Why Do I Bother?

I feel like I’m coming to a crossroads in my life.

When I had three little boys at home and another on the way,  it was a no-brainer for me to stay at home with those boys. The cost of putting the boys in daycare would have eaten up any money I would have brought in. The days were all you could expect staying home with three little boys would be – fabulous and frustrating.

Now, as all but one of my boys are in school full time, and my baby will be going to preschool next year, I’ve been wondering what my worth actually is. What do I do that is beneficial to anyone besides my family, who, if it came down to it, could really do all the things I do on their own? Maybe the house would be messier and there would be a lot less fruits and vegetables in their diet, but they would be fine without me.

Just to pile on, because sometimes Satan sees an opening and takes it, I’ve had a couple of little things happen that made this whole “who the heck am I?” question really, really bother me.

Incident 1 – A sweet friend asked me if I’d present at her son’s elementary school career day about being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve seen and heard about women who do this and totally rock it. All I could think of was folding laundry. I declined that invitation.

Incident 2 – I was visiting after school with some of the moms at the playground who were mentioning their work. One stays at home right now, but when her twins start first grade next year, she is going to start doing some free-lance editing from home. I had mentioned the career day thing, and another mom told a funny story about her daughter asking her what she did at school. This woman had gone back to school to get her PhD in English and now teaches classes at the university along with being a mom and doing the drop-off/pick-up thing, toting her kids to and from sports, laundry, dinner, and cleaning. All I could think was, “These women are amazing! What the heck to I have to show for myself?”

Incident 3 – My husband and I were asked to be judges at a scholarship pageant. They asked us to come up with a bio for their program. Given the previous two incidents, you can imagine my excitement about this. Here’s what I came up with:

Sarah Chapman folds clothes, washes dishes, vacuums floors, and makes dinner. She lives in Pullman, WA.

Pathetic. Let’s try that again.

Sarah Chapman is a stay-at-home mom, where she oversees four boys, two dogs, her husband, Brandon, and her mom. She also volunteers in her children’s schools, is secretary of elementary PTA, and serves in her church. Sarah loves her life in Pullman, WA.

Well, that’s marginally better.

Here’s what my PR husband came up with:

Sarah Chapman is the mom of four rambunctious boys, plus a husband who is just as bad. But she holds her own with a keen ability to laugh and have fun. She grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and Centralia, Washington. She graduated from Centralia High School and attended Centralia College before graduating from Clover Park Technical College with her degree in Surgical Technology. She used that to work in the operating room of three different hospitals, the last of which was in Moscow, Idaho, as she helped her husband get through school at WSU. She has also performed in various school and church plays. She’s sung in, and directed, various choirs. However, her real ability is to burst out in song or dance whenever the mood strikes her. She likes good TV and cinema, though she would much prefer Broadway and a book. She loves Pullman, volunteers every week at her children’s schools, is the PTA secretary, and serves in her church.

to which I responded with something like, it’s a good thing a married a PR guy to turn nothing into something.

Before all this, Brandon had arranged a meeting for me with a professor at his college who is doing some research, and it looked like I would be able to do some work for him from home. He seemed pretty excited about my helping when Brandon talked to him, and then I went in and met with him and it seemed like a sure deal, and then I didn’t ever hear back. Good times.

So, I was in a serious funk leading into Easter. I was feeling totally lost about what the point of my life is. I had devoted the last almost 12 years to my family and now my family is getting to where they need me less. Three boys are in school full-time and my littlest is just around the corner. Then, really, what will be the point of what I do. What will be my worth?

I decided to do some reading on the worth of mother’s on lds.org, ponder, and pray. It didn’t take very long for me to have some very uplifting and confidence building points of inspiration.

The first was, I am giving my children a sense of security in a turbulent world. When I mentioned to my oldest son that I was going to talk to someone about doing some work, he practically broke down in tears. “You mean, you’re not going to be the loving, supportive mom at  home?”

Honestly, I didn’t even think he noticed. And there is a real chance that none of us will ever understand or comprehend the benefits, but Heavenly Father assured me that I am providing a refuge, so I’ll stick with that.

The second thought was that I am in a partnership with God. I am a partner with God. God has given me a share of His eternal work and glory. What more can I add to that?

Is the laundry still monotonous and never-ending? Yep.

Do the children still complain about what’s for dinner? Of course.

Do I feel better about why I chose this particular path in life? You bet.

How could I not?

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  1. Sarah, you are amazing. I was on pins and needles reading this post, all the time thinking “NO, don’t do it, don’t go to work”. Then when your son made his comment I thought back to when Shawn and Lynn were young. I regret every day that I worked (oh, I did love it, but really wanted to be home). Every once in a while I would get a day off through the week. I remember once day I was just taking fresh chocolate chip cookies out of the oven because I knew they would be home from school soon. I heard Shawn yelling clear from the end of our driveway as he spotted my car. “Lynn, Lynn hurry, mom’s home, mom’s home” When they burst into the door they said in unison “Wow, cookies”! It just doesn’t get any better than that. I adore you.

    1. Patti,

      I’m so honored you read! Thanks for your thoughts and input. I appreciate it more than you know.