I was sitting here in my melancholy–some reasons valid, others, not so much–and I asked myself what potentially marketable skills do I have that, when combined with anxiety and introversion, would contribute to our single-income large family. I have been substitute teaching, but that is sparse and hardly lucrative. I hate and/or am terrible at selling things, talk a lot, get bored easily, and can type like a mad-person.
But then I got distracted and remembered this:
While sitting in a line of cars waiting to leave my daughter’s school, I took a picture of a serial killer’s jackpot.
Imagine this conversation:
Builder’s Assistant: How can I assist you?
Serial Killer: I’d like to ask you about your basements.
Builder’s Assistant: Sure! What would you like to know?
Serial Killer: Are they soundproof?
You can imagine how full and lengthy was my laughter.
You may be wondering how a serial killer relates to being a stay-at-home-mom, but if you have to wonder, you’ve never been a SAHM to many children.
Sometimes as mothers, working or non-, we devalue ourselves because of what we can or can’t do. Growing up, I was largely self-sufficient–an emotional and mental mess, surely, but kept it to myself (with an occasional meltdown to my mother), and have continued to do so as an adult.
Self-care is self-ish, self-maintenance is self-absorbed, self-denial is biblical and honorable, especially when it comes to children. But I wonder– how can one resolve to give to others, give to children, give to the world, if the vessel is empty? Have you put your self in a basement? Or for a clever pun, in abasement?
What do you love about you that you are afraid to bring into the open, out of the dark? What have you locked away in storage that time and family and obligations have saturated with demand? You don’t have to make money with it, don’t have to be famous for it, don’t have to even share it, but what do you do or like that you determined long ago was not a priority or relevant to your well-being? I am a believer that God created us in a way that is conducive to our survival, and that while He doesn’t choose to use all of our talents, they can be great gain for our personal story.
Believer in God or not, we all know the world proper has told us what is important– money, productivity, status, youth, etc. There’s not a day that goes by we aren’t reminded of this. Art, music, even quiet, have all lost their virtue to the soul. Alone-ness is pariah to a society of social competition and visual demand.
‘Be Still and Know That I am God.‘
– Psalm 46:10
What is ‘knowing God’? In the Hebrew, the word ‘knowing’ in this verse is יָדַע , or ‘yada,’ which is the same root word that is used in describing the intimate relations Adam had with Eve. So, ‘to know’ is the intimacy we have with our Creator. In some translations, ‘be still’ is presented as ‘cease striving,’ an indicator of our litmus of self in relation to whatever causes distress.
For a mother, this is tantamount to the pressures of wife, single-parent, nurse, chauffeur, psychologist, teacher, janitor, cook, manager, CEO, financial adviser, and terrified driver’s ed instructor.
Learn that guitar, bust out those art pencils, belt out a song, watch zit-popping videos, cook only yourself a gourmet sammich, read that long-shelved book, or whatever it is that makes your heart beat fast. You can’t have יָדַע with God if you haven’t first ceased striving, so how much do you think you will be able to with your children, partner, or the people you come into contact with every day?
You also need יָדַע with your self. There’s a false and dangerous focus on self that is perpetuated under the guise of wisdom, and that is not what I refer to here. But there is certain and detrimental need for mothers to remember that you were, in fact, created. You have dignity, worth, and honor– just figure out whose parameters you’re using to measure.
Peace be with you, comrades.