Sarah Colligan is a stay-at-home mom of two boys, Liam (4 years old) and Brendan (1 year old). She and her husband,...
The ratio of dust bunnies and dog hair to teeny, tiny Lego parts and sandwich crumbs in my Dyson vacuum cleaner is about equal.
I often get to Friday and realize I haven’t exited the house for the last few days. (We are a one car family.) The house is usually a little unkempt because I put kids before dishes. I don’t think my kids will remember an always-immaculate kitchen or a carpet that is consistently covered with vacuum tracks as much as they’ll remember me sitting down and coloring pictures, having tickle fights, cuddling and watching a funny movie, playing “store” or building gigantic Thomas the Tank Engine tracks with them.
I think it’s more important to give my kids lasting memories than it is to be always worried about how my house appears to others whose opinions don’t matter. I’m a good mom. I have happy kids. It’s not to say that I don’t go on a guilt-driven cleaning spree every week or so, but if the dishes and the laundry pile are calling, and Liam and Brendan are calling, Liam and Brendan win out every time.
Being a mom is fun, but it’s hard. I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t measure up to the 1950’s June Cleaver example. I am by no means slovenly, but I sometimes feel this incredible urge to apply lipstick, put on a frilly apron over my skirt and wear uncomfortable pumps while carrying a giant, Norman Rockwell turkey to the smiling family sitting in my dining room awaiting the results of my hours of culinary labor.
In my weaker moments, I wonder if I’m capable of this lifelong job as a mom if I’m capable of rearing emotionally stable, caring, compassionate, godly children. Right now, Sean, my husband, works 40 hours a week and goes to night school twice a week, so I’m home a lot. And while I love my life as a stay-at- home mom, I sometimes go a little stir crazy, because it’s so cold and snowy and hard to get outside with two little kids, one of whom is not yet walking.
Sometimes I get to the point that, when Sean gets home from work, I lean in close to his face and growl through clenched teeth, “I am going to the store to buy milk.”
He’s good at reading me, so, without a question he tells the kids, “Mommy is going out to buy some milk.”
It’s a good thing that we’re not lactose intolerant because there are times when our refrigerator seems to be overrun with milk! My trips to the grocery store to “buy milk” are sometimes moments of heaven on earth. I dance in slow motion through the aisles to the imaginary sounds of symphonic music, the breeze blowing through my hair.
I’ve learned to be happy, and it took me a long time to feel like I was “enough.”
My husband and I are associate pastors at our church, and we served for five years at TACF as Young Adult Pastors before this. Before that, I grew up a pastors’ kid, so it took me a while to notice that God wasn’t putting the expectations on me, I was. I was allowing my fears of not being liked by church people and my skewed view of my “calling” to dictate how I was supposed to act. I had it in my head what a pastor’s wife was supposed to look like: the perfectly coiffed hair, the pasted-on smile (to mask the burnout and depression), the floral print dress and high-heeled shoes or since renewal, the crisp new jeans.
God is still healing me from the damage I inflicted upon myself with those outrageous expectations; but He’s healing me! Now that I’m a mom as well as a pastor, I am learning to let God be in control. I’m learning to do what comes naturally, in my family and ministry what God speaks to my spirit today.
The other day, I asked God what He’s wanting me to learn through this time in my life. God showed me a picture of a chisel on marble. He showed me how a sculptor makes a masterpiece. He gradually chisels away small pieces of the unnecessary bits of marble to make the image smooth. He does it gradually because with one wrong move the sculpture could crack. God is very precise in his sculpting of our lives, and He turns every circumstance into a learning experience.
I’ve noticed that I tend to look into the future too often. I sometimes think, “When we have another car...” or “When my kids are in school...” and I don’t think of what I can do and learn now. God wants me to take ownership of “The Now” and be content in the moment. The Apostle Paul said, “I know what it’s like to have a lot. I know what it’s like to have little. I have learned to be content in every circumstance.” Focusing on my family now is more important than all the things I may do in the future. I will be held accountable for the things I prioritize.
God doesn’t discriminate between us. He doesn’t say, “This man is more important because he is a prophet.” He doesn’t say, “This woman is more important because she has an international speaking ministry.” The truth is that if you are blessed with the opportunity to be a Christian stay-at-home parent, you are in full-time ministry! You are on the front lines of the battle fighting a war for the future generation. Your mission in the few years you have with your children is vital.
Have you abdicated what is really important in God’s eyes in favor of your need to have more and do more right now? Why are so many kids in our society angry, defiant, sexually active and rebellious? Is it because they don’t feel like they are worthy of their parents’ love? Your children will learn life and parenting skills by your example. So teach your kids that loving God, listening to His leading and being true to themselves is enough. If you are content as a parent, your kids will learn to be content.
Where you are right now is important, and the person God made you to be is enough.
This archived article was written by Sarah Colligan for release in May, 2007. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
Sign up to receive a periodical digest of some of the best content from this magazine.