The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Joy, Peace, and Contentment

{The second post in a book study series on The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity.}

Last week, as our discussion of  The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers began, I was struck by something Andrea wrote in the comments. I sort of carried it around with me all week and let it run around in my head and bounce off my heart. She wrote:

Elizabeth it is very helpful to have your perspective, as the homeschooling mother of many, to add to this book.
I just finished reading this first habit and came away feeling as if I can actually give myself permission to investigate my other gifts. I was married at 20 with a baby along 9 months later, I have been nothing except a stay-at-home mama for my entire adult life, the children have come steadily since then and I see no end in sight now - I'm not even 30 yet. Immediately I had to stuff down all of my personal talents, goals, & things that I enjoyed to give myself to my children and husband at 100%. Now that I'm in the legitimate throes of homeschooling as well, it's become even harder to remember the gifts and talents that God gave to define me as a human being. It's really something to pray about.

I don't find competitive thinking toward other women or moms that challenging, I am actually not a very competitive person. But I loved her thoughts on humility, it has encouraged me to have peace with the kind of mom that I am, verses the kind that I think that I should be (perfect in all ways, of course). 

To Andrea, I replied:

Andrea, I've been thinking about this comment pretty much nonstop since you first posted it. I think that for me, my gifts outside of motherhood collided with motherhood pretty neatly. I was a kindergarten teacher before having children and then I quit to stay home and homeschool. Now, I'm on the brink of not having a kindergartner in my home in just a few years. I'm feeling a wee bit of panic. I won't go back to teaching any time soon--I still have lots of children left to raise and educate. But I can see that it's time to begin to explore other gifts or other venues for my passions. And I can see that my passion for early childhood may have to be put on hold for a season (until I return to the classroom or have grandchildren;-).

It's not that I suddenly have oodles of free time because my "baby" is nearly three, but there has been a significant shift and I'm trying to find the grace in the shift. I think for you the challenge is finding ways to utilize your personal talents within your home and mothering, not to stuff them. Don't stuff them! We are warned not to bury our gifts.

I think the other point this brings to light is that everyone's mothering and everyone's homemaking and the crafting of each family will look different--should look different--because we do bring different and unique gifts to the task. So, now matter where you are in your mothering, the challenge is to find the you God created and bring it to your home.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this notion of bringing our unique gifts to our mothering and homemaking experience--whether we are working fulltime outside the home or homeschooling ten children--is necessary and vital to our peace and contentment within ourselves. If we take the time to understand our unique gifts for what they are--God's instruments for us to use for His glory--and then we pour that into the daily round of our loves, we will be content. He will bless that faithfulness. Furthermore, we won't compare and we won't compete. How could we compete? Understanding that we are each uniquely gifted and that we are mothers of children who are each uniquely gifted, we embrace the diversity in our friendships and learn from one another.

At the end of the first chapter, Dr. Meeker shares the wisdom of an older woman. I am learning to see the value of such wisdom more and more. I truly appreciate a mom who has seen this job of childrearing through to full adulthood and who can honestly help me to see my current stage of life from her perspective. When asked how she has the energy to serve cheerfully, Carol, Dr. Meeker's example, says, "It isn't about age. It's not about ability, talent, or even personality. Doing what I do--and I've been doing this for a number of years now--is about attitude. I'm good at helping these folks. I fit here. I was born to help and to love these people. And they need me. I believe that when you love the life you're supposed to be living and you happen on the deep meaning of your life, it works. The energy comes, you get bolder, and you live less fearfully. Knowing who you are and living what you were born to do, that's the good stuff. This is it, right here, right now, and I'm not going to miss it."

Here's the thing: what is the life you're supposed to be living? What is the big picture? To what vocation does He call you? But what are the little pictures, too? What are the things that happen every day that God allows in our lives for our good? Joy--deep down, peaceful joy--comes when we stop struggling against God's will. It comes when we see that though we may be hit over the head with crushing adversity, with things like illness and death and poverty, He is there. It's not that we don't feel disappointment and sorrow. We aren't called to be plastic people with no depth or dimension. We do feel it. We do sorrow. We are empathetic.

But we are faithful. We know, because we have been open to seeing it again and again, that He is always and only good. And that He always and only brings great good out of a bad situation.

I got in the car yesterday and it was literally 100 degrees outside. I can't imagine what it was in the car. And the car stunk. It stunk like cleats, and sweaty shirts, and dirty socks. And McDonald's trash. I had a little pity party. Why am I always surrounded by stink? Why was I  35 minutes late getting into the car to run errands that would certainly require me to stand in lines with grouchy people in ridiculous heat? I reached over to hurl (yes, I'm sure I was going to hurl) a shinguard into the back seat. And there, God had left me a love note:


{Patrick's shinguard.

9/1 was the day Bryce Mitchell died. And it was the day God reached down and made Himself known very personally to Patrick.}

He has a plan and we are at peace when we trust that plan and seek to know His will. Even in the little moments. Even in the car that broke down and threw off the schedule for the whole day. Even in the bad news on the job front. Even in the lost passport that means you can't catch that flight. All grace. The difference between living a life of bitterness and anger and a life of quiet, genuine joy is being receptive to the abundant grace that He pours out to those who trust in His plan. As women, we are uniquely gifted and exquisitely created to be receptive. Can we open ourselves to the Creator himself?

Can we allow Him to truly make of our lives what He intends?


Feel free to chat below (comments are moderated, so it might take some time before you see yours appear), either adding your thoughts here directly or linking to a post on your own blog. Do take a moment to thoughtfully consider the comments on last week's post. There's much to think about there and several links to more food for though.  Now it's time for me to go about the rest of my day, peaceful in the knowledge that God created me for these children and this good man. And that's enough. Really.