As we approach Mother’s Day, I feel sure many mommas will agree Motherhood through Corona has been both sanctifying and sweet. Our reasons behind these sentiments will certainly vary, but we can likely all agree to have more grace, more empathy and more compassion for every mother wherever they may land on their particular journey. And for this, I am forever grateful.
In the book of Jeremiah, this poor prophet fails miserably in the eyes of what the world (even then) calls success. He is poor, he has no friends and he essentially spends 40 years delivering a message no one heeds. In the eyes of the Lord though, he is obedient and he is faithful. He is a huge success to Him whose eyes truly see.
This Coronacation has taught me more than I ever imagined about my skewed views of success and my own lack of obedience. As a working mom of two young children, these past six weeks have brought immense challenges and shaken up every bit of routine I didn’t even realize I coveted. They’ve shined bright lights on the dark places where my pride and self-sufficiency have been snuggled up nice and cozy for a long time.
But not without a fight.
When my children’s pre-school closed, my office closed and babysitters were no longer an option, we began to adjust. My incredibly helpful husband gave me the morning to work, and I could also squeeze in a couple hours of productivity during naptime. Deadlines were being met. Conference calls were being handled. I even managed to sneak in some homeschool activities for my 4.5-year-old, and my 2-year-old relished the crafts coated in sticky glue and sparkly glitter. We started a rainbow food chart to introduce new fruits and vegetables each day. Potty training the younger one even seemed like a good idea. All balls remained in the air. New ones were seemingly added with ease.
Please don’t be impressed.
With unrelenting pursuit, I filled the uncomfortable unknown by accomplishing tasks to feel some sense of control over this completely out-of-control new normal. I was “doing it all” and believing the lie I could (and should) continue at this break-neck speed.
Until the wheels started to fall off. (Err rather the balls started to drop — lots of analogies here so stick with me.)
Anxiety began to occupy every breath I took. An invisible tyrant of my own creation barked out guidelines of what a day should look like: gracefully handling all work demands without so much as a 30-minute extension, teaching the children something new with patience and gusto, maintaining the perfect house with home-cooked meals and a Bible lesson before bed.
In Jeremiah 18:6b God says, “As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” I’ve always loved this verse since part of my name is Clay, so it’s quite ironic how relentlessly I’ve tried to be the potter. I began to try to mold myself into all these things I absolutely was not created to be. I began to fill my time and my focus with so many tasks, I forgot whose hands were really upholding me. Sure, we can all improvise here and there to be the working mom, to be the stay-at-home mom, to be the teacher, to be the wife … but all at once? All the time?
As the walls and balls began to crumble, I realized I needed help and could no longer maintain the grueling standards I’d placed on myself. Never one to consider myself a prideful person, my newfound sin stronghold popped up at every corner: Oohh so it’s pride who says, “I can finish this at the expense of my children’s fourth hour of TV.” My pride lies, “I can force them to sit and learn this letter to make up for the irritation in my voice at their needs all morning.” Yet again pride whispers, “I can do this. Look at me go.” Pride says me, mine, I can do it myself.
Through tears and gut-wrenching conversations with my husband and through guidance of a beloved biblical community, I realized my priorities were so out of whack I was living in a Dr. Seuss novel of upside down and backwards — and not the good, rhymey kind. Fast-forward through the tears, a lot of time to pray and honest conversations with gracious employers, and I’m now a part-time working mom with a lot more time for my kiddos for the foreseeable future. Responsibilities I once clung to for worth and value have slipped from my fingers, and my fears of financial duress sit idly by as the decision to let God be the potter who longs to take care of me takes over the wheel.
I realize the luxury of lessening of a work load doesn’t apply to every working mom out there, and the gracious flexibility of my employers is not lost on me either. I know this decision is not for everyone! I also realize the stay-at-home mom might not relate and the precious woman dying to have children might see me as ungrateful, but again, our reasons behind the sanctification and the inevitable sweet behind this season will vary … but they’re both there if we choose to see them.
All of this said, I know Corona won’t last forever, and I realize we will attempt normalcy. But I know one thing: I don’t want to re-enter the “real world” unchanged. I am the clay, He is the potter. I pray He uses these surrenders, these realignments of priorities for His glory. I pray He keeps stripping me of my pride (yikes, scary) to where I begin to grasp the sweet gift of motherhood with fresh eyes and start to understand what it means with every bear hug, each failed potty-training attempt, every kissed boo-boo and each peanut butter sandwich. I also pray He leads me to use the gifts He gave me in the workforce for His glory, not as a pedestal to my self-sufficiency or a ladder to a false sense of security.
During this poignant Mother’s Day Week, I’ve never been more grateful to be a mother. No matter what side of the work fence or the fertility bridge you’re currently walking along, we are all on different journeys through sanctification, but we’re all walking with the same sweet God. And while He’s not changing … I hope to goodness I am.
Mary Clay Gupton
Financial Peace University – Online Class
Begins Sunday, May 10
Worried about income changes in the coming months? Financial Peace University is a way to gain wisdom and control over your finances, with deep dives into budgeting, saving, giving and looking to the future. Normally the class costs $129 per family, but we’re making the class available at a pay-what-you-can rate, starting at $25 per family.