Identity Crisis7:52 PM
No matter who you are, no matter your skills, competencies, intelligence, education, background, prior salaries and bonuses, no matter how great you are at building a spreadsheet or making things happen in a corporate environment -
if, like me, you voluntarily step out of that working environment in order to stay home full-time with your children, the odds are good that you just might have a crisis of identity every now and then.
It has been almost six years since I began staying home with Brooklyn and now August and Dorien, and I have no regrets. I absolutely believe with all my heart that God wants me here. He made it abundantly clear that this was His plan for us.
That does not mean, however, that every day is peaches and cream or chocolate and bon-bons. What it DOES mean is that I don't get paychecks or bonuses that make me feel like I've really accomplished something, that validate me.
It means that instead of wearing suits and heels and feeling professional and put-together, I very often go all day without taking a shower, I rarely put on make-up and I wear clothes that aren't necessarily something I want to be seen in outside the house. I do realize that it's a good thing to look good for your husband and I do try to look good for him, but my image is certainly not what it once was on a daily basis.
Instead of striding confidently down a workplace corridor, I am more frequently corralling my rascally kids in the aisle of my local Kroger.
Instead of sorting documents and reports and printing out things I've prepared, I'm usually sorting socks, underwear, jeans and cloth diapers.
Instead of being surrounded by competent, intelligent people with whom I discuss financial ratios, business plans and strategies, I am surrounded by people under 4 feet tall with snot dripping down their noses until I wipe them. Little people who need their diapers changed, their bums wiped, their meals prepared, their quarrels mediated, their clothes picked out.
It means that instead of running to Boulevard to get their soup of the day, I eat lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Instead of coffee every morning, I am lucky if I get a chance to make myself a pot of hot tea.
Instead of working later than everyone at the office, I am up later than everyone in my house doing that last load of laundry or picking up the last few toys that the kids missed.
Instead of having adult conversations, I am privileged (and frequently amused) to hear the most imaginative tales of doctors and nurses, unicorns, dragons, princesses and animals drifting along the breezes in my house.
I used to marvel at women (in my previous life) who would crave the companionship of other adults, for I was usually all to happy to be alone with my husband at the end of our days. Far away from other adults. And while I still wouldn't say I crave adult companionship, I have definitely learned the value of a like-minded adult woman who gets where my life is these days.
The past few weeks, I have been in a slump. It probably has something to do with a month of various bugs and viruses and something to do with the wrapping up of our first semester of home school and something to do with the fact that my husband's been away on business more than usual and a whole lot to do with the fact that I haven't had a chance to really talk to my best friend in several months.
I started losing sight of who I was and began to wonder whether things made sense at all. Was my life anything more than Chief Cook and Bed-Maker? Queen of the Vacuum? Lady of the Laundry? Master of the Medicine Cabinet? Mistress of Money-Management? I was really beginning to wonder who I was and was it worth anything at all.
Just as I burrowed deeper and deeper into the Depths of Despair, I found myself telling Kyle how desperately I needed time with my dearest friend, Emily. And as the Lord is not only sovereign, but also kind to me, I got a text from her that very morning. I responded with the eagerness of a drowning person snatching at a life preserver. We set up a date for today. I planned my school week so that today would be an Off Day and I looked forward to our visit.
Emily's kids are girl, boy, boy, just like mine. And a year ahead of each of mine, almost exactly. And they blend together like peanut butter and chocolate. In other words, perfectly.
Emily and I spent today together (with our children), from 10 - 3:30, pouring out our hearts and lives, thoughts, frustrations and challenges. We compared notes and encouraged each other. We hashed out details and listened to each other. I think we each were encouraged to remember why we are here in this phase of our lives: because God called us to these roles at this time in our lives. We were reminded that it truly is a privilege and an honor to be able to stay home and raise, as well as personally educate, our children. And no, it is not without its challenges and frustrations, but is anything?
I walked in the door of her house a woman in crisis. I left her house feeling rejuvenated, encouraged, uplifted, optimistic and with a renewed sense of purpose. I was reminded of the awesome power of friendship. Of the healing power of time together. Of God's desire for His children, particularly mothers, to bask in the fellowship of other believers walking similar paths. It's good to know we're not traveling these paths, working so hard uphill (frequently feeling like it's as black as night all around us), all alone.
To reach out your hand in a moment of humility and helplessness and feel another hand grasp yours firmly - it is enough. It is good. It transforms an identity crisis into an identify affirmation.
The journey is no less challenging, but I remember who I am and why I'm here.
God is good.