You are Irreplaceable—A Mother’s Worth

I bet now there’s a Beyoncé song running through your head since reading the title?

No?

“To the left, to the left..”

Well, now there is— you’re welcome.

I’m so easily distracted. Let’s get back to where we were, shall we?

If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, you, no doubt, have been asked the question, “Where do you work?” Here begins the awkward dance. And in the defense of the questioner, I’m pretty sure I’m the one startin’ the two-step.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom,” I reply.

You are Irreplaceable

Here it comes.. the old cliché that I dread hearing. “Well, that’s a job all in itself!” Or, “You don’t ever get time off do you?!” And my personal favorite, “You have the hardest job in the world!” (I cringe every time I hear this response.)

Then, I smile and give my best–oh, it’s no big deal, humble, stay-at-home mom nod. I agree with them and lament the “hardness” of my job, because, well, that’s what you do.

We continue on with our conversation, all the while, I can’t decide if they believe what they just said, or for that matter, if I do.

It’s a dance I hate and if I wasn’t so conscientious of the dance, here’s what I’d actually like to say.

“I don’t think you believe that being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world…”

Let’s just get this out of the way right now;

Yes, I’m extremely cynical.

Ok, good, moving on.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve come to the conclusion in my experience that it’s mostly a trite response. You know, like when someone asks, “how are you today?” I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t respond with, “Awful, worst day ever, thanks for asking.”

I also have come to see that we as moms struggle with our own value in motherhood.

How often have you said, “I’m just,” before the reply “a stay-at-home mom?”

(Maybe you’re not like me, maybe you’re secure in your value as a full-time mom. If so, I admire that about you.. .teach me your ways.)

I’ve done it a thousand times. “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

Followed by: “I used to be…” *Just in case there were any questions— I promise, I have value. 

For some reason, I felt I was doing my part for society when I went to work. I could wear the shiny little badge that proudly proclaimed, I am a working part of society!

So, finding value in my job, as you can imagine, wasn’t a great thing when I came to the frightening realization that;

I am replaceable.

If you’re like I was, seeking value in something where I was easily replaced, it’s an exhausting thing. You’re always running a race you’ll never win.

I became fully aware of this when I was working full-time after my second son was born. Taking time off meant someone else would be doing my job. We then had some changes within our childcare situation and I had to decide to either stay home or take my boys to daycare.

Although I had a desire to be home, it still scared me. Where was my value if I didn’t have my career?

Essentially, I felt invisible without it.

If we are being completely honest anyone can do our “job,” (Well, maybe not if you’re the star NFL quarterback or the greatest physicist alive. I guess maybe you’re good there… you’ve got the market on that one.) But really, even then you’ll die one day, someone younger and better will take your place. That’s just all there is to it.

(I know, I’m just full of positivity.) But hey, congrats, my point has arrived!

As a mom I am irreplaceable.

I am essential.

I am the only one that can love and care for my children in the way that they need. So, when I think of where I am now, as a mom, I think of it as a privilege. I think of it as the ultimate gift and quite frankly, the greatest blessing.

It has taken me quite some time to not only be confident in saying this but to be comfortable with it as well. When I am struggling with the truth of my value I remember these 3 words,

I am irreplaceable. 

You are irreplaceable. 

You are the ONLY mother your kids have. While I’m sure this is no new revelation, I don’t think we stop enough to breathe that information in. To really STOP and THINK about the fact that these precious souls are our responsibility.

They are not only growing physically but emotionally as well. We are gifted with walking alongside them, guiding, directing, correcting and loving them every step of the way.

When I am in that place of not believing in my worth as a stay-at-home mom, I am listening to a society that doesn’t find value in a mother. What she contributes every single day to raise children, men, and women.

We are raising the men and women that one day will be our neighbors, our doctors, our policemen or teachers or clerks at the grocery store. Decent, loving, intentionally taught human beings.

That is the only job where I am irreplaceable.

Realizing this has brought me some peace in my fear of being replaced.

With that said, I wish I could tell you I never struggle with this any longer, but that’d be a lie (I’d rather not start our relationship off that way) So, I’m being honest, I do still struggle with my worth as a stay-at-home mom.

As with any other lie, there is a truth uncovered in the scriptures about Gods character that I believe helps kill the lie.


He sees you.

 Hagar was running away. She was pregnant with a child from another woman’s husband, a man who was her master.

She was basically a surrogate, but she was not loved. I’m sure she must’ve felt used. She was Egyptian and she wanted to go home. So she ran…

She ended up with a spring of water in the wilderness and guess who found her there? Genesis 16:7 says the angel of the Lord found her.

He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?”

She answers Him and He proceeds to give her a quick synopsis of her future, including the name of her soon-to-be son. After this discussion with God, (I know, no biggie, right?) she gives Him a name based on what she experienced out of this interaction.

Genesis 16:13 says, Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her,

“you are the God who sees;”

He saw her. truly, He, the God of everything, took his time to see her, an Egyptian woman who was really not worth much in the eyes of the world.


He sees you too.

Indeed, He knows that what you are doing truly is the hardest job in the world, even if no other soul acknowledges that, He does.

You have a loving Father who is walking this life with you. Caring for you and shepherding you every step of the way as you shepherd your little ones. You and I can rest in the fact that even if this world says we are replaceable, He does not.

Let’s make a pact to believe this together when we’re fighting against the lies, ok?

We are irreplaceable.


What makes you feel replaceable? Are you a stay-at-home mom, working mom or somewhere in between? Do you struggle to find value in your title? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Carry on

She would’ve been 92 today. 92..

Had she not passed away nearly 8 years ago.

I remember her lying helpless in her hospital bed, appearing tiny and shrunken under the scratchy blanket. Having suffered a stroke a few days earlier, by the time we came to the hospital she was fading fast. We were told there was nothing more they could do.

And so we waited.

The days that followed had people telling me “At least she had a long life,” to which, I wanted to reply, “I’ll be sure to tell you that when you’re dying.” But I refrained, simply nodding dutifully to the awkwardness that accompanies death. I didn’t care how long her life was… I wasn’t ready for her to go.

Carry on…

 

Carry On…

It’s what she said the day she had the stroke. It was the last words out of her mouth as the bleeding in her brain took over her functioning mind.

She was stuck on repeat, “carry on, carry on..” Over and over, gazing carefully at each of us from across the room with intensely ice-blue eyes that were her signature.

There we stood, roughly seventeen of us, without my little brother who was traveling our way. Tears rolling down faces, not realizing these were her last words, but completely comprehending she was saying goodbye and trying her best to send a message with the little she could say.

Carry On…

I would come and go from the hospital that week, not sure what to do and completely uncertain about how to watch someone I loved so dearly die. I was familiar with death at a young age, but it was mostly sudden and violent. I was quickly realizing I wasn’t accustomed to the long goodbye and didn’t care for it either. She could no longer eat and the thought that she was starving to death tormented me.

The week she died I was fighting a cold that I denied was anything but allergies to continue to gain access to the ICU. My sister-in-law sat in a chair keeping vigil overnight, soaking my sweet grandmother’s lips with water from a sponge. She was selfless and unafraid of death like I was.

Dragging myself back to the hospital in the morning I found her still sitting. I immediately felt shame for having gone home overnight and for the weakness that accompanied my very being.

April looked up from what she was working on in the corner and smiled.

“How was she?” I asked. Staring at my grandmother, who appeared small, almost like a child in the bulky hospital bed.

“Same.” She answered. “They say that your hearing is the last thing to go before you die so I’ve been talking with her,” April said, thoughtfully.

“Do you think?” I trailed off, motioning to the empty space next to my grandmother’s wilting frame on the bed.

“Of course, get up there next to her, talk with her.” April patted the bed and then my arm. “I’m going to go downstairs for a bit and leave you two alone.” She disappeared out the door and I carefully climbed up next to my grandmother on the bed.

Don’t forget her hands… 

With everything I loved about her, I probably loved her hands the most. Lifting her fragile hand into my own, I studied them, they were weathered and knotted from arthritis that had ravaged them. I stroked her hand lovingly, tracing the raised veins with my fingers. Remembering her diamond wedding band that once circled her finger, big enough to fit over her knuckles, yet too big to stay stationary once on.

Her hand, dwarfed by my much larger one, rested in my open palm. With our fingers next to each other, my hand was much larger, this was true, but my fingers were long and delicate like I imagine hers once were. “Piano hands,” she had always called them, though I barely knew to play, and poorly at that.

Wynona, or “Ginger,” as she was called by most, was a small woman, maybe five foot two at her tallest. I towered over her at five foot eight. “Gro-mo,” had become my brothers’ silly nick-name they would tease her with as they’d engulf her tiny frame with a hug.

Though small in stature, she was mighty in love. I sat in awe, being pulled back in time and thrust into the future all at once. These hands had cared for me and in a matter of days, they’d be gone. They cleaned up after me as a baby and looked after me as a woman when broken by anxiety. Whether a baby or a woman.. they comforted me.

Sobbing, I stared lovingly at those hands, trying with all of my might to memorize them.

Carry on…

My mind drifted to the life she had seen, the work those hands had done. She was born in a time when little was had. Carried in a womb that didn’t necessarily want her. Her mother had cinched her in so tight by corset that she had a club foot when she was born and struggled with the pain of it all her life. Called a bastard when she was young and never knowing for sure who her real father was. Raised primarily by her grandparents in the oil fields of Oklahoma, she went out on her own at the tender age of 17. Traveling to California and as far away from the dust of Oklahoma as she could get. She worked hard, climbing San Francisco hills in 6-inch heels and raising a family at the same time. She was a career woman at a time when it wasn’t fashionable.

 

She had survived breast cancer 3 separate times and took the treatment so well that as a girl I thought cancer was tantamount to having a cold. Enduring an alcoholic, unfaithful husband for years and watching her only son spiral into drugs and eventually death, she was no stranger to heartache. She held her 2nd husband in her arms as he breathed his last breaths. She lovingly and faithfully held 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren. Strengthening her only daughter, my mother, as she laid her own son to rest far too early, she was ironclad. Love and devotion to her family and her Jesus were who she was. Those hands of hers cleaned up messes, wrestled rose bushes, patted away hurts, wrote out scripture and worked harder than any pair of hands that size should have. All the while belonging to a woman with a fierceness that belied her size.

Gently laying her hand on her chest, I thought simply,

And through it all, she carried on…

“Carry on,” she had said with a smile only my grandmother could give as she knew she was dying. It was wisdom. Wise advice from a woman who did just that. Through abandonment, pain, disease, grief, and heartache she carried on.

As long as I knew her, she never gave up and never sat it out. And with her last words to her beloved family, she said the thing that has shaped what I choose to do each day. When circumstances are not what I wish, when life is tough and when it is sweet…

I will choose to carry on. 

We’re carrying on grandmother and I think you’d be proud.

“I know the plae

Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Take Courage!

I am well acquainted with fear.. and it’s close friend, anxiety. As I look back over most of my life these two have been my constant companions. When control was out of my reach, fear was close at hand. When answers were unclear and I wasn’t quite sure which way to turn, anxiety had a perfectly rational explanation.

Every. Single. Time.

It’s always made sense to run with the fear that was in my heart and mind, it was over-powering. It was the oppressor in my daily life that I just could not seem to shake. It followed me around and demanded I hand over my peace and rest like a schoolyard bully demands your lunch money.

Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Fear yells. I mean, it just screams. You can’t possibly hear anything else when it’s siren is so loud in your mind.. at least that’s what fear wants you to believe.

Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Take Courage!

Truth doesn’t shout, not at first anyways.

Fear always seems to shout. It comes at you with a fierceness that is piercing, confusing and almost always loud. Fear demands our attention, I believe, more than any other emotion. If you have ever struggled with anxiety, fear, panic, or any synonym that closely relates to the aforementioned words, you know exactly what I’m saying. When you are so deep into the pit of despair that fear causes, when someone speaks truth to you it can sound barely audible, like a faint, far away whisper. The shouts and incessant clanging of the lies that surround you in that pit can be all-consuming and life sucking.

When you hear that little whisper behind the leers and shrieking of the demons that shake their chains in your face;

.Listen, I mean, really listen.

 because after all, even the loudest shout sounds like a whisper when you’re at the bottom of a pit.

Once you listen, once you open your ears to that truth, don’t let go of it. Grab onto that truth with both hands, and no matter how bloodied they become, don’t let go until that truth whisper becomes a shout. Hold on while you feel the fear falling away into the darkness of the pit as you are being pulled up by the rope of truth.

Hold on, friend. Be brave enough at that moment to grab hold and listen.

It’s scary when fear is screaming at you in the face, isn’t it?

When I’m in that place, I tilt my head a little to the right,  just past fear’s hideous face and I see Jesus.. walking on the water.

Take courage.

In Matthew 14, after a day of ministering and feeding over five thousand people, Jesus put his disciples on a boat and sent them off to the other side while He went up on the mountain to pray. In the early morning hours after the disciples had been out on the water for hours, Jesus came walking on the water to them. The text reads that when the disciples saw Jesus walking towards them on the sea they thought it was a ghost or a spirit. Uh.. yeah, I’d be shaking in my boots also. But I just love Jesus’ answer, depending on what version you read, his basic words were this;

“Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.”

In some translations, there is no exclamation point after taking courage, but I like to think that Jesus spoke with the emphasis that the exclamation point adds. Take courage! I just love this. I imagine Jesus effortlessly walking upon the waves and coming towards the boat as the disciples are terrified at this phantom gliding towards them. And what does Jesus say? He says take courage.

It’s the words I bring to the forefront of my mind when fear is screaming at me. It gives me the perspective I need at that moment to look past fears ugly face and stare at the truth. The truth that He is with me, I’m not alone in this and I am His.

And you know what? I like to think that’s why Jesus said take courage before he said do not be afraid.

Because it takes courage to not be afraid.

It’s not exactly easy to not take the fear route. It’s hard. Especially if you’re anything like me and it’s hard-wired in you to just be afraid. It takes patience, perseverance and practice. Jesus knew that. that’s why he said it.

Fear and anxiety don’t exactly like to retreat easily but I’ll tell you this, in the presence of Jesus even the ugliest fear screams can’t stand. That’s truth, it’s rock solid ground to stand on when fear makes you shake in your boots.

So, take courage, my friends. Do not be afraid, listen to this whisper of truth if you are currently in a pit; you are His, He is with you and you are held. Look past the ugly screeching and before you know it the truth of Jesus will be shouting louder than the fear.

 

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”