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"Don't You Care About Your Kids?"

The damage moms do when we dare to compare.

In talking with another stay-at-home mom, I mentioned that I have a college education. She looked at me like I had two heads and said, "Don't you feel like you're wasting your education by staying home with your kids? If I had gone to college, I'd be putting it to use by working right now." I was a bit dumbstruck and didn't really know what to say. I felt as if she had complimented and insulted me at the same time.

It's easy for mothers to judge one another. I must admit, I've thought less of some women I know who choose to work full time and put their children in day care. How can they leave their babies all day like that? I've thought. Don't they want to bond with their children? Do they think their careers are more important than their kids?

Of course, the next minute I'm screaming at my kids to be quiet as I drag them all across town to run errands. When we get home, I stick them in front of a video while I attempt to regain my sanity. As I sit there in silence, I question exactly what I'm doing with my life and wonder if any local publications are hiring writers.

The truth is, the two "sides" aren't as far apart as we think. Try as we might to create neat little packages of motherhood, every mother knows that the lines are blurry.

Moms with jobs outside the home still deal with sick kids, parent-teacher conferences, and shuttling kids to school and activities. Moms who stay at home still run off to appointments, manage multiple demands, and struggle to find time for themselves. We all deal with stress, loneliness, guilt, and a nagging sense that we have to defend the choice we've made.

No matter how we spend our days, none of us needs to be judged by other mothers. What we do need is the support and encouragement of other women who share our goal of raising godly children.

"God has planned your journey as a mother," says Peggy Luttrelle, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the mother of three in Orange, California. "I encourage moms to stop comparing themselves to other mothers because it's so destructive. Instead, use the individual talents God has given you and invest those in your children to the best of your ability."

Think about it. God has chosen us to be members of an elite fighting force. There's an old saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." There's a great deal of truth in the idea that moms will change the future of our world through our children.

God drafted you into motherhood for a reason. He gifted you specifically to be the mother of the child or children you have today. He chose you to be the caretaker of the precious souls who are on loan to you from him. Whether or not you happen to go to an office during the week is beside the point.

Shelly Costello, a stay-at-home mom in Fontana, California, says, "It's easy to get bogged down in the daily grind. Instead of thinking of motherhood moment by moment and dreading another diaper change, I try to keep the bigger picture clear in my mind. If I remind myself of what kind of mom I want to be to impact my son's future, it keeps me directed and focused through the more difficult times of being a mom."

Motherhood is one of the oldest ministries in the Bible, and it was created just for women. Thankfully, God promises to be with us every step of the way. Not only will the one who blessed you with children be your stronghold, but God's love for you is unconditional. It is not dependent on the kind of mother you are. As Luttrelle says, "Remember that he is mindful of your circumstance and his grace is sufficient for every mother."

"I strive to keep my eyes on things above," explains Wendy Wippel of Hernando, Mississippi. Wendy worked full time when her oldest child was small and did her best to reconcile a career and her call to motherhood. "I can't claim that I always succeed in living according to what I know are my priorities. But I think my kids know that I love them beyond all reason, and that everything I do is ultimately with them in mind. And fortunately, as Scripture reminds us, love covers over a multitude of other failings."

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There's a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven." This is your time to be a mother and to affect a new generation of Christians. Don't forget that Jesus is still on the throne and still answers prayers—even the ones groaned from an exhausted and frustrated mother.

If we stay at home, or work outside of it, or do a little of both, we all know a mother who has made a different choice. And while our mothering paths may be different, God has nonetheless paved the path for each of us. Instead of comparing or criticizing, we must all show compassion toward our compatriots.

Moms are in this together, and we're raising future citizens, teachers, preachers, and presidents. We need all the help we can get to do so. Don't be fooled into thinking you're merely a cook, a housekeeper, errand-runner, soccer mom, or salary-earner. We have one of the most important jobs on this earth: to teach, raise, discipline, and love our children so they are equipped for the future. With God's strength and encouragement, we can confidently rise to our calling, together.

Jill Eggleton Brett is a freelance writer living in Southern California with her husband, twin daughters, and new baby.

March/April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 6, Page 44

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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