Note from Barbara: Last month The Joyful Life magazine ran an interview with me and I was able to talk about a number of topics relevant to young wives and moms. The following is an excerpt from that interview; you can read the entire interview here.
What is one thing younger mothers struggle with today that wasn’t a struggle when you were younger—and what is your advice to them?
I’ve had multiple conversations with young moms who have felt guilty that they didn’t have a ministry like other women they know, or know of, in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Because of Instagram, many young wives and moms have achieved instant celebrity status. It’s like being the most popular girl in high school but on a much larger scale. And the stakes are equally high.
All of these moms have told me they see other women starting ministries or writing books or blogs, and they feel their stay-at-home mommy job is inferior. My reply to all of these many young women has been the same.
First, I tell them I felt the same way; raising kids full-time was not regarded highly by our culture when I was a young mom, and the rush was on for women to return to the workforce. Working moms were lauded and celebrated for being able to “do it all.” TV commercials and the media heralded these women for doing it all.
But let me tell you, no one can do it all. We all have limitations and “for everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). To believe otherwise is to be seduced by the enemy of our souls who loves nothing more than to harm children, marriages, and families.
Two months ago I had a sweet conversation with a young woman, pregnant with her first child, working full-time in a ministry but about to resign. We had been discussing this topic in a larger group, and I shared that I worry about the marriages and children of these young moms who are being courted by publishers, running ministries, and absorbing the accolades of thousands of women.
To illustrate this trend, my book Letters to My Daughters was rejected by all the major publishing companies, and many smaller ones, because of my age. I am not a young, promising new author. And mine isn’t the only experience being rejected because of age. The pressure to produce is on young women today.
As I voiced my concern for these women, I said, “I’m afraid someone will pay; someone will suffer for a mom’s decision to have a full-time career or lead a ministry and have children and grow a thriving marriage.” I’ve seen too many failed marriages and lost children already. At our break, this adorable young mom-to-be said, “Thank you for saying someone will pay.” With her hands caressing her pregnant belly she continued, “I don’t want my baby to be the one to pay if I continued my job full-time.”
Secondly, I share with young moms my passionate belief that mothering is a ministry, a high and holy calling to raise and invest in the spiritual development of the next generation. No one can do that work but you. God gave you your babies, and He intends for you and your husband to be the primary influence in their lives for all of their first 18 years. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Nothing is more important.
But parenting is a season. It’s not the whole of your life. There will be time one day, unless Jesus comes back, to do all you dream and more. And if Jesus does return, God will fulfill those desires in heaven. He wastes nothing.
There is also great pressure on today’s young women to not just do it all but to have it all. Again, Instagram and other social media showcase homes that, in my generation, most couldn’t afford until their 40s or 50s or beyond. So many women, often encouraged or pushed by husbands, go to work to achieve a status of living that is born out of comparison.
Yes, there are women who need to work, but too often today “need” is defined very differently than it used to be. Too often, need today is not to put food on the table or clothes on your kids’ backs, but to earn more money to accumulate more things, more house, more status.
The temptation to compare is as old as Adam and Eve, who listened to Satan whisper that God hadn’t given them enough, that more could be theirs if they followed his plan. The same temptations continue today in a million nuanced ways. Compare. Conclude you don’t have enough. And compare again and again. Always Satan whispers, “You can have all this, do this, too.”
But God calls us to mimic His Son, not other fallible humans.
The pressure today is real and because it comes from within the Christian community, the urge to have a ministry feels more noble and right than a desire for just a job.
Choose to be okay with being unknown or unrecognized outside your community or church. Choose to invest in your children and marriage today knowing He will give you other opportunities in the future. Choose to wait on God’s timing for His plans for your life. These are courageous steps of great faith.
And I applaud all the unseen, unrecognized moms who are choosing to be content in those places. These women are living for the future. They are laying up treasures in heaven.
If you enjoyed this article, here are some more articles by Barbara on motherhood: