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.