I have heard a lot of home-based moms talk about the “lonely season” of motherhood. I want to start by saying I understand where that comes from. When we live in a culture that marginalizes families and downgrades mothering, it is easy to feel alone. We start to ask ourselves, “What do I do all day? Is it worth it? Why do I do it? Would a day to day job be better?” I think every mom has a moment (or many) when they are all alone and question themselves, “Am I really cut out for this?”
When I want to answer that question, I look back to my time in the corporate world. I loved working at Target. I really did. I worked with awesome, smart, funny and interesting people. I was also good at it. I was promoted on a regular basis. I was happy with my pay. I had the chance to work on things that were really exciting. Somewhere, in the back of the closet in a big plastic tub of stuff I call keepsakes, I have an award plaque signed by the then-CEO for my contributions to a big project.
But those times I stayed at work late, the times I stressed out over getting something done, well…you know what? I don’t remember what those things were now. I can guarantee the leaders that I was working for don’t remember it now either. The director I worked for six years ago does not go to bed at night thinking, “Lord, I’m so thankful that Sarah finished that big report I needed for a 10 minute meeting with a senior vice president back in 2009. She spent so much time on it and I know she worked as hard as she could on it. What a blessing. I am so thankful for her contributions.”
In very stark contrast, when my three year old goes to bed at night, I prompt her to tell God what she is thankful for. Almost every night, she immediately says, “I am thankful for MOMMY!” When people ask my five year old if she is in school, she proudly tells them, “Yes! I am in kindergarten. I have the best teacher.” You guys, she is talking about me. ME! No accomplishment in any career setting could ever bless my heart like that. My one year old asks for “ups ups” about 1,589,293 times per day and yes, my arms get tired. But I am the one that gets to see his big smile when he gets so proud of himself for communicating what he wanted as I pick him up and squeeze. These are the bright spots, affirming each step God has purposed for us has been worth it. Any moments of loneliness or lack of recognition or questions about my mothering ability vanish.
I know it is not always bright. About a year ago, I probably was in the most lonely situation of my life. It was our first rainy season (aka winter) in Seattle after living here about six months. My kids were 4, 2, and 5 months. My husband was still pretty new in his job and working long-ish hours, although thankfully I didn’t have it nearly as bad as some of the Amazon widows I have heard about. My block had no other young kids and all moms who worked outside of the home. All my family and close friends live 1,700 miles away. My mother in law was recovering from surgeries and needed some extra help at home. We were starting to get involved with our church, but were still in the “dating” phase of relationships.
Here is what I discovered. Mothering loneliness – is it a season? Maybe. But does it matter? No. My loneliness is temporary and fixable. The work I am doing as a mother is immeasurably more valuable than a fleeting feeling. The discipleship that I am so blessed to do day in and day out has eternal rewards. Did you catch that? Eternal.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
When that temporary feeling of loneliness crept up, I didn’t let it overtake me. I could not. I held onto the promises of God and kept driving forward for the benefit of my little ones. And God was faithful. So faithful. He answered our prayers for a house near our church. Once we moved, acquaintances became close friendships with the help of proximity. It is so much easier to walk three kids one block to the park than to pack them all up in car seats and get them in and out of the car! He lead us to service opportunities at church and authentic community to share our time with.
If you are in what you would describe as a season of loneliness, do not give up. Focus on what matters (doing good) and you will reap of harvest of blessing from that. Mothering can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.