Sewing, Gratefulness and Letting Go of Mom Guilt

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And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts…

As the warm sun radiates warmth through the windows, holding on for dear life to the last days of summer, I sit at my sewing machine. Netflix plays quietly in the background. The crisp chomp of the scissors through fabric, the piecing fabric together, and the hum of the machine create a mental space for me and I am happy. Content. Grateful. I am making new covers for the cushions of the love seat that will soon live in my new office space. I am creating. 

It’s not a big thing, not really. But for me, my project is a delightful combination of frugality, creativity and beauty.  I feel I could burst with anticipation.

In the quiet and ordinary moments as the the machine whirrs and the pieces begin to take shape, I think about the act of sewing. Sewing has never been a favorite pastime of mine, but I do possess the skill to do the basics. The fact that I am capable of taking apart the old covers of the love seat to use them as patterns to create a new look, is a sudden and pleasant surprise to me. 

I begin to think; to remember. I remember the early years of marriage, young children and no money, I sewed a whole new slipcover for an ugly couch, using $1/yard fabric. I think about the piles of throw pillows I have recovered over the years, the sets of curtains I’ve made for a few dollars, rather than having to spend lots of dollars for new. I think about how I’ve been able to hem pants and skirts, and alter shirts that don’t fit, enabling me to buy most of our clothes second hand. I remember the times I made blankets or duvet covers for someone’s bed, or given as gifts instead of being forced to buy new. I think about the buttons I’ve replaced on clothing, and favorite toys rescued from the trash due to repairing ripped seams. Thousands and thousands of dollars I’ve saved over the years because of knowing how to sew.  

When I was 11 years old, my mom went back to work full time. I was the oldest of 4 kids. My brother, the youngest, was only in kindergarten at the time. Up until that time, my mom had been at home mom with the 4 of us. I know that she hated going back to work. She would have preferred to stay at home with us. She hated that my two youngest siblings had to go to daycare after school rather than coming home to a mom and a safe place. But at the time, we needed the money. Ends were not meeting and we were getting behind on bills. Mom returning to work was what was best for our family at the time, but I know that even to this day, she suffers regret over that decision.

For a long time, I have believed along with my mom that her going to work all those years ago was the wrong thing. That she should have remained a stay at home mom. I believed, and have lived by the belief that being a stay at home mom is the best thing a woman can do. The ‘highest calling’ if you will. I vowed that I would always be a stay at home mom, because that was the very best decision. My kids and my family would need me to be there, always available. 

I got pregnant much earlier than either my husband or I had intended into our marriage. We had been married less than a year when I found out. Soon after, I quit my job due to morning sickness and have, with the exception of a couple small jobs, been a stay at home mom for the last 17 years. It has not been easy. Raising a family on one income is challenging to say the least sometimes. Being frugal is a necessity and sacrifices must be made. My husband is a hard worker and a great employee and we have been lucky.

As I sat there that day at my sewing machine, thinking about all of the sewing projects I have done over the years, and the money we have saved because of it, I had a sudden realization. Sewing is a skill that I learned because my mom went back to work. Being a little “old” for a babysitter at the time, instead of coming home to an empty house after school my sister and I took sewing lessons. We learned how to use a sewing machine, how to read and follow patterns and the basics of sewing. In a very real sense, when my mom went back to work all those years ago, it provided me with a skill that has enabled me to stay at home with my kids. Mom worked, which helped me not to have to.

…For as members of one body you are called to live in peace…

We as moms are so hard on ourselves and each other, aren’t we? We fight and quarrel and judge over the issue of staying at home or going to work, of organic food or non-organic food, of essential oils or not, of homeschool or public school, and anything else we consider “different than me”. As Christian women, we are taught that being a stay at home mom is more Godly. More sacrificial. Less selfish. Less materialistic. But what if actually none of that is true? What if it’s our American culture teaches us that being a stay at home mom is best, but the Bible never does?

Staying at home has suited me and my personality well, and it has worked well for our family. But being at home does not make me better, or more pleasing to God than another mom who works. It’s just one decision that my husband and I have made among thousands of decisions we’ve made together on how to run and organize our family. It’s a decision that we re-evaluate regularly as life progresses.

All of us want to be good moms. All of us are doing the best we can with what we have, in the season that we’re in. And that looks different for every one of us. And that’s okay. Who knows what decisions you make today that might affect the lives of your grandchildren one day. God is moving. His plan is in motion all the time, and God is in the business of redemption. Let’s lay down the weapons we use to attack others when they make a different decision than us. Let’s stop needing to defend our positions and our decisions. There’s room for both to be right. Let’s extend grace and mercy and freedom to one another. Let’s choose Jesus.

And always be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

 

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