Henry Nouwen, the internationally renowned author, proposed that every human being is hounded by a single question: “Who am I?”
Have truer words ever been spoken?
But I’m certain, more specifically, that this is the question every woman is hounded by not long after she becomes a mother.
Whatever laundry sits piled up in your hallway, and whatever dishes remain unwashed in your sink, and whatever classes you forgot to sign your child up for, and whatever Pinterest food you cannot bake, please give yourself some grace.
“Who am I?
And am I now ‘just a mom?’
And why is this so hard? It shouldn’t be this hard. These are little people so it would make sense that they require little of me.
But they require so much that I now barely recognize myself. But I’m too tired to even know how to articulate that.
I’m buried in the mundane and I can’t see the light.
And I never considered myself to be an "angry" person but now I am shocked by my reaction to my two-year old’s temper tantrum.
Love and desperation do a dance in my heart.
And since nobody else is talking about feeling this way, I assume I’m the only one.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
And guilt has become my new best friend.
Maybe you’ve had this conversation with yourself?
So let’s begin with one simple fact -- you are not alone.
To your left and to your right is a mom who feels the exact same way. Let's put an end, at this very minute, to comparing our insides with one another's outsides. She (whoever "she" is) feels it on the inside too. She may just be better at faking it. But the more we talk about the guilt that plagues us, the less power it will hold over us. Guilt is put in it's rightful place when two simple words are spoken between two honest moms: "me, too."
So let’s do this together. "Me, too." Your turn.
Simple fact number two: there is no such thing as "just a mom" unless of course, "just a mom" means that you keep small humans alive.
And if "just a mom" means you would die a thousand deaths to keep that human thriving.
"Just a mom" are three words that should never string a sentence together.
Hold onto that. It's no small thing, my friend.
But don’t lose sight of the even greater truth: In the mundane, in the failure, in the very real and hard and long days of motherhood, when we are asking ourselves "Who am I?" I need us to remember the identity that was given to us long, long ago. The identity that was given to us by our Creator. And it is the identity that trumps all others.
We are children of God.
You are a child of God.
I am a child of God.
No literally, a child a God.
Throw that in the face of "just a mom."
You have a God who knows you. Who calls you by name. Who calls you His own. And you are of irreplaceable value to Him.
He sees you doing the most noble of all things -- doing your best to love the small humans He has entrusted to you. Sit with that for a minute. God entrusted small humans to YOU.
So whatever laundry sits piled up in your hallway, and whatever dishes remain unwashed in your sink, and whatever classes you forgot to sign your child up for, and whatever Pinterest food you cannot bake, please give yourself some grace.
And maybe even pray this prayer penned by Brennan Manning: "Lord, when I feel that what I'm doing is insignificant and unimportant, help me to remember that everything I do is significant and important in your eyes, because you love me and you put me here, and no one else can do what I am doing in exactly the way I do it."
Mom, you are a child of God. Seen, known, and loved. You are more than enough. You are of irreplaceable value in the life of your child, and in the eyes of God.
Jeannie Cunnion is the author of "Parenting the Wholehearted Child," and a blogger at www.jeanniecunnion.com. She has a Master's degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption issues. Jeannie and her husband, Mike, are the proud parents of four wild and awesome boys.