week or so...
New Planner!
Inside new planner :)

Girls at Yellow Umbrella for lunch (with Daddy and Peter, who avoided the photo :)) after our annual homeschool testing
Our Orange Belt!!  So proud!!

Bay and Peter at post-belt testing celebration lunch at La Huerta :)
Bay's celebratory lunch of choice...beef nachos :) 

What about you?  What are you studying in Bible Study right now? Reading any good books? Have a favorite planner you'd like to share? What are you thankful for today? Please share in the comments...I'd love to hear from you!

Disclosure: The above link to the Erin Condren website is a referral link.  If you sign up for her newsletter and make a purchase through that link, I will receive a $10 credit to the site.  :)

Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.  (And if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment below, or drop me a note via the email box in the sidebar. :))