Saturday, February 7, 2015

Am I Just a Mom?

This post is probably not about what you think. Since the concept of Republican Motherhood, Americans have loved to discuss the place and value of mothers (stay at home or not). Many eloquent words have been spoken already on that subject. This is about something different.

When you are a stay-at-home mom (I think this probably applies to working moms, too, but I have no experience there), it is easy to be constantly in "mom mode." Even when the babies are asleep, you are making lists, multitasking chores, worrying about something. Perhaps because it is a job that never sleeps, being a mom can easily be all-consuming.

Then the Internet is full of talk about mothers, from Mommy-wars to inspirational Pinterest quotes, from heart-warming commercials to Gwyneth Paltrow's comments on working moms. It's all there. A constant barrage of ideas on what motherhood is or isn't, should or shouldn't be. So now you have a job that never sleeps combined with an endless stream of input on whether or not you are doing well at that job and how you could be doing it better.

Do you find it exhausting? I do. And I am also in danger of thinking that I am just a mom, that being a mom is all I am and all I will ever be. Or--even more dangerous--that being a mom is the most important part of me. Have you seen a mother who gripped so tightly to her identity as a mother that she never seemed to let her children grow up? And when they finally did pull away, she had no idea what to do with herself?

I am a mom. Even when my children move out, I will still have been a mom. It is forever a piece of who I am. I am also a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend. Or I could describe myself in other ways. I am a college graduate, a paralegal, a homemaker, a sewer, an avid reader, an Alaskan. All of these things say something about me, about my past, about my future even. Yet none of them say who I am.

Being a mom describes my relationship to other human beings, just like being a wife or a daughter does. These relationships are hugely important in my life. They have shaped and will continue to shape me as a person. Yet if I take one of those as my identity--as the description of who I am at the core--then I am bound to end up very broken. Because children grow up. Marriages end. Parents pass away. It is harsh, but it is the truth. If I am finding my sense of self in one of these relationships, there will come a day when I no longer know who I am. When I am lost. When the rug is pulled out from under me and I am left lying flat on my back with no idea how to get up.

My identity must be found outside of human relationships. My identity must be found in something that can never change. My identity has to be permanent, eternal.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28 ESV) 
"Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." (Colossians 3:11 ESV) 
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:1-2 ESV)
If you know Jesus, then you are a child of God. That is the identity to which I cling. Everything else can and will change. I will not be a wife or a mother in Heaven. But I will still be a child of God. That is true. That is everlasting.

So on those days when you don't even want to be a mom and on the days when you are overwhelmingly grateful and humbled to be a mom, remember that you are always more than just a mom.

"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light."(Ephesians 5:8 ESV)

Walk as a child of light, moms. Walk as a child of light, wives. Walk as a child of light, daughters. Walk as a child of light, women.