I’m just a mom

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon honoring distinguished alumni of our local high school. From educators to athletes to businessmen, fifteen alumni who had achieved distinction in their particular field were honored with a place in the newly chartered Wall of Fame. It was fascinating, to say the least, to learn of each receipient’s various successes and accomplishments. Fascinating and exciting and inspiring.

I couldn’t help but think of my own life and, quite frankly, how it pales in comparison. Should someone compose a list of my achievements it would be a short one indeed. And quite boring: She graduated from college in 1990. After two semesters of graduate school, she gladly forfeited her advanced degree and decided to marry a wonderful, godly man who she still loves dearly after all these years. She received her Post-Baccalaureate Teacher’s Certification just in time to move to Alabama where she gave birth to her first child, with three more to follow within less than six years. From then on, for the last seventeen and a half years, her greatest accomplishments include raising her four sons without (yet) losing her mind and having a working knowledge of the offsides penalty in soccer. Other noteworthy feats include seventeen years’ worth of washing limitless loads of laundry, packing innumerable lunch boxes and maintaining a (somewhat) sanitary home. Under her care, no son has played a sporting event in a dirty uniform more than once (or perhaps not more than twice). All children entrusted to her have yet to starve to death.

I’m being silly and I know it. I do realize that what I do is important. Sometimes, though, I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing my life in micro segments that stepping back and grasping the macro view tends to overwhelm me just a little. I’m okay with thinking in terms of what must be accomplished today and maybe tomorrow: laundry, dishes, car line, football practice, grocery shopping.  But when I see all of those today’s lined up, nearly eighteen years’ worth, and they are virtually identical in their struggles and frustrations and responsibilities…well, sometimes, and only some times, I think to myself: this is not the life I always dreamed of.

Indeed, who would dream of seventeen (plus) years of cooking supper and washing dishes and cleaning up all sorts of unmentionable gross-ness? Surely my twenty year old self whose greatest aspirations, though not clearly defined, included among other things a power suit and the Wall Street Journal, she would not have guessed that at 43 hers would be a life of the sort of mundane ordinariness that has not and will not accomplish anything the world will value. She could not. She still sometimes cannot.

I hear women, usually women who have achieved some sort of success–however you may define it–encourage me to dream and do. That if I do not follow my vision, reach for the stars, maximize my potential, dare to risk–well, then, I will somehow miss out. One may infer, from their admonishment, that God is merely waiting on my acquiescence to grant my wish, answer my longing, fulfill all my dreams.

I once had such a dream, what I thought was the Lord’s unmistakable call on my life, and, interestingly enough, in this dream I knew all sorts of success and accolades, not to mention the admiration of many. Reality has proved to be quite different. Obscurity, not fame. Work, boring, mundane work, not recognition and acclaim. Yes, I can–and seek to–do all things for the glory of Christ and that in itself is the highest and best calling but, still, cleaning the bathroom is cleaning the bathroom. I know that the Lord, in His gracious providence, has granted a measure of success and influence to some and I am grateful for the ministry of many such women. It is not so for most of us. Most of us are cleaning the bathroom.

Yesterday the bagger at the grocery store asked me if I worked. “Nope; I’m just a mom,” I said and I was glad for it. I’m just a mom, a very ordinary and flawed mom. I’m a wife, also ordinary and flawed. I know that my accomplishments, such as they are, will never be lauded at a luncheon nor will my picture adorn a wall of fame. Though I sometimes wince at that realization, ultimately I know that my calling is not about achievement. Quite the opposite. It is the call to die to myself. Living to Christ. Loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind and others as myself. Serving in selfless humility. Doing all in the name of Jesus and for His glory. Giving thanks to God the Father. Forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead. Confessing and repenting of my sins. Joyfully proclaiming the gospel. Suffering the reproach of Christ. Eagerly awaiting His appearing.

So I’m sitting at the luncheon, duly impressed with the accomplishments of these new Wall of Fame honorees, thankful for their success in their chosen fields. Despite my initial panic over my own perceived lack thereof, I learn something from their example. I learn that excellence is a worthy pursuit. I learn that discipline and hard work are critical whether one is a CEO of a major corporation or of a family of six. I thank the Lord for the blessing of obscurity and for the privilege of serving Him in anonymity and I ask Him to grant me the discipline and delight I lack. Whatever I find to do, I want to do all for His glory. I am the humble jar of clay and He is the Treasure. May I be found faithful.

Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

7 thoughts on “I’m just a mom”

  1. Me too… just a mom. I loved this post, Lisa–there's a great thread of peace that runs through it. I need this reminder. By the way, if you haven't read Alicia Chole's "Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years and yours", it's a must. It changed my thinking many years ago and remains, for me, one of the greatest reads of my heart. For what it's worth…Now, go fold some clothes.peace~elaine

  2. WELL SAID! I have had these same thoughts and feelings over the last 11 years (when I quit my job to have my child) myself! I'm 44 — I have 2 college degrees and an expired teaching certificate and the most "significant" thing I do is choose which cereal to buy each week! OK, maybe that's oversimplifying a bit but that's what it seems like some days.I can't say that I have all those thoughts totally sorted and directed toward Christ every day but I think that's part of what He's looking for…willingness to give him our dirty bathrooms and our grand dreams…for a season or for a lifetime.Thanks for sharing!!!!

  3. "Anonymous" has been on my amazon wish list for ages! Perhaps I will just go ahead and order it already. :)Thanks for your comment, Elaine. As always I am so glad to know there are companions and friends for the journey… :)And, yes, laundry awaits.

  4. Amen, Lisa! The world thinks happiness can be bought with a 6-figure salary, but I'll take the joy of serving God as a mom over that kind of happiness any day.

  5. Just another bathroom-cleaner here.But if it weren't for us, what a messy place the world would be. Thanks, Lisa, for once again putting into words what I feel too. If our greatest accolades turn out to be "They were God-worshipers", then the others can keep their Wall of Fame without us. I'd rather ours names be in the Book of Life. (And hey, if your name is there, then mine will be too. ha.)

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