VOX magazine is delighted to introduce our new online columnist / blogger Karen Huber who will be bringing us weekly articles on contemporary issues of faith, life and reality! Enjoy!
As children grow, mothers can find freedom and purpose in new roles
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” so says the classic Christmas Carol. These words are as true at the start of September as they are in December.
School boys and girls are dressed to the nines in their pinafores and crested jumpers, and mothers across the country are only slightly giddy as they drop their children at the school gate. Many are even posting their own first day of school photos alongside the ones they take of their kids, while popular authors like Jen Hatmaker sing the praises of teachers and the freedom found in the returning rhythm of the season.
Last Thursday my own three children woke with the dawn, were dressed by 7:15am and fed themselves breakfast (I feel like I’ve done my job well if all five us of are relieved to see the summer end and the school year start). Once my husband and I abdicated our weekday parental rights to well-qualified principals, teachers and helpers, we made our own annual pilgrimage to city centre for the celebratory First Day of School morning date.
Our family rhythm is once again recalibrated. We survived summer, a personal victory for a woman who has never been totally at ease as a stay-at-home-mum.
As a missionary wife and mother in the exhausting pre-preschool days, I relinquished a full-time role in ministry (with some relief, it must be said) to re-establish house and home in our new life in Ireland. In these last ten years, I majored in homemaking with a minor in support work, filling in gaps here or there for the ministries of others. This includes, but is not limited to, making lunches and attending parents’ association meetings, creating flyers and prayer books, editing applications and recommendations, keeping a pot of tea filled for late night visitors, and hoovering. Good work, to be sure, but work I am not instinctively gifted in.
More importantly, I was given a privilege few can afford these days: to be the one at home, the on-call parent for my children, and the safe place to land for my husband.
And yet a transition has occurred in the last couple of years, hitting me more significantly than the others who live in my house. As my children have grown and aged into primary and secondary school, my role as stay-at-home-mother of little children has evolved into Mum of Big Kids. My domestic ministrations aren’t as needed or necessary, at least during school hours.
My “ministry” is changing and my role, both in and outside the home, is evolving.
Questions for New Seasons
Feeling a bit of an identity crisis coming on, I reached out to other women who are living “on mission,” asking them how they’ve maneuvered the transition back to formal ministry after what is often more than a decade of caring for little ones. One such friend shared a list of questions and prompts, ideas for considering where God has us and where He’d like us to go.
These are thoughts anyone can journal and pray through, regardless of the season or role you find yourself in:
- What opportunities is God opening?
- What brings me joy?
- Who has God put on my heart?
- What experiences or skills do I have?
- What training do I think I need?
- How can I include my family?
- How can I bring others into my home?
- How can I share my normal life with others?
- Who has God already put around me?
- What other gifts or burdens do I have?
Some answers are shifting in this new season of motherhood, while others stay the same. I am still called to invite people into my home, and He has already given me a community, school and church to serve in. But He is also drawing me ever further out of the comfort zone of my Dublin semi-d. He is asking me to be available, to wait and to listen.
And when He speaks, He calls me to act.
So in this space, I am attempting small steps of obedience, starting with these words here and an introduction:
Hello, my name is Karen and I’m a recovering stay-at-home-mum venturing out into the big wide world of loving God’s people as much as my own. I hope, by His grace, less hoovering is involved.
Originally from Kansas, USA, Karen lives in Dublin with her husband and three children, where they serve with Greater Europe Mission through the local church, creative arts and community development. You can find her essays on family and faith at www.karenohuber.com.