A recent article online by a stay-at-home mum advocated mums, or even dads, with young children should be able to stay at home with their children if they wanted to, without being burdened especially financially.
Being a stay-at-home mum was my childhood dream. I soon realised not everyone shared my sentiments. I was frequently told to consider a more ambitious and job-like career. My friends often laughed at the idea of me wanting to be a housewife with constant teasing of how I'd end up as a 'baby factory.'
When asked to share my ambition, my teacher found homemaker unacceptable since it wasn't a proper paid job. I remembered thinking that being a stay-at-home parent was not as well received by society compared with other careers.
Also, it felt like a choice one could scarcely afford monetary wise. Little did I know these are just a few of the struggles faced by a stay-at-home parent.
Four years down the road, thriving as a lecturer and an education officer, I quit my job to look after my one year old boy when we moved to New Zealand. Although my childhood dream became a reality, the journey was not as smooth as I expected.
The struggle is real
My decision to be a stay-at-home mum meant I didn't have an income and I no longer was sowing into the lives of young people which had been my purpose in life. Like the laments I've heard from other parents who have made the same decision as me to leave a job, I found myself feeling hopeless with the sudden loss of not only an income but also my purpose for living.
To top off the guilt of not being able to lessen the financial burden of our household and losing direction in life, the pressures of providing the best for my children and family got to me. There would still be that injury from a little one falling off the furniture, regardless of how I childproofed the house. The soiled patches on the carpet, from a self-fed toddler who thinks food is fun to play with, or an ever-active child who enjoys messy play, were ever-increasing; and these were just two of the many trials.
You are not alone
Perhaps the biggest struggle in all these inadequacies is feeling alone in the battle. Everyone else seems to be doing better than us. After all, the photos on Twitter are often of smiling babies and fun activities during a family holiday—usually reflecting the only five minutes of presentable moments in an otherwise chaotic 24 hours.
There are not many posts on Facebook of us clenching our teeth trying to get through the day with a spilling baby and a tantrum-throwing toddler while still hanging the laundry and cooking dinner for the family.
No wonder we feel like we are the only ones struggling.
Thank God the Bible reassures us in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13:
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it.
We are definitely not alone in this. Not only have others gone through it and have overcome, but we also have God with us through it all.
The importance of others
This is why being among a group of other parents is so significant. We are blessed through our fellowship with them and in turn have the privilege of being a blessing to others when we include them in our lives.
Those who have journeyed through parenthood are excellent role models and constant reminders that things will pass. Those who are walking the same paths as us now are a wonderful encouragement that we will get through it together as we support each other. Those who have not become parents are there for us to invest in by simply sharing how God brings us through each day.
Just having someone to talk to in our desperate parenting moments is itself a comfort. Even better, close family friends offer practical assistance: a helping hand with meals when we need it or trustworthy babysitting so we could have time to ourselves with our spouse.
Trusting God through it all
When we put God in the centre with us, we can cast our anxieties on him even through the storms of each day. The promise given to us in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 8 states, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work."
This means we do not need to fret over our lack but are able to give thanks for the many things we possess. As aptly summarised by Pastor Derek Prince, "We have to adjust our thinking as to what prosperity is. It is not having an easy life and plenty of money and no problems. It's successfully accomplishing the purpose of God in the face of intense opposition."
For us stay-at-home parents, the struggle is indeed real but so are the rewards.
Let's learn to see God's goodness in this never-ending job as a parent for He strengthens us through it all.
Esther Koh is a stay-at-home mum living in Wellington with her husband and two sons. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living.
Esther Koh's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html