While Jamie was on a much needed “moms-need-to-get-away-to-remain-sane” weekend, I held down the fort. The days had a little drama, but mostly a lot of fun. I didn't actually lose anyone, the kitchen was swept, and believe it or not the dishes were done. (let's not talk about the laundry). Jamie was gone since Thursday, and I'm honestly so glad when she has the rare chance to get away from the day in day out of being a mom. It's great for her.. And it's great for me.
Everytime she leaves for a short trip, my eyes are opened even more to the weight, calling, and busyness that goes with being a mom. As I've been cruising in the loaded-down Excursion, doing homework, organizing mail, sweeping the kitchen, reading to every kid, and staring down an overflowing laundry basket… I've had lots of time to think about Jamie. And all moms really. I'm convinced that we have a serious “mom problem.” Let's just say it out loud people… we have a problem with moms being seriously under-treasured and under-appreciated.
Full disclosure… I don't know how to fix the problem. Unfortunately, I'm only stating the problem… (give me a break, i've been busy!) But, I'd like to offer four points in my manifesto — “THE MOM PROBLEM”
1 — MOMS RARELY GET EDIFICATION. Let's be honest. Stay-at-home moms get no applause; they rarely get any affirmation that they are treasured. Working dads get it readily. They are edified by the verbal praise of co-workers or supervisors, They are reminded of their value every time they produce, lead, or create something. For me, every time someone buys a song on iTunes or sends an encouraging email, there is an instant sense of “being valued.” Every fully scheduled week on iCal or busy season of travel and recording… well, it subtly implies that I'm being effective and doing something worthwhile. Granted, sometimes this is a false sense of value, but my point is this — moms aren't ever edified by people, projects, or what they produce. and that's just not right. Mom's don't get to see the fruit of their mom-projects. They don't get encouraging emails from their kids. There's no quick return, kick-back, pay stub, or approval given to moms for their countless hours of toiling and working. And in too many ways, moms find themselves discouraged and undervalued, as if their job is less important or validating as their husband's. This is a problem.
2 — MOMS FEEL STUCK. Again, let's be honest. When most of your life is spent in a mini-van driving the same path 1,000 times, it feels a little boring. When most of your life is spent cleaning up the same messes 1,000 times, loading the dishwasher 3 times a day, and keeping the washing machine constantly spinning, it feels a little… confining. I felt it. And I was only running solo for 5 days. As soon as the dishwasher was unloaded, the sink was full. Dear. Lord. On Friday, I made 3 round trips to the school that is 7 miles from our house. That's 42 miles, 3 hours of driving in traffic, 1/2 of which had complaining kids in the back. At home, the healthy schedule to keep kids on track slowly turned into something so mundane, that I couldn't help but feeling a little “stuck” this week. Mom's need a release from the mundane. They need a jolt of spontaneity to kill the rigorous routine that comes with momhood. Working dads get it regularly. It's no biggie for me to go have lunch with a friend in the middle of the day. I don't think twice about staying up super late to work on music in the studio. But moms rarely have the option of doing anything spontaneous, and it leaves them feeling stuck.. and feeling stuck usually leads to boredom, apathy, and resentment. This is a problem.
3 — WEEKS WITH DAD ARE FUN, WEEKS WITH MOM ARE JUST NORMAL. Let's be honest again, people. When it's just dad holding down the fort, all rules are off. We eat out more than we can afford. The laundry stacks up. We miss sports practice, we resort to buying school lunches, and we show up to school late every single day. We rent expensive movies on Xbox, we stay up late, we forget to take care of our black kid's hair, and we all wear the same clothes multiple days in a row. Dads are considered heroes because s they “run the house” alone for a few days. Friends come out of the woodwork offering help and empathy for having to handle all the kids alone. But, moms get NONE of this. They don't do eating-out-spending-sprees just because dad is gone for a few days. They don't get the freedom to just let it all go for a few days. They don't have countless people texting and calling to see if they need something since their spouse is out of town. Why? Because dads are applauded for being daring enough to do what they should do, while moms are taken for granted and simply expected to get crap done. This is a problem.
4 — MOMS HAVE A HARDER TIME LOVING JESUS. Ok, last one.. again.. let's be honest. I love Jesus. And what helps foster that love for Jesus is a daily routine of solitude, reading, and praying. It's built into my calendar. I have a quiet office, a nice comfy chair, and an hour of time that is reserved only for reading the scripture and praying. I've found that to be crucial as a follower of Jesus and a pastor to people. But one thing I noticed this week is that it's darn near impossible to have that sort of rhythm when you're a full-time mom. There is no office to go to. There is no quiet, comfy chair without the interruption of anyone. When the schedule is filled with everything that it takes to keep the house and family running smoothly, it's almost impossible to quietly sit at a table with Jesus and His Word. Instead, I sat at the dining room table with my moleskine and Bible yelling at kids for drawing on the table and playing swords inside the house. And when the day was done and kids were in bed, I was so tired that I just wanted to sit on the couch and fall asleep watching Chopped. No doubt, moms definitely have a harder time being still and quiet, scheduling time for the one necessary thing: to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen. This is a problem.
Ok, I started by saying I have no resolution, but I have to say just a few things. If Jamie (or any mom) were to write this exact blog it would be seen as “a mom bitching,” but somehow I'm getting away with being honest. So let me take full advantage of your ear, offering a few things Jamie and I have incorporated into our life to address our apparent “mom problem.”
1 — Mom needs to go away. We try to make that happen a few times a year. Just to let her GO and not be stuck. And this is on ME to make happen.
2 — Mom needs to be with Jesus. There are many times in the day/week, where Jamie needs to drive to Thunderbird Coffee and be alone reading her Bible. There are many times in the week where I cook dinner while Jamie goes to my office in the studio to sit and be quiet. And this is on ME to make happen.
3 — Mom needs to hear how big of a dent she's making with her life. She's not going to hear it from her selfish 8 year olds. She's not going to hear it from reading a blog or watching a movie. She needs to hear it from her husband. This is on ME to make happen.
4 — Mom needs to find her complete worth in Jesus. Wow, this has to be so freaking hard. I can't even pretend to understand all that goes into being a mom. But, I do know this. Whoever we are, whatever we do, however much we struggle, we all must find our total identity and worth in Jesus, alone. Moms can't find their worth in their pro-bono parenting job. They can't find it in their husband or the number of miles they drive in their car. They can only find value and worth in being a daughter of God… and beloved child of a loving and merciful Father, God. And once again, as Jamie's husband and pastor, this is on ME to remind her constantly of her standing as God's daughter…deeply loved, treasured, and valued.
My manifesto. There it is.
Aaron, you and Jamie are blessed to have one another! You hit the proverbial nail on the head with this post!
It is one thing to recognize these important details of the struggles of good wives/moms and write a truly awesome post about them. It is another thing to voice the responsibility of the husband to HELP and say it’s “on me” to make sure that follow through happens. This is Ephesians 5 tangibly lived out. THIS I commend you for and hope that somehow more husbands will read this post and step up to the challenge of living it out… Good stuff…
It takes a real man and a strong leader to write a post like this. I applaud you Aaron, one for getting into the trenches so Jamie could get unstuck, and two for using it as an opportunity to gain a valuable perspective and share it with others. You were so right about so many important things that even women have a hard time articulating and if they did, like you said, would come off as “bitching”.
I’d like to add something as a parent who is a few steps ahead of you and James…when you said “moms aren’t ever edified by people, projects, or what they produce”, you were only part right. Kids can be selfish, bratty, demanding, ungrateful little punks. But when parents pour into them the way you and Jamie are, they are your projects and you are producing people who will one day be thankful and loving and generous and who love Jesus. Yes, it’s a long wait…but so worth the sacrifice of feeling stuck and underappreciated and bored and used up…when you see your grown kids serving others and loving Jesus and saying “thank you” for what you did to raise them. That is when moms feel valued. That is our edification.
This post is beyond beautiful! I can only pray that there are more husbands in the world who will read this, feel this, and make this effort to help their wives, and mothers to their children feel as special. In addition, thank you for the reminder that I won’t find that edification from anything but my relationship with my Savior. I must strengthen that so that my resolve to be a good mom can improve. It isn’t something that I can get around to at the end of the day – because we all know that end of the day is filled with exhaustion and probably more piles of laundry. I need to carve out time to spend studying my scriptures and allowing my Heavenly Father to speak quietly to my spirit. Thank you for this reminder.
yes!! that’s good to hear Catherine!! thanks for adding to that… and by the way… you and Devon did an incredible job and are a huge influence on Jamie and I as parents. (Aaron Ivey)
Thanks Catherine! Very much looking forward to seeing the end product … now just staying in the moment! Send me wisdom on that!!!
yes love having the Garza’s steps ahead of us so we can watch and learn! such great examples!
I think, to each their own. I personally do not feel this article is accurate,. However, whatever works with your family is what is best.
5 – Mom needs to come to Haiti and hang out with their girlfriends on an island.
6- Nicely stated, AI
thank you. just yes. thank you.
I’m with you on this one Tara. The island is calling my name.
Just out of curiosity, which part do you think is not accurate?
agreed – i’m ready. wait… am i even invited!?
Thanks, Aaron. Thanks for reminding me that I need to be doing this for my wife. These are some good, encouraging words!
Aaron, thank you so much for writing this in recognition of how hard our lives are as moms. I know your wife appreciates the things you do to relieve her load on a regular basis, and moms everywhere are jealous. I hope your blog spreads like wildfire and helps moms across the country get reconnected to Jesus. Now, if you could only find a solution for that laundry. 😉
And P.S. you do a great job as a worship leader and I miss worshipping with you at Breakaway.
Thanks for your kudos to moms! I’m going to share this with my readers of my magazine for women – A Bundle of THYME.
Great post, Aaron. I would add to the discussion that this is not just for the stay-at-home mom. I am a mama of 5 boys (that in itself earns a right to get away, doesn’t it? :)) ages 7 and younger, and I work a full-time job, part of the time in an office (two half-days a week) and the rest of the time from home. The problem is, when I am at home, I am the go-to person. Always. My kids, no matter if daddy is fully capable of tending to their needs at the moment, will always come to me first. I could be upstairs in the middle of showing the oldest how to sort clothes because it’s his turn to help with laundry, and I’ll have two others clinging to my leg, asking me to get them milk, when their daddy is downstairs in the kitchen with the refrigerator open. This gets exhausting, trying to do a job and keep up with the home and tend to the endless needs of children. And even for the moms who work all day outside the home, giving to other people all day, I would venture to say this is usually the case once they walk in the door at home. All that to say, it’s not just the full-time stay-at-home mamas who deserve a break. I think all moms can appreciate what you’ve written!
I am a single mother and was very touched by this post, particularly the section ‘Moms have a harder time loving Jesus’. I’ve long struggled with guilt of not having more devotions or more lengthy devotions when I have them. And it’s not out of a lack of desire for them, or a lack of cognitive understanding of the need for them….it’s simply a lack of time! I’m moved that not only did you have the wisdom to see this but that you saw this with mercy, understanding, and that you take steps to ensure your wife can get what she needs (opposed to judgement or harsh words about why a mother cannot simply buck up and make the time). Thank you for posting this blog. I know I cannot give up in the effort to get the time in when I can but my heart is lightened know that there are some people out there who see this and view me with mercy and understanding.
Wow, that is a narrow (and not even biblical!) understanding of what it means to be with Jesus.
I am a mother who works part-time and while it can be difficult, this seems a bit over-exaggerated to me. Many working dads are stuck in mundane and stressful jobs that do not allow a built in quiet time and spontaneous lunch dates. Your job is in ministry and relational in nature so it probably gives freedoms that many other jobs do not have.
Also, I am growing skeptical of the ‘mom’s don’t have any time’ mantra when there are tons and tons of moms blogging and utilizing social media on a regular basis. I realize it’s an outlet and a way to connect or even make money, but if there is time for this then there should be time to pray and read the Bible at least a little bit. Preaching to the choir here!
i’m curious how spending time regularly in the Word & prayer is a “narrow” or “unbiblical” understanding?
true that dads can be stuck as well… absolutely. the blog is written from my perspective, which is one of currently not being “stuck.” yet, i’ve had countless other jobs that i have been stuck in. the point is not about dads.. it’s about the role of stay-at-home-moms having to balance an unbelievable amount of usually unnoticed and unrecognized things.
oh, i can’t even IMAGINE what adding an outside job does to momhood!! i guess that’s a blog post you’ll have to write!
Aaron, maybe this is a good point for me to insert my somewhat contrarian two cents worth.
Moms rarely get edification? Lets be honest – within the church moms constantly, constantly receive affirmation, your essay being only one case in point. We’ve been doing this as long as I can remember. Maybe that’s all okay, but let’s stop pretending the opposite is the case. Do not the very children mothers are raising count for anything in the way of fruits of their labor? Do those children never express love and appreciation? Maybe some don’t, but I doubt that’s the majority case.
dads are applauded for being daring enough to do what they should do As for working Dads readily receiving applause and affirmation – who have you been talking too? Lets be honest, those things are not automatic for anyone, not a given no matter what you do, or how well. Often enough what the working Dad (or Mom) receives from bosses and co-workers is very much the opposite of affirmation despite best efforts.
“dads are applauded for being daring enough to do what they should do” – You mean like hold down a job to support their family? Because I think that’s what dads should do. I don’t think they should expect any special applause for that. Among other things, working dads make stay at home moms possible in the first place. Which should make mom happy, that is unless she would rather have a paying job outside the home. That is an option. Now if mom is supporting the family financially and in addition filling the role of a stay-at-home-parent – that is special. I guess not when dads do it though, huh?
Aaron, this ended up being a little more pointed than it started out to be. I will acknowledge it is that. I don’t mind affirmation of women who devote full time to home and family, in fact I think more often than not that’s the right choice for a mother, at least until the children reach a certain age. I get a little concerned when the affirmation of transforms to gushing over. I’m most bothered when the affirmation of stay-at-home moms comes across as an oblique criticism of the rest of us.
Thanks Aaron for the article. I think it applies to working moms as well in many ways.Mothers need to be appreciated and recognized in practical ways.
Really not trying to sound ignorant or trying to start anything but could someone help me w/ the statement under #3 “we forget to take care of our black kid’s hair”. I am new to this site and just needed some clarification on this one.
Thanks for this!
Nvm…just watched the The Ivey Story 🙂
I just wanted to say that, as another part-time working mom (I teach two college classes, sometimes online, sometimes on campus two evenings a week), I very much agree. For one thing, I very, very, very rarely get affirmation about my paid employment. My colleagues and department chairs don’t tell me what a great job I’m doing. When I hear from my students, 99% of the time it’s so that they can complain about something or ask me for something. (It can be like having 48 ungrateful children.) My husband’s job mostly consists of people asking him to do things and telling him how he should do them differently or faster, rather than telling him what a great job he’s doing.
On the other hand, I get a lot of affirmation for my mothering, from my kids. I get hugs and kisses and “I love yous” and little ones telling me I’m the best mom in the world (even though that is NOT true). And, I know this is going to rub people the wrong way, but the truth is that I have a lot more time to do things I want to do–knit, write, go for walks, visit friends and neighbors, bake, read, play music, exercise–than I would if I had a full-time job. My kids do not consume every second of my day. Yes, I am “on call” every second of the day, in that I have to be prepared that anything I do might and probably will be interrupted by a small person with a need or a want. But I can usually meet those needs pretty easily and I don’t always need to fulfill their every way. So, yes, sometimes I feel like I’d love to have 2 uninterrupted hours to do something. The grass is always greener. But, realistically, the fact that I have, say, two hours in the morning between morning chores and lunch where I can do things I want to do while my kids play is a privilege I wouldn’t have if I were at work all day, even if I’m going to have to set aside what I’m doing a few dozen times during those two hours because my kids need me.
If you ask me, the real issue with motherhood is guilt: guilt about not bringing home a paycheck in a world where making money is often the main way we gauge people’s worth and where many families are in very tight financial situations, and guilt about not doing enough as a mom, a guilt that is only exacerbated when you read about how other moms have no free time at all. I remember feeling, as a new mom, like I was doing something wrong when I had time to shower during the day, because so many moms would say how they didn’t even have time to shower. A decade later, my perspective has totally changed. Unless you’ve got a fussy newborn or a sick child, if you regularly find that you don’t have time to shower, you are doing something wrong, not right. Now when I hear mothers complain-bragging about having no time to do anything (which they often, ironically, complain about on FB and blog comments, while leads me to wonder how exactly they are finding time to do that), I don’t feel guilty that I do have free time; I just figure that these mothers are either lying or not making very good use of the time they do have. (Again, unless they are in a particularly challenging season, like having a newborn or a sick child, but those seasons usually don’t lend themselves to time for FB status or blog comments.)
I would say, as a practical tip for moms who feel like they are stuck doing mundane things all day: audiobooks! Seriously, especially in the winter, when I’m not able to get out as often, the daily routine can feel a little stifling. Listening to books and lectures and sermons while I do chores or supervise the kids playing works wonders for me. It gives me a little intellectual stimulation and helps turn doing the same mundane tasks over and over into a time for me to learn new things or even just be entertained. I have often found myself seeking out more chores because I want to finish another chapter. 😉
Ha! Keith that is funny if you don’t know our family! We have 3 children via adoption and our little girl needs her hair tended to each day and when I go out of town daddy forgets a lot!!! 🙂
Grateful, grateful that I do have kids who tell me I am making a difference in their life! As a single mom, God has blessed me with encouragers to keep moving through the days (ok, weeks… lets be honest,.. years) I feel stuck.