t’s not easy being a stay-at-home mom in Washington. Having jumped ship two years ago to raise my children, I’m slowly learning to reconcile two worlds—the world of politics and power at my doorstep, and the simple, rather gentle life of babies, toddlers, Cheerios, and crayons inside.
I sometimes feel out of step with my contemporaries—a bit like Laura Ingalls Wilder in the big city.
I used to have a normal job like everyone else in this town. As a Congressional staffer, I knew my way around Rayburn, rode the subway, and ate my share of vending machine dinners working late into the night. I worked for a public relations firm, taught elementary school, did communications for an internet start-up, did the Hill thing, and even impeached a president.
Then I traded in a high-profile, hard-driving job working for one boss for a low-profile, exhausting job working for two small, but demanding bosses.
There’s a humbling aspect to motherhood, in addition to all the menial labor for which you never get paid. It’s the strangely inadequate sounding answer at a cocktail party when asked, “What do you do?” “I’m at home with two kids.” Sometimes I feel like saying, “But I used to have a life!”
Then I remember a lesson God has been teaching me: My worth doesn’t lie in how impressive, powerful or noteworthy my career may be. In fact, if the prestige of my job in any way makes me smug or puffed up, I am sinning.
It’s hard to be smug about being a mom. Something about changing dirty diapers just cuts you down to size. Folding laundry, cleaning the day’s dishes, and picking up toys are not prestigious jobs—but as a mom, you do them. You can complain every day, or you can aim to glorify God with a beautifully folded stack of clothes for your husband and dinner on the table for your kids. It’s a lot more pleasant to embrace the job than to curse it.
That’s fine at home, but how to handle that pesky cocktail party question? All of a sudden—when someone asks, “What do you do all day long?” and you wonder if there are antennae popping out of your head by the look on their face—it’s hard to tick off your mundane accomplishments with a smile. For a moment, your life seems downright pathetic, particularly when you remember your former job full of quantifiable successes.
But then a neat thing happens. You remember: my worth doesn’t lie in how impressive, powerful or noteworthy my career may be. My worth lies in being a follower of Jesus Christ—forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit to become a new creation.
Once you realize your own worth hinges on Christ and not your resume, you are freed up to love and appreciate others—regardless of their job or standing in life. A janitor, a senator, a teacher, a lobbyist—all are equally precious in God’s eyes and equally deserving of our respect.
What a refreshing way to approach a cocktail party. It’s not all about me, and how can I cozy up to the most powerful people of D.C. It’s all about Jesus—how can I love others as a reflection of His love for me… and maybe even strike up a conversation about how He’s changed my life?
If you think about it, only two things in this world will last forever—God’s Word and people. So I believe a wise investment of time, money and resources would include both. My kids fall into that category. They’re going to live for eternity and any energy I put into steering them toward Jesus Christ (so they can spend it with Him) and toward a meaningful life on earth—will be eternally well-spent.
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